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My 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' Fan Theory About Depression

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OK, bear with me here because I am about to commit the crime of writing a “fan theory” about a Potter-world film. But first, let’s backtrack to the story of Harry Potter. This theory and why it affects me personally includes Dementors. Dementors are defined as “a gliding, wraith-like dark creature (considered one of the foulest to inhabit the world) employed by the British Ministry of Magic as the guard of Azkaban Prison. They are one of the main antagonists in both the novel and film versions of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”

The Dementors feed upon human happiness, and thus, they cause depression and despair to anyone near them. They can also consume a person’s soul, leaving their victims in a permanent vegetative state. Therefore, they are often referred to as “soul-sucking fiends.” They are known to leave a person as an “empty-shell.” (Also, J.K. Rowling has said Dementors don’t breed. Instead, they grow like fungi where there is decay and are functionally immortal in terms of age.)

J.K. Rowling has revealed that the inspiration for Dementors came from her bout with severe depression before her phenomenal success. She described the feeling as an “absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad.”

So I will assume that in translation from the world of Harry Potter to the world of you and I, a Dementor is equivalent to major depression. Now, if you have yet to see “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them,” and do not want to read any spoilers, do not read beyond here.

In the movie, the problem on hand is something known as an Obscurial/Obscurus. According to the Harry Potter Wiki, Obscurials are explained as “a young wizard or witch who developed a dark, parasitical magical force, known as an Obscurus, as a result of their magic being suppressed through psychological or physical abuse.” Now, as the movie describes, Obscurials are children (usually younger than 10 years old) who, over the course of extremely targeted and abusive relationships with caregivers or environments, are forced to suppress their magic so completely, it becomes unstable and violent within them. This dangerous and unstable magic becomes the parasitic creature known as the Obscurus. The Obscurus is defined along the same lines, as a dark and parasitic force. An Obscurus is created when the child in question is forced to repress their talent through physical or psychological abuse. This energy can manifest itself as a separate entity that can erupt in violent, destructive fury.”

OK, so, here’s where I get personal. (Since you now have all of the necessary information I had when I formed this theory.) From personal experience with all of my disorders from depression to pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (a form of autism), I can say it is often easier to suppress and restrict my illnesses than to be at open with them. I often find myself in situations that leave me distressed and sometimes even traumatized because I have to hide my disorders at any cost. This makes them get worse, without failure, every time. They grow and become, often, insurmountable for me within a day or two of the situation.

Dementors grow like a fungus wherever there is decay. What better decay for growing the literal embodiment of depression than in the heart of a child being forced at extreme measures to suppress the core of who they are? In “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” the Obscurial featured in the film is a chronically traumatized and depressed young adult (and an exception to the general rule that Obscurials die from their parasitic energy before age 20) who is growing more and more aggressively unstable. He begins lashing out in extremely destructive and violent ways at those who abuse him in any way. He kills his adoptive mother and a rising politician in quick and frightening ways.

Lastly, in the film, when the Obscurial is killed by the ruling wizards, it is shown that just a little bit of the creature, or possibly the host as well, has survived and disappears into the wind. My theory is that the Obscurus is a major breeding ground for Dementors, if not the most effective and powerful of such grounds. The death of the Obscurial causes enough decay and death that the Dementor has more than enough of its “food” of sorts to grow deadly and powerful.

In simplification, here’s the theory: A lifetime of pain and struggle for the Obscurial causes so much decay inside the child that it breeds, not only an Obscurus, but also gives life to one or more Dementors. In real life terms regarding mental illness, being forced to hide a long term struggle with depression, anxiety, autism and any other illnesses causes, over time, severe and clinical depression.

For any questions or comments regarding this theory, find me on Facebook.

Peace, Love and Bulletproof Marshmallows
Mandey T

Follow this journey on The Little Tea Lady. To see more of Mandey’s work, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and on Patreon.

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Image via “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” Facebook page.

Originally published: January 23, 2017
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