if by age 6,
claims her imaginary friend
then it's time to seek
when i was a kid i had a morbid fear
of the toilet. i was convinced that there was a vampire living just
around the s-bend who would attack me if i spent too long on it,
so i'd always go as quickly as possible. many years later i found
out that a good friend used to believe that his body was filled
with baked beans. i began wondering if other people had strange
childhood beliefs and collected them from my friends and family.
the book moved to this website in order to collect beliefs from
people all over the world. it became apparent that there are some
commonly held childhood delusions, such as thinking that cats are
female dogs, that seeds swallowed will sprout fruit from your ears,
and a primal fear of toilets. some of the beliefs come from overactive
imaginations, but a lot are the result of parental misinformation
(deliberate or otherwise). i used to believe will remind you what
it was like to be a child, fascinated and horrified by the world
in equal parts. the following pages will reassure you that the things
you used to believe weren't so strange after all. Just be careful
what you tell your own children!
Matt: The Childhood
Q My 3 yr-old has
imaginary friends. She talks to, and bosses around, one in particular
who gets the blame when something goes wrong. My daughter also speaks
in an imaginary language on occasions. Is this normal for a 3 yr-old?
Or is her active imagination a symptom of loneliness, perhaps due
to the fact that she is an only child in a single parent family?
A Your daughter
is developing a rich, imaginative, inner world and this will stay
with her throughout her life. As long as she's sociable and outgoing
with other children when they are around, I wouldn't worry. In fact,
many psychologists worry that today's children have too many toys
that don't stimulate their imagination. Recent research has indicated
that toys and games could even be stunting their early development.
Parents who can afford to buy their children
lots of toys are often unaware that they may be doing their kids
a diservice. Many toys force children to conform to gender roles
and aren't easily adapted to different playing scenarios. For example,
it's often the case that parents succumb to media pressure and buy
that expensive toy they've seen advertised on the TV, only to find
their little girl prefers to play with an old car or construct things
with Lego. Under 5s in particular need to play with toys that allow
them to take control, that are flexible and do more than one thing!
Reading, singing and role-play are great ways to put the toys aside
and use your imagination for entertainment and learning.
It sounds to me that your daughter is,
in fact, very capable of finding stimulation in the world around
her - a result of having her imagination stimulated from a young
age. Creative play, such talking to imaginary friends, is an indication
that she has learnt to focus and concentrate on one activity, develop
her own ideas and not be over-reliant on outside stimulus. Children
who are inundated with toys are often easily distracted, and have
a short concentration span.
If you worry that your child is lonely,
be reassured by research which shows a healthy imagination is a
result of the parent engaging in play with their child, rather than
leaving them with a pile of toys. The fact that your daughter has
formed a 'relationship' with her imaginary friend shows she's practicing
the social skills that you have taught her and this is also very
Q I'm 27 and I
still talk to imaginary friends. I was an only child, and I began
relationships with fake friends as a way to entertain myself, but
I can't seem to grow out of it. I've tried to stop, but it's so
boring and lonely without them. How can I end this behavior and
get on with my adult life?
A Since you acknowledge
that these pals of yours are imaginary, you are obviously not crazy.
Talking to your fabricated friends is merely an extension of talking
to yourself, as countless people do when they are alone. Are you
still often alone? I know you had a solitary childhood, but do you
now have your share of companions? If not, concentrate on increasing
your circle and finding new people with whom you can go to movies,
plays, concerts, and other events. Meanwhile, a lot of storytellers
keep a stable of imaginary voices in their heads. Have you thought
about using your inventions positively and putting the celebrities
of your imagination into written form? They entertain you, so who
knows? Perhaps they would entertain others.
Q I'm a
53 year old webmaster and teacher and I have nine imaginary friends
who come to every class with me and who have helped breathe life
into the Soul Food Cafe. I made a pilgrimage in 2001 and travelled
over 45 thousand kilometres, reaching Delphi and Mount Parnassus
where I drank from the waters of Castalia and danced with my friends.
My nine imaginary friends are the nine muses and I have no desire
to break up this long standing relationship. Am I crazy?
1. Recall and write about an imaginary
friend and their role in your life.
2. Write a dialogue with an imaginary friend.
3 Go to the 100 acre wood with Christopher
Robin and chill it.