1 Shadal

Dementor S Kiss Definition Essay

It’s a well-documented fact that J.K.Rowling suffers from depression. When she first began to write the Harry Potter books, she’d moved back from Portugal to Scotland, had separated from her partner, was unemployed and had a young child to raise. She began a downward spiral that Harry helped her out of, and in those stories she wrote the greatest metaphor for depression there’s ever been.

Depression is not an easy thing to describe. The feelings of hopelessness, sadness, of self-hatred, are not something that people find easy to comprehend, or to explain. Yet she manages to describe it in a truly horrific way, creating one of the most evil characters that exist in the Harry Potter universe: the dementors.

We first meet the dementors in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. They play a significant part in the book, and continue to be prevalent in the remaining four. They appear when Harry, Ron and Hermione are on the Hogwarts Express, about to begin their third year of study at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardgy. During their journey, the air grows cold. The windows freeze. Everyone is filled with an overwhelming sense of sadness, hopelessness, and never being able to feel happy again: the dementors feed on positive emotions. They force people to relive their worst memories, zoning in on Harry because his past is so dark. He hears his mother scream as she’s killed by Lord Voldemort, then blacks out. When he reawakens, he finds Professor Lupin—the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher—feeding Ron and Hermione chocolate: the best way to combat the negative emotions that the dementors bestow on you.

Not only are the dementors the most vile creatures in the Harry Potter universe, but they also have the ability to administer The Kiss. The Kiss is when they suck your soul away, leaving you as nothing more than an empty shell. This fate is usually saved for the very worst criminals from Azkaban, but when Voldemort takes charge, the dementors don’t care. Particularly when it comes to Harry.

The dementors are immortal. They cannot be killed. The only way to get rid of the them is with a Patronus charm. The Patronus charm is a bright light that takes the form of an animal, and the dementor feeds on that instead of the person that conjured it. The form of the animal reflects the person’s personality. Harry’s is a stag, like his father’s. In order to conjure a patronum you must think of the happiest, most powerful memory that you possess, and focus on it. Forcing yourself to focus on the happy memories, on those that you love, is also a way to combat depression. The bright light that is emitted from the caster’s wand that becomes the patronum could also be seen as a metaphor: a way of saying that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, but that they only person that can create that light is you.

The way that the dementors force you to relive the worst moments of your life could also be seen as a metaphor for post-traumatic stress disorder, where sufferers often find reliving those moments so consuming that they, too, are like those that have been Kissed.

Whilst depression is not an easy thing to explain, suffering from it can range from the feeling of hopelessness that the dementors initially bestow on you, to the emptiness that a person possesses after The Kiss. It can take your life away to the point where you are no longer able to live; where it hurts to think even the simplest of things because you are so consumed in darkness. Luckily, unlike in Harry Potter, there is a way to reverse it. It’s never too late to find your Patronus charm; to find the positive memories and emotions that are worth living for.

Whilst not everyone is a fan of Harry Potter, no one can deny that J.K.Rowling should be praised for how she has incorporated one of the most painful, underestimated and misunderstood disorders that a person can suffer from into a children’s book. She made depression out as something not to be pitied, or laughed off, but as something terrifying. Something that doesn’t discriminate, or care anything about you. No matter who you are, no matter what you do, it can find you at any moment of your life and feed on your deepest, darkest thoughts. Thoughts you may not have even realised were there.

Not everyone may realise that the dementors are a metaphor for depression, but I hope that their creation will have a subconscious effect on us all. I don’t know many people that weren’t terrified of the dementors when they were first introduced in the books, or when we met them in the films. Luckily, once we close the book or turn off the TV the dementors are gone. The same can’t be said for depression.

Note: This article was originally published on the now-defunct Heart of Glass magazine.  It was one of the most popular articles, and one that I was particularly proud of, and I’ve therefore decided to republish it here.

