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Imaginary Friends - How unreal are they really?

Updated on May 31, 2013
Credit to Ronel
Credit to Ronel
Credit to digitalart @ freedigitalphotos,net
Credit to digitalart @ freedigitalphotos,net
Credit to digitalart @ freedigitalphotos,net
Credit to digitalart @ freedigitalphotos,net
Credit to digitalart @ freedigitalphotos,net
Credit to digitalart @ freedigitalphotos,net

I feel at liberty to define imaginary friends in one sentence: Imaginary friends are the mouthpieces of a person’s own thoughts and feelings and are easily created by some intelligent children and adults.

My granddaughter Mia, who will be four years old in July, had created a little brother for herself – a cheeky little boy who encourages her to break with established customs in our family. Without batting an eyelid she starts many of her sentences these days with: “My boetie says….”

(Boetie (boot-tie) is the Afrikaans word for ‘little brother’, pronounced in the same way as ‘ruby’ and 'booty'.)

Yesterday Mia said: “My boetie says if I eat carrots I'm going to change into a rabbit.”

This morning she made herself comfortable in the passenger seat instead of on the back seat where a safety belt is especially fixed for her little body. “My boetie says I must sit next to you,” she told me.

Normally we try to convince her that her little brother doesn’t understand the reasons why she should obey house rules. But this morning my curiosity took over and I questioned her on our way to school.

“Where are your boetie now?”

"At school."

“At your school?” That would be fine: A real friend she likes so much she prefers to consider him to be her brother.

“No-o.”

“Where is his school?”

“Over there.” According to her pointed finger he was a learner of the nearby high school for teenagers.

“What is his name?”

“Issie.”

He must be Jewish, I thought with no clue where she could’ve heard the name before. Perhaps he was a character in a story she had heard at school or perhaps in a movie she had seen. “So when are we going to meet him?” I asked.

“He doesn’t want to meet you.”

“Oh! May I know why?"

“He is shy… and he his afraid of adults.”

“How big is he?”

With her little hands she cutely cupped a boy who could not be bigger than a rat. I had to turn my face away, for laughing out loud would've deprived her of her self-confidence.

Mia is not the only one in the family who can see non-existing beings. Her elder sister, Dané, had seen the tooth-mouse the other day with her own eyes. “He looked just like an ordinary mouse,” she told us, “but he wears clothes - a blue jacket and black boots. He had given me a kiss on my cheek before he ran away with my tooth.” Without doubt she believed herself.

Children are often not able to distinguish between real and imaginary people, or whatever beings they create. They accept and love both in the same way and even dislikes some of them. Mia loves Father Christmas and clowns living in her imagination, but she can’t handle them when she sees them in real live.


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Credit to africa @ freedigitalphotos.net

Quotes -


Lee Ryan: "I still have imaginary friends who I talk to in my head."

Frederico Fellini: "Realism is a bad word. In a sense everything is realistic. I see no line between the imaginary and the real."

Claire Forlani: "The imaginary world has always been the most fun place for me to be."

Neil Gaiman: "This is a work of fiction. All the characters in it, human and otherwise, are imaginary, excepting only certain of the fairy folk, whom it might be unwise to offend by casting doubts on their existence. Or lack thereof."

Mary Wesley: "Writing Part of the Scenery has been a very different experience. I have been reminded of people and events, real and imaginary which have been part of my life. This book is a celebration of the land which means so much to me."



What are the pros and cons of having an imaginary friend?


Most psychologists agree that interaction with an imaginary friend encourages social-cognitive development, vocabulary, language skills and oral presentation. The imaginary friend is a buffer, protecting the child from harsh and overwhelming realities. The ‘friend’ encourages the child to rationalize and minimize matters until they are able to fit it in their frame of mind.

If not guided by responsible parents and teachers, children may learn how to manipulate others by using the imaginary friend as a pauper, or a cute little angel who deserves to be spoiled, or even a mischievous little brat looking for trouble wherever he goes. The brain may project the images in the mind in such a way that the child clearly sees them while nobody else can. These projected images may become scary creatures to live with, causing anxiety disorders and eventually serious mental disorders.

One of many possible disorders is called paracosm, a detailed imaginary world. Creating such a world does indicate a high level of intelligence and creativity, but it alienates the child from reality. Personally I believe many writers of fiction suffer this disorder.

Another disorder is erotomania, a type of delusion in which the affected person believes that another person is in love with him or her. This delusion is one of many that often occur in patients with bipolar mania and schizophrenia, though in most cases it is merely a fleeting fantasy of a person with a vivid imagination.

For a child a universe in the imagination can be almost indistinguishable from the real world. As they grow older, real truths and untruths cause wide-awakenings. To postpone acceptance of reality, sensitive souls intuitively become bookworms, movie-addicts and/or piously religious or superstitious. They easily fall prey to alcohol and drugs or any substance that may keep them in a state of euphoria.


Credit to hannah corbett @ freedigitalphotos.net
Credit to hannah corbett @ freedigitalphotos.net

Reality is not easy to cope with -

Since I can remember I have tried many ways to escape from reality.

I had a few imaginary friends in my childhood. I could not see them with my eyes, but clearly with the eye of my mind. They were always with me, although I tended to forget about them while I played with real friends.

