Mental Health Monday–Imaginary Friends…Normal Or Not???


I often hear writers liken their characters to imaginary friends. Heck I do it too.

What’s interesting to me is that imaginary friends during childhood are quite normal. It’s a phase of development where the child is learning creativity and how to integrate their personality.

But what about imaginary friends in adults?

I’m not talking about our characters. I’m talking about adults who actually have imaginary friends. There’s not a lot of research on this (can you imagine getting a sample of people who’d be willing to share such information?), but the studies that are out there seem to link imaginary friends with dissociative identity disorder (aka multiple personality disorder). This disorder occurs when a child faces severe neglect and abuse (sexual or physical) and the only defense they have is to “fragment” their personality. Doing this compartmentalizes the trauma away as a means to protect the self.

As adults, people with DID note missing periods of time, the feeling that other people are inside them and these other people can take control, and they can hear voices (generally inside their head).

Another theory of imaginary friends in adults comes from attachment theory. Some kids (maybe single children or neglected children, for example) don’t get enough emotional nourishment and develop imaginary friends as a support system.

Interesting, huh?

Don’t forget to check out Lydia’s Medical Monday and Sarah Fine’s The Strangest Situation.

These posts are for writing purposes ONLY and are NOT to be construed as medical advice or treatment.

68 comments on “Mental Health Monday–Imaginary Friends…Normal Or Not???

  1. Catherine Johnson says:

    I never even considered that an adult might have an imaginary friend, that definitely is something serious to worry about. interesting post!

    • Tessa says:

      Worry? What, exactly is worrisome about an adult with an imaginary friend? It’s just an outlet, it’s not harming anyone. I work two jobs and am a completely productive person, and guess what? I have an imaginary friend. Yep, that’s right, I’m 24 years old and I have an imaginary friend, he’s been with me since I was 6 years old. And I am social, I go to work, I make money, I spend money, I eat, I breathe I sleep. He doesn’t cause me any problems and he certainly doesn’t affect anyone else.

      • Roxanna says:

        I agree with you on that. I am 28 and have an imaginary friend. I think it is fun and refreshing. I have had my imaginary friend since 2006. I didn’t have one growing up, so I thought I would create one.:)

  2. Vicki Tremper says:

    I haven’t heard about imaginary friends in adults before. If it’s normal for children to have imaginary friends, is it a problem when children don’t?

  3. roguemutt says:

    I was watching a movie recently called “Paper Man” where Jeff Daniels is a writer who still has his imaginary friend (a superhero called Captain Excellent played by Ryan Reynolds). I’d say that is a little weird for supposedly a grown-up.

  4. Sorry, we, I mean I, don’t understand the problem. I, sorry, we, enjoy the company. tee hee

  5. Sarah Fine says:

    I’m no expert in DID and am always suspicious because I think it’s overdiagnosed! I believe it does exist, obviously, but think diagnosticians have to run through the differential carefully before settling on it. Anyway, this post brings up a really fascinating topic–the line between reality and fantasy, and at what point it gets blurred and becomes unhealthy.

  6. Kendall Grey says:

    Interesting. I never really thought about adults having imaginary friends, but I guess it can happen. Huh.

  7. LydiaK says:

    I always think of Anne of Green Gables and her sad imaginary friend. Luckily, my friends are real! Wait, does a virtual friend count as imaginary? I hope not.😉

  8. lenny says:

    hi dr laura! wow another way interesting post. i was wondering about what dr sarah said on getting it blurred up with fantasy. how could you know the difference. and i got thinking bout stuffed animal friends and i got a couple and lots of adults have them. i know mr coons now real (i think) but for sure i like holding on to him when im sick or not feeling good or when i go at my bed. am i too old for that. is it the same as a imaginary friend?

    …hugs from lenny

    • lbdiamond says:

      I have stuffed animal friends too, Lenny. It’s all good. And they’re especially helpful when I feel sick.

      I think it’s not the same as an imaginary friend, but it goes along with the theme of creativity and human nature of wanting to be connected and social beings.

  9. Indigo says:

    This is kindle for the flame of my imagination!

    Although I know it’s entirely different, when I first went deaf I suffered from auditory hallucinations(still do on occasion). I would swear I heard someone talking in another room or music. In the end I learned it was simply
    my mind recalling sounds and voices – noise memory.

