“You’re a wizard, Harry.”
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) discovers on his eleventh birthday that he is a wizard. Harry makes friends in Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but also stumbles across a few enemies. When the trio believes that the formidable Potions teacher, Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) is trying to steal a coveted magical object, they work together to try and stop him.
Raised by his emotionally abusive aunt and uncle, Harry’s welcome into the wizarding world is an unexpected gift. Unfortunately, the knowledge of his identity brings with it the truth about his parents’ death: They were murdered by one of the magical world’s most infamous evil wizards. Harry learns that his lightning-shaped scar on his forehead is the result of said wizard, Lord Voldemort, trying and failing to also murder Harry.
Industry vs. Inferiority
I talked about Erik Erikson’s stages of development a bunch last December with Ebenezer Scrooge, but Harry only works through two stages during his time at Hogwarts. The first, at age 11, is industry versus inferiority. The kiddo has a lot to work out; he just found out he is capable of performing magic, but is also famous for events he can’t remember. Meanwhile, he’s never had any real friends before, let alone ever gotten a Christmas present. Finding his place in a world that he just learned exists is a massive challenge for Harry.
This phenomenon comes up in several characters in the Harry Potter universe, but let’s start with Harry himself. Imposter syndrome is not a full-blown mental health diagnosis; it is a way of characterizing the feeling that someone is going to be exposed as a fraud or a failure if they are not achieving enough. It can manifest in several ways and through several types of personality traits. Harry succeeds on his entrance into wizardry, from making the Quidditch team to thwarting Lord Voldemort for a second time. But his reluctance to accept his magical identity sets the tone for the series, in which many of the characters show imposter syndrome tendencies.