Clarissa Johal: #Paranormal Wednesday-Imaginary Friends

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

#Paranormal Wednesday-Imaginary Friends

Photo courtesy of jdurham via morgueFile
Did you ever have an imaginary friend when you were a kid? I did. I had one when I was about four-years-old. He was kind of faceless (well, it was blurry when I would try and look. Eventually I just gave up trying) and was always in my peripheral. I was an only child and he would indulge me by playing tag or hide-and-go-seek. Sometimes, we'd play board games. My mom would come into my room and I'd be chatting away and accusing him of cheating (which he did). She would frown and give me a stern talking to about real vs. imaginary.
In retrospect, I think it used to freak her out.

I know some kids blame their imaginary friends for doing things they'd otherwise get in trouble for. I never did that. I think he kept me out of trouble, truth be told. Kind of like a little voice in your head that says things like, "Do you really think that's a good idea?" or "Really? *sigh*"  Yeah, I was one of those kids.

As imaginary friends go, he eventually stopped showing up. I'm not sure I ever forgave him for that. I had a rough childhood and could have used a friend. Such is life.

There are two theories about imaginary friends. One is scientific and pretty cut-and-dry, the other is a little more complex and open for debate.

Theory One: Psychological
A phenomenon-where a friendship or other interpersonal relationship takes place in the imagination rather than external physical reality. 
This is the standard explanation offered by child psychologists. Most young children socially interact with dolls, stuffed animals and toys. But according to one study, only about 37% of children have imaginary friends. When questioned, the number drops even further--only 2% of these children insist they are real.

Theory Two: Paranormal
Children are much more open to seeing ghosts and other entities. Once they hit adolescence, it is no longer widely accepted by society and the phenomena either disappears or is kept secret. 
There are numerous claims that support this as well. Jason Hawes, co-founder of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) states, “Many times, when I am contacted by someone having a paranormal situation, I am informed that their child or children are playing with invisible friends and that they talk to things that are not there." Hawes explains that the child could be psychic, and may possibly be “sensitive,” but a better explanation is simply that children have open minds. “They have not been conditioned by society yet as to what is real and what is not,” he wrote. “Over the years they will be told, ‘Stop playing with your pretend friend Bobby,’ and this helps close them off to what they experience. We have done some investigations into this, and the conclusions are outstanding.”

While I understand Theory One and in most cases support it, Theory Two gives me pause for thought. I was convinced that my imaginary friend was real. It was only through constant reprimanding that I eventually learned to keep my experience quiet and convinced myself that my imaginary friend was...imaginary.
Is conditioning children to deny their experiences a parental obligation? I find that kind of sad, really. I always indulged my children when it came to their imaginary worlds and friends. It's what leaves us open to life--in all it's complexities and unexplained madness.

How about you? Are there any stories you would like to share?

1 comment:

Heather Holden said...

Never had an imaginary friend, although I remember wishing I did as a kid, haha. That second theory about imaginary friends is fascinating!