At the age of twelve I replaced them all with a diary. For many years my diary was my best friend and confidant. Constant in my mind was also God and Dear Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Achieving my goals in life was possible because I honestly believed they were the sources of my courage, strength and perseverance. I still believe that, although my perception of them had changed. God is no longer a human-like being with hands, ears and eyes, the Holy Spirit is no longer tongues of fire and Jesus is not a young bearded Jew in sandles sitting on a throne at the right side of God, interceding for all his followers.

Eventually I’d learned how to write stories. It is surely paracosm: Creating characters to play the roles of friends and foes, creating interesting backgrounds for specific topics, then plotting reality in such a way that I as well as others can feel happy and comfortable with it. Most of the time we are happier while we write or read stories than we are while we are handling real live and all its issues.

Making friends in Cyberspace, interacting with them as if they are in flesh with me, believing they really like me and care about me, must be a form of erotomania.

But who cares? I am still considered 'normal' and I have not yet heard of a person who has been admitted to a mental institution because he interacted with people in an imaginary world called Cyberspace.


Credit to digitalart @ freedigitalphotos,net
Credit to digitalart @ freedigitalphotos,net

Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them by Marjorie Taylor -

In her book “Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them”, psychology professor Marjorie Taylor of the University of Oregon debunked the idea that the presence of an imaginary friend indicates the absence of real friends and beloveds in a child's life. Her own daughter invented an imaginary friend at the age of three, one Michale Rose who had a barn filled with giraffes. After Taylor and her colleagues had studied hundred children, she rejected all the old assumptions of researchers who maintained that kids invent imaginary friends for dark reasons. “Having them is often just plain fun,” is her conclusion. She also learned that extroverts tend to create imaginary friends and not introverts as psychologists of the past preferred to believe.

Marjorie Taylor also says that it is normal for older kids (post-preschool) to continue to consort with imaginary friends. She even cites several famous adults who openly admitted having imaginary friends. Paul Taylor, a cultural icon in the world of dance, attributed some of his work to his imaginary friend, George H. Tacet, Ph.D.


So I’ve decided to dedicate this hub to all my imaginary friends who do not only exist in my mind and imagination, but also in real life somewhere on this planet.

Credit to suphakit73 @ freedigitalphotos,net
Credit to suphakit73 @ freedigitalphotos,net

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    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 13 months ago from South Africa

      Hi Peter, yes, we rather say nothing in the presence of ignorant people. Thank you so much for reading and leaving a comment that has made me smile :)

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 13 months ago from Sittingbourne

      This is a fascinating article on a subject I have experienced myself.

      I don't often talk about it as some people think you are a little strange but hey-ho they are the loser.

      kind regards Peter

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 2 years ago from South Africa

      Oh, shame, moonlake, a giraffe - how cute!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 2 years ago from America

      The only one of our kids that had an imaginary friend was our oldest son. His had a giraffe who lived under the sink. The stories about your granddaughters are very cute. Enjoyed your hub.

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 2 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Frida, I am so curious to know more about that reality you have created as an adult :)

    • Frida Rose profile image

      Frida Rose 2 years ago from Maryland

      The stories about your granddaughters are too cute. I can't remember if I ever had an imaginary friend as a child, but I've created another reality in my head as an adult that I continuously add to. . . just something to keep the creativity going. I really liked this hub.

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 2 years ago from South Africa

      pstraubie48 – I do believe it takes intelligence and a healthy imagination to have the honor of enjoying the company of imaginary friends. But yes, there is definitely a borderline between ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’, ‘good’ and ‘bad’. So many people – especially sensitive and creative people – live on the borderline, forever busy to keep a safe balance by focusing on the needs of others instead of on their own. It takes only one step to fall into craziness, the rest follows automatically. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, and for reminding me of the angels. I so need them, as today’s my last day of holiday. Tomorrow (January 5) it’s back to work again.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      Imaginary friends have been a part of the lives of many of us, for sure.

      And I heard about them after mine no longer needed me, from others.

      When I was a teacher, children would tell of things their IF would tell them or things they had done with them.

      Some of those children even came back years later and would ask if I remembered their stories about imaginary friends.

      My baby grandson has an IF ...we hear of the interaction on a daily basis.

      I have had experience with those who lived almost totally in the imaginary realm and that is another story for another day.

      Interesting to read from beginning to end.

      Angels are on the way to you this morning ps

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 2 years ago from South Africa

      Shyron E Shenko – Indeed, we writers have many imaginary friends in our stories. I am normally so sad when they – at the end of a story - take their place in the back of our mind to make room for new friends :)

      May this year meet all your expectations, dear Shyron 

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago from Texas

      Martie, I think we all have imaginary friends who live in our stories and I think you Mia is going to be one good author.

      Great Hub

      Voted up, across the board and shared

      Happy New Year Dear Friend.

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 2 years ago from South Africa

      Ann, one surely need a lot of imagination to enjoy the company of an imaginary friend, and also to write fiction :) Enjoy those 3-year olds!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Fascinating stuff here and so well researched! I had an imaginary friend just for fun and my two 3-year-old grandchildren have them too. They are full of imagination.

      I think writers are more likely to have had them as the imagination just keeps on going!

      Great hub, well-written.

      Ann

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 3 years ago from South Africa

      word55, we have to believe like a child in the things we cannot see and proof - this is actually an instruction that was given by Christ himself. Thanks for your kind comment :)

    • word55 profile image

      Word 3 years ago from Chicago

      Hi Martie, I think children should be taught to deal with realities. The only imaginary figures in their lives should be God and Christ. That way, they will hold onto truth, hope, spirit and everlasting companionship that proves to be real. They can reach their goals and make dreams come true without failure. Doesn't that sound better? However, thank you for such an insightful hub.

