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Kids’ Imaginary Friends

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

In the movie, The Orphanage (2007) by Juan Antonio Bayona, the son of a family befriends children spirits that once died in the building where the family had moved to. Likewise, in The Others (2001) with Nicole Kidman, the children of the family started to communicate with invisible people. The same pattern arises and repeats in many other horror movies and one may question if there is a certain truth behind all these movie plots! Is it a form of an urban legend? Are there real events that can back up these stories or are they sole occasions of childhood schizophrenia?

The Scientific Incidents

There are very few researches who studied the phenomenon of children’s imaginary friends. In 2004, the Journal of Developmental Psychology published a study on this topic. Dr. Marjoirie Taylor from the University of Oregon completed an extended analysis on the matter and concluded that during the 1930s, one in nine children had an imaginary friend. Nowadays this number has increased to one in three! The phenomenon has been observed in both sexes and it may last up to the age of seven. The imaginary friends might vary in form as they can be animals, humans (in most cases children), or toys that come to life. As weird as it might sound, the study showed that the behavior of the children is normal since it not only sharpens the imagination and creativity of a child but it also improves their social intelligence. According to specialists, the phenomenon of the imaginary friends does not include any form of psychotic disorder. It is a healthy imaginative process that the child develops in order to perceive all the incoming information and the social roles by constructing imaginary identities. On the contrary to what one may believe, it is not only the neglected children who talk to imaginary creatures. This also happens to children who have been given care. Most of the kids are well aware that their fictional friends are not real. They are simply perceived as a mere invention of their imagination! Therefore, there is no reason to worry if during the night your child is standing at the entrance of your room crying because their 11-foot friend stopped talking to them. On the other hand, that might be a sign that you should start worrying…

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Real Events

There are very few researches that have been conducted by the scientific community. Even fewer are the ones from the side of the paradoxical community. Invizikds, by Michael Hallowell, is a book, which presents that same topic from the side of the paradoxical…According to Hallowell, the fictional friend phenomenon was not always a psychological invention of the imagination. In his book, there is a large number of parental testimonies that have witnessed their children who were in contact with invisible presences, like the case of a father who found his child playing volleyball with an invisible presence. The ball was floating in thin air as if someone was holding it and then in return the ball ended in his child’s hands as if someone had thrown it back. Another father stated that he could hear whispers while being in the same room with his son. The whispers were coming from the imaginary friend of his child… Is it easier for children to perceive parallel dimension’s spirits? Is there any chance that since they have not been completely adapted to the adult society to perceive other presences which live among us? There are many cases of “gifted” people who can come in contact with supernatural entities. This process may start at a very young age. Children have reported that they see dead people walking in their house’s corridors, spirits come out of the mirrors and small bright-colored creatures run around their rooms. Are all of these real ghosts or are they part of our imagination?

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What Happens?

There is a 4% of the general population, which is prone to their imagination. Those, are the people who cannot be integrated into society due to personal insecurities. They construct an imaginative world and live through a series of paradoxical phenomena like lucid dreams, extracorporeal experiences, and contacts with non-existing beings. Contemporary psychiatry uses the term fantasy-prone personality, which is referred to those types. In 1983, Wilson and Barber published a research on the demised phenomena and concluded that these types of personalities are keener to have such experiences. On one hand, there are children who befriend imaginary people as part of a socialization procedure. On the other hand, some children see invisible creatures that other people do not. In those cases, there is no interaction with the imaginative people. The child becomes the witness of another presence. There are those few cases when a kid enters the imaginative world by forming a thought-form process of their desires. There is very little knowledge for all of the above matters as there is no certainty to what is happening into children’s minds.

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