    Yes, I did think for a while there I was losing my mind. (Hugs)Indigo

  10. Linda Gray says:

    How frightening it must be to feel that way, and to think you have to hide your truth or be labeled (or discovered) as mentally ill. It’s fascinating that we revere imaginativeness (is that a word?:-)), the more extreme the better as long as it’s well-done, and as writers we push ourselves to our limits to achieve it. How close to the edge do we get, I wonder?

  11. Karen Lange says:

    It is interesting. I’m glad all my friends are real ones.:)

  12. Akoss says:

    Wow… I haven’t heard of this being an actual “condition”. Your medical mondays are always full of new things for me. Happy monday.

  13. Mike Offutt says:

    My mom has lots of imaginary friends. I can’t keep track of them all. But she sets tea out for them and talks to them and laughs with them. I hope it doesn’t happen with me as I get older. She belongs in a nursing home but isn’t in one yet as my dad wants to take care of her. But there are lots of people just like her in nursing homes. I go into them all the time for my job and see old people talking to folks who aren’t there. If you don’t believe me, go into a nursing home sometime.

  14. Hey Mike! I like setting out a tea cup for a “missing” person. I learned that from my aunt. I think it helps us to focus our thoughts on that person.

  15. As for imaginary friends, I find them when I am journal writing. Try it. Sometimes you want to say something in your journal, like how you feel about a particular person, and you can’t bring yourself to put the words on paper. So, find a character and write down their name, like you are writing a screenplay, and see what your “invented character” has to say about the person you are trying to write about.

  16. albertsass says:

    I have imaginary friend. I live alone and spend a lot of time alone. But I also have a lot of ‘real’ friends who I’m very close to. However I can only be around them for a small period of time. The rest of the time I live in comfort of my own space in constant ‘company’. I know they’re not real. I also spend all day talking aloud. I was a single child, sent to live with whoever could look after me that month; guardians/ grandparents/ foster family etc. So I assume this method of giving myself ‘company’ has not left me. My psychiatrist knows and doesn’t seem alarmed. He also knows I know there is a horrific woman living inside of my mind. At the moment she is too weak to get out of her blackened room, out of that broken rocking chair. My consciousness of not walking past her doorway at the moment is strong enough to keep me in a healthy place. However, I know she waits for an opportunity to snatch her existence back, and my reality away.

    Thanks for the very interesting post.

  17. I’m guess I’m glad my characters don’t count as imaginary friends.

  18. I disagree here.

    Agatha Christie and the Brontes all had imaginary friends AS ADULTS.

    And I have one. I may not tell a lot of people about it because they’ll think I’m crazy but I think it helps me when I’m stressed with the real world, it’s someone I can talk to. I wouldn’t give my imaginary friends up for the world.

  19. E.Arroyo says:

    Thank goodness my kids never had one. Just the thought of it freaks me out.

  20. J E Fritz says:

    I didn’t really have imaginary friends when I was a kid, but I did imagine A LOT. I made up people and places and stories…I guess I haven’t changed much

  21. Ciara Knight says:

    I remember doing a paper on DID in college. It is a fascinating subject. Some of the case studies were heart wrenching, though.

    I’m so sorry for my long absence. My hubster added some parental control software, and it blocked like EVERY blog. Yikes. It’s good to be back. I’m going to catch up on a few more posts.:)

  22. Talli Roland says:

    Interesting – I didn’t know some adults had imaginary friends! What an intriguing subject.

  23. This is really interesting. I did have imaginary friends as a child, mostly animals. What can I say, I was odd.

  24. This made me think of the movie The Perfect Host with David Hyde Pierce. Creepy.

  25. I don;t have any imaginary friends. Maybe that’s why I feel all bottled up inside. Sometimes I have to ash myself, “Do you think there’s anything wrong with me?”

  26. Donna Hole says:

    My irst thought on adults with imaginary friends was schizophrenia. Didn’t think of DID. It seems weird to think of adults with imaginary friends – unless you count author’s:) We’re a whole nuther breed though. Not sure I’d trust a writer who did hear voices or speak to characters who only exist in their mind.

