Imaginary Friends

Imaginary Friends


Taylor et al. argues that “the experience of imaginary others as autonomous might be part of the phenomenology of sustained fantasy for pretenders of all ages” (13). Adults who enjoy role-playing games, watching films, reading or writing novels, or other “fantasy activities,” (Taylor 8) are more likely than usual to have had an imaginary companion as a young child (Taylor et al. 19). Taylor notes that “imagined relationships” are more actually quite common among adults, and observes that “imaginary social relationships [for adults] can…be a source of comfort, advice, companionship, or an avenue for intellectual debate” (8).

How and why might a childhood that includes imaginary companions develop into an adulthood that includes enthusiasm for “fantasy activities?”

To make your argument, identify characteristics of the children and connect them to characteristics of the adults. Since researchers themselves aren’t certain how or why these children become fantasy-loving adults, you should strive to identify reasonable possibilities rather than to give firm answers, but be sure to support your positions with logical argument as to why you may be correct.

Your essay should make specific reference to all three articles in this set of readings. In addition, define and employ key terms that seem to be central to the arguments of your sources and, therefore, to your argument as well. Among these key terms are: Imaginary companions/friends, Illusion of Independent Agency (IIA), Paracosms, Flow Theory (developed by Csikszentmihalyi), Dialogue, Temporal-locative- causal terms, Advanced narrative elements, Decontextualized conversations/language, Delusion/hallucination, Autonomous characters, Independent writing.

It is essential that you include in your essay specific references to all four essays in the reading set. You must attribute any material that you summarize, quote, or paraphrase to its source (using the page numbers of the reading set for quotations and paraphrases). Your own ideas and thinking are necessary and important. However, you should base your essay on the information contained in the set of readings, not on your own life experience, on outside readings (including the internet), or on courses you have taken.

A Good Story: Children with Imaginary Companions Create Richer Narratives

By Gabriel Trionfi and Elaine Reese

Imaginary companion play is captivating for children who engage in it, for parents who are surprised by it, and for developmental researchers who want to understand it. Early research often attributed imaginary companion play to psychopathology, personality defects, or deficiencies in social skills. …[C]ontemporary wisdom is that imaginary companion play may even offer some developmental benefits for children. In this study, we explore the potential developmental benefits of imaginary companion play for children’s narrative skills.

Traditionally, the definition of an imaginary companion was restricted to repeated play with an invisible other, but later the definition of an imaginary companion expanded to include certain instances of play with personified objects. Critical to both forms of pretend play is that children view their imaginary companion as a separate other. Harris characterized both types of imaginary companion play as sustained forms of role play. In both, children’s interactions with their imaginary companions are a form of simulated social exchange. …

Despite some variations in estimating how many children engage in imaginary companion play, it is clear that researchers have been able to identify consistently two groups of children: those who engage in imaginary companion play at some point in development and those who do not engage in imaginary companion play. The question then becomes: How are children with imaginary companions different from those children without imaginary companions?

Imaginary companion play is engaged in most often by firstborn children and is somewhat more common in the play of young girls than young boys. Boys, in contrast, are more likely than girls to impersonate a character, another form of role play. Imaginary companion play is also positively related to children’s sociability, such that children with imaginary companions are reported to have just as many or more real friendships and experience the same level of peer acceptance as children without imaginary companions. Adults who provide retrospective reports of imaginary companions have a stronger orientation toward others than adults who do not report having had an imaginary companion in childhood. Moreover, children with imaginary companions are no more or less likely to be shy than children without imaginary companions, and adults who report having had an imaginary companion do not rate themselves as shyer than adults who report not having had an imaginary companion. … Children who engage in imaginary companion play do show an inclination toward other forms of fantasy, and 4-year-old children with imaginary companions show an advanced understanding of minds, even after controlling for verbal ability.

Language skills are another established correlate of imaginary companion play. …

The main aim of this study is to extend prior research on the language skills of children with and without imaginary companions by moving into the realm of narrative. Play researchers theorize that children need to use explicit language to negotiate meaning in the pretend scene. These linguistic negotiations are found in the co-construction of roles, settings, goals, and conflicts, as well as in discussion of other elements, such as the meaning of props used. Such linguistic negotiations highlight the similarities that theorists have noted between play and narrative in form and composition, particularly in the use of characters, a scene, a goal, and a conflict. …

Our specific goal in this study was to explore the relations between imaginary companion play and children’s narrative skills. Imaginary companion play is theorized to be a sustained and richly detailed form of role play, which over time can become more layered or abstract. We view imaginary companion play as one of the most complex expressions of play in early childhood. Similarly, narrative, as an instance of decontextualized language, is one of the most complex linguistic expressions of early childhood. Somers and Yawkey theorized that imaginary companion play facilitates cognitive development through a number of abstract thought processes. One such process is decontextualization,

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which they identify as “the use of real situations out of their contexts during play.” Following this thinking, we further offer that imaginary companion play is highly decontextualized because it primarily involves “real” social interactions with an imagined other during play. Play with an invisible companion may even promote social interactions with real others when children attempt to share details about their invisible friend with interested adults. Conceptually, then, both imaginary companion play and narrative rely heavily on mental and linguistic constructions to create context. Based on these similar requirements for decontextualization in the two activities, we predicted that children with imaginary companions would demonstrate more complex narrative skills than children without imaginary companions.

