‘Harry Potter’: How Did JK Rowling Create The Dementors?

The Dementors are fearsome creatures in Harry Potter. Perhaps even scarier than Voldemort himself. They are able to drain the happiness out of a person, and if they kiss you they can suck out your soul. The Dementor’s Kiss leaves its victims in a permanent stupor.

But how did these horrifying creatures come to be? How did J.K. Rowling think of such terrifying monsters? You’re about to find out.

Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter: How JK Rowling Created Dementors
Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter | Heather Wines/CBS via Getty Images

What are Dementors in ‘Harry Potter’?

Dementors in Harry Potter are creatures who are unable to die as they were never really alive. The Ministry of Magic classifies them as a non-being. As is mentioned above, they feed off of human happiness and therefore make any people in their vicinity very unhappy. They also have the ability to perform the Dementor’s Kiss, which renders its victims in a permanent trance-like state.

Dementors can not really be killed, exactly. They can be defeated by using the Patronus Charm, however. And their numbers can be decreased if the conditions under which they increase in numbers are not allowed to exist. Dementors do not mate, but they grow wherever there is decay.

In the Harry Potter series, Dementors are the guards for the wizard prison of Azkaban. The Ministry of Magic uses them to keep prisoners in line and keep them from escaping. Though they are not always able to do the latter. For example, Sirius Black is able to escape Azkaban in his Animagus form due to Dementors feeling a difference in animal emotions compared to human emotions.

The Dementors, however, had no idea what was going on. They just thought Sirius was losing his mind.

How did J.K. Rowling come up with Dementors while writing ‘Harry Potter’?

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Many hardcore Harry Potter fans probably already know this fact about the Dementors or have guessed. Yet some fans might not know and it is a rather interesting little tidbit. According to Kara Hedash from Screen Rant, the Dementors personify depression. This was definitely done on purpose, as Rowling has struggled with the illness herself.

So there it is. The most terrifying creatures in Harry Potter are based on Rowling’s struggles with depression. The Dementors definitely fit with the mental illness, as they take away happiness from anyone near them.

How J.K. Rowling’s depression led to the Dementors

JK Rowling created the Dementors in Harry Potter
J.K. Rowling reading Harry Potter at the White House in 2010 | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The author gave an interview in 2000 with The Times in the U.K. where she described her experience with depression. According to J.K. Rowling, “depression is the most unpleasant thing [she has] ever experienced.” She goes on to say that depression “is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again.”

Depression, to Rowling, is not just feeling sad, it is “the absence of hope.” Sounds like the effect of a Dementor to us! It’s easy to understand how the terrifying creatures could be created by Rowling’s creative mind based on her experiences with depression. Harry, for example, when he first encounters a dementor, has to relive his parents’ deaths because of Voldemort.

Depression would probably cause anyone to focus on the negative in their lives, and therefore it makes sense that it was the inspiration for the Dementors.