We know of

  • Patronus (requires positive emotions)
  • Avada Kedavra (actually I'm not certain about that)
  • Crucio (you have to hate the target, as demonstrated by Harry's attempt on Bellatrix)
  • Occlumency (requires lack of strong emotion, as explained by Snape and demonstrated by Harry's failure)

Are there any other spells that are affected by strength of emotion? (e.g. can't be cast by a wizard who is in a lessened emotional state).

"Affected" means that you try to cast a spell intentionally and it behaves differently than what you wanted (weaker; or does not work at all - as was the case with Harry and Crucio; or does a different thing than intended). It does NOT mean that you accidentally do a spell you weren't casting, such as accidental magical spells as done by Harry in childhood.

NOTE: I don't mean generic "the person is so upset and they can't think straight and that affects their concentration". I mean they cast the spell, but the spell is magically affected by emotional state.

  • Most, if not all, unintentional magic performed by children under (and, in at least one instance, over) Hogwarts age is brought on by strong - generally negative - emotions. Not sure if you'd consider those since they're not known to be specific spells. Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 20:20
  • @AnthonyGrist - sorry, I clarified in the question. Accidentally casting a spell when you didn't mean do any spells to was NOT what I meant by "affecting a spell". Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 20:30
  • I think all spells require a type of emotional state. Dumbledore postulated that, Merope Gaunt's emotional state affected her magical powers. Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 9:38

1 Answer 1


Rowling has made it very clear that attitude and emotion can have effects on spells, including their power. For example, in POA when Harry performs 'EXPELIARAMUS' on Snape, it isn't just a disarming, it is nearly a dis-arming. For whatever reason, hatred of DD or hatred of the act, Snape put a great deal of emotion behind the spell.

The way I see it, magical children in HP universe are some sort of equivalent of sensitive children in real world. It's the people who experience emotions with greater intensity than most, thus affecting reality around them (eg. Breaking of the glass in Sorcerer's Stone in the Zoo, Blowing up of Aunt Marge etc.) I am sure Dudley experienced anger and fear, but his emotions were just not strong enough to affect anything. In most magical practices that I have heard of, real or fictional, emotions are key in spell casting. Depending on the spell you want to produce, you have to focus on certain emotions, otherwise it's all just saying plain words and swinging your wand. I think Rowling too took some inspiration from these practices.

In Harry Potter though, I think the spells that require you control your emotions in such way are learned in latter years at Hogwarts, if ever. (Patronus - you are being attacked by a bunch of Dementors that are sucking all the happiness out of you and you have to remember happy memories... doesn't sound like an easy thing to do to me. Sounds like something that requires immense discipline and years of experience. I think being able to do such spells in a blink of an eye is what makes you what they all call a 'good' witch or wizard.)

And remember, Voldemort did not have happy memories. In fact, I don't think he had the capacity to feel positive emotions. In muggle world he would have suffered from something called psychopathology-inability to experience compassion, love, remorse etc. This is what I think they all refer to when saying that he is weak because he never experienced love. His specter of emotions was limited thus the magic he was able to do was limited and THIS IS WHAT MADE HIM WEAK. The fact that he didn't have access to some powerful magic. This is why he couldn't understand how Harry survived the first time around.

So YES, there are some spells, the most powerful ones, dark or 'white', that depend largely on your emotions, and if emotions are not honest or strong enough the spell may be ineffective.

  • 5
    For the love of St Alia of the Knife; paragraphs, man, paragraphs! Also, you didn't actually answer the question. At least, I don't think you did; it's hard to read that Berlin Wall of text. Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 6:08
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    Sorry.I just tried to help :'(
    – homunculi
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 6:21
  • Sorry, the only actual canon example you gave was Expecto Patronum (which was alredy mentioned in the question) and Harry's Expelliramus becoming stronger because of his anger (which was a good example). However, the rest of your post and especially the closing paragtaph don't seem to be supported by canon at all. Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 12:41
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    I do not think that the expelliarmus got stronger because of Harrys emotions in PoA. In fact, Harry, Ron and Hermione casted the spell at the same time and that is what made it so powerful. Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 11:58

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