This extension to narrative is especially important given increasing evidence that narrative skill in early childhood is linked to reading success and to school achievement… [I]t is possible that children with imaginary companions will develop into stronger readers in the elementary school years.

To explore our initial hypothesis that imaginary companion play is linked to children’s narrative skill… [w]e hypothesized that children who engaged in imaginary companion play would produce narratives that were qualitatively richer and more detailed than children who did not engage in imaginary companion play. Peterson and McCabe, drawing upon Labov and Waletzky’s highpoint analysis, noted that a child narrator’s use of orientations and evaluations could be used to classify the complexity and quality of a narrative. In contrast to referential statements that simply tell what happened in the story, orientations (to characters, time, and place) contextualize the story for the listener, whereas evaluations (adjectives, emotions, and dialogue) emphasize meaning or high points within the narrative. Both orientations and evaluations in children’s narratives are positively correlated with their later reading skill. …


Imaginary Companion Interview

The imaginary companion interview was based on the procedure utilized by Taylor et al. After interacting with the child for a few minutes, the researcher said, “Now I’m going to ask you some questions about friends. Some friends are real, like the kids who go to your school, the ones you play with. And some friends are pretend friends, ones that are make-believe, or imaginary. Do you have a pretend or imaginary friend, or have you ever had one?” If the child answered “yes,” then the researcher asked the child 15 questions about the pretend friend, including its gender, age, physical appearance, likes, and dislikes. Meanwhile, another researcher conducted the imaginary companion interview separately with the child’s mother with a slightly different preamble…

Vocabulary Skills

All children completed the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT)… during the first session and the Expressive Vocabulary Test (EVT) during the second session. The PPVT measures children’s receptive vocabulary and the EVT measures children’s expressive vocabulary. Standard scores were used in analyses.

Story Comprehension

During the second session, researchers read an unfamiliar story (A Perfect Father’s Day; Bunting, 1991) to children. Children were asked 12 comprehension questions as a researcher read the story to them. Comprehension questions focused on plot information (what happened), inferences (causal connections between plot events and inferring meaning from pictures), and real world knowledge that impacted story understanding…

Story Retelling

At the conclusion of the story comprehension task, children were introduced to a puppet. Children were told that the puppet did not hear the story and were asked to retell the story to the puppet “from beginning to end.” Researchers assisted the children in their retelling by first reminding the children of the story’s title. Researchers provided a maximum of two supportive, yet nonspecific, prompts per page. If children

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did not respond to the second prompt, researchers turned the page. Researchers’ prompts included generic questions (e.g., “Now what’s happening?”), and generic support (e.g., “That’s neat”), but avoided any elaborations of children’s retelling…

Past Event Narratives

Mothers selected three past events that children had experienced in the past year (typically within the past month) for researchers to discuss with children… Researchers started off the discussion with a general prompt “Your mum told me you went to Tunnel Beach but she didn’t tell me what happened. Tell me everything that happened when you went to Tunnel Beach.” Researchers followed up this initiation with prompts such as “Tell me some more about that” and “What else?” and confirmed children’s responses (“Wow”) but did not ask specific questions about the event. …


The main finding of this study was that 51⁄2-year old children who currently or previously engaged in imaginary companion play had more advanced narrative skills than children who did not engage in this type of play. Although children in the two groups did not differ significantly in their vocabulary skills or in their story understanding, the children with imaginary companions told richer stories in two different contexts compared to children without imaginary companions. Firstborns also told richer narratives than laterborns, but imaginary companion play uniquely predicted children’s narrative skill, even after accounting for birth order and vocabulary skill. These findings add to the growing body of evidence that imaginary companion play is associated positively with children’s linguistic and social-cognitive development. These findings also fit well with Nicolopoulou’s proposal that pretend play and storytelling have become integrated by the end of early childhood. Because the PPVT in particular can be viewed as a measure of children’s general cognitive ability, these findings point to the unique role of imaginary companion play, over and above cognitive ability, in children’s narrative skills.

Specifically, participants who engaged in imaginary companion play used more dialogue in their story retelling narratives and more temporal–locative–causal terms in their past event narratives when compared to participants who did not engage in imaginary companion play… [B]oth dialogue (a type of evaluation) and temporal–locative–causal terms (types of orientation) are advanced narrative elements. … [T]he
past event narrative context, temporal, locative, and causal terms are essential for making the event narrative understandable to the listener, and it is not until middle childhood that most children can use these elements coherently. Thus, we believe that the children with imaginary companions in our study were especially good at using the most advanced narrative elements in each context. Moreover, they excelled at different elements in each context—those elements that were most essential for conveying that particular story effectively to the listener.

