How imaginary friends went from a parental worry to a badge of honour

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I had something way better. All of my real classmates were my imaginary friends!


That is so hilariously awful, I can’t help but hear it in Joan Crawford’s voice.


i had an imaginary friend when i was young but she told me i was boring and ran away. i never heard from her again.


I had two as a kid. Once I made my mom jump into a ditch with me because one of them, who was blind, was driving down the road in his Ford truck. They disappeared pretty early on, but even as an adult I still sometimes imagine that I’m having conversations with imaginary people. Socrates is a favorite. I imagine he’s walking next to me when I go for a walk sometimes, and I introspect as if he’s asking me questions. I’m glad to see other adults also still have imaginary friends.


I had an imaginary ship when I was a kid. It was a tiny foot-long submarine with tank treads and retractable helicopter blades (like in The Three Stooges in Orbit) for land/sea/air travel, but it also had a huge drill on the front end (ala At The Earth’s Core) so it could also travel straight through the planet, explore stuff underground, etc. And it had a tiny little pilot. I would send him on various missions to different parts of the world and I’d check in on him every week or so, via my imagination, to see where he was and what he was doing/seeing.


Yeah I was more of the “entire imaginary worlds” type. An imaginary friend would have been too limiting!

My daughter had (has?) one named Coden Boden. He went to Mars for a few years, but she still mentions him occasionally, and she’s 18.


Great, now i’m thinking of Bing Bong. Thanks, thanks a lot. :cry:


I had an imaginary dragon,I think his name was Jeff. He was a real ass. “Jeff, why ya gotta eat all the halpless peasants!?”

“Cause my dominoes pizza didn’t get here in 28 minutes!!”

Such a pretentious stickler. He wore a real fedora but called it a trilby just to be ironic. He did get me into Wilco though, so I have him to thank for that.



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No JeanBaptiste - it was real. We just wiped your memory when you got … well never mind why. Please report to your nearest FBI office for a small corrective mind wipe, err, discussion at your earliest convenience.

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Can’t say as I blame her.

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My parents were convinced that my imaginary friend Steven was nothing less than demonic possession laid bare. So I ended up going through two separate surprise “exorcisms” to cast him out. It didn’t actually make him go; but it made me wary of confiding in my parents at 7 years old, let me know that my parents thought I had the devil inside me, gave me a misotheistic outlook on the very concept of a deity, and traumatized me for a long time.
And after not too long, he moved and I never saw him again. He said he didn’t like my family (I couldn’t blame him) and he also wanted to live in “the big city”. I hope he had a great life, weird as that sounds.


I never had an imaginary friend, and I often wondered, is having an imaginary friend just a sort of game of make-believe, or is it almost a sort of hallucination?

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Just in case it hasn’t been mentioned here before…
The “IT Crowd” actor Chris O’Dowd co-created and stars in a rather good sitcom about a 12-year-old Irish kid growing up in the 90s with the “help” of his imaginary friend, played by O’Dowd.
It’s called Moone Boy, and certainly worth a look.


I know it’s taking it a little out of context, but the whole theory that a child with an imaginary friend somehow lacks imagination amuses me greatly. :smiley:


Slightly more on topic though: i don’t think i ever had a stereotypical imaginary friend i thought was real. though i do remember believing monsters under the bed being a thing, a real terror when you had a captains bed (bunk bed but with a desk/cupboard/drawers instead of the bottom bunk) because there was actual proper room for there to be one :wink:

Imaginary people in imaginary worlds though, i can remember having that since my earliest memories and still do to this day. feels like i’d make a good author if i happened to possess any literary talent whatsoever :smiley:

My cousin’s daughter had an adult imaginary friend. A psychiatrist told my cousin this meant she was gifted. And in fact she’s grown up to be a very successful adult. Go figure.

And then there’s this that I could always relate to…

It would have made me regard my parents as unsafe fruitcakes at any age. People like that shouldn’t be permitted to care for children.


It’s part of a self narrative.
William James defined people as once born and twice born. Once born people go through the world seeing it for the first time and just accepting how it is. Twice born people seem to have an internal observer who is watching things happen and commenting on them. Most of my psychology class at U were twice born. It is easy for the internal narrator to either become partly identified with an imaginary friend or to add one in to its observation of day by day events.
It is not related to IQ but the twice born have an advantage when it comes to imagination and writing narrative, since they do it all the time.