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Harry Potter: The Archetype of an Abortion Survivor

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By Marie Peeters-Ney, MD and Philip G. Ney, M.D., M.A., FRCP(C), FRANZCP, RPsych

Originally published in Catholic Insight December 2003
  Republished with permission and encouragement of authors


One could speak about a worldwide "Harry Potter phenomenon," appearing soon after the Pokemon craze. The object of this discussion is to reflect on the possible reasons for the remarkable popularity of Harry Potter.

  Can the current craze be only due to good marketing skills? Does this book have exceptional literary value? Could the book be an indicator of a deeper cultural trend?  We wish to hypothesize that the popularity of the Harry Potter series is due to the fact that the themes and the main character strike deep chords in the minds of our younger generation because they are abortion survivors.

  They identify with them, because Harry Potter appears to hold the key to unlock the deep, unresolved conflicts which the young generation has buried in its unconscious. We write this short article after reading the first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. We will not expand on the progressive downward spiral commented on by numerous other authors.

  Some cultural events may transcend generational gaps and cultural differences because they reflect our common humanity, its aspirations, hopes and struggles. Some may shape human thought and influence the course of history. Others are a reflection of the mindset that is in vogue and are thus just an expression of the times. Others go further: they express a facet of the times and present it as the norm, thus shaping the thought of an era and influencing the course of current thinking.

  Much has been written about the Potter series and considerable controversy has arisen about it. However, there has not, to our knowledge, been anything written which analyzes some of the deeper reasons for the success of the Potter series. Such an analysis is important in order to gain understanding both of the reasons for its success and to judge the work itself.

  In 1979, Dr. Philip Ney discovered and described people with a unique constellation of signs and symptoms, whom he called "abortion survivors." The malaise they suffer from is called the post-abortion survivor syndrome (PASS). Post-abortion survivors are all those individuals who could have been aborted, but mere chance or the fact that they were wanted saved them from termination.

  Examples are: people who were born in a family where a sibling was aborted; people whose parents told them they should have been aborted; or people born in a country where the majority of children are aborted. This applies to at least 50 percent of the people born since the 1970s. Thus, being an abortion survivor affects millions of young people and unquestionably, popular literature is bound to reflect the thinking of those hurt by having an abortion and/or being an abortion survivor.

  With few exceptions, the rest of the young population wonders if they were allowed to be born because they were wanted. The world is thus filled with people who have an anxious fascination about issues that the Harry Potter series broadly hints at.

  A brief description of the psychopathology associated with being an abortion survivor is necessary to understand the attractiveness of the Harry Potter books.

  Children born in families where there has been an abortion live with a mother who is struggling with her own guilt and grief. They also often have a father who is alienated. Having parents who are prepared to exercise the power of life and death over their children, these children grow up with very ambivalent relationships with their parents - wanting desperately to be close to them, but knowing that it is too dangerous, and wanting to flee, but caught by their emotional and material dependency on them. Deep anger, violence or passivity, intergenerational communication designed to avoid confronting harsh truths and secretiveness are some of the conflicts that are then expressed. 

  Given the fact that they cannot ask their parents about the real causes of their fears, they grow up in an atmosphere of pseudo-secrets. There are important events and problems they sense their parents or any parental figure will not talk about. Abortion survivors live in a closed, unreal, dehumanized world, communicating with code words and through cyberspace. Communication is mainly between peers, but rivalry, competition and lack of commitment interfere with their relationships.

  The first attachment, that to mother, was an anxious attachment that resulted in ambivalence and conflict. Abortion survivors grow up with self-doubt and very ambivalent relationships to others. People are used, not loved.

  Abortion survivors have cut themselves off from all their emotions, except fear and anger. They feel they have no intrinsic right to be. Their right to exist depends on their being wanted. Having made it into the world, they survive by gaining power, by trickery and seduction. They must "have" to be: money, good looks, sports prowess, magic powers, etc. Only by having can they continue to be wantable and thus to continue to exist.  Unable to trust, they live in a world of fear, with nobody to turn to. They suffer from nightmares in which their aborted sibling (who is not always identified as such) is seeking revenge, full of rage for her wrongful death and full of anger against the sibling who is alive. The surviving siblings feel like a weight on their shoulders and a permanent curse from the aborted sibling.  They are, therefore, threatened in their very existence, both from the seen and unseen world.

  Abortion survivors flirt with death and seek control. They often seek answers and power in the occult.

