Before wizards went underground, when we were still being hunted by muggles, young wizards and witches sometimes tried to suppress their magic to avoid persecution. So instead of learning to harness or to control their powers, they developed what was called an Obscurus,– Newt Scamander

The Return of the Repressed in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Freud Lacan Fairy Tales Children’s Story Stories

J. K. Rowling’s debut screenplay Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a film premised on the Freudian mechanism known as ‘The Return of the Repressed.’ In it, a magical parasite known as an Obscurus torments 1920’s New York.

Like a dream or a fairytale, a film can be representative of the unconscious mind, filled with latent and manifest content and surreal imagery.

Obscurus: The dark forces inside us

An Obscurus is a dark and destructive force inadvertently manifested by magical children who are made to conceal their powers. When young witches and wizards suppress their magical abilities, it is as though the magic turns inwards, manifesting and growing inside like a tumour.

When an Obscurial (the human host) inevitably reaches their emotional and mental breaking point, they may lose control, unleashing their repressed Obscurus as an invisible, destructive wind. They may even physically transform into an Obscurus.

In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Credence Barebone, a young wizard forced to conceal his powers by his overbearing, fearful adoptive mother, harvests an Obscurus so powerful that it tears down all of New York City. This clearly demonstrates the unconscious yet deliberate behavioural pattern described by Freud in ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle.’

The unconscious mind does not resist detection, but is instead unwillingly repressed by the ego. The Obscurus, then, can be seen as a manifestation of what remains repressed in the unconscious, determined to escape.

Catch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in cinemas now.