In relatively stupid news today, there are 158 stories on Google about the so-called “Hogwarts Headache,” the alliteratively-titled affliction dealt to young kids attempting to pore through Lady Rowling’s latest tome. First off, let me recommend the audio CD version of any Harry Potter novel, which will not only not give you a headache, but makes a cross-country trip blow by in seconds.
Secondly, which I know is not a real word, the researchers say that kids are getting headaches by refusing to stop reading the “3 lb. book,” even way past their bedtime, just to see who gets offed in the end. But I wonder if any of these doctors have actually read “Order of the Phoenix.” I don’t think these headaches have anything to do with the voluminous number of pages, or an raging epidemic of voracious reading.
Couvade Syndrome is something you learn in advanced psych classes, a phenomenon in which the husbands of pregnant wives start getting morning sickness. It’s a sort of “empathy illness” that pops up in a lot of places (best friends, pets, etc.), and it can get pretty serious. It’s a close cousin to the human yawn, which is stunningly contagious (you may have yawned just now thinking about it, I know I did).
Anyway, if you read the Harry Potter books, you know that Harry gets these searing headaches pretty much twice a chapter, any time Lord Voldemort has a particularly nasty thought. These young kids, who identify so strongly with Harry, are getting the literary dose of a heavy migraine, a pain that has crescendoed out of control in the fifth book. These kids aren’t reading too much, they’re feeling too much, God bless ’em all. After Harry’s fifteenth headache, even *I* was reaching for my various, unmarked, illegally-stored painkilling pharmaceuticals.