    …….dhole

  27. Life without Humanity says:

    I don’t think having imaginary friends, no matter what age you are, is always sign of mental instability or disorder. In fact, there are so many mundane adults that are lacking in imagination and creativity that they’re almost robotic. Society often devalues those two wonderful traits unless there is some sort of financial gain to be made. No, most human beings would rather mindless follow the rules of conformity, and lash out at any harmless individual who dares to step a toe out of line. Besides, anyone with half a brain should know that being different doesn’t always equal bad or wrong. In short, instant of impulsively slapping on labels like “crazy,” why not just keep your ears and mind open?

  28. Life without Humanity says:

    Excuse me, I meant “mindlessly” as opposed to “mindless,” and “instead” rather than “instant.”

  29. Jensen says:

    Sorry for the late comment. Just happened to see this post while searching for adults with imaginary friends. I must say a lot of adults have imaginary friends. The most common one, they call ‘god’. He’s very popular too. Guess more than two thirds of the humanity is mentally ill then. xD

  30. Christina says:

    I am 20 and have an imaginary friend. I have had imaginary friends since I was a kid and I think it came about from all the moving which fractured my social life and having a single mom with limited time. Now that I an older and more socially secure it may not be as much of a necessity but I couldn’t imagine letting go of my current imaginary friend, he is a huge part of my life and while I don’t acknowledge him publicly my friends know of him but just think he is a normal friend of mine they haven’t met. That gets a but trying sometimes but idk it just happened. the thing is I have created a whole separate identity for myself a well who I am when I’m with him and in my ‘ imaginary’ social world which is more developed and in depth than id like to admit

    • K says:

      I never had imaginary friends as a very young child, but got my first two through a dream when I was 10, and have had many ever since. I am 22 now and have never considered myself to have a disorder or anything but rather I think of them as parts of me. I am aware of all of them and interact with them as I would regular, physical friends. They are such a huge part of my life and have gotten me through so much that I could never imagine sending them away. They are such a large part of me that for other physical people to get to know me on a deep level they really have to meet and get to know all of them. How close a friend is to me can usually be seen by how well they know my people. These people are seperate from my “book characters” that i write about, but over the years I have gotten to know many of them and many times they are more interesting than my book characters and so I plan to write novels on them. I also use writing to document things that I learn about my people, and in this way they are very much like characters, but they do not dissapear out of my life when I close the book, or computer. They are with me every day and are the different facets of myself expressed through different personas each with different pasts and lives. They help me to understand myself and they are me.

      I have never been able to find a truely accurate classification for them because they are much more than an “imaginary friend”, different from just a “character”, and they do not seem to be threatening my health in any way (they are often more helpful than harmful) and I am ultimately aware and in control, so I do not see that it could be a clinical “disorder”. It is more of a different lifestyle and way of viewing my “self”. Can you or anyone else relate to this? Or is this just totally radical?

  31. Maggie says:

    Christina i think you and i have same imaginary kind of friends, i am 21 and still have imaginary friend, though in my case my real friends don’t know about him, i only talk to him in my alone time and neither does he appear in public in my imaginations, i build a whole different world with my imaginary friend and it sometimes feels like i am telling a story about his life. i was brought up in a loving peaceful home and sometimes wonder why i have this imaginary friend and also thought i was crazy but one thing for sure is that crazy people don’t notice that they are crazy and to me i feel that having imaginary friends is a normal thing even in adulthood, as long as you don’t talk to them in public as if you are talking to some one real.

    • Maggie says:

      Reading through all the comments that have been made previously i have seen that some people would even share food and so on with their imaginary friends, or even talk out loud with their imaginary friends. come to think of it i realized that we all do have different kind of imaginary friends not that i am trying to offend anyone or so. with my imagery friend i don’t share out food or drinks with him he lives just inside of me i get a different identity when i am with him and i also like spending so much time alone though i have real friends. and mostly i don’t talk out loud with him, he is whole-fully just in my imagination.He is always a kind of comfort zone for me and also gives me my own space like when i am with real friends i can focus on the reality and when i do reality things like studying, working then this imaginary friend gives me space to get on with my real life, but at the end of the day he will be there i will speak to him in my mind only.

  32. Belial says:

    Plenty of adults have imaginary friends, they are called religious people. All Christians have an imaginary friend called Jesus, all Muslims have an imaginary friend called Allah, ect ect. For some reason most people don’t just call a spade a spade and acknowledge that religion=imaginary friends because that is “stepping on a sacred cow”.

