ep 220

Episode 220: Is Harry Imagining Everything? – But, He Bounced!

Of course this is happening inside your head, Harry! Join hosts Eric and Kat with special guests Haley and Bella as they discuss the AU theory that Harry is imagining his entire experience in the wizarding world. This isn’t the Harry Potter series you’ve read before.

On Episode 220 we discuss…

→ Does this theory affect the re-readability of the series?
→ Other examples of dream theory in pop culture
→ Fight or Flight?
→ Is Snape fully redeemable in this theory?

DEPRESSION/SUICIDE TRIGGER WARNING: Skip to around 47:00 mark to avoid this conversation

→ Where do the other characters fit into this theory?
→ Dumbledore sees socks: it all makes sense now!
→ Harry is his own worst enemy
→ Plots holes served their purpose
JK Rowling & Steve Kloves discuss the theory

To listen to the show, simply click the player below or direct download the episode. You can also subscribe to us on iTunes. For more information about the podcast and to find out how to be on the show, check out our Be On The Show! page.

Skype users can send us a message to username AlohomoraMN. And as always, be sure to continue the discussion below!

Listen Now: | Download


RECAP: EPISODE 219

→ Whose Vault Is This Anyway?
→ Do families really share their wealth?
→ Why is Harry rich?
→ Hagrid the half-giant can apparate?
→ PQOTW Responses

Listen Now: | Download

  • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

    Holy crap, I wouldn’t have thought it going in, but this is easily one of my new favorite episodes. Kudos to whoever came up with this for a topic. Like Kat, I find this theory immensely fascinating though I can’t subscribe to it just because it is so, so, sad. And it isn’t sad just because of the idea that he has such a terrible life that this poor kid has to create such an elaborate fantasy to escape it but because even the fantasy itself is steeped in so much tragedy- the loss of friends and family, being bullied by peers and adults, the tragic backstories of several characters within the fantasy- it isn’t like it’s an escape into a purely happy place.

    That said, if Harry is just crazy and it’s all in his head, he still crafts one hell of a great story. The kid should be a writer. I don’t generally read fan-fic, but I 100% agree that it would make a fantastic one if written from say the perspective of Dumbledore the Psychiatrist, weaving Harry’s fantasy into the context of his reality. I’d read that, for sure.

  • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

    I had one thought that made me smile: so animal therapy is a thing- what if Harry’s hospital brought in like a traveling petting zoo as a treat for the patients. I was imagining Harry encountering all these animals, and then turning them into magical creatures in his head- ponies become hippogriffs and unicorns, a lizard becomes a dragon, the dog grows two extra heads, snakes talk. Or even just the random animals he encounters he turns into magical beasts- spiders, owls, cats. LOL What if McGonagall is just a therapy cat in the hospital that he believes is actually a person disguised as a cat.
    “McGonagall made me Quidditch Captain today!”
    “The cat?”
    “Well yeah, she is head of house you know.”
    “ummm…”

  • daveybjones999 .

    This is a great episode, but I never liked this theory, not because it’s sad, but because it is the laziest most commonly used fan theory in existence. As the hosts mention, almost every single show/movie that has fan’s theorizing about it has a theory about how the entire story isn’t happening because either, all the characters are dead or the character is in a coma. I dislike this because, almost every time one of these theories pop up it’s usually used as a really lazy way to try and make upbeat or child friendly series dark and edgy. Here are a few that I really dislike, all the characters in Recess are dead, Angelica Pickles is imagining all the dead/aborted babies of her aunts and uncles in Rugrats etc. However to be fair, a few series where this theory does work is in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, because it was the actual plot of an episode in season 6, Ed, Edd, and Eddy, in which all the kids are dead from different time periods, and the neighborhood is purgatory, and in Harry Potter, because it is unusually well thought out for this type of theory.

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      I had totally forgotten this was a thing with Rugrats and Recess. Years ago I remember the Recess one really pissing me off because it was just so stupid. Because you’re right, it is a lazy thoery generally- there’s no payoff, unless it is actually addressed as a part of the narrative. Why would anyone write a whole series under this kind of premise but never actually address the fact that its all just in the protagonists head? This is what makes it entirely implausible, no matter how well it fits. It’s a “fun” thing to think about, but I don’t think it can be taken as a serious arguement.

    • ousley

      The Rugrats one keeps growing and getting more in depth. I’m kinda dark and twisted so it’s one of my favorites haha

  • daveybjones999 .