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 3 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you for coming over for the read, LongTimeMother :)

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 3 years ago from South Africa

      Grand old lady, when I was a child I used to take long walks in the fields, or long rides on my bicycle. Playing Alice in Wonderland. (Today this is, of course, dangerous to life, considering the crime rate.) But I always had an imaginary friend with me with whom I shared all my thoughts. Wonderful memories! Thanks for the visit :)

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      I enjoyed this hub immensely, Marie. Voted up. :)

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

      I love your hub about imaginary friends and your openness in talking about your own imaginary friends. It's true, imaginary friends oftentimes are a way of a child coping and finding ways to enjoy unpleasant situations. When I was a child our family went on a road trip that lasted for days and days with stopovers here and there. The driving part was so boring I imagined a little girl on rollerskates beside the car outside the window and spoke to her. It helped greatly to quell the boredom.

      Your research is wonderful, pinpointing the fine line between when imaginary friends are healthy and when they may be a symptom of mental problems.

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 3 years ago from South Africa

      Mary, I do believe that only a creative mind can create an imaginary friend. Thanks for your supportive comment :)

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 3 years ago from Florida

      Oh, yes, I had an imaginary friend when I was a child. I would talk to her, and she would talk back to me! I would set her a place at the table, too. My mother never understood it, but she never laughed at me for having this friend. I was an only child and I think my "friend" made up for my lack of companionship.

      I enjoyed this Hub cause I can relate to what it is like to have an imaginary friend.

      Voted UP, etc. and shared.

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 3 years ago from South Africa

      Joedolphin, we should never underestimate our powerful mind :)

    • joedolphin88 profile image

      Joe 3 years ago from north miami FL

      There as real as your mind will allow them to be.

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 3 years ago from South Africa

      Nighthag, I remember when I was a child I always chat with myself, and at a time even in English, which was a foreign language in my world. Oh, I am still doing it. The only difference is that the person I am chatting to exists somewhere on this planet :)

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 3 years ago from Australia

      I have always thought that imaginary friends were real, for as dear Dr Phil states... perception is reality ... so as my son chatters happily in his room alone with his "friend" I smile and pray that such play stays with him in one form or another, through his life... for such magic is what makes us dream big :)

      A great read

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 3 years ago from South Africa

      Susan, in a way all my online friends are 'imaginary friends' - I imagine they are living right here with me in reality. Writing comments like this, feels if I am talking to them in reality. Sometimes I even compare online communication with prayers, and what a miracle - I get instant feedback :) Take care, dear Susan :)

    • Susan Recipes profile image

      Susan 3 years ago from India

      I still remember when i was very small i use to have my own imaginary friends and use to play with them quite often. Your post has brought those memories back. Thanks for sharing.

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

      Peg, I believe it is more normal to create an imaginary friend to speak to - hearing your own voice and practicing your ability to express your thoughts - than living in silence allowing your thoughts to become a hurricane in your head. Always nice to see you in my corner :)

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      What a wealth of information here. It is interesting how universal imaginary friends are. I can almost picture the one that I had as a small child. I remember talking to her and playing with her in the sandbox at my parent's house. Your description of your grandchild's friend was fascinating. I love the name for her brother. Cute.

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

      Jaye

      DDE

      Thank you for sharing your views on imaginary friends. I wonder if my granddaughter still have an imaginary friend - but I do know that at 5 she still believes that her dolls are just as alive as she..... :))))

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I didn't have an imaginary friend, you told us an interesting and informative story, and got me thinking about it too. I so much enjoyed this Hub and voted up and interesting take care MartieCoetser and have a lovely evening.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Hi, Martie...This is such an interesting hub, and I so enjoyed your interaction with your (obviously adorable) granddaughter about her imaginary brother.

      I'm surprised that I didn't have any imaginary friends when I was a child, because I had no siblings until I was nine. I had a vivid imagination, but it was devoted to ME and MY imaginary adventures!

      I think imaginary friends may be very helpful to a younger child by providing a safe method of communicating thoughts and feelings that might not be sanctioned by parents and other caregivers. The developing child will, hopefully, "outgrow" the need for this imaginary helper as she or he becomes more self-confident.

      Voted Up++

      Jaye

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Deborah, thank you so much for your generous comment. Having imaginary friends is after all a prove that one has a rich and active imagination :)

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      wow Martie when I was a little girl I remember having an imaginary friend we did everything together me and my friend and my doll.. we all wrote little poems and had so many adventures.. lol

      then i had a lot of brother and sisters that wouldn't leave me alone .. then my imaginary friend went to the side..

      thanks for a wonderful hub

      sharing

      Debbie

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      Vickiw 4 years ago

      Hello Martie, thank you for your good wishes :) I will email.

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Vickiw, are you still in contact with Marie? I can search for her on FB, and maybe she is already a member of our Coetser/Coetzer group. Feel free to send me an e-mail via HubPages. Mooi loop daar bo in die sneeu :)

    • profile image

      Vickiw 4 years ago

      Thank you so much Martie. One of my best friends at school was Marie Coetser, so I already have a soft spot for you! I don't really know why I have that score, but it is nice to feel appreciated. I look forward to learning more all the time from my new and wonderful, supportive friends. Baie dankie. Look forward to reading more of your Hubs.