… All of these findings confirm our hypothesis and identify a clear link between imaginary companion play and children’s storytelling abilities. This finding has practical importance given a growing body of evidence that children’s narrative skill upon school entry strongly predicts their later reading ability, especially their reading comprehension in mid-elementary school. A word of caution is in order, though. Imaginary companion play has not yet been implicated directly in children’s reading achievement, nor is there causal evidence for the benefits of imaginary companion play in any developmental domain. We are not advocating that parents or teachers encourage children without imaginary friends to create such friends. Rather, if a child has already created an imaginary companion, parents and teachers could allow this play to flourish.

Although the link between imaginary companion play and narrative quality is clear, the reason for this link is not. We speculate that one reason that children with imaginary companions have richer narrative skills is that they gain practice in decontextualized conversations both during interactions with their imaginary companions, and when they tell others about their imaginary companions. Advanced narratives rely

on decontextualized language skill. All of the anecdotal and case study evidence indicates that at

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some point during the duration of children’s imaginary companion play, most will tell their parents and family members a story about their imaginary companions. It is possible that this storytelling leads to conversations in which adults promote children’s engagement in and understanding of complex decontextualized language practices. Because children have sole knowledge of their imaginary companions, adults may be required to ask a greater number of questions about imaginary companions than they ask when conversing about topics for which both adult and child share knowledge. Overcoming this lack of shared knowledge is practically impossible unless children describe these absent entities, a task that involves decontextualized language. Children who participate in these storytelling exchanges may begin to produce richer narratives in general as a result of these unique exchanges. The results of our exploratory analyses were in line with this interpretation, in that only children whose mothers knew about their imaginary companions showed a narrative advantage over children without imaginary companions…

In conclusion, this work reveals a connection between children’s engagement in imaginary companion play and the qualitatively richer stories that children tell about fictional and personally experienced events. The value of this finding is threefold. First, this finding extends our understanding of imaginary companion play and its developmental correlates. Second, this finding deepens the literature on the theoretical relation between play and language. Third, this finding highlights children’s engagement in play as an important factor to consider in understanding their developing narrative skill, which in turn is critical for children’s reading skill.

Do Older Children and Adults Create Imaginary Companions?

By Marjorie Taylor

I started to walk down the street when I heard a voice saying, “good evening, Mr. Dowd.” I turned, and there was this great white rabbit leaning against a lamp-post. Well, I thought nothing of that, because when you have lived in a town as long as I have lived in this one, you get used to the fact that everybody knows your name. Naturally, I went over to chat with him.

Elwood Dowd explains how he first met his imaginary companion in the movie Harvey

Jimmy Stewart’s portrayal of a gentle adult who had an imaginary rabbit friend in the movie Harvey is the sort of example that comes to mind when we consider the possibility of adults
having imaginary companions. But Elwood Dowd was not a run-of-the-mill adult.
He would have been unusual even if he had refrained from talking to a giant

invisible rabbit while walking down the main street of his town. Despite his age, Elwood’s naive personality and sheltered existence (unmarried unemployed, living with his sister) made more a child than a grownup. Harvey was a source of concern and embarrassment for Elwood’s family and led others to gossip about him

behind his back.

Adults with imaginary companions are also portrayed works of fiction as mentally ill. …

So what about real-life people who are psychologically healthy and have adult
lifestyles with adult responsibilities? Do they ever have imaginary companions?
The answer is yes. Although peak production of imaginary companions occurs
during the preschool period, fantasies involving imaginary others are definitely not confined to early childhood. First of all… some children continue playing with their early childhood companions well beyond the preschool years. It also is true that some pretend friends, albeit a minority, arrive on the scene for the first time in late childhood or early adolescence and persist into adulthood. And yes, even adults

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sometimes describe fantasy experiences that bear a strong resemblance to the early childhood phenomenon…

Imaginary companions and worlds created by older children

Not much is known about the pretend friends created after the preschool period, but some cases have been recorded. Dr. Jerome Singer … writes that as a 13-year-old boy he passed the time on subway rides to school by discussing twentieth-century life with an imaginary gentleman visiting from Ancient Rome. Inge Seiffge-Krenke… found that 35 percent of the 11- to 13-year-olds, 55 percent of the 14- and 15-year- olds,and28percentofthe16-and17-year-olds whohaddiariesmentionedimaginarycompanions. Interestingly,theadolescentsinthisstudywhohad imaginarycompanionsdidnotdifferfromtheother adolescents in the number or closeness of real friends, a finding that supports the claim that children with imaginarycompanionsarenotindividualswhohave difficultymakingrealfriends.