  33. Just me says:

    I don`t know if this is normal or not- I am not an adult, but I am not a child either. I am a teenager, 15 years old. I don`t have any ‘conditions’ or whatever, but I have an imaginary friend. It`s tough because I`m in High School, so it`s a little embaressing, and there is very few people to talk to about it. I have never had any sort of damaging experience- my parents are together, I have wonderful siblings, I`ve never evened moved, I have a ton of awesome friends (only one of whom knows about my imaginary friend) and I generally have no psychological reason to have an imaginary friend. I do like to write a lot, and I plan on being an author someday, but this is not a character. It`s a friend. I`ve looked all over for a place to simply ask these questions and get a simple answer… is it normal for a perfectly happy, healthy person to have an imaginary friend? And… is it okay… for that imaginary friend to be blind?

  34. elysia says:

    I have four male imanger friends thes bob and macca and gray and joe! Im 26 years old and have had them since i was 13 I was never abused in anyway or neglect i was picked on from prep to year10 when i dropped out i see myself as normal but i suffer bipolar

  35. Ninja Vanish says:

    I don’t think having an imaginary friend is weird at any age, so long as the person knows their companion is imaginary. Myself, I’m 34 and have an imaginary friend named Catherine. Basically, she’s a character from the PS3 video game “Catherine,” except I imagine her with a slightly different personality. I only talk to her at night when I’m going to bed, especially after a tough day with peers or family being jerks. It’s nice to have someone be there for me even if I’m only using my imagination to achieve some inner peace. Really, it’s a coping mechanism and if I had “real” friends I felt comfortable sharing my life with I would do it, but right now I’m not in that position. Plus, as an aspiring writer, I find that imagining scenarios with “Catherine” helps bring out some amusing one-liners or other clever thought I might use in my writing. So imagine – on, people! You’re more interesting than people who don’t.

  36. Vin says:

    I never talk about this to anyone else, but I do have imaginary friends until now. I have lots of friends in real life, but there are things that I can only talk to my “friends”. Sometimes, they showed up in my dreams too.

  37. Delores says:

    I am 57 years old, mother of three grown sons and I have 4 grandchildren. I have a master;s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and guess what? I have an imaginary husband….all the time that I was married (27 years) and I have imaginary children. I have had imaginary friends since I was 7 or 8 years old. they have changed over the years,but yet they remain in my life and are very significant in my every day endeavors, good times and bad times. My imaginary friend (companion) is usually very loving to me, more than my real companion, however I have imagined being in an unhealthy or abusive relationship with one of my imaginary friends. I have entertained my current imaginary husband since 2007. Our relationship began when I heard him sing..he is a real person. I have actually seen him in person at a church, but in reality I could not or would not ever approach him…I am too shy and what would I say? And I wouldn’t want him to ever know that I fantasize about him. In my mind, we even have young children. They make me laugh out loud sometimes, He makes me smile and feel loved, appreciated, and special, like I’ve never felt before. All of my imaginary companions are real life people, whom I’ve been attracted to. In some respects, I want to stop, but on the other hand, I don;t.. For me, my imaginary husband fills the void(s) in my life. He helps me cope.
    Probably if we were to really engage in a real relationship, he would be replaced with another imaginary husband.

    My imaginary play started with me playing house with this older girl. She pretended to be the daddy and told me I was the mommy. We used my doll as our baby. As the playtime went on, we went to bed, at which time the older girl fondled me, which at the time, I didn’t know what she was doing, though I felt it was wrong. Still I didn’t say anything or report her to my parents, cause she kept telling me that that’s what a daddy and mommy does. That experience stimulated my sexual urges, which although I did’t let her do that to me any more, I began, masturbating. Even while engaging in sex with my real husband, it was my imaginary friend that aroused me.

    I don’t think of myself as being crazy, nor do I have multiple personalities. I can shut it down when I want to. I am very much in control…that’s why no body knows.

