Before I get to the topic of today’s post, I’d like to share a giveaway. Author Brinda Berry is hosting a giveaway and if you enter, there’s a chance to win an ebook of SHIFTING PRIDE! Please enter and/or spread the word. 🙂
Here’s Brinda’s Amazon author page, so you can take a gander at her work. It’s FAB!
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I feel as if my poor Mental Health Monday tradition has been ignored. Starting in November, my regular blog schedule got commandeered by release blitzs, blog tours, and holiday fun. Now that things are settling, I’d like to get back to it.
If you have a character that needs shrink-wrapping, please don’t hesitate to ask me and I’ll feature your question on Mental Health Monday.
Today, I’d like to share an oldie, but goodie post from a couple years back. It still gets hits and comments, even after all this time!
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.
It’s important to remember that as long as there’s no distress or disruption of functioning (work, play, relationships, emotions, etc), then it’s NOT considered a disorder.
Remember: These posts are for writing purposes ONLY and are NOT to be construed as medical advice or treatment.
Saw your books at Brinda’s!
The reason for adult imaginary friends makes sense. Rather sad though.
That’s interesting. I never thought about imaginary friends in adult. Hmm…
So you are saying I’m okay if I talk to my characters? 🙂 Oh, good. I was starting to worry. My imaginary friends tend to take over my live while I write.
Hooray for the return of Mental Health Monday!!!! I missed it a lot (can you tell?) Makes sense that something isn’t a disorder if there’s no harm, no foul, right? Plus we get to notice odd things about ourselves that are fascinating and not clinical. Excellent.
I also missed Mental Health Monday so good it’s coming back. It seems a fine line between where imaginary friends end and schizophrenia begins. I never talk to any of my characters, but I do have a couple pictures of characters I made in the Sims on my wall.
Interesting post. Glad to see MHM are back. 🙂
That is so fascinating!
Oh, that is very interesting! Glad to see this feature back!
Yay! I love these posts–and YAY for Shifting Pride!
OK, this was way cool, and then your last graph stood out to me… So can ANYTHING be a disorder if it disrupts functioning? Interesting… 😀 ❤
I didn’t even consider imaginary friends in adults, but it’s a great story line.
Alex–it can be sad, yes.
Sheri–it’s more common for kids to have imaginary friends, so yes, it’s a different concept in adults.
Ciara–LOL! Yes, it’s ok to talk to your characters.
Linda–glad you’re glad MHM is back!
Patrick–It’s true, that mental illness is often on a spectrum of severity. Good point.
Natasha–glad you stopped by!
Amanda–I agree, very interesting!
Krispy–thanks for stopping by!
Leigh–The DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) catalogues various psychiatric disorders, and the criteria holds that it must be disruptive to functioning and/or cause distress. It applies to the diagnoses described within… 🙂
Interesting stuff! I could use some imaginary office workers who actually straighten up my desk and help get me organized. I wonder if there is such a thing…:)
This reminds me of Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, which I just read. Greatest twist on imaginary friends I’ve read!
I didn’t have an imaginary friend that I remember, but I’ve always talked to myself. Usually it’s an imaginary conversation with a real person who isn’t with me at the moment, rather than a real conversation with an imaginary person.
So fascinating! I love these posts. 🙂
have been a lot older because i tend to get on better with older men. mostly band members/film characters, who sing me songs or give advice, usually giving me emotional support.
i’m physically disabled, so the type of people i live with aren’t necessarily who i’d choose to chat to –- their conversation is either extremely limited or they’re just so rude it’s not worth bothering, even though i try my best.when a well-meaning carer, seeing it as a problem, tried to get me to stop, i got ill. i kept throwing up. i gained masses of weight. i snapped at everyone; something wrong with my thyroid apparently, but to this day i still wonder.
given my own problems, and the fact i’m an aspiring writer, i can almost get away with it. when i found another one, who i discovered not only does something similar but with the same person (who just happens to be real), i was so happy i started sobbing.