    In terms of this theory, I prefer the second version, and I have a way to make this theory end happily. My happy ending version of this theory is that, the King’s cross scene is because Harry attempts suicide, and the psychiatrist who represents Dumbledore comes back. He helps Harry talk through his issues, and him and Harry construct the events of the final chapter together as a way to help Harry finally get over his issues. In terms of my version of how this theory ends, the epilogue would be Harry playing a game with his children based on his childhood delusions that he eventually recovered from.

    • daveybjones999 .

      As another extension Cursed Child would just be Harry and his children playing a game of make pretend, and that’s reason why characters seem to act differently in the play then they did in the books, each different timeline they go to is thought up by one of Harry’s three children as a way for Harry to help his kids foster their sense of imagination, the ending with Delphi is Harry’s way of explaining how he eventually got better, and the kids death at the end is how Harry explains the concept of death to his kids.

      • travellinginabluebox

        Wow. I actually really love this. I really didn’t like this theory at all before this episode, but this makes me like it! Thanks @daveybjones999 .:disqus

  • daveybjones999 .

    One of the hosts mentioned 30 Rock’s ending, it’s actually a direct parody to the ending of the medical drama St. Elsewhere, in which the entire series took place in the mind of one of the characters autistic son looking at a snow globe of the hospital.

    • SpinnersEnd

      Have you heard the far reaching theory that a bunch of other TV shows take place in the same universe as St. Elsewhere? It’s so wonderfully ridiculous!

      • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

        I just popped on here to talk about that! Haha 😀 It’s “The Tommy Westphall Universe Hypothesis” and is explained well on Wikipedia. Here’s the short synopsis:

        “The Tommy Westphall universe hypothesis makes the claim that not only does St. Elsewhere take place within Tommy’s mind, but so do numerous other television series which are directly and indirectly connected to St. Elsewhere through fictional crossovers and spin-offs, resulting in a large fictional universe taking place entirely within Tommy’s mind. In a 2003 article published on BBC News Online, St. Elsewhere writer Tom Fontana was quoted as saying, “Someone did the math once… and something like 90 percent of all [American] television took place in Tommy Westphall’s mind. God love him.”

        I have to imagine there are other books/shows/movies where this type of plot device takes place. Do any of you know of any?

        • SpinnersEnd

          Ah! Thank you! I could not remember his name.

          My other favorite theory like this is one where all the shows that Det. John Munch (from Law & Order) shows up in take place in same universe.

  • Lisa

    Like daveybjones999 says you can apply this theory to basically any story out there, it doesn’t even have to be fantasy or sci fi. Okay, on _most_ stories, since it’s probably harder to apply it on something like Game of Thrones which has multiple POVs. Speaking of which, I might have missed this but does the episode discuss how the parts of the books which aren’t from Harry’s POV, like Spinner’s End, fit into the theory? I suppose Harry can imagine things he isn’t a part of but still.

    It’s also unclear to me why, if this is his fantasy, he would give other people like Dumbledore and Snape so much importance. I mean your fantasy should be about you being a brave hero who kicks ass on his own, not about you being manipulated by your Headmaster (and his spy) to kick ass.

    • travellinginabluebox

      Very valid point that wasn’t brought up in the episode. I also think that the theory fits a lot better to the earlier books but gets increasingly harder to match to the later books.

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      Exactly. In these sorts of fantasy scenarios where people insert themselves as the ultimate hero, one would really expect more of a Mary-Sue type character. That’s really the difference between just plain imaginary fantasy and actual good writing. I would say this is probably the most damning evidence that this whole theory is completely implausible. That and the fact that there is no reason given via the narrative to actually think this is the case. Surely if there were any intention for it to all be in Harry’s head, that point would be made. I think we can all agree there is no validity here.

  • Minerva the Flufflepuff

    This theory is so ridiculous, it makes ‘Lupin is James’ sound plausible 😛

    There really is no evidence whatsoever for this, and on closer inspection (and as you found out yourselves), a lot of things just don’t add up, especially in the later books. Still, I enjoyed your discussion about this topic and hope you continue to examine the weirder themes and topics about the Harry Potter books.

  • Casey L.

    Very interesting episode. Like most of you, I don’t believe in this theory, but it was fascinating to see how you fit so much of the wizarding world so neatly into Harry’s alleged delusion.
    That being said, I do have one little quibble about Kat’s mention of Harry’s “mundane” injuries – all the bones in his arm being vanished during Chamber of Secrets isn’t exactly what I’d consider mundane! Can you imagine real doctors reacting to a child with no bones in one of his arms? Otherwise, very interesting.