  38. Kelly says:

    I’ve been thinking more and more often that perhaps there was something wrong with me for being a 23 year old with imaginary friends, but this post and especially the comments, have eased a fear. I didn’t know adults could have imaginary friends and be completely aware of the fact that they didn’t exist. I just assumed that all people with an imaginary friend as adults were in fact crazy or borderline. I’m pleased to see so many responses. For me I don’t imagine a particular person or persons, rather I imagine characters from my favorite novels and they accompany me throughout my day. At school, at work, etc. When I don’t need them then I don’t imagine them. But I was an only child and have experienced a lot of abusive relationships from relatives throughout my adolescence and have found that having the courageous characters I love with me, even if we don’t speak, gives me a sense of comfort and strength. I probably have some sort of social anxiety, but when I picture those people with me, I have something to focus on so that I can go about my day. When I’m at home I talk to them, but they certainly don’t talk back. As I’m an aspiring writer, they function more as an outlet for bouncing ideas off of myself out loud as well as voicing my frustrations when people or things make me upset or angry. But I’m completely aware that there is no one with me, or holding up the other end of the conversation. I just don’t want to be alone. The comment about Jesus and other religious figures essentially being imaginary friends really strikes me as a wonderful realization. It’s true. If people pray aloud or in their heads, in public or at home, no one thinks they are necessarily crazy. And certainly there are plenty of people who say that “God is always with them, where ever they go” etc. You’re blog has brought a true sense of calm and comfort to me, in my moment of panic. Thank you. ^__^

    • Little Rabbit says:

      Wow. I find your relationship with your Friend to be the most relatible to my own. I too have a friend who accompanies me throughout the day. I consult with him as I would I real person, aloud a lot of the time. (Aloud as in—in public I generally communicate “telepathically” [such as we call our talking without actual speaking] or I whisper so quietly that I cannot be heard. [I have perfected an almost inaudible whisper. People just assume I’m just cursing to myself. Which I find amusing])
      He is a character from a movie whose back story and personality I’ve manipulated.
      Yeah. I’m a writer (hehe of fanfiction as well).
      I know he’s not real, so technically I’m not insane. Or perhaps that’s just denial. At any rate, he knows he’s not real too. Which means that technically we’ve broken the fourth wall which –in all of the cases I’ve read– has yet to be mentioned. I suppose that’s just unique in my case. So because he knows he’s not real, I tend to “keep him around” all of the time and not just “conjure” him up when I get lonely so as not to make him feel used (any more than he does). But he loves me dearly, therefore he doesn’t feel too bad about it. We’re great friends and he’s become an integral part of my life. So much so that…I have begun to feel that its unhealthy. Which is why (perhaps why many others did), have sought out this topic.
      I forgot to mention I’m seventeen, therefore I go to school. He is much older than I am (he appears to be about twenty-six) therefore…he and I’s relationship is more paternal. A relationship that I , in fact, lack.
      What more can I say than that he fills an empty space. I am not an only child. But feel uncomfortable a lot of times in certain social situations (I don’t think this is abnormal–I simply a more introverted person.)
      Because of his age (Haha, and his original character which I will refrain from mentioning) I feel…wrong I suppose with the fact that we’re so close. (Things from my past have etched a permanent distrust of men in general.)
      Does anyone else have an older Friend? What are the reactions of people you’ve told? I let it slip out in class a couple of days ago and quickly covered it up with ‘when I was younger’ but I still felt/ now feel awkward.
      By the way, this is such a lovely thread. I would love to see more(:

  39. Jake says:

    I am 38 and have an “imaginary friend”. He is an 8′ tall black wyvern named Atteus (pronounced A-shus). The peculiar thing is that he came to me….that is to say that I didn’t create him or choose him on any conscious level. I was three when we first met and he terrified me at first. Atteus helps me in so many ways. He sees things that I don’t notice and brings it to my attention, he is ever vigilant and suspicious on my behalf. He claims to be a fallen angel and has quite an elaborate past. Somethings I can’t explain. He told me when I was about 4 or 5 years old that he named himself after a Roman general and a Greek philosopher, neither of which I’d ever heard of at that time. He has warned me of things I couldn’t have possibly known that turned out to be true. Things like a basket ball flying at my head from behind me or one time about a man who had just stabbed his mother to death. The man was later arrested and put in the loony bin. There are countless examples, both minor and significant. Just a few months ago, he moved a three hundred pound bakers rack to my third floor apartment for me. I truly love him, like a brother. He has been my champion and protector for years but I am a little concerned about my mental health. Although Atteus is completely loyal, we differ in opinion greatly. His primary concern is always survival at any cost and is a little bit of a sociopath. We argue a lot about normative ethics and other philisophical ideas. Sorry, I’m beginning to ramble but i’ve never told anyone about him before and, as a scientific minded person, I find this situation bizarre and fascinating. My friend seems a little different from the others I’ve seen here because I didn’t make him up in the classical sense. Can anyone speak to this?