  The genius of Ms Rowling is to have consciously or unconsciously tapped into the secret world of abortion survivors. Her first book described the world of abortion survivors: a world where all is "unreal," dominated by primary relationships with peers, absent parents, a dread of being used, abused or killed by caretakers who have no love or understanding. Ms Rowling describes people who have everything, but live in fear that their "secret" will be discovered (the Dursleys). The real world is so awful that Harry Potter thought, "He did not know where he was going (to witchcraft school), but it had to be better than what he was leaving behind ..."

  In inventing the character Harry Potter, Ms Rowling introduces the reader to a person whom an abortion survivor can relate to.

  Harry is the "boy that lived," although physically marked by the sign of death and wanted dead by a satanic figure. On his forehead, he is scarred, he is special, he is a survivor. He witnesses the death of an innocent creature by one who has nothing to lose and everything to gain by committing such a heinous crime. The centaur tells him "because the blood of the innocent will keep you alive, even if you are inches from death, but at a terrible price … You have slain something pure and defenceless to save yourself, you will have but half a life, a cursed life from the moment the blood touches your lips."

  Harry Potter is emotionally, physically and verbally abused by caregivers, but he feels little pain and sheds no tears. The only emotions he seems to feel are fear and hatred. He is not allowed to ask questions. He does not know his own story, although he knows there is a secret about him. He has been dehumanized. He lives in a world of fear, plagued by the recurrent nightmare of a hooded, faceless figure who drinks the blood of the innocent victim. As Ronan, the centaur explains, "Always the innocent are the first victims …"

  The fear of death that is present in all abortion survivors is usually dealt with by flirting with death, so that the person imagines he has some control over life and death. Harry Potter exemplifies this when he is told, "Don’t stop and don’t be scared you’ll crash into it, that is important. Best do it at a bit of a run if you are nervous …" When Harry Potter did it, he closed his eyes, ready for a crash.

  Using coded language, Rowling has been able to put into written form the unrevealed and unspoken fears of the abortion survivor. She expressed in writing psychological conflicts that generally only appear in nightmares. Many of the struggles experienced by children, and which she fantasizes about in her Harry Potter series, have been expressed in the terrifying dreams of abortion survivors. For example:

  - somebody tried or wanted to kill you (Harry’s teacher, Mr. Quirrell, trying to kill him)

  - the feeling that one is surrounded by invisible people, some of whom are hostile and wish your death (Harry looks into the mirror and sees a whole crowd of people standing right behind him)

  - shedding blood, murdering your sibling (in fantasy), so that you can live half a life (Mr. Quirrell drinking the blood of an innocent, pure victim to stay alive, although at a terrible cost)

  - the feeling of being burdened by a parasite, a hostile sibling who hangs on to you and prevents you from living (Mr. Quirrell, a man with two faces, carrying a half-dead Voldmort who explains that he has a form only when he can share another’s body and who dreams to create a body for himself)

  - and, of course, the terrifying reality that somebody is angry at the survivor for being alive (Voldmort’s anger at Harry Potter)

  Ms Rowling also appeals to the abortion survivor, because she briefly touches on some of the deepest yearnings of all humans for life and meaning. (Harry finally finds somebody who watches over him). However, having opened up this yearning, she sends the reader away empty-handed. She remarkably and accurately describes and expands on the dark side of a humanity without God. The themes she develops are anti-thetical to the glory of Christian revelation. She illustrates the morbid fascination abortion survivors have for control and power, even if these are dark and frightening.

  Harry Potter looks for the stone that confers eternal life. This is clearly opposed to Christian revelation. He experiences a mother’s love that is so strong, it is capable of burning and destroying the enemy, a caricature which is quite obvious.
 
  Ms Rowling appeals to the more pathological dreams of the abortion survivors. She describes transfiguration as one of the most complex and dangerous kinds of magic. She describes a world of magic and of power. "There is no good and evil, only power and those too weak to seek it." In the Harry Potter world, there is the mirror of Erised, which shows us what we want or want to see. A world where one can be special, if one is marked as having survived.

  The inventor of Harry Potter describes with great accuracy the world of the abortion survivors. However, in a truly satanic fashion, she leads these broken people in a downward spiral into a world that is not life-giving, but one of death and despair. She shows them the way to an illusion of power, which is without life and which is the realm of Satan.

  Harry Potter can become a cult, making people feel they are understood and will understand the truth and then deliberately lead them away from the source of Life and Truth. The psychopathology associated with being an abortion survivor is real. It needs to be understood by those involved in the new evangelization. We now need people who are saintly enough to descend into the pit of hell where they are and who can bring them to the light. Preaching Jesus Christ is a work of love, healing and life. It is a work of mercy.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Philip G. Ney trained as a child psychiatrist and child psychologist at McGill University, University of London and the University of Illinois. He taught in five universities in four countries and has been hospital and university department chairman.