    • ousley

      Perhaps in his delusion, a cast blocking vision of his physical arm led him to conclusion that the bone must be gone now.

  • SpinnersEnd

    What if each of the Horcruxes represented a facet of Harry’s psychosis? He would have seven major hurtles to clear on the road to recovery (and I like to think he recovers, at least a bit).

    The Diary – Harry first brush brush with seeing, actually seeing someone (Ginny) die. This would have been the first time he really had to confront the death of his parents.
    Slytherin’s Locket – Harry’s struggle with bipolar disorder. He doesn’t want to take responsibility for his mood swings, so he blames it on a external influence, until he is forced to confront it (i.e. destroy the locket).
    Gaunt Ring – since Harry did not destroy this one by himself or through his direct influence, this could be something that Harry needed to be heavily medicated or had some kind of major procedure to overcome
    Hufflepuff’s Cup – Harry learns about his mental illness. This would be a critical point for him. As he learns more about Tom Riddle, he sees the terrible path he could go down. Now he must consciously choose to continue with his recovery.
    Ravenclaw’s Diadem –
    Nagini – Once again, Harry isn’t directly involved in destroying this one, so I think this is the point at which

    Each close call (i.e. the Trio breaking into Gringotts) is a close call for Harry in “real life” where he has a particularly bad day/episode. Voldemort represents his over-arching mental illness and their final battle is Harry’s last big struggle with self harm/suicide.

    I’m totally pulling this out of the air, but I think it could work…

    • MyNameIsElvendork

      And the hallows could be anti psychotic drugs taken to help him deal with his psychosis. The way through as opposed to a way out.

    • ousley

      Glad I’m not the only one who was thinking of Horcruxes and what they could mean. All of that could definitely make sense depending on why Harry is there.

  • Stephen Hauser

    I thought it was another interesting episode and have never heard this theory. I thought the Neville part was the most intriguing of the discussion. I definitely don’t believe this theory at all though. Long time listener, first time commenter.

    • travellinginabluebox

      Welcome welcome welcome! Definitely hope to see you around in the comments more often then!

      I’ve had heard of this theory before listening, but it was only the “Harry has imagined everything” part and never as in-depth as was discussed in this episode. I was amazed about how some things could so easily fit this theory, if you actively chose to look for those. However, I agree with most of you, that I do not believe in this theory, any more than it is just a fun theory to play around with. We used to do that a lot in Philosophy and Ethics class in school. The teacher would present a theory and what it entailed and we would then argue why we think it would work or it was plossible and vice versa. I always loved that, because it really gets you into thinking about different approaches and it is not always easy to contradict those theories. And I am still thinking about one major point I could grab and prove this theory wrong, but I haven’t found one yet.

      • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

        I know it’s just a typo but “plossible” is my new favorite word XD

  • RavenPuff

    As I was listening to the episode, I came up with this scenario (I have not done any research into the theories, so if they line up, it’s completely random)

    While I do not agree with this theory, I can see it happening.
    – Hagrid is the agent or Officer that that both finds him at the murder scene of his parents and/or picks him from the abusive home. A big burly guy that saves him or takes him away from whats harming him is an easy leap from a CPS officer.

    – Dumbledore is the psychiatrist.
    – Snape is either the head nurse/ward supervisor or medication dispenser. Which my perspective, he’s just the one that is not cutting the “patient” any slack for aliment but expects him to behave, while others are giving him leeway because of what he went through. He is the day to day aid to that wing and gets the frustration that comes with being in a locked location.

    – I like McGonagall as a therapy cat XD
    – Each new DADA teacher is some new doctor in the ward.

    Though instead of Harry being Tom, I see it as Voldemort is him dealing with his psychosis. He’s coming to grips with the PSTD of his parents and/or the abuse. As he gets close to giving him self up for the greater good, it’s him coming closer to giving up the fantasy he needs to cope. This kinda ties in to SpinnersEnd’s comment, where each horcrux is a step towards healing.

  • This theory is just way too contrived

  • ousley

    This is easily one of my favorite episodes.

  • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

    While listening to the episode, all I could picture was a combination of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and the season of “House” where House is in a mental facility with Lin-Manuel Miranda – specifically regarding the patient who believes he’s a super hero who can fly.