Although the available descriptions are somewhat limited, these later-appearing pretend friends seem to be just as varied as the preschool variety, and they mirror some of the same themes. Sometimes children create them for companionship, such as one 12-year-old who created an imaginary dog to keep her company on her early morning paper route. Harriman has documented several case studies of teenagers who created imaginary companions that embodied characteristics that the creators wished to have themselves. One boy, upon starting school, created an imaginary companion named Bill, who never made a mistake and received the highest grades in the class. …

Occasionally the fantasies of older childhood go well beyond the invention of a pretend friend. In fact, some children, typica1ly at about 9 or l0 years of age, create “paracosms”—entire societies or worlds for the imaginary people to inhabit. …

How common is it for children to create such elaborate fantasies, and what does the invention of a paracosm say about its creator? The bulk of what is known about paracosms comes from the comprehensive account of imaginary worlds in the work of Robert Silvey and Stephen MacKeith… Silvey and MacKeith collected 64 case studies, including paracosms created by 61 adults and three children with about equal numbers of males and females. These authors were primarily interested in private worlds that: (1) were clearly recognized by the child as being imaginary, (2) held the child’s interest for an extended period of time, and (3) were considered to be very important to the child.

The paracosms described in this report were extremely varied; 17 of the 64 were magical kinds of places, 45 were naturalistic and 2 combined both magical and naturalistic features. Some of the worlds were based on toy or object props, and some were entirely in the minds of the creators. They also varied tremendously in the amount of structure and artifacts associated with them. Some of the paracosms were equipped with government systems, documents, maps, cultures, religions, histories, public transportation systems, currency, national anthems, magazines, and languages specified by the child. One child had created a special script for his imaginary world that was based on a Tamil primer brought back from India by his father. One of the paracosms was a world known as Branmail inhabited entirely by cats. …

Descriptions of paracosms are also plentiful in historical accounts and autobiographies when these include details about the subject’s childhood. Silvey and MacKeith list several such examples, including a fairy world based on toy soldiers, porcelain figures, and miniature paintings created by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, and the rival kingdoms of Nosingtonia and Encyclopedia created by Robert Louis Stevenson at the age of six in collaboration with his cousin Robert Alan Mowbray Stevenson. The four Brontë children, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne, created two imaginary worlds that lasted into their adult

years and may well have contributed to their development as novelists. Charlotte and Branwell invented the country of Angria, including descriptions of the geography, politics, community leaders, writers, and ordinary citizens. They wrote a literature of poems, stories, and history for Angria and worked out the

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personalities of its leaders. Anne and Emily created Gondal, which was a simpler, more emotional sort of place than Angria.

One of the most elaborate literary cases I have come across is described in a biography of Barbara Pollett, a writer who achieved early fame as a novelist, but tragically and
mysteriously disappeared while still a young adult. According to
her biographer, she was engrossed for several years as a young girl

and teenager in the creation of an imaginary world called Farksolia This book includes her detailed accounts of the plants, animals, people, and history of Farksolia and excerpts from a dictionary of its language, Farksoo (e.g., “Ar peen rnaiburs barge craik coo” means “As the mayflowers begin to come”).

Is the invention of an imaginary world associated with mental
illness or an inability to deal with a community of real people? For
the most part the participants in Silvey and MacKeith’s research
seemed to have enjoyed happy family lives—their paracosms were
not escapes from hostile environments. The inventors of imaginary
worlds also did not appear to suffer from isolation or an inability to get along with others. In fact, many of the worlds were shared among several children who played together happily. …Even more than with imaginary companions, it is tempting to assume that paracosms are rare, but I have found that once you start looking for them, accounts of paracosms are surprisingly easy to come by. …

The fact that locating a child who has a paracosm is not difficult and that there are many accounts of paracosms created by children who became famous as adults does not tell us anything about how common paracosms are in the general population. As far as I know, no one has questioned a large random sample of adults about whether they created imaginary worlds as children. However, the results of a small pilot study conducted by Stephanie Carlson and myself were interesting and suggestive, although preliminary. We gave a questionnaire about imaginary worlds to 22 students (12 females, l0 males, ranging in age from
17 to 28 years) who were registered for a summer class in psychology. Eleven of the 22 students claimed to have had an imaginary world, defined in the questionnaire as “a spontaneously created, fictional
private world that is maintained and elaborated, sometimes for a number of years.” …

Cohen and MacKeith took care to distinguish imaginary worlds from the creation of pretend friends, pointing out that paracosms are much more elaborate, tend to be the property of children older than imaginary companions, and, unlike imaginary companions, are remembered very well for decades. However, I see the two phenomena as quite closely related. Perhaps the more private nature of play with imaginary companions by older children lends itself to the creation of an imaginary world for the pretend friends to inhabit. After all, the imaginary companions of older children are less welcome in the real world than those of preschoolers. Like Cohen and MacKeith, we found that paracosms are largely a phenomenon of middle and late childhood. What about adults? Do they ever have imaginary companions? More generally, is there any continuity between the pretend play of children and adult fantasy activities?