  As an academic and clinician of more than thirty five years, he has done research into child abuse for more than thirty years and has authored or co-authored 66 scientific papers and 7 books.

  In his early research Professor Ney became increasingly aware of the reciprocal connection between child abuse and abortion. More recently he has studied children who are the survivors of abortion. He is conducting therapeutic groups for men and women abused as children in private practice in Victoria, British Columbia.

  As a semi-retired professor, Philip Ney is currently researching the effects of various kinds of pregnancy losses on women’s physical and mental health. With wife Dr. Marie Peeters-Ney, Philip conducts training sessions world-wide.

  Dr Marie Peeters-Ney is an American. Having obtained her medical training in Belgium and her paediatric specialty training in the USA and Canada, she worked at the University of Paris with the world-famous geneticist, Jerome Lejeune, and won an important scientific prize for her research into the biochemical causes of mental retardation.  


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African denounces Western elites pushing population control in his country

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By Ben Johnson

An op-ed in one of the leading publications in Uganda has denounced the promotion of IUD use and other long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) in the nation as a colonialist form of population control.

An article published in New Vision, which bills itself as “Uganda's leading daily,” and which was posted online after being translated into broken English, contradicts the frequent claim that there is a desperate cry from Africans and brown people generally to provide the “unmet need” for contraception in the Third World.

Programs to convince African women to use the IUD or other forms of contraception “are projects of multibillion international agencies distributing them under the guise of helping the poor countries to control birth rates,” Stephen Wabomba wrote.

The use of the IUD leads to an increase in “the spread of STIs/HIV/AIDS, infections or increased rates of Pelvic Infection Diseases (PID),” and other maladies, he said. The IUD, which is inserted into the uterus and may work for years at a time, offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases and often does not prevent fertilization.

Western governments and NGOs are very much “aware of the side effect[s] but still force them on us through sensational marketing strategies by claiming that there is unmet need” for contraception “in Uganda,” he wrote.

He instead suggested the use of Natural Family Planning methods as the “best alternative” for married couples, as well as increased “funding of chastity and abstinence education in Uganda.”

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He called on every citizen of Uganda “to stand up and be counted as a lover of life” and become a “protector of the voiceless and defenseless unborn children being aborted every day.”

Wabomba is heeding his own advice by acting as director of the Pregnancy Help Center in Jinja, the second largest city in Uganda. The town of 87,000 is perched on the shores of Lake Victoria.


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UN tells Chile and Peru to legalize abortion

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By Guilherme Ferreira Araújo

On July 7 and 8, the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) discussed Chile’s abortion laws and issued a report asking for liberalization of those laws.

According to the report, Chile “should establish exceptions to the general prohibition of abortion, contemplating therapeutic abortion and in those cases in which the pregnancy is a consequence of a rape or incest.”

Chile is one of the few countries that prohibits abortion in all cases.  So far, the country has managed to stand against internal and external pressure to legalize abortion.

But during her campaign, President Michele Bachelet promised to make the legalization of abortion a priority.  Indeed, last May she stated that her intention was to reopen the debate so that the government could approve therapeutic abortion before the end of this year.  The U.N. report also said that Chile “should make sure that reproductive health services are accessible to all women and adolescents."

One of the reasons the UN is using to pressure Chile’s government to change their abortion laws is the high number of clandestine abortions allegedly taking place in Chile. The UNHRC points to “official data” showing 150,000 annual clandestine abortions. However, not only is it impossible to corroborate that figure, but other sources show that this number could be exaggerated by a factor of 10.  According to an article published in the Chilean news publication, Chile B, the annual number of clandestine abortions in Chile may vary between 8,270 and 20,675.

Inflating the number of illegal abortions and maternal mortality is a common tactic of the pro-abortion movement’s effort to legalize the deadly practice. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), famously admitted the tactic after becoming pro-life.

“We claimed that between five and ten thousand women a year died of botched abortions,” he said. "The actual figure was closer to 200 to 300 and we also claimed that there were a million illegal abortions a year in the United States and the actual figure was close to 200,000. So, we were guilty of massive deception."

Chile has also been used as a prime example that legalized abortion does not reduce maternal mortality.

A study published in 2012 by Plos One Institute found that since 1989 when Chile banned abortion, there has been an annual decrease in maternal death. That study, and others compiled and published by the Chilean MELISA Institute strongly challenge the myth that abortion is safe or even necessary to increase maternal health.

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Notwithstanding the empirical data, the United Nations is also hard at work to pressure Chile’s neighbor to the North, Peru, to liberalize its own abortion laws.  In the case of Peru it is the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that has issued the report, not the UNHRC.  CEDAW representatives examined Peru’s case on July 1 and suggested that Peru should legalize abortion in case of rape and severe abnormalities of the unborn child.

