Harry Potter's resilience

Given his horrible pre-Hogwarts childhood, Harry Potter should have been clinically depressed, writes Early Ed Watch.

His parents died suddenly when he was a baby, so he was left to grow up in a house with his aunt, uncle and roly-poly bully of a cousin, Dudley. His aunt and uncle barely paid him any mind, but when they did, their growling responses were always negative. He was, in essence, verbally abused and ignored, not to mention half starved. It was a tough way to grow up. And yet he turned out to not only be a hero, but also a thoughtful, kind and productive person. You wouldn’t call Harry happy-go-lucky, but you wouldn’t describe him as depressed either.

The point is that we should be more sensitive to depression in young children, not that J.K. Rowling should have written Harry Potter and the Half-Baked Psychologist.

About Joanne


  1. Go back 200 years and it was common to lose a parent or both as a child. This would mean being raised by relatives, friends of the family or even strangers. In the late 19th century there were orphan trains. They packed kids from eastern cities and shipped them West so they could be raised on farms by adults. Often they were exploited as cheap labor. Groups like the Shakers adopted orphans as a matter of policy and survival. Some orphans were housed in dormitories by newspapers to use as paperboys.

  2. Who funded this study?

  3. I knew a kid growing up – an Ethiopian refugee – who had had an earlier life that would have made Harry Potter feel grateful that he was only “mistreated” in the comparatively minor ways that he was. But this kid was happy, well-adjusted. When asked, his response was that he was so grateful that things were “better now” (now that he had gotten to America and been sponsored) that he could begin to heal from the past.

    Yes, some young kids can suffer severe depression. But I think just as we underestimate the effects of depression in some kids, we also tend to underestimate the resilience of others.