    But that begs the question…who is the equivalent of Nurse Ratched?

  • ousley

    Although @spinenrsend:disqus already covered a Horcrux theory, I had my own as I was listening to the episode.

    This is based on the idea that Harry is there due to some sort of majorly repressed memory – my favorite is that he somehow killed his own parents at a young age and created this world as escapism (which also works that the idea of Voldemort is a projection of his negative self), but others could work as well.

    The destruction of each – in order – could be his path to accepting his past rather than denying it or creating a fantasy world to cover it up – leading to an eventual “normal” mindset for him.

    The Diary is the first of the horcruxes destroyed – it contains memories. Perhaps Harry reaches a stage at which some of his memories start to come back to him – and the diary is actually say, the case notes from the specialists working with him, or evidence or a confession. The trip to the Chamber of Secrets could simply be that Harry broke into the doctor’s office and destroyed these documents. At this stage, he is still trying to repress everything.

    The Ring was already destroyed by Dumbledore – the family ring of Gaunt, it may symbolize the future family that Harry could have had (perhaps, in real life, a wedding ring) but that the possibility of such was destroyed for him – his fate sealed in advance – showing him that such a life is never possible unless he is able to destroy the rest of the demons in his way.

    The Locket, even in the books, brought out the absolute worst fears and ideas of the characters. Another family heirloom – this time, looking into the past. This would be Harry’s realization that his family is never coming back – he’ll never have his family back – and acceptance of that fact. Nothing he does, nothing he creates in his mind, will bring them back in real form.

    The Cup contains the medicine that gives him moments of lucidity. It’s at this point that he begins accepting other memories as well. Before, he was only accepting facts that were detached from explanation. The cup brings him details that he had long tried to forget.

    The Diadem – associated with brains, understanding, and knowledge, could be the moment that he finally begins to admit and accept the details that the cup began bringing to him. His brain is awakening to reality.

    Harry himself – this could go multiple directions. One is that he realizes he must defeat his inner demons to come out of this mess, and King’s Cross symbolizes a great awakening in his mind – he finally sees the light. The other, alluded to in the episode, is that his realization and acceptance of the past leads to a relapse, possibly resulting in an attempted suicide. In either scenario, it is now that he realizes the second chance he gets at life, and begins his quest to make things right in his mind and his in world.

    This leaves Nagini – who would symbolize the fear, anger, anxiety, and everything else that creeps in – slithers in – to his mind while trying to walk the right path and return to the real world. In someone struggling with real mental disorders, that snake never really goes away – it slithers back in when you least expect it – but it would represent the challenge of overcoming a major hurdle in the right direction.

    (And, now to get extra-controversial – let’s say he overcomes all of this – is eventually released and leads a normal life – and Cursed Child is one giant, awful, relapse that sends him back to the hospital.)

  • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

    you can get so many layers with this theory: we can imagine all kinds of parallels and ideas that fit into this headcanon, but back when Jo first imagined Harry and began to add ideas to his story and the magical world, she could never have imagined how today we would share our ideas about the theory that Harry imagined it all.

    and if I can go back to the question on family vaults for a second: what if family vaults work like the room of requirement? Depending on who they are opened for and who is entering, different interiors and contents will be accessible.

    • ousley

      That’s the first explanation of how a family vault would work that is acceptable to me haha

  • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

    I think what makes this theory interesting (even though I don’t seriously buy into it) is imagining how the different characters fit. So with Lupin being my favorite, of course I had to figure how he would be involved. That being said, this comment probably isn’t for everyone as it is quite dark and deals with depression, suicide, and stigma surrounding illnesses like HIV/AIDS, so fair warning- feel free to skip it if it’s not for you.

