Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Imaginary Friends

I was looking at my blog stats and noted a post I'd originally posted TWO YEARS ago still gets the most hits! One of my regular features when I first started blogging was "Mental Health Mondays." In it, I'd answer writers' questions about different psychiatric illnesses to help them craft authentic characters. Sometimes, I'd highlight a diagnosis. Below, you'll see my post on Imaginary Friends. Click HERE to see the original post and check out the comments.

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.
What do you think about imaginary friends? 

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Laura Diamond is a board certified psychiatrist and author of all things young adult paranormal, dystopian, and horror. She’s a lucid dreamer, meaning she can direct her dreams while they’re happening. When she’s awake, she pens stories from her dreams and shares them with her readers. Laura has many published titles including the Pride Series (New Pride, Shifting Pride, and Tsavo Pride), the Endure Series (Endure and Evoke), The Zodiac Collector, a novella Sunset Moon in the Lore anthology, and several shorts stories. When she’s not writing, she is working at the hospital, blogging at Author Laura Diamond--Lucid Dreamer, and renovating her 225+ year old fixer-upper mansion.

If you’re interested in reading more about me, or interacting with me on the web check out the following links:

Author Laura Diamond: www.authorlauradiamond.com


  1. Even growing up as a twin in a large family, my sister and I had imaginary friends. The more the merrier, I guess.

  2. I imagine having something traumatic happening can cause the need to fragment the mind and hide away those painful items as a coping mechanism. I find it interesting.