J.k Rowling’s Harry Potter series provides a rich narrative of adolescence, in particular how he manages, having suffered early abandonment as an infant, to recover from attachment trauma. Check out our brief interpretation of the series which we hope will be of interest to you as parents.

 

Harry Potter: “The boy who lived!”

If Peter Pan is the story of a boy who never grew up, the chapter title of the first book in the Harry Potter series is an apt one. Harry Potter is indeed “the boy who lived”, having suffered early abandonment as an infant when both of his parents are killed. Then placed in the foster care of his aunt and uncle, Harry is forced to live in rags and darkness under the stairs with no emotional connection to his parental figures other than hatred and aggression from their side. A further attachment trauma, of which recovery only happens when our emotional states are validated in the eyes of adult and peer attachment figures.

 

It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.

 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

 

Harry’s journey of adolescence begins aged 11, when he encounters the first of three crucial adult attachment figures in the form of Hagrid, the Hogwarts Gamekeeper, who acts as a messenger to Harry and reveals his true identity as a wizard and his destiny to attend Hogwarts School of Wizardry but later becomes one of his closest friends and an adult confidante. Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall, headmaster and deputy headmistress, emerge as a psychological couple, demonstrating their shared caring capacity to attune emotionally to Harry and his developing needs at a time of huge change and stress, independently of their esteemed, high-profile roles at the school.

 

Then enter Ron and Hermione. A significant part of the psychological journey in every adolescent is the identification with peers, and for Harry they appear naturally and organically in the form of these two – who he meets on the train to Hogwarts and whom both struggle with their own identity issues.

 

Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?

 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

 

Harry’s fascination with the power of wizardry similarly parallels the frightening challenge all adolescents face when confronting the excitement of the beckoning world of adulthood simultaneously with the loss of dependency on parents. Teens at this stage are reworking their identities and part of this transition involves confronting an internal struggle of good vs. bad aspects of themselves, especially overcoming destructive capacities in order to relate healthily to self and others. With great power comes great responsibility, whether you’re a normal teen or a would-be wizard!

 

“Weve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. Thats who we really are.

 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

 

JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series exquisitely and vividly documents the psychologically fragmenting realities of adolescent life. Though long and often turbulent, there’s a happy ending in Harry’s recovery from attachment trauma as he blossoms into a powerful, confident individual who marries his sweetheart and goes on to have a family of his own, who also later attend Hogwarts. Harry’s experience rests on the premise that if we are not completely crushed and beaten by our early attachment traumas, we can form and develop new attachments and return to the path of normal development with increased strength, knowledge and awareness.

 

Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.

 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

 

The reason Harry Potter is so captivating and accessible is Rowling’s rich narrative which has relatable and understandable themes, whether you’re a child, teen or parent.

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