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

      Hallo, Vicki, wat 'n verrassing! Meeting fellow-SA'cans in here thrills me out of my shoes.

      One of my imaginary friends was a twin-sister with long, blonde hair with flick-ups, while I had long pitch-black hair with flick-ups. Her eyes were dark brown while mine were violet-blue.... and don't let me tell you more about how we looked and dressed, and all the fun we've had. Lol!

      Thanks for coming by and leaving me such a kind comment :)

      PS: WOW, I just saw you have a score of 100! And that after only 8 weeks in HubPages! Congratulations!

    • profile image

      Vickiw 4 years ago

      Hello Martie, hoe gaan dit? I have noticed your name several times on my trips around the Hubs, and thought I should say Hi, as I grew up in South Africa too. I had two very close imaginary friends as a child, Higgum and Jinky were their names, and we were inseparable. I don't remember when they left, but they were always a great comfort to me. I thought your article was very interesting.

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Vinaya, thanks for your perfect - and smile-provoking - comment. Yes, my imaginary friends also passed away. A few, however, had risen from the grave into reality... :) Glad to know that your sleeping hubs are now visible on your profile page :)

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      I still remember, as a child I made up stories of my friends not visible to anyone except me. As I grew older, sense of reality got better of me. My imaginary friends passed away. This is what happens in most of the cases. However, some cling to imaginary friends and develop personality disorder.

      PS: Thanks for telling me how to show my sleeping hubs on profile page. It worked.

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

      B. Leekley, definitely so - it only takes a little more imagination to 'see' what we would like to see. It is only a small part of the brain that needs to be enabled. We know the eye is able to see pictures within pictures that actually exists, and the ear can hear sounds in different frequencies. The average person use only 5% of the capacity of his brain. So who really knows the full power of the brain. And then there is faith. To the invisible we truly believe and trust, we give power beyond the comprehension of the average mind.

      So nice to meet you, I thing you and I are on the same page.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Up, Useful, and Interesting. It seems to me that it is a small step from pretending that you and your playmates are cowboy heroes and bandits, pirates, super heroes, cops and robbers, teacher and pupils, nurses and patients, or other characters and having an imaginary friend.

      Are there imaginary friends who are not imaginary -- angels, elemental spirits, etc.? I forget what the book was, but awhile ago I read of a man who when little was visited and comforted in times of emotional troubles by a little green man who when he would suddenly appear seemed as real as anything else. When the child was old enough to go to school, the little green man said he wasn't needed any more and that other little children needed him and said goodbye. Many years later he appeared in a dream to give good advice regarding a life crisis. So, like in the movie Don Juan De Marcos, is it just a matter of choice whether the true, acceptable story is the one told by psychologists or the one that the psychologists say is imaginary?

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 5 years ago from South Africa

      Samnashy, now that is so cute! A wise mother will instinctively know whether her child's imaginary friends are good or bad :) If bad, they must go, if good, they may have their own seats in the car :)) Thanks for sharing :)

    • samnashy profile image

      Sam Graham 5 years ago from Australia

      Both my children had imaginary friends. In fact my daughter had a whole family!! It was a bit tricky to fit them all in the car at times, but somehow we managed. I love kids imagination, they never cease to amaze me.

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 5 years ago from South Africa

      @ CMCastro, I agree and relate to every sentence in your comment. I was and am just like you. I wonder how boring must it be to not have someone else beside oneself in our imagination? However, in my adult life the friends in my imagination do exist somewhere in this world. All my friends in Cyberspace are always in my imagination. The only difference, they speak for themselves :)

      @ Nyamache, you've hit a nail on its head. Jesus indeed lives in our imagination. And what about the Holy Spirit? This theme - imaginary friends - is more complicated than we are willing to admit. Erotomania is, of course, the extreme - when people can no longer distinguish between real and not real. Thanks for your excellent, profound comment :)

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 5 years ago from South Africa

      @ Jeannie, your comment is so profound. Amen, is all I can say.

      @ Fiddleman, if it was not normal to have imaginary friends, whether they are in our imagination or totally untouchable in Cyberspace, we would be certified as crazy. I do believe that also the biggest part of a relationship in real life happens in our imagination.

      @ Sunnie, the characters we writers build in our imagination are certainly imaginary friends and even enemies. We create them. When I write fiction I always miss my characters for days after the end of the story; to prevent depression I just have to create them all over again in a new story. Have you noticed that they are in fact always the same people, just with other names and different roles. So if they say one is known by his friends, just look at the characters in our stories.... to ponder!

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      Joshua Nyamache 5 years ago from Kenya

      I find Erotomania disorder to be dangerous. Reality is not easy to cope with and as such a person may be obsessed with an imaginary friend as solace to escape from reality. This may lead to psychological problem. Now I am wondering if Jesus is an imaginary friend or is it faith and therefore Jesus is not an imaginary friend?

