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Harry Potter and Lupin: A Healing Conversation [Part Two]

Posted on May 24, 2007 by

(This is a continuation of Harry Potter and Lupin [Part One])

It’s Lupin, a new teacher at Hogwarts that year, who asks Harry Potter to stay after class for a word. And it’s with Lupin that Harry Potter finds it possible to broach the question he’s been longing to ask.

‘Why? Why do they affect me like that? Am I just —-?’

‘It has nothing to do with weakness,’ said Professor Lupin sharply, as though he had read Harry’s mind. ‘The dementors affect you worse than the others because there are horrors in your past that the others don’t have.’

A ray of wintry sunlight fell across the classroom, illuminating Lupin’s gray hairs and the lines on his young face.

‘Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them. Even Muggles feel their presence, though they can’t see them. Get too near a dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself. . . soul-less and evil. You’ll be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life. And the worst that happened to you, Harry, is enough to make anyone fall off their broom. You have nothing to feel ashamed of.’

Harry Potter, as you may well know, was present at the murder of his parents when he was just an infant. The trauma of the murder has left him vulnerable. It’s his point of weakness, his Achilles heel. And what Professor Lupin does, as perhaps some of the best teachers have always done, is to explain Harry to himself, provide him with a context which can allow him to make sense of his experience and which no longer requires him to feel shame.

That, it seems to me, is one of the things that a healing conversation can do: offer the kind of context that can help someone to see themselves—and their situation—more clearly. And, in doing so, be relieved, perhaps, of a misplaced burden of shame. And this, I have no doubt, can be healing.