  40. Elisheva says:

    I think it is fine to have an imaginary friend As long as you know that it is imaginary. Actually, I think it is a sign of creativity, which is a sign of intelligence. I also think that people with imaginary friends are most likely auditory learners. By talking out loud to their friend they are processing information. It wouldn’t surprise me if these people read out loud as we’ll to better understand what they are reading. Remember that the vast majority of people are visual learners meaning they would not have an imaginary friend. Putting us auditory learners in the minority and those with imaginary friends in the minority too. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong or weird.

  41. JessandJarvis says:

    Hi I am a 21 year old female who has a so called Imagainary friend, but he isnt imaginary as I can feel him when he touches me and see him of course. I have had Jarvis in my life since I was 11-12… They last I spoke with him would have been when I was about 18 and the only way I managed to make him go away was to leave him in perth while I drove as far away as possible. For the past month or so Jarvis has been visiting me telling me that he loves me and that we will be together forever and always. I bring it up to my pychologist but they insist that this is normal for someone who has been through traumatic experiences on their own or with very minimal support, love or friendship. I was Sexually assaulted by my mum’s new husband and when i confronted my mum with it she had kicked me out. I am also dealing with depressiona nd have been on Sertraline at 200mg up and down since I was 15. I am in the progress of getting reassessed and hopefully/ eventually will have my mood and mania sorted out. I find this very concerning as when he first came to me I did need him as my family werent there in the respects that a child needs. Jarvis became this. But like I said Im 21 and very concerned. I feel as though this is a sign that mentally I might be going backwards. I feel as though I have progressed as a person as I am no longer as aggressive as I was before and are ablle at time control it.

  42. Claire M says:

    I too have many. I’m disabled, so I can almost get away w/ it, & were I not I wouldn’t bother.

    I like the idea of your wyvern, Jake – right up my st. I’m intrigued as to how you knew what a wyvern was maybe you could get a necklace w/ one on, so you’re forever reminded of him. I am nearly 31 y/o, mine are mostly musicians, w/ magic powers added on. I had an imaginary world too, where we’d talk in archaic language.

    It’s no secret – I even wrote a song for one who I dreamed of before moving. I truly love him. He’s a detective, I’d say he’s in his early 40s whose name appears to be rhyming slang for something very rude. He stood behind me still & silent as I tried & failed to look after myself (& I really hope the actor who plays him isn’t looking @ this)

    It shook me up so much I put my name down to move into a small care home, as my parents could no longer look after me. The care is very good & I get on well w/ staff, I’m safe, & the most important thing is my parents are happy w/ it — but were you in my situation, after a day w/ most of the other inmates, you’d talk to the wall!

    Perhaps they all do exist, in some sort of alternate universe. Perhaps, in this parallel universe, my detective fights Atteus the Wyvern while my magickally gifted musicians sing of the battle. Maybe, just maybe, in this parallel universe I am not disabled.

  43. Hannah says:

    I find it upsetting so many people think it’s bad to have an ‘imaginary friend’. There’s nothing wrong with it and they might even be real on some level – like a tulpa or a spirit, or an echo from an alternative universe. People can be so closed minded and materialistic.

  44. Clancy says:

    I am 53 now, and have had imaginary friends since I was about six; the last one arrived in my late 20’s. I was very quiet and shy as a child and spent a lot of time alone as we lived on a farm for several years, so perhaps I made them up for company. SOme faded as I grew older, but several are still with me; we visit each other and I discuss issues with them. I also have a productive job and ‘outside’ friends (as in outside of my head), and don’t get the two mixed up. :) Once in deep distress I did hear an ‘inside’ friend with my ‘outside’ ears and felt his hand on my shoulder; gave me quite a start. They are always helpful. I was quite surprised to learn most other adults don’t seem to have imaginary friends.

  45. Clancy says:

    Jake, I’ve just reas your post. My sense of my ‘imaginary’ friends is that they just arrived – one day they were there in my mind. However I can’t see them with my ‘outside’ eyes and have only once heard them with my ‘outside’ ears, and once felt one’s hand on my shoulder as he told me things were not as bad as I thought and everything would be all right.