    Going along with the premise that this is Harry’s fantasy playing out while really he’s been institutionalized, it might be that Lupin is another patient that Harry meets. If Jo wrote Lupin’s affliction as a werewolf to be a metaphor for HIV/AIDS and the stigma that goes with it, than the obvious way it fits into this theory is to flip it- so Lupin actually has HIV and being a werewolf is how Harry fits him into the fantasy. Debilitating depression often accompanies life-threatening and chronic illnesses, so I think it could be that Lupin is in for this sort of mental treatment, not just physical. It could be that to Harry, he generally seems alright, and is kind and helpful to Harry, teaching him his own methods for dealing with depression- focusing on happy thoughts (the Patronus Charm) and finding humor in the things that frighten him (Boggarts and Riddikulus). As time goes on though, Harry learns just how crushing Lupin’s depression is, that he is filled with self-loathing and helplessness towards his condition, as we the readers learn over the course of the series. Given that this was written in the 90’s, negative attitudes towards HIV/AIDS sufferers were much more prevalant than they are now, and treatment had not made the kind of advances it has now, so I could see those things definitely affecting Lupin’s state of mind and how he would view himself as a danger to others. He would be this figure who helps Harry fight his own demons, one that Harry makes to be a mentor and hero in his fantasy until ultimately losing his own battle, either by succumbing to his illness in the form of AIDS, or perhaps even by taking his own life. It’s really terrible and sad to think about, but I think Lupin’s character in particular really fits well with this theory.

    • Michael Harle

      I think this is the first comment to ever bring me to tears.

      I shouldn’t be reading these at work! :{ (

      • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

        Sorry Michael☹️️ But, consolation- it’s in no way true! Because this theory is laughably unsubstantiated. Though Lupins still dead, so there is that…damnit.

    • “He would be this figure who helps Harry fight his own demons,” and then punches Harry in the face when Harry tries to help him?

      • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

        So…an act of aggression by someone who is potentially mentally and emotionally unstable? Absolutely.

  • ousley

    Well, disqus decided that my long comment was spam for some reason, so I’m going to break it up into a couple different parts and see if that helps.

    Although @SpinnersEnd already covered a Horcrux theory, I had my own as I was listening to the episode.

    This is based on the idea that Harry is there due to some sort of majorly repressed memory – my favorite is that he somehow killed his own parents at a young age and created this world as escapism (which also works that the idea of Voldemort is a projection of his negative self), but others could work as well.

    The destruction of each – in order – could be his path to accepting his past rather than denying it or creating a fantasy world to cover it up – leading to an eventual “normal” mindset for him.

    • ousley

      The Diary is the first of the horcruxes destroyed – it contains memories. Perhaps Harry reaches a stage at which some of his memories start to come back to him – and the diary is actually say, the case notes from the specialists working with him, or evidence or a confession. The trip to the Chamber of Secrets could simply be that Harry broke into the doctor’s office and destroyed these documents. At this stage, he is still trying to repress everything.

      The Ring was already destroyed by Dumbledore – the family ring of Gaunt, it may symbolize the future family that Harry could have had (perhaps, in real life, a wedding ring) but that the possibility of such was destroyed for him – his fate sealed in advance – showing him that such a life is never possible unless he is able to destroy the rest of the demons in his way.

    • ousley

      (3/4) The Locket, even in the books, brought out the absolute worst fears and ideas of the characters. Another family heirloom – this time, looking into the past. This would be Harry’s realization that his family is never coming back – he’ll never have his family back – and acceptance of that fact. Nothing he does, nothing he creates in his mind, will bring them back in real form.

      The Cup contains the medicine that gives him moments of lucidity. It’s at this point that he begins accepting other memories as well. Before, he was only accepting facts that were detached from explanation. The cup brings him details that he had long tried to forget.

      The Diadem – associated with brains, understanding, and knowledge, could be the moment that he finally begins to admit and accept the details that the cup began bringing to him. His brain is awakening to reality.

    • ousley

      (4/4) Harry himself – this could go multiple directions. One is that he realizes he must defeat his inner demons to come out of this mess, and King’s Cross symbolizes a great awakening in his mind – he finally sees the light. The other, alluded to in the episode, is that his realization and acceptance of the past leads to a relapse, possibly resulting in an attempted suicide. In either scenario, it is now that he realizes the second chance he gets at life, and begins his quest to make things right in his mind and his in world.

      This leaves Nagini – who would symbolize the fear, anger, anxiety, and everything else that creeps in – slithers in – to his mind while trying to walk the right path and return to the real world. In someone struggling with real mental disorders, that snake never really goes away – it slithers back in when you least expect it – but it would represent the challenge of overcoming a major hurdle in the right direction.

      (And, now to get extra-controversial – let’s say he overcomes all of this – is eventually released and leads a normal life – and Cursed Child is one giant, awful, relapse that sends him back to the hospital.)

      • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

        I love your theory! Especially the Cursed Child relapse! Hahahahaha 😀

        • ousley

          I mean, if he’s gonna do it as an adult, it better be wilder and crazier than ever!

  • ousley

    (1/3) So…. anyone want to go even deeper with this?

