Personality Disorders: DSM of Harry Potter

Written by
Ariff Mohamed Moolla, OMS III
DO/MPH Candidate of 2016
Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine, CA

Piggy-backing off my classmate’s last post about The Power of Analogy, I wanted to write (and doodle) about a topic in psychiatry using an analogy. I find the idea of using characters from the magical world of Harry Potter intriguing for this blog entry (secretly because I was attracted to the idea of doodling them).

Personalities

Personality disorders are permanent and maladaptive traits that define the way a person is. They are egosyntonic meaning that they are so engrained in an individual’s personality that one does not see it as a problem (making them harder to treat).

They are divided into three clusters –

Cluster A – Paranoid, Schizoid and Schizotypal. These disorders reflect the “weird.”

Cluster B – Anti-social, Borderline, Histrionic and Narcissistic. These disorders reflect the “wild.”

Cluster C – Avoidant, Dependent and Obsessive-Compulsive. These disorders reflect the “weak.”

Beginning with cluster A, Paranoid Personality Disorder are individuals who are mistrustful, suspicious of others and usually interpret benign behaviors as malevolent. Such traits make “Mad-Eye” Moody and his catchphrase of “Constant Vigilance” a good analogy for Paranoid PD. Having encountered many dangerous experiences through out his career, Alaster “Mad-Eye” Moody was hyperparanoid, and thought by many as being delusional. He prepared his own meals and drank only from his personal flask in case someone was trying to poison him. He was also very distrusting of most people, attacked a witch who shouted “boo” at him on April Fool’s Day and even destroyed a birthday present believing it was a cleverly disguised basilisk egg.

People with Schizoid Personality Disorder do not desire or enjoy social relationships and often don’t have any close friends. They will often seem to be aloof and have no tender or warm feelings towards others. Severus Snape fits this description – He is aloof, avoids others, speaks very little. And, between his unstable home life, constant teasing growing up and rejection/death of the only person he ever truly loved, his schizoid personality starts to make sense. 

Individuals with Schizotypal Personality Disorder have interpersonal difficulties similar to those of the schizoid personality, while exhibiting odd beliefs or magical thinking (such as being clairvoyant/telepathic). Very few in the magical world of Potter-verse are as schizotypal as Luna Lovegood – just imagine her talk about “invisible Wrackspurts floating through your eyes and making your brain go fuzzy.”

In cluster B, individuals with Anti-Social Personality Disorder have no regard for the rights of others, are impulsive, and lack remorse. I am not even going to try hard to convince you that these traits are pathognomonic when it comes to describing Lord Voldemort.   

Borderline Personality Disorder has the core features of impulsivity and instability in relationships, mood and self-image.  All these traits stem from the primary fear of abandonment. These individuals attempt suicide in order to seek attention and frequently exhibit “splitting” (either something/someone is awesome or horrible). These traits make Moaning Myrtle a likely candidate with her affective instability, inappropriate anger, recurrent suicidal threats and seeing people as all good or all bad.

Histrionic personality disorder is a disorder applied to people who are overly dramatic, attention-seeking with excessive contrived emotions, over-the-top actions and hyper-sexuality. They use their physical appearance to be seductive and behave very theatrically. Again, I do not need to try much harder to convince you that the over-the-top and seductively dressed Bellatrix Lestrange fits this personality disorder. She craves her master’s (Lord Voldemort) attention and is very upset when she doesn’t receive his approval.

People with Narcissistic personality disorder, much like Gilderoy Lockhart, have a grandiose view of their own uniqueness and abilities and they are often preoccupied with fantasies of great success. They are self-centered, require constant attention and admiration, and they believe that only the elite can understand them. These traits primarily stem from a lack of empathy central to Cluster B. Lockhart builds his fame on the achievements of other wizards in Potter-verse and uses that fame to take advantage of others.

Lastly, we have Cluster C. People with Avoidant Personality Disorder are shy, fear criticism, and have a constant feeling of inadequacy. They desperately want friends but avoid them for the fear of rejection. Though Hagrid has found many friends in his life (Harry, Ron, Hermoine, Dumbledore, etc) – his personality and secluded occupation as the Keeper of Keys at Hogwarts does have many similar characteristics to an avoidant personality.

Dependent personality disorder lack self-confidence and lack a sense of autonomy. They see themselves as weak. They have an intense need to be taken care of. They can’t be alone and are filled with fears of being left alone to take care of themselves. Peter Pettigrew shows his need for a relationship by how he worships his master Lord Voldemort in the series. It is not out of affection but out of fear – since his need to be taken care of and not be left alone is so severe.

Then we have the Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. People with this personality are perfectionists, preoccupied with details, rules, schedules, etc. The preoccupation with orderliness and control is so intense that it is at the expense of efficiency. Dolores Umbridge is a perfect fit – she needed everything to go her way. She needed to be in complete control

I hope any reader enjoys my analogy of personality disorders through the lens of Potter-verse. I apologize if my imagination got carried away but this was done in hopes to bring some levity to this topic. In spirit of the series of book I grew up with, I would like to conclude this post by reciting phrase that reveals the contents of Marauder’s Map – “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”

 

One thought on “Personality Disorders: DSM of Harry Potter

  1. loved it! I’m studying for the MCAT and when I was reading about Cluster A disorders I immediately thought about Luna, glad to know I was not the only one! And all these other examples were great to read!

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