I love the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I have read the books and watched the movies countless times. I even went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal in Orlando with my friend Jenna over spring break this year! But what in the world does Harry Potter have to do with OCD?
Plenty. Just ask any wizard who’s ever encountered a dementor.
For those of you muggles out there who are not familiar with dementors, they are the guardians of the Azkaban wizard prison. Terrifying creatures cloaked in gray tattered robes, they hover menacingly around the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. They are incredibly effective guards because no one wants to get anywhere near them.
For those who are susceptible, being close to a dementor forces a person (wizard or muggle) to relive his or her worst memories—the most awful thoughts s/he could have. Anytime the dementors came near Harry, he was bombarded by images and sounds from his parents’ deaths at the hands of Voldemort. Harry’s friend Ron, who was less susceptible to the dementors’ powers but still affected, summed up the result of being close to a dementor quite nicely: “I felt weird,” said Ron, shifting his shoulders uncomfortably. “Like I’d never be cheerful again….”
Gosh, this is sounding an awful lot like OCD, isn’t it? Being flooded with awful thoughts, happiness only a vague and distant memory. If I had to draw a picture of my “OCD monster” it would look a lot like a dementor.
The importance of a very happy memory
Dementors, like OCD, are not all-powerful (even though it may feel like they are at times). The Patronus Charm provides an effective shield that prevents a dementor from getting anywhere near the wizard using it. Let me allow Harry and Professor Lupin to explain a bit more:
“What does a Patronus look like?” said Harry curiously.
“Each one is unique to the wizard who conjures it.”