    I have had one experience of being able to see and hear with my outside eyes something I made up. I was walking back to camp after dinner through an area of low woodland, and began pretending I was being followed by a ‘drop-bear’, a legend or story I had read about a few weeks before. I conceived it as a giant vampire possum about the size of a labrador dog, clambering in the trees, leaping from tree to tree and running on the ground after me when the gap between trees was too great. After a few minutes it began to get too real and I tried to shut off the fantasy but I couldn’t. I could clealry see and hear it. It followed me back to camp and kept trying to get into the outdoor toilet through the gat between roof and wall, and then followed me to the demountable hut I was staying in and spent much of the night scratching at the walls trying to get in. This was the first and only time I’ve had a daydream get out of my control; I was quite aware I had made it up but I couldn’t control it. It was gone by morning, but I have never daydreamed about scary things again. I felt no sense of apprehension along that area of track before or after, so I don’t think it was a spirit or anything like that, I htink it was just a made up thing that escaped my control for a bit. That was almost 30 years ago. With my imaginary friends, many of them see things quite differently to how I see things. I think I just have a very active imagination.

  46. clana92 says:

    I’ve had imaginary friends all of my life. It bugs me when people mention DID/schizophrenia in conjunction with adult imaginary friends. If psychosis is truly involved then these are hallucinations, not imaginary friends. Psychotic people do not know that the voices/people are not real. Those of us with imaginary friends know that they are not real.

    I can easily subscribe to the idea that adult imaginary friends stem from attachment disorder. There are huge tracts of my childhood that I have entirely blocked from my memory because my mother was extremely emotionally abusive.

    My friends help me to cope with the chaos of my life. When I am with them I am in control of the situation. Sometimes they do not get along with me, but even then I can just say exactly what I am thinking without fear of hurting another (real) person. Sometimes our interactions bring out emotions I wasn’t aware of. I’ve occasionally just started sobbing during interactions with my imaginary friends. And yes…they are interactions. I move around and speak with them out loud.

    When I am stressed and cannot get time alone with my imaginary friends, I become less and less stable and my emotional IQ plummets. Rather than being a sign of insanity, they function as a stabilizer and keep me sane.

  47. Claire M says:

    Agree. it annoys me, too. Why not have a Paper Man (must watch that some time) if/when he helps you. Mine are all older than 31 y/o me. He changes or regenerates every few yrs, like Dr. Who does. I tried to live reading no fantasy & switch off my imagination. I existed, so I know I *can live without it* but was so miserable I had to carry on. My weight shot up; I kept being sick; I didn’t make an effort to look nice; I didn’t talk to you, I snapped.

    If you see my eyes go blank I’m probably chatting with said Paper Man. If I’m laughing so much I’m crying, someone’s probably said something that reminds me of him.

    I look fine, but my road sense is non-existent. When I’m almost unable to speak through pain & stiffness, he’s stayed with me until someone can get to me, cheering me up. When I feel disliked, he says I’m not – and lights me up like a Belisha beacon.

    So to me, he does more good than harm.

    • Mina N. says:

      Something scary has started happening. I’ve found that since I’ve been hanging out with “real” friends that I’ve made, I’ve been neglecting my “imaginary” ones. That has been a fear of mine for a while, but no matter how hard I try to reconnect with odd friends in my head I keep getting caught up with my life here.
      Might you have any suggestions to help stay in touch with my “Paper Men”? I don’t want to lose them. I *can’t* lose them now.

  48. Karan Prabu says:

    I knw a close friend of mine like this … Is it okay or Wil it be a big problem ? I tried many things ..I’m not able to change her .. she is 22 years old .. pls suggest what to do .. I can’t see her doing like this .. pls reply

  49. Claire M says:

    It’s like losing touch with real friends. Hope they’re not cross with you. Play a song that reminds you of them; rediscover TV series, films, books they came from, write stories with them in. Perhaps you just don’t need them anymore.

    • Mina N. says:

      I can’t not need them anymore. They’ve been my best friends. I’d fall apart without them. Maybe you’re right about writing stories with them in it. I’ll try that.