The organism suggested that the government eliminate all laws that punish women who abort and asked that Peru “urgently” adopt a law to fight violence against women, a notion often used as a euphemism for legalizing abortion.  

The CEDAW commission presented the conclusions of the report on July 22 and put special emphasis on the abortion issue. This happens despite the strong opposition to abortion in Peru. A recent survey showed that 79 percent of Peruvians support the Catholic Church’s position on abortion.

The CEDAW pressure on Peru is not new. In 2011, after the UN sanctioned Peru for denying an abortion to a teenager, Carlos Polo, Director of the Population Research Institute’s Latin American office, stated that the UN organism doesn’t have the right to force Peru to approve abortion.


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People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it is a true story. Youtube screenshot
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I helped so many women abort their babies. Now how do I live with that?

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By Abby Johnson
Abby Johnson business card Planned Parenthood

I have many memories of my time with Planned Parenthood. I spent eight years of my life there. Some memories are good, some are not. But they are contained in my mind. It’s easy to forget them. I have forgotten so much about my time there in just four and a half short years. 

I found my old business card the other day. That is a tangible memory for me. It made me think of the day that I heard I had been promoted to direct the clinic. I was so happy…hugging and jumping up and down with my supervisor. She was so proud of me.

I thought about the day I moved everything into my new, big office. I put pro-choice stickers all over my file cabinet. I called my parents to share the news. They were, of course, proud of me, but hated my work. I can’t imagine how conflicted they were in their minds and hearts. Human resources sent me my new paperwork. There was my new title, my new and amazing salary. 

A few days later, my new business cards came. I remember putting them in my new business card holder on my desk. I filled up the business card holder that I kept in my purse. I had already become used to hearing myself say my new title.

I was proud of myself. I was proud of the hard work I had put in to earn that new title. I worked so many hours, sacrificed so much time from my family. But I knew it would be worth it. And now I had the job title to prove it.

I remember proudly passing out my new business cards to anyone that would take one. Being pro-choice was not just a movement to me; it was a lifestyle. I wholeheartedly embraced that lifestyle and loved being a part of it. 

These tangible reminders that I occasionally find are sometimes hard to work through. I remember receiving the records from my medication abortion. That tangible reminder of my past was difficult to manage. I look at my “Employee of the Year” award that I received from Planned Parenthood and think back to the night I received it. I ended up putting that old award on my desk as a reminder of where I came from and how much my life has changed. Seeing that plaque no longer brings back those tangible memories. 

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One of the reasons I was so taken aback when finding my old business card was not just because it was a reminder of how proud I had been to run an abortion clinic…something I find deplorable now. It was because of the things I took part in while I had that big title.

The memories of handing women small monetary checks in order to pay for their silence after we had left them with a serious infection after their abortion. The memories of watching women bleed out on our abortion table and being instructed not to call the ambulance because we didn’t want to let the pro-lifers know that we had a medical emergency. The memories I have of “joking” about the babies that died in our facility by abortion. The memories I have of training our abortion facility employees on the “normalcy” of abortion and how to convince women that abortion is the best choice for them.

Part of being a former abortion clinic worker is learning how to deal with your past sin. It may be the lady who came to your clinic for an abortion that you bump into at the store. It could be standing in front of your former abortion facility and remembering all of the damage your words and actions did to so many women. It could be finding that old business card that reminds you of the pride you felt when you became the director of an abortion facility. 

People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it is a true story. 

One day I was watching the kid’s movie “Kung Fu Panda” with my daughter. In the film there is a wise, old tortoise named Oogway. He is talking to one of his students who is frustrated with his current situation. Oogway asks his student, “Do you know why today is called the present? Because it is a gift.”

That little line by an animated tortoise hit me like a ton of bricks. Today is a gift. There is absolutely nothing we can do with our past. And there is very little we can do to control our future. We live NOW. We serve NOW. We choose to move on from our past NOW. 

I don’t know what your past sins are. And I don’t know how frequently you are reminded of them. But as someone who has to face their past sins on pretty much a daily basis, I can tell you that you can be free from their burden. Being reminded of your past doesn’t mean that you have to live with constant grief. It simply means that you have been given the opportunity to transform your past into something positive…maybe you can help others make different choices than you did, maybe you can help others heal from the same struggles that you lived through. I don’t know what you are being called to do, but as the saying goes, “God can turn our mess into a message.” 

Carrying around past burdens doesn’t help us in any way. Know that you can be forgiven. Accept that forgiveness. Use your life to help others. The present is indeed a gift.

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