    • CMCastro profile image

      Christina M. Castro 5 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

      Hello Martie, this was definitely an excellent hub. I had my imaginery friend- it was my Grandma Lucy who had died when my own mother was 14 years old. She was always with me when I was alone, and I talked to her in my mind all the time. I believed that it was she that stayed with me until I was about 20. I kept this to myself until I was an adult. No one knew. Then I used to talk to my dolls like they were my children, and I used to beat them up when they were bad. I did this in the privacy of my room, so no one saw me do this, but I think that was related to a particular teacher who always leaving me out of all the fun things at school. In regards to my cyber friends- I really have enjoyment knowing that people across the country and even across the world want to converse with me. Common interests and just a need to get a new perspective is my motivation to keep in touch with my friends and fans online. Thanks for a great hub. See you on Facebook. :)

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      Sunnie Day 5 years ago

      Hi Martie,

      This was such a great and wonderful hub filled with tons of useful and awesome information... I never had an imaginary friend in my younger years that I can remember but since I have been writing non fiction, they have all come out to play and no longer bound. The imagination is a wonderful thing, built inside our logical brains for enjoyment. Now I can play all day as a writer and I do not have to explain my actions other than.."Hey I am a writer" lol I love your little granddaughters imagination and I know it must be so hard to keep a straight face at times..lol Thank you my dear friend,

      Love,

      Sunnie

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      Fiddleman 5 years ago

      Cool hub! My sis had an imaginary friend. I think this is normal and voting up and interesting.

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 5 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      You are so right. I never thought about it before, but corresponding with people online is almost like having an imaginary friend. Of course, hopefully that person does really exist, but who knows what cyber friends are really like unless you meet them. Interesting hub and voted up!

    • MartieCoetser profile image
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      Martie Coetser 5 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Faith Reaper, thanks for sharing your interesting direct and indirect relationships with imaginary friends. I was quite happy as a child, the eldest of 5 children, yet I always had imaginary friends. I never walked alone, I did not even go to the toilet alone; there was always an imaginary friend or twin-sister with me. I shared all my thoughts with them, explaining what I was doing and where I was going to. They never chrystalise, they were in my mind. So I was often accused by others of being 'absent-minded' or 'not paying attention'. When I was 12 I became a victim of a child-molester - an in-law relative. He denied his actions by using my tendency to 'live in my imagination' against me. Today I think that this tendency of mine could have been a sign that I was a born writer, able to create characters and stories. Thank you so much for your lovely contribution to my hub. Take care!

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      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Granddaughter is lovely - meant to say.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Your daughter is lovely, and thank you for sharing her imaginary friend with us too, how precious. My granddaughter, who is four years old now, had an imaginary friend who would join us for dinner and to whom she would speak so intently in their conversations. My son and his two daughters came to live with us, after his wife (their mother) abandoned them, and he is now 24 years old and has full custody. They would be in harm's way if she were to enter into the picture again-really sad scenario. Anyway, our youngest granddaughter, Lily, was just 3 months old, and the oldest, Scarlett, was only a little over two years old when they first came to live with us for about 18 months, along with their daddy, my son. Now, my son has met a lovely woman and we are having a grandson next Wednesday. Scarlett has grown out of this, and I believe it is only due to Lily, who is now a little over two years old, and who always has to have her older sister's attention. Myself, growing up with a dad who was an alcoholic, I was always finding a means of escape through reading as well as enjoying and allowing my mind to go to more enjoyable fascinating places than this brutal reality. I appreciate this powerful piece of writing here. And that video of Dr. Breeding is so very profound as to the horrific abuse in this society now with the anti-psychotic drugs. That is very disturbing concerning Oprah. All should view this video. Voted Way Up Hugs from southern USA. Faith Reaper

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      Martie Coetser 5 years ago from South Africa

      Millionaire Tips, I agree wholeheartedly with you re: "I am sure I have invented most of the characteristics about each of them based on the little information I do have."

      We are able to sense the soul, heart and mind of our online friends, but distorted because of our own perceptions and interpretations. The rest of them - their habits, manners, the way they conduct themselves in real life is like the dark side of the moon. Since 2010 I've met 2 of my online friends in person. The first one turned out to be a complete mental case, con-artist - glorified bum pretending to be a gospel preacher, but looking for free lodging and the works. The second one was quite a pleasant gentleman who managed to restore my trust in people. It takes longer to identify a person's true character online as in real life.

      Thank you so much for your input, MT :) Much appreciated!

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      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      You know, I didn't know anyone who had imaginary playmates when I was growing up. I love the pictures you have placed here, and you have provided much insight of the joys and perils of having imaginary playmates. I do hope my online friends aren't imaginary, although not knowing them, I am sure I have invented most of the characteristics about each of them based on the little information I do have.

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      Martie Coetser 5 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Cogerson, is that not amazing - the 3-yr old finding the same friend. Why not hub the story, let me link it to this one? I am glad you enjoyed the read. Thank you so much for telling me :)

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      Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

      A very interesting hub....having a 6 year old and a 3 year old...I have watched as my 6 year old out grew her imaginary friend....and the 3 year old find the very same imaginary friend....lol. I enjoyed all of the visuals you included with your hub...especially the the last video....voted up and useful.

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      Martie Coetser 5 years ago from South Africa

      Hi April, your daughter certainly has a vivid imagination. The line between healthy and unhealthy is so very thin. Where it exactly is, depends on the individual. In your shoes I would encourage the development of her writing skills. As a writer of fiction, her vivid imagination may/will come to its healthy right. If possible, let her do a course in Creative Writing via a RELIABLE institution or existing (or former) writer.

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      April 5 years ago

      I've got a young teen who is still holding on strong to her imaginary world. I can hear her daily, processing her day with one of her "friends". Her friends are usually characters from books she'd read or a movie she liked.

      She is an avid writer. Again, recreating her real world experiences in a story with characters from her latest read.

      Hmm. Do you think I need to worry about this at all. I pretty much feel that this imaginary world of hers is still healthy but I do not know of any other teen like her.

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      Martie Coetser 5 years ago from South Africa

      Anonymous, you could have been left-brain oriented... always realistic and logical...

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      Anonymous 5 years ago

      I must've been a dumbass then, because I could never get into it.

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      Martie Coetser 5 years ago from South Africa

      Yes, Mickey, I am real. Just close you eyes and feel my lips on your cheek :))

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      MickeySr 5 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      . . . you know, Pixie (my wife) calls all of you my 'imaginary friends' - but, you're all real, right?

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      Martie Coetser 5 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you, Angela :)

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      Angela Brummer 5 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      Oh this is sooo cute!

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      Martie Coetser 5 years ago from South Africa

      fpherj48, you and I know exactly what imaginary friends are all about - that I can read clearly in your comment. And still I have them - all my hubber-friends. I truly imagine them with me as if I can/will see them any moment in real life. Thanks for the visit and the inspiring comment. I will soon be in your corner for a read I know I will enjoy. I wish I had more time for reading hubs; I have too many things to do, and all of them are pure fun, such as reading the hubs of my friends. Take care!

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      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Martie....as always, you steal my heart with your sweet, comforting stories. I have a 4-yr.old "Maya"...who has several imaginary friends. She's very proud of them and has not a single doubt that we all "see" them clearly.

      Thinking WAY back, I do recall playing the same game with my imagination as a child. In much later years, my mother would comment as to my hours & hours of solitary play-time, as I hosted parties with "all my friends."

      It is a child's fantasy world and how perfect it is. Today, the little child inside me, continues to share with "those friends." Often, they comfort me as no live friend is able......Up & awesome..x's 10

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      Martie Coetser 5 years ago from South Africa

      epigramman, my dearest friend, I am so glad you like my just-staying-home-going-nowhere hair style. The specific picture was shot on the wedding day of Prince William. We were glued to the TV.

      I do believe we loners live very real in each other’s imagination. When I turn my head I can almost swear I will see you sitting with your laptop, typing. I can even see you feeding your cats. And so on. To know that the people in our imagination really exist, although physically somewhere else on the planet but in spirit with us, is so amazing.

      Well, that is how I experience you and all my special hubber-friends. You are here with me, and in my next thought I am there with you.

      Yes, Epi, I am here for you; I am certainly a true friend of yours. We can communicate and work together in Hubland, we can enjoy music, writings, our thoughts and everyday ups and downs in Facebook, we are only the click of a mouse away from each other when we need some moral support. And in our imagination we can move mountains together.

      Only some people have the privilege to experience their friends in Cyberspace as real as we do. So I thank you, too, Colin, for being such a kind and wonderful friend and respected colleague of mine. You are a kind and gentle soul, so humble in spite of your magnificent talent; you ought to be a king doing nothing else but bathing in his good fortune.

      SA-Friday (the 13th) @ 9:40pm.

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      epigramman 5 years ago

      ..first of all dear Miss M - let's get the swooning out of the way (although it will be difficult to stop there)

      I simply adore your new profile photo and your hair is a happpening and I'm sure glad it happened for my eyes because it makes you look 20 years younger at the age of 20.

      Now to the intelluctual discussion to make this comment look good and give it some integrity - always love the depth in your writing and how you provoke your readers to think and debate; you have the pedigree of a world class journalist and my imaginary friend I would say is my imagination itself and I try to retain the childlike qualities which hopefully makes some of my writing read and sound uninhibited - that is a fine line and some of us can pull it off like the legendary Dr. Seuss (The cat in the hat) where it appeals to children but yet adults can relate to it also because of his amazing ability to tell a story in allegory form.

      lake erie time 6:30pm

      thank you Martie for being there for me - you are a true friend and a most respected colleague of mine.

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      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      felicitylovesparis - Well, I have Myself and the two of us are quite a team. Of course I am stronger than Myself and have no choice but to keep her in line. I am all brains, while Myself is only heart and soul. Poor girl, but fortunately she trust me :))) Thanks for leaving a comment.

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      felicitylovespari 6 years ago

      I need a good imaginary friend. Haha. Great hub Martie.

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      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      poetvix – Thank you for your lovely thought-provoking comment. It inspires me to write more hubs about this topic. Take care!

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      poetvix 6 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      You bring up some really interesting points here, especially I think, the connections you make to possible future behavioral issues that may arise. I wonder how the "generated" friends children are having now from video games will be similar and/or different from the imaginary friends of pure imagination. I fear we may not like what we find in relation to that. This was a really interesting and thought provoking hub. Thank you!

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      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      twilightnera - Did you really hear the imaginary baby-friend cry, or was it the play-play cries of the child? I hope it is not the first, for what are we going to say about that?

      I have a cousin who, at the age of 1-2, used to talk to a man standing behind a closet in her room. She would point a finger at him and called him 'the uncle'. Her parents were flabbergasted. When they moved the closet, the man apparently never appeared again.

      Thanks for coming over for the read, twilight. Take care!

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      twilightnera 6 years ago

      Wow Such an interesting article! I don't remember having an imaginary friend as a child. Although we did have a child in our family who had a baby friend. we could hear the baby friend crying in the house even though we knew there was no baby that lived there! We always thought there was something there that only the little once could see.

      Imagination is as you said in the article, it is always good to have as long as it doesn't get out of control.

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      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      Lucky Cats - what a lovely, inspiring comment you've left me, and that for me to read on this very moment. I really needed to hear a positive opinion about what and how I write.

