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Could the wizard block or negate the effects of the Obliviate spell by using Occlumency? Is there any evidence in the books that this could happen?

  • AFAIK there isn't a case in the books where occlumency is used to block Obliviate. The only effective way seems to be giving the spell caster a broken wand :P. – Ash Jun 28 '16 at 13:14
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Possibly

The skills needed for Occlumency are similar to those needed to resist other forms of magical mental attacks, such as the Imperius Curse:

"I have been told that you have already shown aptitude at resisting the Imperius Curse. . . . You will find that similar powers are needed for this...."

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

As such, it would seem clear that skill at Occlumency can certainly generalize to resisting other mind-affecting spells. Further, we know that Occlumency works on more things than simple mind-reading:

“Now, Occlumency. As I told you back in your dear godfather’s kitchen, this branch of magic seals the mind against magical intrusion and influence.”

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Snape mentions not only "intrusion" as something which Occlumency can defend against, but "influence," which suggests something beyond mere mind-reading.

Indeed, Snape appears to consider it credible that Voldemort could use the connection between himself and Harry to control the latter, and that Occlumency would be effective in preventing him from doing so:

“It is enough that we know,” said Snape repressively. “The important point is that the Dark Lord is now aware that you are gaining access to his thoughts and feelings. He has also deduced that the process is likely to work in reverse; that is to say, he has realized that he might be able to access your thoughts and feelings in return —”

“And he might try and make me do things?” asked Harry. “Sir?” he added hurriedly.

“He might,” said Snape, sounding cold and unconcerned. “Which brings us back to Occlumency.”

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Even further, Occlumency can even be used to resist the influence of Veritaserum:

Veritaserum works best upon the unsuspecting, the vulnerable and those insufficiently skilled (in one way or another) to protect themselves against it. Barty Crouch had been attacked before the potion was given to him and was still very groggy, otherwise he could have employed a range of measures against the Potion - he might have sealed his own throat and faked a declaration of innocence, transformed the Potion into something else before it touched his lips, or employed Occlumency against its effects. In other words, just like every other kind of magic within the books, Veritaserum is not infallible. As some wizards can prevent themselves being affected, and others cannot, it is an unfair and unreliable tool to use at a trial.

Note that unlike possession or Legilimency, Veritaserum is an external potion, and does not involve direct mental contact between one mind and another (Imperius is similar). As such, it seems eminently possible (given the case of Veritaserum, even likely) that Occlumency, or some related skill, could be used to resist the influence of any mental attack, including the Memory Charm.

That said, there is no specific canon evidence of Occlumency being employed against the Memory Charm. Of course, this provides no evidence one way or the other, since all the victims we have seen were either:

  1. Unconscious: Rowle etc. in Deathly Hallows
  2. Muggles (and thus probably incapable of Occlumency, not to mention untrained therein and caught unawares).
  3. Incompetent/untrained: Gilderoy Lockhart, Bertha Jorkins, Marietta Edgecombe
  4. Caught by surprise: Xenophilius Lovegood (plus, we don't even know whether it worked).
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Nothing in the series addresses this directly, but i thought of a cute comparison to why Occulumency most likely has no effect on obliviate.

Imagine your mind is a computer, and any one can use Legilimency(monitor) to look inside. Now to stop this on computers we employ passwords, firewalls, and other safe guards, or in the case of the mind occlumency. Now it takes a hacker or legilimency that exceeds the skill of the occlumence or the level of security.

As we can see this is all very technical, complicated, and skill is involved. Obliviate on the other hand, is the equivalent to "Delete" when dealing with computers. When your grandparents lock them selves out of their PC, and dont have anything worth saving, the simplest thing to do is simply Delete everything and start over, Delete bypasses all security. In the same way Obliviate is simply wiping the brain clear, and implanting new memories on top, essentially reformatting a harddrive.

  • from a computer science perspective, the same safeguards that prevent looking around would also prevent deletion. – NKCampbell Jun 28 '16 at 15:26
  • @NKCampbell you can always wipe a harddrive. simply insert windows disk, gg. magnet, hammer... – Himarm Jun 28 '16 at 15:27
  • Lol - well yeah - but you can even password protect the BIOS or prevent booting from external. It might not be the best analogy :) – NKCampbell Jun 28 '16 at 15:42
  • Obliviate really is more the equivalent of taking a hammer to the physical drive rather than any software-based deletion. – Anthony Grist Jun 28 '16 at 15:59
  • @AnthonyGrist ah but the potential for memory recovery is there, which while "normal" people cant recover most deleted data, the potential is there to recover it, even from sledge hammers. (They keep Lockhart hoping memories come back, and Hermione seems confident that she can restore her own parents memories as well) – Himarm Jun 28 '16 at 16:02
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http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Memory_Charm
http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Occlumency

We can see in the top link that a Memory Charm isn't necessarily a permanent effect. A memory charm placed on Bertha Jorkins was removed via torture, though currently this appears to be the only known method to remove said charm, and doing so resulted in Bertha losing her body and her mind.

The way a memory charm works is that the caster seals specific memories within the target's mind. It's not erasing it, more like putting it behind a locked door.

A skilled Occlumens, such as Severus Snape, can do a similar thing, suppressing specific memories and emotions that they do not want an attacking Legilimens, such as Voldemort, to see. At a high level of skill they can essentially open and close these sealed memories at will. So if the Occlumens knew that their memory had been charmed, it's quite possible that they would in fact be able to unlock the memory themselves.

By extension, it's also possible, in theory, for a skilled Occlumens that knows a memory charm is going to be placed upon them to put up appropriate defences, either opening up any memories as they get sealed or possibly preventing them from being sealed in the first place. The main issue is that the Occlumens needs to be prepared and has to actively protect their mind.

So, to answer your question, based on my research, an Occlumens CAN protect themselves from the effects of the memory charm Obliviate as long as they know it is coming. They can also potentially reverse its effects later if they know that a memory has been sealed away. However, if they do not know that a memory has been sealed, then it will stay that way. Also, there is the possibility that protecting themselves from the memory charm will, like Bertha, cost them their sanity.

  • HP wiki is anything but a reliable source. (Not to mention that it isn't even a source, just a collection of canon information, non-canon information, and people's imagination, all mixed together.) If you have a canon source, please directly cite it. – ibid Jun 28 '16 at 16:25

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