Monday, December 20, 2004

Imaginary Friends

USA Today has an article about imaginary friends. (Nod to the Corner.) It's about some psychologists saying kids with imaginary friends are normal and healthy, imaginary friends can be helpful, etc. Who cares, really? I've never thought otherwise and am only interested in seeing this phenomenon discussed. My main question when the topic is raised is not whether some adults think this is healthy, but whether the speaker had an imaginary friend or not and what he/she/it was like. Unless your kid claims his "imaginary friend" is telling him to burn down the house or that it's time to "begin the time of purification" (and he doesn't mean having a bath), you've nothing to worry about; the psychologists in the article say much the same thing.

Of course there are some numbskulls out there who afraid of the imagination. Any kind of fanciful talk, much less an imaginary friend, scares them or at least makes them uneasy. Many of them truly hate it. I'm not necessarily talking about strict no-nonsense, follow-the-dots-in-order, "just the facts, ma'am" type people; some of them are quite all right, even if they do dismiss fanciful, imaginative things as silly. That's just personal taste. I'm talking about the kind of people who, as I said, are afraid of the imagination and may even hate it. The Gradgrinds and fundies who despise fairy tales and, it sometimes seems, any fiction more imaginative than "Dick and Jane". Take a former co-worker of mine, who once said, spitting an unbelievable amount of contempt and disgust into her words, "I HATE Superman. Everybody KNOWS a man can't fly!" She'd probably be right at home with the fundamentalist Christian mentioned in the USA article who thought imaginary friends were the same thing as demon possession.

I know I should feel sorry for these people because of all they miss, but I can't quite manage it. I feel sorry for their children though.

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