Inspire a friend


Tag:Harry Potter, Heart of Glass magazine, Mental Health

The Dementor's Kiss, Is this what the Dementors were doing to Sirius Black at the end of the Year 3, (The part where that white dot came out of Sirius' mouth)?

In the movie, yes. We never see even the start of a Dementor's Kiss in the books. Hermione1980 13:44, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

On the state of Kiss victims

Where is the evidence that victims of the Kiss are left in a vegetative state? When I read the 3rd year description of a Kiss victim, I was given the impression of a mindless drone: as in a person that can move and speak, but is unable to feel emotion or think for himself. 03:02, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

And on that note, where is the evidence that Muggles were kissed? I assume it would have been in the Half-Blood Prince, but is there anything beyond mention of Dementor attacks that explicitly states this? As versions of the books differ in pages, a page number wouldn't be helpful unless we're thinking of the same version, but is there a chapter title that gives evidence to either, or did JK Rowling say this? Ghostkaiba297 17:33, August 18, 2010 (UTC)

How commonly did the dementor's kiss happen to someone

It appears to be a rare occurrence. --JKoch(Owl Me!) 05:03, August 28, 2010 (UTC)
Lupin implies that some have received it before when he says "The only people who really know (what's under a Dementor's hood) are in no condition to tell us". But the only known character in the series to receive the kiss is Barty Crouch Jr. Ghostkaiba297 19:14, April 24, 2011 (UTC)

Dead recipient

What happens if a dead person is given the Dementor's Kiss? Malcolm99100 19:55, August 30, 2010 (UTC)

Well, from what we know about death from DH, they soul leaves the body at death. --JKoch(Owl Me!) 20:41, August 30, 2010 (UTC)


The Sentence:

"It is unknown if the person can have access to the afterlife, or if the soul is trapped completely in the Dementor's body and digested (it is possible that the soul's energy is absorbed until it still exists but cannot be detected by the dementor, and then escapes, or it remains inside the dementor until it dies)."

Has no source and reads like unsubstantiated opinion. It is very interesting speculation, but does not fit with a fact-based work. I have removed the sentence until a source can be cited. Sings-With-Spirits 18:28, July 20, 2011 (UTC)


If the victim of a kiss has no negative memories to recall, it can be theorized that the Dementor may compensate for this by demonstrating the flaws of their supposed happiness. This can be derived by the Dementor attack on Dudley Dursley in 1995. Since Dudley had a childhood of privilege and pampering, he had never experienced any particularly negative memories. Instead, Dudley saw himself for what he really was - a spoiled brat and a mean bully. This had frightened Dudley to the point of being kinder to his cousin.

Anywhere I read that JKR stated Dudley would have felt what he were—an unsympathetic, merciless gang member who was terrorizing underdogs over and over again. So he actually had negative thoughts, because if these thoughts weren't in him the Dementor wouldn't be able to revert them while attacking him.

Sorry for my bad English.--Fußball-Lexikon (talk) 01:53, January 15, 2013 (UTC)


I remember reading a part in GoF where Voldemort mentions that the Dementors are "our natural allies" as in they're naturally evil. He mentioned that to his reunited Death Eaters. Also the fact that Dementors are eye-less and only detect their victims through feelings should be added. 08:11, February 26, 2013 (UTC)

Did the Dementors die out after Second Wizarding War?

  • Someone inserted in "Behind the scenes": "Since the Dementors died out after the Second Wizarding World War it is unknown if the souls escaped. If so then a Dementor's kiss might be a form of purgatory rather than eternal damnation." (and I have commented it out) . But what proof is there for this statement that the Dementors died out after the Second Wizarding War? Anthony Appleyard (talk) 05:32, December 10, 2015 (UTC)

Mouth Protection

Well, something people fear in the world of HP is the dementor kiss and being kissed, but that is something it make me think... Do they need to kiss the lips? I mean, let's say it's cold and you wear a scarf around your mouth. Could that save you from the kiss of a dementor?

Setokayba (talk) 04:13, October 20, 2016 (UTC)

Leave a Comment


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *