Latest child psychology news? Imaginary friends are perfectly normal, healthy manifestations of a child’s imagination and contrary to previous research, should be kept as long as necessary. Although it doesn’t go this far, I suspect the next step is to suggest…gasp…that adults who have imaginary friends are ok, too!
Raise your hand if you know which in-your-face alternative reality University contributed to this research! Oooh, oh, pick me, I know! University of Oregon, courtesy of Marjorie Taylor of the Psychology Department!
To illustrate: “… there has been little research on the purpose of pretend pals and whether school-age kids do shed them, Taylor says. Her study of 100 children finds that imaginary friends come and go. Some are invisible humans, the children say. The talking buddy also can be an animal, a doll or a GI Joe.”
Personally, I prefer to talk to the skulls in the anthropology lab. I suppose the basic tenet of imaginary friends is “It’s ok for them to talk to you, as long as you don’t answer them in public company” But further down:
“In fact, parents should look for day care and preschool programs that allow time for imaginative play so children can interact with pretend figures, Willer says. “Even if parents discourage it, it’s going to happen.”
There are any number of parallels to draw here, from parental banishments of most of the things we hold dear (sex, drugs, booze, rock n’ roll, sugar, caffine, boredom, etc. etc.) to where to distinguish potentially dangerous mental illness from normal everyday psychotic behaviors.
For diversity purposes: percent male, percent female, and percent imaginary friends enrolled at UO full-time. You can’t ignore them just because they don’t exist!