Do adults have imaginary companions?

… Even more so than with children, adults who create and interact with invisible friends are assumed to be disturbed. Margaret Svendsen, who was relatively positive about the imaginary companions of children, spoke for many when she wrote that when the phenomenon was encountered in adults, it was a sign of psychopathology. But is that necessarily true? I think there is an erroneous assumption here that having an imaginary companion is like having a delusion of hallucination – the creator, whether a child or adult, believes the friend to be real. This sort of behavior might be tolerated to some extent in children because of the widespread belief that childhood is a stage of life in which it is normal to lack a firm grasp on reality. But in adults, the expression of delusional beliefs and hallucinations is not normative, and often is central to the identification of mental illness.

Barbara Pollett as a child

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I have argued, against this view, that the imaginary companions of young children are quite different from delusions. There is at least some evidence that even young children understand that their imaginary friends are pretend. Thus, if we want to identify an adult version of the phenomenon, we need to identify imaginary companions that the adults know are not real. …

These restrictions—that (1) the companion be imaginary and (2) the adult know the companion is imaginary—rule out lots of entities that bear at least a passing resemblance to imaginary companions. For example, I am often asked if guardian angels are imaginary companions. Actually, guardian angels are only one of many candidates that have been suggested to me as constituting the imaginary companions of adults. What about fairies, ghosts, creatures from outer space, or even God? Should any of these be considered imaginary companions? I think not. In these cases, both the actual and the perceived realities are debatable. …

A few adults do seem to have relationships with pretend friends that closely resemble the phenomenon observed in childhood. The incidence of imaginary companions among adults is not known, in part because questionnaires given to adults have been biased by researchers who assumed imaginary companions were the domain of childhood. …

… Kendall Walton, professor of philosophy at the University of Michigan, makes a strong case for the relation between fantasy behavior in childhood and common adult activities such as going to movies, reading novels, and enjoying the visual arts. Walton goes so far as to describe representational works of art such as Michelangelo’s David as props in adult games of make-believe just as dolls and trucks are props in children’s pretend play. “I take seriously the association with children’s games—with playing house and school, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, with fantasies built around dolls, teddy bears, and toy trucks. We can learn a lot about novels, paintings, theater, and film by pursuing analogies with make-believe activities like these.”

Most adults enjoy some sort of fantasy consumption, whether movies or novels, but the more interesting comparison with childhood imaginary companions centers on adult production of fantasy material. Role-

playing games like “Dungeons and Dragons” and groups like the “Society for Creative Anachronism” provide opportunities for many adults, as well as adolescents, to engage in fantasy. There are also a variety of experiences reported by adults that share some of the features of having an imaginary companion. These kinds of experiences vary from intellectual exercises such as Hillary Clinton’s imagined conversations with Eleanor Roosevelt to much more fully developed and maintained fantasies. Some adults have such active imaginations that psychologists refer to them as fantasy-prone. …A variety of

developmental antecedents have been identified for this select group including being encouraged to pretend by a significant adult, early engagement in activities such as ballet, piano, or drama, and their enjoyment of imaginative games, such as having an imaginary companion. …

My reading of the literature suggests that, for the majority of fantasy-prone adults, extensive fantasy activities are just one aspect of their interesting and productive lives. For some fantasy-prone individuals, however, engagement in fantasy seems to have developed as a strategy for dealing with chaotic and difficult life situations. In this minority group, there is often a reported history of physical or sexual abuse and psychological problems. Clearly there are multiple paths to fantasy-proneness, and this aspect of personality interacts with life experiences to result in a variety of outcomes.

Beyond this restricted group of fantasy-prone individuals, many adults in the general population enjoy the production of fantasy. In a fascinating book, Imaginary Social Worlds, cultural anthropologist John Caughey of the University of Maryland at College Park claims that the social worlds of most people include a large number of individuals whom they know only through television, books, movies, and other forms of media, as well as the people they interact with face-to-face in their everyday lives. According to

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Caughey, the experience of having a personal social relationship with a famous individual one has never actually encountered in real life is quite common. These fantasy relationships often go beyond intense interest and admiration and actually involve imagined conversations meetings, and extended interactions.

When we think of fantasy relationships with well-known people, pathological examples come to mind— John Hinkley Jr.’s fantasy relationship with Jody Foster, Mark Chapman’s obsession with John Lennon. Caughey argues that these extreme cases tend to make us overlook how common imagined relationships are in the population. Often the focus of these relationships is love and/or sexual attraction, such as imagined romantic attachments to Paul McCartney, Kurt Cobain, or Madonna. However, imaginary social relationships can also be a source of comfort, advice, companionship, or an avenue for intellectual debate…

Novelists, playwrights, and screenwriters also provide interesting examples of adults who are preoccupied with the production of fantasy. For fiction writers, creating an imaginary character or an invented world is all in a day’s work. Actually, there is some evidence that literary creativity, in particular, is related to having had an imaginary companion in childhood. C. S. Lewis explicitly pointed out the relation between his childhood creation of a paracosm named Animal-Land and his later career.

At the age of six, seven, and eight I was living almost entirely in my imagination; or at least the imaginative experience of those years now seems to me more important than anything else. … But imagination is a vague word and I must make
some distinctions. It may mean that world of

reverie, daydream, wish-fulfilling fantasy… But I must insist that this was a totally different activity from the invention of Animal-Land. Animal-Land was not (in that sense) a fantasy at all. I was not one of the characters it contained. I was its creator, not a candidate for admission to it. Invention is essentially different from reverie; if some fail to recognize the difference that is because they have not experienced both…In my daydreams I was training myself to be a fool; in mapping and chronicling Animal-Land I was training myself

to be a novelist.

Illustration of AnimalLand drawn by the young C.S. Lewis

The reflections of fiction writers about the creation of imaginary characters contain insights and observations that are fascinating and instructive. In particular, I am intrigued by the commonly reported experience that the characters become almost real and seem to have minds of their own. Some writers experience the illusion that their novel is being dictated to them, or that the characters are the ones who are working out the plot. This adult experience of having an imaginary collaborator or being essentially the secretary for an invisible entity who takes the major role in determining what is written dates to the time of the Greeks, who described the role of Muses in the creative process.

There are also plenty of more recent examples. In her fascinating book Invisible Guests, Mary Watkins describes in careful detail how some creative activities in adulthood seem to promote the presence of imaginal others who are experienced as having an autonomous existence. She makes a distinction between deliberate daydreams and more spontaneous imaginings in which the imaginer feels like a spectator,

with imagined events and people surprising her just as events in the real world can surprise. Watkins’s most striking examples were taken from the autobiographies and biographies of famous writers. Their accounts document the common experience of having the characters narrate the story to the author, as described by Enid Blyton:

I shut my eyes for a few moments, with my portable typewriter on my knee—I make my mind blank and wait—and then, as clearly as I would see real children, my characters stand before me

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in my mind’s eye. I see them in detail—hair, eyes, feet, clothes, expression—and I always know their Christian names, but never their surnames. I don’t know what anyone is going to say or do. I don’t know what is going to happen. I am in the happy position of being able to write a story and read it for the first time, at one and the same moment. …Sometimes a character make a joke, a really funny one, that makes me laugh as I type it on the paper, and I think, “Well, I couldn’t have thought of that myself in a hundred years!” And then I think, “Well, who did think of it, then?”

…The experiences reported in these quotes do not seem to be unique to these authors. Writers from Jean- Paul Sartre to Quentin Tarantino have described how their writing often seems to take the form of surrendering control of the content to the characters they have created. Alice Walker lived with the presences of Celie and Shug for a year while writing the novel The Color Purple, characters who not only advised Walker about events in the world of the novel, but also about matters concerning her real life. …

…Ventriloquist Edgar Bergen reported having a similar experience of his wooden dummy, Charlie McCarthy. Siegel describes this anecdote in his book Fire in the Brain in which he discusses the phenomenon as a kind of channeling:

One day, a visitor came into Bergen’s room and found him talking—not rehearsing—with Charlie. Bergen was asking Charlie a number of philosophical questions about the nature of life, virtue, and love. Charlie was responding with brilliant Socratic answers. When Bergen noticed that he had a visitor, he turned red and said that he was talking with Charlie, the wisest person he knew. The visitor pointed out that it was Bergen’s own mind and voice coming through the wooden dummy. Bergen replied, “Well, I guess ultimately it is, but I ask Charlie these questions and he answers, and I haven’t the faintest idea of what he’s going to say and I’m astonished by his brilliance-so much more than I know.”

Mystery writer John D. McDonald helped Dr. Raymond Fowler, professor emeritus at the University of Alabama, attempt to

Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy

understand the relationship between the personalities of characters in works of fiction and the personality of their creators–how novelists live through the characters they create. Fowler administered the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPJ) to McDonald three times. McDonald took the test as himself; as Travis McGee, the main character in most of McDonald’s books; and as Meyer, another character in McDonald’s novels, McGee’s close friend and confidant. The idea was to analyze the similarity of the two characters’ personalities to each other and to that of John McDonald. The results showed that McDonald and McGee were radically different in personality, but that McDonald and Meyer were virtually indistinguishable. Fowler interpreted his results

as suggesting that by creating a character like Meyer to inhabit the whole of his books, he was able “to enter McGee’s life, to talk with him, advise him, and react to him.” …

At what point does an author’s loss of control over a character occur, and what does it mean? There aren’t many answers here, but lots of

interesting questions and speculations. Our understanding of how this illusion is possible might be informed by a new line of inquiry in cognitive psychology concerning automatisms in daily life, instances in which people produce actions, but do not experience the actions as voluntary, that is, they have no “feeling of doing.” Professor Daniel Wegner of the University of Virginia believes that our sense of

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having consciously intended our voluntary actions is something of an illusion. … Although Wegner focuses primarily on our impression of having caused our voluntary actions, he alludes to the same principles being at work in actions that are entirely mental. My point here is that the possibility of experiencing an imagined being as acting independently is entirely consistent within the larger framework proposed by Wegner. Given the comments of adult authors, it seems likely that this process takes some time to develop. In other words, I suspect that imagined entities become unruly only after the fantasies involving them are well established. This hunch fits with work by Hubert Dreyfus and Stuart Dreyfus showing that performance becomes automatized with increasing expertise.

What about children and their imaginary companions? Perhaps the experience of imaginary others as having a somewhat autonomous existence that is not completely under the creator’s control is common to master pretenders of all ages. …

Difficulties in controlling the actions of imaginary companions have come up in several of the interviews we have conducted for our research. For example, a parent in one study described a trying situation that arose one afternoon when she took her 3-year-old daughter to a horse show. The child loved horses, but the outing was ruined because the child’s imaginary pony was not there. The child was sure he would be with all the other horses, but a thorough search of the grounds indicated that the invisible pony must have had other plans for the day. The child’s frustration seemed entirely genuine. The episode did not seem to be a manipulative ploy on the child’s part to spend the afternoon some other way. The situation was exasperating for the mother who saw a seemingly obvious solution to the problem. Why couldn’t her daughter just pretend the pony was there? For some reason, this didn’t seem to be an option.

Other children have complained to us about imaginary friends who would not share, talked too loud, or would not do as they were told. There are a variety of ways to account for these sorts of complaints, but adults have sometimes taken them as evidence that the child thinks the pretend friend is real. However, the observation that adults also tend to experience imagined characters as having a mind of their own makes this interpretation troublesome. Do we want to claim that adult novelists believe their characters are real? Writers certainly become immersed in the fantasy worlds they create and, as they work, may lose track of their real-world surroundings. In fact, even consumers of fiction experience this disengagement with the real world when they become absorbed in a fantasy. But do novelists ever begin to think the fantasy characters or events belong to the real world? This would constitute a much stronger breakdown of the boundary between fantasy and reality, and I don’t think it is going to turn out to be an accurate account of adult fantasy experience. Yet on the occasions that an imagined character is experienced as thinking and acting independently, he or she must seem eerily real.

The work of Marcia Johnson, professor of psychology at Princeton University, is relevant here. Johnson believes that “reality is not given by experience, but by judgment processes,” and she has identified the characteristics of mental experience that allow one to determine that an event is real or imagined. For example, imagined events tend to have less sensory detail than actual perceptions of the real world, and they are more under conscious control. To the extent that imagined events become more detailed and less under control they are more difficult to distinguish from real perceptions. According to Johnson, one of the reasons that dreams, hallucinations, and delusions seem real is that they do not come and go as directed by the individual; instead they have an “unbidden quality” that makes them similar to real perception. Johnson writes:

Most of the time, we have a sense of control over our imagination. One way, for example, of differentiating a present perception from a present imagination is to attempt to change the appearance of the object. Perceptions are more stable, whereas imaginations can be changed at will (e.g., Casey, 1976). Loss of control makes a self-generated event seem like a perceptual event.

Maybe the loss of perceived control is a normal part of the phenomenology of elaborate sustained fantasy—a development that actually has the effect of making the fantasy more like real life. …

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Unfortunately, these possibilities will need to await future investigations because the experience and process of fantasy creation either in adults or children is currently not well understood. Maybe opportunities for learning more will increase as more adults spend time pretending. …

The Illusion Of Independent Agency: Do Adult Fiction Writers Experience Their Characters As Having Minds Of Their Own?

By Marjorie Taylor. Sara D. Hodges, and Adele Kohanyi

Children begin to pretend in the second year of life with simple acts such as sipping imaginary milk from an empty cup. Over the preschool years, they quickly become capable of complex and often highly imaginative pretense. However, pretend play has often been described as declining as children enter middle childhood and turn to other activities such as games with rules. Recently, researchers have argued thatthisdevelopmentalstoryseriouslyunderestimatespretendinginolderchildrenandtheextentto which individual differences in childhood pretending relate to later types of imaginative activities. Our view is thatchildren’searlydevelopingcapacityandstronginclinationtoengageinpretendplayis fundamentalto human cognition and that pretend play, in some form, continues to have an important role, even in the lives of adults. In this research we investigated the possibility that the creation of an imaginary

companion, a type of pretend play that is strongly associated with early childhood, has analogues in the activities of adult fiction writers.

The Two Fridas Frida Kahlo (private collection)

An imaginary companion is a character invented by a child who plays or interacts with it on a regular basis. According to the most recent accounts, about 65% of children under seven years of age have a history of play with imaginary companions. Little is known about the fate of childhood imaginary companions, but published diaries and biographies provide evidence that

at least a few of them continue into adulthood in a diminished role or as a cherished memory. For example, in her painting “The Two Fridas,” Frida Kahlo, the famous Mexican artist, portrayed herself holding hands with an imaginary friend who was like an identical twin. As an adult, Kahlo also wrote in her diary about her attachment to her childhood imaginary friend….

