PTSD through Harry Potter

“The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

PTSD is short for post-traumatic stress disorder, which is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury.
But how do we know that harry potter had PTSD?
In short, Harry lost his parents at a very young age. He had extremely abusive foster parents, who forced him to work for them and called him names.
Even when he started school he was bullied quite a lot of times as he was the chosen one. His friend Cedric Diggory, his favorite professor – Albus dumbledore, his godfather, and numerous of his friends die in front of him. He was tortured by Voldemort and dementors.
In The book cursed child we see that Harry tells his son Albus that he’s afraid and while most everyone would think it’d have something to do with Voldemort or his trauma through Hogwarts, it’s even more emotional.

He tells Albus that he’s afraid of the dark and small spaces. While some people do not instantly recognize the significance, the line shows that Harry’s time with the Dursleys is, unfortunately, what has stayed with him the longest.

The dark and the small space he’s referring to? That’s the cupboard under the stairs that the Dursleys made him live in while he was growing up. With plenty of space and money to give Harry a happy childhood, they refused and threw him into their cupboard and made him cook and clean for them.
Let’s look at PTSD symptoms and compare them with the symptoms that harry displayed
Some PTSD symptoms are behavioral they are – Agitation, irritability, hostility, hypervigilance, self-destructive behavior, or social isolation. We do see some irritability (sometimes), but not so much hostility or agitation or self-destructive behavior or social isolation in harry.

there are Psychological symptoms too like – flashbacks, fear, severe anxiety, or mistrust. He has a lot of flashbacks, but He does have some fear but not a whole lot of anxiety or mistrust.

Mood-related symptoms can be – Loss of interest or pleasure in activities, guilt, or loneliness. He seems to enjoy most activities that people should enjoy, but he does seem to feel guilty a lot. He appeared to be very lonely before he was a wizard but he made some friends at Hogwarts

symptoms relating to Sleep are- Insomnia or nightmares. He seems to have some nights where he can’t sleep, but not to the point of insomnia. But he seems to have a lot of nightmares.

When you have PTSD, it might feel like you’ll never get your life back. But it can be treated. Short- and long-term psychotherapy and medications can work very well. Often, the two kinds of treatment are more effective together.

PTSD therapy has three main goals:

Improve your symptoms
Teach you skills to deal with it
Restore your self-esteem

Cognitive Processing Therapy
(CPT is a 12-week course of treatment, with weekly sessions of 60-90 minutes. At first, you’ll talk about the traumatic event with your therapist and how your thoughts related to it have affected your life. Then you’ll write in detail about what happened. This process helps you examine how you think about your trauma and figure out new ways to live with it.)
Prolonged Exposure Therapy
(If you’ve been avoiding things that remind you of the traumatic event, PE will help you confront them. It involves eight to 15 sessions, usually 90 minutes each. Early on in treatment, your therapist will teach you breathing techniques to ease your anxiety when you think about what happened. Later, you’ll make a list of the things you’ve been avoiding and learn how to face them, one by one. In another session, you’ll recount the traumatic experience to your therapist, then go home and listen to a recording of yourself.)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
(With EMDR, you might not have to tell your therapist about your experience. Instead, you concentrate on it while you watch or listen to something they’re doing — maybe moving a hand, flashing light, or making a sound.
The goal is to be able to think about something positive while you remember your trauma)
Medications
Fluoxetine (Prozac)
Paroxetine (Paxil)
Sertraline (Zoloft)
Venlafaxine (Effexor)