Medicine Turns to the Magical World of Harry Potter

Filed under: In The News, Weird But True, New In Pop Culture

daniel radcliffe

Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris, WireImage

Harry Potter, as readers of his adventures know, is prone to headaches.

Concerned, researchers the New England Center for Headache published a study in 2007 examining Harry's head.

They diagnosed his headaches as migraines. However, despite all their scientific expertise, they could not explain how these migraines are triggered by the presence of a certain evil wizard.

Uh, guys? Could it have something to do with Harry being fictional?

People sometimes forget Harry Potter and the other characters who inhabit his popular adventures are not real.

These people are not just 12-year-old kids who go to midnight movie debuts dressed in black robes. Scientists, researchers and medical professionals also get sucked into Harry's magical realm.

For instance, did you know there is a real-world ailment called "Hogwarts Headache"? It was cited in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2003 as a condition that occurs from spending too much time reading Harry Potter books.

The Hartford Courant in Connecticut reports another study found fewer children go to the emergency room when new Harry Potter books go on sale.

In all, PubMed, an online database of medical studies, lists 30 studies that mention Harry Potter. So, if you're starved for fresh Harry Potter literature, you might turn to "Harry Potter and the Recessive Allele."

A recessive allele, by the way, is an allele whose phenotypic effect is not expressed in a heterozygote. Maybe Hermione Granger can explain it to you.

Or, you might try Martha Driessnack, an assistant professor at the college of nursing at the University of Iowa.

The Courant reports she published a study in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing on how the books can help explain complex ideas about genetics.

Then, there's Jennifer Pfeifer, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon. The Courant reports she found most children have as much familiarity with Harry Potter as adults do with President Obama. And both Potter and Obama are expected to magically change things.

That could explain the appeal of Harry Potter books -- both to the public and scientific community, Colman Noctor, a psychotherapist in Ireland, tells the Courant.

"Who wouldn't fantasize about using magic to overcome life's challenges?" he said. "Also, isn't it reassuring that wizards struggle, too?"

Noctor examined how the use of metaphor and symbolism in Harry Potter books can be incorporated into psychotherapy with children.

"The books deal with racism, anger, feeling different, love, hate, loss and lots more," he tells the Courant. "As an adolescent psychotherapist, this is really useful stuff."

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.