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Harry Potter

Identity and Psychology

By Angela SchnaubeltPublished about a year ago 3 min read
Harry Potter
Photo by Rap Dela Rea on Unsplash

In addition to themes of ethics and morality, the Harry Potter movies also delve into themes related to identity and psychology, including the search for self, the role of choice in shaping one's identity, and the impact of trauma on psychological development.

The Search for Identity in the Harry Potter Movies

One of the central struggles of the series is Harry's search for his identity. As an orphan who has been mistreated by his adoptive family, Harry feels disconnected from his past and struggles to find his place in the wizarding world. This raises questions about the nature of the self and the role of community in shaping one's identity.

Harry knows his parents loved him, due to the nature of their sacrificial deaths to save their son. But, he struggles with feeling connected with them. Numerous characters tell Harry that he looks so much like his dad, and has his mother's eyes which reinforces his familial connection.

Hogworts becomes Harry's surrogate family, and he struggles, as all teens do, to find his place in the world and his sense of identity. The dynamics of friends and teachers ebb and flow with the plot twists, and keeps the audience engaged and maintains the rich character development that carries us all through every single movie.

The Theme of "Becoming" and Choices in the Harry Potter Movies

The series also explores the idea that identity is shaped by choice. Characters like Harry, Hermione, and Ron are all faced with choices that ultimately shape who they become. This raises philosophical questions about free will and the relationship between choice and identity.

One of the most striking examples of this is the character of Severus Snape. Throughout the series, Snape makes a series of choices that are morally ambiguous and often appear to be motivated by personal gain or revenge. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Snape's choices are deeply connected to his identity as (spoiler alert) a double agent, and to his personal history and psychological trauma. This is fodder for another article unto itself!

Similarly, the character of Harry Potter himself is defined in large part by the choices he makes throughout the series. From choosing to leave the Dursleys and attend Hogwarts, to choosing to fight against Voldemort and his Death Eaters, Harry's choices are a reflection of his identity as a courageous and determined young wizard.

Other characters in the series, such as Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, also make important choices that shape their identities and psychological development. Ron, for example, struggles with feelings of inadequacy and jealousy in the shadow of his more successful siblings, and his choices throughout the series reflect his desire to prove himself and overcome these insecurities. Hermione, on the other hand, is defined by her intelligence and strong sense of morality, and her choices often reflect her commitment to justice and fairness.

Trauma, Harry Potter, and Psychology

Additionally, the series explores the impact of trauma on psychological development. Harry, for example, suffers from the trauma of losing his parents at a young age and the constant threat of Voldemort. This raises questions about the psychological impact of trauma and the ways in which it can shape one's sense of self and worldview.

One impactful scene that highlights trauma is when Luna Lovegood and Harry Potter see the Thestrals that are invisible to others. The reason they can see the skeletal, bat-winged horses is because they have not only witnessed death, but have emotionally processed the meaning of death.

Hermione, Fitting Into Society, and Identity Themes

The theme of fitting into society is also explored through the characters' interactions with the wizarding world. Characters like Hermione, who come from non-magical backgrounds, must navigate the complexities of wizarding society and grapple with questions of belonging and identity. This raises philosophical questions about the nature of community and the ways in which identity is shaped by cultural context.

Overall, the Harry Potter movies raise important philosophical questions about the nature of the self, the role of choice in shaping identity, and the impact of trauma on psychological development. These themes provide rich material for exploring philosophical concepts related to identity and psychology.

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About the Creator

Angela Schnaubelt

Stage 4 cancer survivor and thriver. Marketing strategist and business development coach for alternative health practitioners. World traveled, intelligent and ambitious yet heart centered. Lover of nature, animals, and life!!

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