‘Harry Potter’ books cast a spell on medical studies

Washington: ‘Harry Potter’ series were not just box office hits, but the popular wizard characters have become a basis for many medical studies.

For more than a decade, the phenomenally popular series had provided grist for medical studies on topics including genetics, social cognition and autism.

PubMed, an online database of medical studies, lists 30 studies that invoke the young wizard.

These include “Harry Potter and the Recessive Allele,” “Harry Potter and the Structural Biologist’s (Key)stone,” and even “Harry Potter Casts a Spell on Accident-Prone Children.”

That last study found that children’s emergency department visits decreased significantly when new Harry Potter books went on sale.

Conversely, a 2003 study in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that the lengthy books actually caused an ailment dubbed “Hogwarts headache” among young people who spent too much time reading them.

Martha Driessnack, an assistant professor at the college of nursing at the University of Iowa, published a study in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing on how the books can help explain complex ideas about genetics.

Colman Noctor, a psychotherapist in Ireland, published a study in 2006 on how the series’ use of metaphor and symbolism can be incorporated into psychotherapy with children.

He said the wide range of themes in the Harry Potter series makes it a natural for his work.

“The books deal with racism, anger, feeling different, love, hate, loss and lots more,” the LA Times quoted him as writing in an email.

“As an adolescent psychotherapist, this is really useful stuff. My research looked at using the books to aid therapeutic engagement,” he added.



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