    Sticking with the “Harry in therapy” idea, a reference by JKR (ahem, Robert Galbraith) in Cuckoo’s Calling would explain House selection, the Mirror of Erised, and possibly even Occlumency and Legilimency in one go.

    In Cuckoo’s Calling, Deeby Macc has a song called “F*** Johari” in reference to psychotherapy he underwent while in prison. This refers to the concept of Johari’s Window / Johari’s House – an approach to discovering one’s personality, drives, etc.

    The subject selects words from a list of 56 adjectives that describe him- or herself. Then, peers select adjectives that they believe describes the subject. These are sorted into a grid with four boxes – the Rooms of the Johari House or panes of the Johari Window.

    These four quadrants are:
    – Open/Arena: adjectives chosen by both subject and peers [things about us that we see and others see]
    – Hidden/Facade: adjectives only chosen by subject [private space; things only we see or know about ourselves]
    – Blind: adjectives only chosen by peers [what others see, but we are unaware of]
    – Unknown: adjectives selected by neither [unconscious or subconscious]

    • ousley

      (2/3) The ultimate goal is to help one discover positive traits and come up with ways to use them to improve one’s life.

      When Harry gets to Hogwarts, students are sorted into houses based on traits seen by the Sorting Hat. In this case, the Sorting Hat is making that list of adjectives that peers see about a person and comparing them to what the wearers of the hat see about themselves. The Hat attempts to find this common ground and place each student in a house based upon those common adjectives.

      In Harry’s case, his hidden/facade adjectives are in direct conflict with his blind adjectives. He is saying, “I belong in Gryffindor,” while the hat senses that portion of Voldemort in him – something of which Harry is not yet aware – and thus describes him using different words. In the end, Harry makes a choice of which adjectives he wants to define his life. We learn on Pottermore that Hermione does this as well – while Neville lets the hat choose for him.

    • ousley

      (3/4) The Mirror of Erised shows one’s deepest desires – it shows how a person would view themselves in a perfect world. Harry would be with his family. Ron would be the golden child of his family. Only the person looking in the mirror can see these things – no one else. Thus, the mirror pulls out one’s strongest descriptions from their hidden/facade characteristics. Learning to recognize what one’s deepest drives, motives, and etc are is an important step into moving forward in life.
      Occlumency is the act of hiding one’s deepest thoughts from others. Legilimency is the act of extracting those thoughts from others. The two are in direct conflict, the same way that someone undergoing therapy may be hiding their deepest thoughts from their therapist, while the therapist is trying to extract those thoughts from the patient. This would symbolize Harry’s repression of memories vs. the doctor working with him trying to un-repress said memories.

    • ousley

      (4/4) At the end of the day, Harry does use a combination – the Open/Arena adjectives that describe him – to save the day (or recover from whatever state he is in). He stayed true to his core personality, beliefs, and ethics, while using the motivations and encouragements of others who believed in him more than he believed in himself to overcome the darkness that was for so long overpowering him.
      And so he uses Johari’s therapy to defeat Voldemort… or his inner demons… or whatever.

  • SnapesManyButtons

    I don’t view this as a theory as much as just a mental exercise that’s interesting to think about. As far as Snape’s part, I would put him as some sort of physical or occupational therapist who is there to take the patient to and then past their limitations. I know a lot of times people hate these therapists because they have to be relentless and not listen when the patient wants to give up. But they know how far to take it without causing harm and are ultimately there to help the patient improve. This seems a good analogy to the Occlumency lessons where Harry wants to quit but Snape won’t let him. And in the end Harry would see that despite seeming heartless, Snape’s therapy was designed to help him, not torture him.

    Also, as far as how 1 year old Harry could be responsible for his parent’s deaths, I pictured it as Voldemort being a home invader who kicks down the door as James yells at Lily to take Harry and go. She takes him upstairs and they hide in a closet or something as James loses his battle to protect them downstairs. Then as the intruder comes upstairs Harry begins to cry and reveals their location. They are found, and Harry is just grazed because his mother throws herself in front of the bullet. The intruder flees and is never captured, thus “disappearing,” and Harry must live with the knowledge that he caused his mother’s death because his aunt will never let him forget that’s how she lost her sister and ended up with him.

    On a lighter note, I think Quidditch represents the freedom that Harry lacks being confined to the institution. It’s being free to fly and play and elude his demons as easily as dodging a bludger.