In Harry Potter we learn that Voldemort has split his soul via the Horcruxes and Slughorn mentions it as if it is a negative thing.

What are the actual problems caused by splitting one’s soul? Is this why Voldemort was disfigured?

  • well for one thing, multiple splittings made his soul more unstable. I think that was the reason why part of his soul latched onto Harry even when he didn't mean to do so
    – user13267
    Commented Sep 20, 2013 at 15:06
  • What does his soul being more unstable actually mean though? Other than his soul is more likely to leak out at inconvenient moments and get stuck on people in bizarre one of situations!
    – Stefan
    Commented Sep 20, 2013 at 15:08
  • @Stefan: The soul is typically considered (in Fantasy) to be the seat of human conscience, remorse, love, and compassion. Having your soul unstable would therefore likely limit one's ability to feel those emotions.
    – Jeff
    Commented Sep 20, 2013 at 15:27
  • but it was supposed to be Voldemort's nature to not understand any of those emotions, the reason why he considers horcruxes a good idea (according to Dumbledore at least)
    – user13267
    Commented Sep 21, 2013 at 1:35
  • @user13267: Right. That's why he considered it to be increasing his power to create 7 Horcruxes. Voldemort was a sociopath - he lacked empathy entirely and could not understand those positive feelings to begin with. Ergo, he wasn't aware of what he was losing.
    – Jeff
    Commented Sep 21, 2013 at 4:25

1 Answer 1


Splitting the soul has only two canonical, confirmed effects:

1) It will allow the person to survive (in a fashion) the physical death of their body. The do not quite die, but they are no longer alive. The residual wraith-state allows them to posses others and (given the proper magics and support) eventually regain life.

2) It makes the soul easier to fracture. Eventually, it will cause the users soul to be so damaged that they can unintentionally cast out their soul when using powerful magics.

These are the ONLY effects seen in the books and confirmed within them.

While a horcrux exists, the creator cannot be completely killed. It functions like a limited phylactery does for the lich in D&D.

The other effect we've seen, where Volemort unintentionally implanted part of his soul into Harry Potter, was a function of his soul (already torn apart many times, and missing many pieces) being shattered by the rebounding magic and a piece latching onto Harry.

This would not be a common effect.

As for the rest of your question, we cannot assume Voldemort's appearance is a result of creating Horcruxes. He is repeatedly stated to have undergone many secret, Dark rituals. Any or all of them may have contributed to his appearance. The actual cause of it is never stated.

That said, mythology has typically attributed the lack of a soul with increasing deformities in formerly-human monsters. It would be totally appropriate, thematically, if the continual loss of his soul (and, therefore, humanity) had outward physical effects on Voldemort's appearance.

  • Has it been confirmed in the books that his soul shattering and getting lodged in Harry was due to the Horcruxes? I seem to remember that being a theory but no one was sure?
    – Stefan
    Commented Sep 20, 2013 at 15:28
  • 1
    It's the closest we have to anything being confirmed other than "survive the body's death". We see that Harry had a slice of Voldy-pie in his skull, and we know that creating Horcruxes increases the damage to the soul that comes from murder. Beyond that, we just have Dumbledore's (extremely educated) guesses. That said...can you think of an alternative explanation?
    – Jeff
    Commented Sep 20, 2013 at 15:33

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