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False memory charm

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"Then he returned to the Gaunt hovel, performed the complex bit of magic that would implant a false memory in his uncle's mind, laid Morfin's wand beside its unconscious owner, pocketed the ancient ring he wore, and departed."
—Albus Dumbledore theorises, correctly, that Voldemort used this spell[src]

The false memory charm (incantation unknown) is a spell which can be used by a witch or wizard in order to add a memory to their victim's mind without the victim realising it was not originally theirs. It differs from the Memory Charm in that the latter erases memories whilst this one adds them[2].

Known uses

  • Voldemort used this spell twice; firstly in 1943 upon his uncle Morfin Gaunt, then sometime later on the house-elf Hokey. Both instances were to hide his crimes and make the victims believe they were responsible.
  • It is likely that Kingsley Shacklebolt used this spell on Marietta Edgecombe in 1996 in order to prevent her from revealing Dumbledore's Army to Cornelius Fudge. This is reinforced by Dumbledore stating that Shacklebolt was "remarkably quick on the uptake" in modifying her memory.[3]
  • Later that same year, Voldemort may have used the spell to make Harry believe his godfather Sirius Black was being tortured by Voldemort in the Department of Mysteries. However, it is possible that Voldemort simply created an image in Harry's mind through his tight Occlumens connection with Harry (due to the Horcrux connection) so that Harry would see what Voldemort's imagination dreamt up. It may have been up to Harry whether or not to believe it since he is persuaded by Hermione to check to see whether Sirius is really in the Department of Mysteries (not in Grimmauld Place). Voldemort is relying, therefore, on Harry's concern for Sirius's safety to get him to come, just as he is sure Harry will come to him in the forest during the break in the Battle of Hogwarts.
  • It is possible that Professor Horace Slughorn used this in the next school year to hide his memory of Voldemort asking him about Horcruxes, although as he retained awareness of the true memory his spell may be a different one. It is also possible that he simply repressed it to such a degree that it could not be extracted from him against his will, as the memory he gave Dumbledore simple went blank at the right times and was replaced by a disembodied shouting, rather than images.

Behind the scenes

  • The actual name and incantation for this charm are unknown.
  • However, it appears to be reversible as Hermione stated that she would find her parents after the war and lift it.
  • Albus Dumbledore could reverse this spell, as he managed to uncover the true memories beneath this one (he admitted that it was rather difficult).
  • In the film, Hermione uses Obliviate instead of this spell.
    • In the film Half-Blood Prince, the effect of Slughorn's memory modification is different, appearing as a muffling of sound, followed by Slughorn ordering Riddle out personally.

Appearances

Notes and references

  1. http://web.archive.org/web/20100205155451/http://www.jkrowling.com/textonly/en/wotm.cfm "Mnemone Radford 1562 - 1649 Developed Memory Modifying Charms. First Ministry of Magic Obliviator." this potentially means she made this charm, because its plural.
  2. 30 July 2007 WebChat with J.K. Rowling
  3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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