Harry Potter Normalizes Abuse

Louisa Leontiades Film & TV, Film/TV-Superhero

As I reviewed Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix last night–or rather settled back to watch it with a fat glass of wine under the auspices that good mothering requires the vetting of films you secretly wanted to see anyway–there was one recurring thought in my mind. That kid needs therapy.

Maybe it’s my depression that twists a rainbow world into shades of grey. Or maybe the Order of the Phoenix really is a minefield riddled with CPTSD. In fact it’s so bloody obvious that my suspension of disbelief is starting to waver with the Potterverse. Surely there’s one decent, aware wizard or witch who would have said–a kid wrenched away from his parents at one year old might suffer some attachment disorder and need help. Or perhaps the ten years of emotional neglect and abuse needs some healing. Or the oppressive bullying from both teachers and students. Or the constant battle of life or death with his parents’ murderer may be a little too much for a teenager. The crucio curse. The killing. The night terrors? No? No one said anything?

In this crucial year where Voldemort has risen but out of fear the ministry rests firmly in denial, Harry is called a liar in the media. He experiences gaslighting at the highest governmental levels whilst Dolores Umbridge physically tortures him with the line etched in his own skin ‘I must not tell lies’. Even Dumbledore ignores him, supposedly to create distance for Harry’s own protection yet he leaves him confused and not knowing why…

Albus Dumbledore believes it best that the children are told the truth. But as a headmaster with many children under his charge, there is no evidence that he shows due care and consideration for the fear and insecurity unleashed by his words among the vulnerable. There are few concessions, little support and even less acknowledgement.

As an adoptee I am reminded of those many, many stories. Of heroes and villains all of whom had in some way lost their parents, from the Baudelaire orphans, to Superman, Megamind and Magneto. There’s very few proper treatments of any impacts of adverse childhood experience. Pop culture largely at best ignores it, at worst romanticizes it and erases our pain along with the consequences of trauma.What does J.K. Rowling do? She polarizes. Your future without parents is to be Potter or Voldemort, but there’s no help for you whichever path tempts you. The one future is certain though; ignoring it is how abuse culture survives and thrives.