Smartpop part II: Attack of the Smartpop.
The Psychology of Harry Potter – Edited by Neil Mulholland, published in 2006
This is another Smartpop book, and like the previous book, part of a series of books of criticism, although these use popular culture to write about psychology instead of general literary criticism.
I got both my Smartpop Harry Potter books at about the same time, so this was another book I am rereading for this, and I remember loving this book. So I was very sad that this time around, it was a total let down.
This has nothing to do with the book. Its actually a really well written book. Each of the essays looks at how some aspect of psychology relates to, or is portrayed in Harry Potter. Even though these are on the old side now, especially for scientific research, they mostly focus on material that is well-established enough that its aged quite well, better than I would have expected. They even have some essays take alternate perspectives on some of the issue, giving you a nice introduction to criticizing psychology issues, as well as the issues themselves. And the format, of using the familiar context of Harry Potter to introduce the novel information about psychology, is a great learning tool.
The first time I read this I was in the later stages of high school. I was very interested in neuroscience and psychology, but I didn’t really know that much about it, so I loved learning all these new (to me) and fascinating psychology concepts.
But coming back to it now as a Ph.D. student these essays aren’t new and exciting for me any more, now they just seem basic and I was genuinely more interested in checking the citations than reading the essays themselves. My whole response to this was an unending stream of “I know this already”.
So while I genuinely think this is a solid and well-written book, its a book that has a very specific purpose. If you want a book that will use Harry Potter to introduce you to psychology this is the book for you. If you want a book to wed your existing love of psychology to your existing love of Harry Potter I would recommend you find a different book.