      Just a few minutes ago I've noticed that the owner/administrator of another site deleted a comment I've made. Why? Because he, in his autocratic frame of mind, has regarded it as irrelevant and not in accordance with his subjective idea of normal human behaviour, as if we don't each have a unique personality to be accepted or rejected by others and not only by a single person who reckons he is god of a site just because he was/is the creator of it. Hypocrites and martinets just give me the jitters!

      So my dearest co-hubber, this comment of yours came like honey after I've chewed and swallowed a bitter pill.

      I'm so glad you enjoyed this hub. Yes, I tend to write about personal experiences, but I really prefer to share myself and my experiences instead of writing about stuff I've only read and heard of.

      Take care, Lucky Cats, and expect me in your corner soon.

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      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Martiecoester...this is an amazing hub! So much to absorb and think about..I am particularly interested in the concept "paracosm," which i had not heard of previously...writers of fiction might be thought of as having this "condition." Very interesting as I have often wondered what "lurks" in the minds of writers who come up w/some pretty wild stuff! I've even thought that some seem psychotic or sociopathic in the story lines and characters created....then, LOL, I found myself creating some rather weird scenes in my own writings and thought..oh no!

      Your considerations of online/virtual friendships is also quite interesting and, again, brings up personal thoughts and ideas and musings about my own feelings on this....

      Why, oh why, have I Not taken the time to visit your incredibly intelligent writing, martie? Geesgh...this is truly intriguing and I shall definitely make time to visit again and soon. I love the way you write, the depth and bredth of content and your ability to illlustrate your points...along w/ a personal ("But who cares? I am still considered 'normal' and I have not yet heard of a person who has been admitted to a mental institution because he interacted with people in an imaginary world called Cyberspace.") conclusion....great writing!!!!

      kathy

      UP Awesome Useful Beautiful and Interesting

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      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      *** Trish_M – I think we can really call this topic a study on its own. In fact it has been done by many. The most recent: Marjorie Taylor, the author of “Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them.”

      *** KoffeeKlatch Gals – Now, two weeks later, it seems to me Mia had forgotten all about her little boetie – she’s now pre-occupied with the doll she got for her birthday. It can crawl. And fall. All the way ‘talking’ and then crying after the fall. Oh my, these grandchildren of mine just fascinate me. Lol!

      Good to know you had an imaginary friend, Koffee. Yes, kids may not be allowed to get ‘lost’ in their imagination, and in particularly they may not use their ‘friends’ to manipulate others.

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      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Very well written. I loved the story about your granddaughter. It was adorable. I had an imaginary friend when I was little. By the time I started school my friend had left me. A child with an imaginary friend needs to be treated with respect but also a firm harnd. Rated up and awesome.

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      Tricia Mason 6 years ago from The English Midlands

      Hi :)

      That is strange, isn't it?

      It is an very interesting subject!

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      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      Trish_M – My imaginary friends, and in particular my twin, were also created by me to pretend, inter alia, that ‘we’ were on our way to an interesting venue instead of to the shop to buy bread.

      The imaginary friend of one of my friends was a real ghost, named Lydia, killed by her father when she was a baby. (He had accidentally reversed his car over her where she was playing in the driveway.) Ironically this Lydia grew older in the Underworld and could appear any moment of the day or night to have a talk with my friend. Worse of all, she did not like me, so I was terribly afraid of her and quite nervous in anticipation of a smack she could give me that will forever leave a black mark on my cheek. Unfortunately, actually fortunately for me, my friend, who had a heart-defect, had to undergo an operation that kept her for months and eventually forever out of my comfort zone. She was in fact regarded as a physic by her own mother who expected from her to communicate with dead people. There was some secret in the family they had tried to unravel. I never told my parents about this, because my gut feeling told me they would end my precious friendship without any delay.

      I could see my friend only on Friday afternoons and the opportunity to play on her piano and to learn the new songs she had learnt during the week was too much of a bargain for me. We had an organ and I coveted a piano with all my heart.

      Thanks for the visit, Trish, and for leaving such an interesting comment.

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      Tricia Mason 6 years ago from The English Midlands

      Hi :)

      Very interesting!

      My Mum thinks that I had imaginary friends, when I was a child, but I didn't ~ I just had an imaginary play world. It was a game of 'let's pretend'. I knew that these imaginary members of the game were made up.

      I did know some children, though (adults now, but younger than me) who saw people, and interacted with them, when they were little.

      From the way these 'imaginary friends' were described, they actually sounded like the ghosts of dead children. One even told her 'friend' that she had drowned.

      This could be an explanation. Other children I knew used to see their grandparents, who had died before they were born, but whom they described perfectly.

      I have mentioned, before, that I am agnostic, because I have no explanations for such inexplicable happenings. Such things appear to be impossible, yet they happen.

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      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      acaetnna – While I was a teenager my diary was my best friend. Actually it was the recycle bin of my daily experiences and awareness of reality. There were so many things I could not understand. Everything, except the academic stuff we were taught in school, was an enigma – especially my emotions and ideas. Why this, why that, why could that not be this and this not be that, I was always-always thinking. I was most of the time busy with my own thoughts. Couldn’t sleep before discussing it all with my diary. Lol! Thanks for the visit acaetnna :)))

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      acaetnna 6 years ago from Guildford

      Many of my peers at school had imaginary friends, they helped them through the trials and tribulations of adolescent life. Brilliant hub Martie, up and awesome too.

