In honor of Harry Potter’s return at midnight tonight, I’ve stitched together author JK Rowling’s musings on healing and medicine with my own observations of her books’ health-related impact on children.
“Doctors? Those Muggle nutters that cut people up? Nah, they’re Healers.”
— Ron Weasley, when asked if the staff at St. Mungo’s were doctors (From JK Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”)
Ron is Harry’s best friend. In Book 5 (Order of the Phoenix), his dad, Mr. Weasley, is hospitalized at the infamous St. Mungo’s Hospital for treatment for a nearly lethal snake bite. He suffers a minor setback when Trainee Healer Pye (not the Healer-in-Charge, Hippocrates Smethwyck) tries some “complementary medicine . . . [an] old Muggle remed[y] . . . called stitches.” Muggles, of course, is a derogatory term for non-wizards. Rowling’s play on complementary medicine is essentially a coy throw-away for most of her readers, but it certainly got a chuckle out of this one.
Harry is wildly popular with the preteen and teen set. Reading can be a great diversion from the stresses of everyday life (see previous post, “Stressed-Out Kids”), as well as from those pervasive video games and television sets. Rowling’s wonderful fantasies provide instant mind-body remedies for so many kids who have started to lose the use of their atrophied imaginations. Thus it was with some dismay that I discovered the following case series in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (October 30, 2003). Read it at your own peril. I’m off to read The Half-Blood Prince.