Case Report

By Dr. Chaitanya Varma , Dr. Hebbar Shrikiran , Dr. M Suneel , Dr. A Karthick
Corresponding Author Dr. Chaitanya Varma
Department of Pediatrics, KMC, Manipal, - India
Submitting Author Dr. Chaitanya Varma
Other Authors Dr. Hebbar Shrikiran
Pediatrics, KMC, Manipal, - India

Dr. M Suneel
Pediatrics, KMC, Manipal, - India

Dr. A Karthick
Pediatrics, KMC, Manipal, - India


Harry Potter, Literature, Influence, Children, Reading habits, Peer pressure, Psychology

Varma C, Shrikiran H, Suneel M, Karthick A. Harry Potter in Medical Literature: A Review. WebmedCentral PAEDIATRICS 2011;2(12):WMC002818
doi: 10.9754/journal.wmc.2011.002818

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License(CC-BY), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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Submitted on: 30 Dec 2011 08:35:02 AM GMT
Published on: 30 Dec 2011 04:24:11 PM GMT


The Harry Potter books are a seven part children fantasy series written by the British author J K Rowling. Since the publication of the first in the series “Harry Potter and the Philosophers’ stone” they have become the fastest selling books in the world and have been translated into 67 different languages. The books follow the adventures of an eleven year old wizard Harry and his coming of age at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The Harry Potter books along with the film series are considered to be one of the most successful brands in human history valued in excess of 15 billion dollars.


“Inside, just visible, was a baby boy, fast asleep. Under a tuft of jet black hair over his forehead they could see a curiously shaped cut, like a bolt of lightning".  A lightning shaped scar on Harry’s forehead is a result of the Killing Curse(“Avada Kedavra”) inflicted on him by Lord Voldermort .Harry is the only known person to survive the curse. Shamshian et al in 2006 described a case of a 14 year old girl having a scar on her forehead after she was stuck by lightning. The girl survived the episode with very little morbidity and the scar was later excised to reveal an embedded foreign object[1].
"Then a pain pierced his head like he'd never felt before, it was as though his scar was on fire..."  Harry Potter suffers from severe debilitating headaches throughout the series. Sheftell and Steiner have proved that in spite of some unusual features, they meet all but one of the ICHD-II criteria for migraine, so allowing the diagnosis of  Probable migraines [2].
Rosegrant in 2009 had proved that the enormous popularity of the Harry Potter books were because of the deep resonance of psychological issues of adolescents teens which he brings to life.  According to the author, these developmental themes are explored in order to better understand the Harry Potter books, as; conversely, the books are explored in order to better understand these themes [3].
Subkowski P analysed the mental development of Harry Potter after the loss of his parents, neglect by his relatives, his strong friendships, and peer pressure at school, his idolization of Professor Dumbledore and his initiation into adult life through a period of seven years. His various conflicts and their resolutions help in the strong identification of his character by the young adult leading to his popularity [4].
Noctor C has clinically employed the main themes in the Harry Potter stories to assist the psychotherapeutic work in children and adolescents. The author tried to illustrate the symbolism and metaphor in the Harry Potter stories and elucidate why these books may appeal to young people with mental difficulties [5].
“He spoke in a barely more than a whisper... but like Professor McGonagall, Snape had the gift of keeping a class silent without effort.” Conn JJ in his paper analyses the teaching styles of the staff at Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft in the context of contemporary generic and medical education literature. It argues that effective teachers demonstrate not only an in-depth knowledge of their discipline but possess a keen appreciation of the cognitive changes that occur in their students during the learning process [6].  
Stephen et al proved that there was a significant fall in the emergency room admissions on the weekends when the Harry Potter books-The Order of the Phoenix and The Half Blood Prince, were released in 2003 and 2005 respectively. It was hypothesised that high quality children books could act as “distraction therapy” and prevent injuries [7].  
To differentiate between the historical figures (eg. Abraham Lincoln) that children learn about  and fantasy characters (e.g., Harry Potter) a study was done by Corriveau et al. Both younger (3- and 4-year-olds) and older children (5-, 6-, and 7-year-olds) could understand the status of familiar figures, correctly judging historical figures to be real and fictional figures to be pretend. However, only older children used the narrative to make an appropriate assessment of the status of the protagonist, when presented with information about novel figures embedded in either a realistic narrative or a narrative with obvious fantasy elements [8].
In a study done by Pfeifer et al on 12 adults and 12 children  the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) was relatively more active during self knowledge (short phrases describing themselves) than social knowledge retrieval, and the medial posterior parietal cortex (MPPC) was relatively more active during social knowledge(short phrases describing Harry Potter) than self-knowledge retrieval[9].
Czubek and Greenwald developed an innovative way in which Deaf children could understand the Harry Potter series and its underlying themes. They used a Deaf lens and a Deaf Studies Template while using the American Sign Language to provide an insight into the world of Harry Potter [10].


Harry Potter and his wizarding world has done what no person could achieve in the past few decades-To get children away from never ending TV viewing and transport them to magical world of imagination. Parents and teachers have credited the series with inspiring a generation of kids to read for pleasure away from the world of instant text messaging, Game boys and music downloads. Now that the series has come to an end it remains to be seen if Harry Potter has managed to create a generation of lifelong readers in his wake.


1. N. Shamsian, M. Jones, M.D. Brough, R. Standish & J. Humberson: The Harry Potter Forehead Scar Following A Lightning Injury. The Internet Journal of Plastic Surgery. 2006. Volume 2, No 2.
2. Sheftell F, Steiner TJ, Thomas H. Harry Potter and the curse of headache .Headache.2007 Jun; 47(6):911-6.
3. Rosegrant J.The Deathly Hallows. Harry Potter and the Adolescent Development. J Am Pyschoanal Assoc. 2009 Dec; 57(6):1401-23.
4. Subkowski. On the Pyschoanalytic view of Harry Potter.Prax Kinderpyschol Kinderpsychiatr 2008; 57(7):571-85.
5. Noctor C. Putting Harry Potter on  the couch.Clin Child Pyschol Psychiatry. 2006 Oct; 11(4).
6.Conn JJ. What can clinical teachers learn from Harry Potter and the Philosphers Stone. Med Edu. 2002 Dec; 36(12):1176-81.
7. Stephen Gwilym, Dominic PJ, Nev Davies, Keith Willet.Harry Potter casts a spell on accident prone children. BMJ. 2005 Dcember 24; 331:1505-1506.
8.Corriveau KH, Kim AL,Schwalen CE,Harris PL.Abhraham Lincoln and Hary Potter.Childrens differentiation between historical and fantasy characters.Cognition. 2009 Nov; 113(2):213-25.
9.Pfeiffer JH,Lieberman MD,Dapretto M .” I know who you are but what am i ?!” Neural basis of self and social knowledge retrieval in children and adults.J Cogn Neurosci. 2007 Aug; 19(8):1323-37.
10. Czubek TA, Greenwald J. Understanding Harry Potter: Parallels to the deaf world.J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ. 2005 Fall; 10(4):442-50.


CV a lifelong Harry Potter fan prepared the draft. SH,SM and KA reviewed it. None of them has ever attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

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2 reviews posted so far

Harrys medicine
Posted by Dr. Chaitanya Varma on 29 Jan 2012 10:26:05 AM GMT

Good read
Posted by Dr. Sohrab M on 08 Jan 2012 12:19:29 PM GMT

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