Harry Potter and the Curse of Headache


  • Fred Sheftell MD,

  • Timothy J Steiner MB, PhD,

  • Hallie Thomas

  • From The New England Center for Headache, Stamford, CT (Dr. Sheftell); Division of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Imperial College London, London, UK (Dr. Steiner); and Masuk High School, Monroe, CT (Miss Thomas).

Address all correspondence to Dr. Fred Sheftell, New England Center for Headache 778 Long Ridge Road, Stamford, CT, 06902.


Headache disorders are common in children and adolescents. Even young male Wizards are disabled by them. In this article we review Harry Potter's headaches as described in the biographical series by JK Rowling. Moreover, we attempt to classify them. Regrettably we are not privy to the Wizard system of classifying headache disorders and are therefore limited to the Muggle method, the International Classification of Headache Disorders, 2nd edition (ICHD-II). Harry's headaches are recurrent. Although conforming to a basic stereotype, and constant in location, throughout the 6 years of his adolescence so far described they have shown a tendency to progression. Later descriptions include a range of accompanying symptoms. Despite some quite unusual features, they meet all but one of the ICHD-II criteria for migraine, so allowing the diagnosis of 1.6 Probable migraine.