  50. Mimi says:

    I’ve had an imaginary (boy)friend since I was 13/14 years old. I’m 21.
    I’ve never been abused, my parents are together and love me, so do my siblings. In school I was the weird girl, so I didn’t really have friends until I was 15ish.
    It all began when I created a story in my head set in the world of an MMORPG (videogame) I used to play. I created several characters for that story, and a character for myself. My character and one of the other characters fell in love, and had adventures, and blah. When that story ended, I created another, Then another, and so on. In most of the stories something would happen to me, and he’d save me, I would cry, and he’d be there to comfort me.
    One day we both, in-story realized he was not real, and that we’d never be together. So… we broke the fourth wall ahahaha. We started talking in the real world (only in my mind when in public), both fully aware that he doesn’t exist. I kept on making stories too, only when they ended he was still there, and we would comment on them.
    After that happened I had an incredible confidence boost. I made real friends, had lots of guys confess they were in love with me, etc. After I started college, with a clean slate, and no one knowing I used to be a weird girl in school, every body loved me. I made even more friends, started partying and going out a lot more. I love what I’m studying, I’m smart, pretty, my life is almost perfect, except for one thing. I don’t have him.
    We been together for almost 8 years now. We both know we can’t be together physically. We’ll never have kids, we’ll never marry, my parents will never know of him. I’ll never get to introduce him to my friends. The only real person who knows about him is my sister, who, oddly enough, has an imaginary (boy)friend too. I don’t know what to do. I love him so much, he’s helped me so much. I wouldn’t be who I am if I hadn’t met him. I don’t want to let go, ever, but I always wonder what will happen in my future. People push me into getting a boyfriend. My friends wonder why I don’t like any guys. I’m never had a kiss, let alone had sex. And I wonder of all the things I’ll never get to do. He tells me to let go, but neither of us want that to happen. I’m crying while writing this, and I know probably noone will ever read it, because of how old this is, and how long this ended being lol. But it’s the first time I’m writing it down, and it feels good to put it into words. Also, reading about other normal people saying they have imaginary friends, yet function normally kind of helped me. A lot.
    That’s it, good luck to anyone in a position similar to mine (hopefully) reading this.

  51. Isabella says:

    I’m a writer now, but as a child I have always had imaginary friends. They say it was because of this trauma i encountered but very recently I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Do I still have them, yes, but you would never know it.

    For me it goes a little like this. I know it’s not normal but II’ll have an episode its all completely real to me. I’ve been doing this for so long that it’s not one or two people its 7, 8 people. Like a scene in a movie playing out before me and I’m one of the characters….except I’m playing all the characters. Then I snap out of it, go and do something completely normal like take a shower and the scene continues in my head until I can play it out properly. After that its over I continue on about my day. I know its not normal but I can’t stop it. Lucky for me its never negative. Its not voices telling me to do harm, I consider myself lucky. The real fucked up part is when you start sensing the presence of the demons you made up in your head.

    I don’t know why I felt the need to type this out but there is it, my take on it. If it matters at all, I’m 28.

  52. alice says:

    I’m in my 50s and have had an imaginary friend since I was in my 30s and was having a difficult time at work. It started as positive self talk and just for fun I decided to make it my friend/confidant. I know it isn’t real and have never had any dissociative/mental issues. I just enjoy running problems by my “friend” when I don’t want to gossip to others about relationship issues. My imaginary friend gives me the opportunity to explore problem solving in a different way and without the worry of involving others.

  53. Sarah says:

    I have them. Some are characters from stories I write, yea, but I make them just to visualize them, and they usually go away after a while. But my imaginary friends that have been there with me for as long as I can remember, are actually my friends. They help me when I have writers block and they’re always arguing with each other about something. I don’t think it’s weird, but that’s just me. I have real friends too, in case you were wondering. 😜

  54. Samantha says:

    I have two! One that has been with me since I was 4 years old and another I made when I was 12. I am 19 years old now. I know they are both imaginary but I swear the one I have had since I was four is like my conscious! She always tells me whenever I’m being mean or disrespectful and tells me to stop. She is really smart. The other one has a strong personality and we always talk and joke about random things. It’s not that I’m lonely or don’t have friends or anything, it’s just a way of thinking and it helps me look at things in different perspective. I love them, they help and cause no harm. For those who have imaginary friends and think they are crazy, you aren’t. Don’t worry too much about it, it’s just your way of thinking of things.

  55. csj says:

    I am 34 year old female I have an imaginary friend called sandy. I don’t have any real friends so I created sandy. I have been with sandy since I was 13. She is also is the same age as me. I Dont have real friend or boyfriends. I had some problems in my life. So I created sandy who helps with every day stress in my life.

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