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      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      marcoujor – You are so right. If a child has his own, one can use him quite effectively. But I’ve created a view for my grandchildren (and ages ago also for my children) - inter alia the tooth mouse, but a special one who feeds little children with sweets only after they’ve finished their meals, and a little angel who tells me when they need sleep, or food, or hugs and kisses, and, ya, also a little monster named Malcoett, who is always ready to help a naughty child back on track again. I don’t think I could cope with kids without these imaginary assistants.

      Thanks for the visit, mar. Take care!

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      Maria Jordan 6 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Martie,

      I love this article, rating it UP and everything but funny. I have found imaginary friends to be a valuable therapeutic tool when assessing kids for trauma of all kinds. It is really non-threatening to talk "about someone else" at first to build trust. I guess if we think about adult role playing there can be some similarities. Great job and thank you, mar.

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      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      *** Dave – Thanks for affirming Mia’s cuteness. I bet you will not easily forget her :)))

      *** Nellieanna – Lol! Knowing I had been kissed for the first time by an imaginary man, is a bit embarrassing. But oh well, that happened to be the truth :)))) I wonder if anybody saw me kissing that wall? Oh, I’m blushing!

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      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      OH, my - that's so funny - the taste of the lime/water whitewash paint you kissed! It's so 'ilke' an imaginative passionate little girl! Precious memory!

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      Dave. 6 years ago

      Having met Mia, (Yes a real cutie) Mia definitely has a mind of her own! Anice read Martie. x

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      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      BobbiRant – I am actually a chatterbox... or let me rather say I was one, because I had learnt how to keep my thoughts for myself when I got married. My ex wanted/needed to think, or listen to music or watch TV, and he could not do all that when I was chatting like a rattle.

      But look who’s talking, considering my activities in HubPages (lol). I guess what I meant to say was I’d learnt the hard way how to keep my mouth shut in the company of people who are not on the same wave-length as I.

      Seriously, when I was a child I needed someone to chat to in order not to feel crazy when talking aloud to myself :))) My mother was extremely quiet, an ultra-introvert, and so was my sister (who was 2 years younger than I). We lived on farms until I was 10. I really needed someone to talk to – or perhaps I needed to hear my own voice. Must say I did not always talk aloud to my ‘twin’, we could read each other’s minds :)))

      Thanks for the visit, Bobbi. Tot weersiens!

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      BobbiRant 6 years ago from New York

      I've never had one as a child either, but they can help a child grow emotionally, I agree with what you say on this. Very nice hub about a great topic.

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      KimKatastrophe 6 years ago

      Thanks :D I'm happy to read your hubs, they're very interesting! I hope mine can be as interesting :3

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      shygirl2 6 years ago

      Thanks MartieCoetser...appreciate your kind regards to my stories. Yes, it is hard to depart from my characters at times, as you shared when on the last page of your stories too. They sometimes want to go on forever...if that were allowed! : ) I like the idea of being my character's editor.

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      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      *** shygirl2 – Those strong characters who reckon they are better plotters with higher aspirations than their creator, can easily make a writer famous and rich. Give them rope, let them do/say whatever they want. Be the editor of their story. I love my strong characters and it is so hard for me to depart from them on the last page. Only the knowledge that they live happily forever after, give me the needed strength to move on :))) I can see you are publishing one story after the other, and I do wish I had the time to read them all. Those I’ve read were fantastic. I wish you lots of success with your writings, shygirl.

      *** Nell Rose – Now there! Enjoy the memories :))) Why not hub them? Be generous, share them all with us :)))

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      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      AliciaC – Creating imaginary friends (and baddies too) and making them do and say things you want them to do, is in my opinion exactly what all writers of fiction do. When those friends/characters start to talk or act on their own – taking over the reins – it is time to consult a psychologist. Thanks for the visit AliciaC :)))

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      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      drbj – Lol! I could clearly see you having a meal with Phil O’Dendron. But after the second course I had to cut off some of his arms and hands, for he was growing faster than Jack’s beanstalk under those artificial sun-lights for plants in the restaurant :))))

      That is a sketch of Mia. She looks a lot like me, but definitely prettier thanks to her pretty mother and the input of her attractive father.

      Thanks for coming over and giving me a reason to laugh out loud, drbj. Re Casey - did you see this? https://hubpages.com/politics/caseyanthony

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      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      KimKatastrophe – So nice to meet you! Unfortunately real people eventually scared away all my imaginary friends. Only real people (including hubbers) are now in (and on) my mind, and not all of them are kind and sweet. There was a time I had worked with a man who disturbed me tremendously. He was a dictator and bully and it took a lot of courage and energy to stand to my guns and to control my temper. Many days I was not able to forget about him after work. He would be in/on my mind for hours, irritating the daylight out of me. Sometimes, alone in my house, I caught myself telling him his fortune ALOUD. Even now, while I see him again in my mind, that feeling of disgust – what I will also feel after I’d fallen in a sewer – grows in me. So back to you – thanks for coming to my corner, Kim. I'm curious about your friend :)) I’m looking forward to read your hubs.

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      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, Oh I forgot about Those Imaginary friends! lol

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      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      Pamela99 – I think the I-want-what-you-have impulse in humans may also encourage children to create imaginary friends. Mia has friends at school who have little brothers. Maybe envy made her create her own. I love watching the children while they play. Reading their minds is easy and so amusing - I wish I could read their exact thoughts as well. Thanks for coming over for the read, Pamela. I always appreciate your comments.