Apart from such isolated reports, not much is known about the traces of childhood imaginary friends in the lives of adults. However, perhaps a more productive line of

inquiry would be to consider a wider range of fantasy activities enjoyed by adults, instead of looking for imaginary companions in the exact form that they occur in childhood. Probably most adults enjoy some sort of activity involving fantasy consumption (e.g., films, theater, novels), but the more closely related comparison with childhood imaginary companions involves adult production of fantasy material. Adult fantasy production includes a wide range of activities such as role-playing in games (e.g., “Dungeons and Dragons”) or on the Internet, historical re-enactments like those of the “Society for Creative Anachronism,” and acting in theatrical or film productions. We think, however, that the adult activity

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most closely aligned with having imaginary friends is the creation of fictional characters by novelists, playwrights, and screenwriters. Like children who regularly imagine the exploits of pretend friends, writers, on a daily basis, imagine fictional characters and the invented worlds they inhabit. We suspected that taking a closer look at the relationship between writers and their characters might provide insight about the phenomenology of elaborate fantasy for pretenders of all ages.


At first glance, the activities of an adult fiction writer might seem far removed from those of a child playing with an imaginary companion. Children have personal interactive relationships with their imaginary friends; they play together, have conversations, and share the events of daily life in the real world. In contrast, the job of writing a story about an imagined character who lives in a fictional world requires less personal involvement. Thus, writers might stay more psychologically removed from their characters. However, when we surveyed accounts of the writing process, we were struck by the number of authors who described having personal relationships with their characters and imagined conversations with them. For example, Francine de Plessis Gray described her characters as sleeping in her bed with her and sometimes waking her up to ask about her plans for their future. Alice Walker reported having lived for

a year with her characters Celie and Shug while writing the novel The Color Purple. Walker writes, “Just as summer was ending, one or more of my characters-Celie, Shug, Albert, Sofia, or Harpo-would come for a visit. We would sit wherever I was, and talk. They were very obliging, engaging, and jolly.
They were, of course, at the end of their story but were telling it to me from the beginning. Things that made me sad, often made them laugh. Oh, we got through that; don’t pull such a long face, they’d say.”

In these accounts, writers describe their characters as autonomous beings who exist and act outside of their authors’ control and have minds of their own. They arrive fully formed in the mind’s eye and are resistant to change. For example, when J. K. Rowling, the author of the best-selling Harry Potter books for children, was asked in a National Public Radio interview why she made her main character a boy, she answered that she had tried to make him a girl. “About six months into writing the book… it was too late to make Harry Harriet. He was very real to me as a boy, and to put him in a dress would have felt like Harry in drag… I never write and say, ‘OK, now I need this sort of character.’ My characters come to me in this sort of mysterious process that no one really understands, they just pop up.”

Sometimes characters are described as having definite opinions about the narrative in which they live. They argue with the author about the direction the novel is taking and their actions in it. …

Another component of the description of characters coming to life in this way is that some writers report that their novel seems be dictated to them, or that the characters are the ones who are working out the plot. This sort of description is quite common and can be found in interviews and writings of authors as varied as Henry James, Jean Paul Sartre, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Marcel Proust, Kurt Vonnegut, Sue Grafton, and Quentin Tarantino. …

This experience of characters contributing to or rebelling against the author’s vision of a story also appears in E. M. Forster’s comments on the process of writing a novel:

The characters arrive when evoked, but full of the spirit of mutiny. For they have these numerous parallels with people like ourselves, they try to live their own lives and are consequently often engaged in treason against the main scheme of the book. They “run away,” they “get out of hand”: they are creations inside of a creation, and often inharmonious towards it; if they are given complete freedom they kick the book to pieces, and if they are kept too sternly in check, they revenge themselves by dying, and destroy it by intestinal decay.

In her book Invisible Guests, Mary Watkins presents many more examples taken from the autobiographies and biographies of famous writers which document their impression that it is the characters
who narrate the story to them. In these descriptions, the events of the story are generated by the characters’ actions and the writer’s job becomes merely to observe the story as it unfolds, almost as one

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would experience a dream. Thus, a story narrative can take unexpected turns that surprise the author, although they originated in his or her own head. …


The accounts of adult authors describing the writing process have some intriguing parallels with descriptions of childhood imaginary companions, particularly in terms of the characters developing minds of their own. Taylor has collected several accounts of imaginary companions that include references to uncontrollability. One adult reported that between the ages of three and five, he enjoyed the company of two invisible boys: Hood, who functioned as a regular playmate and was similar in most respects to the boy himself, and Bing, who was smarter and generally superior to both Hood and the boy. Bing had a better sense of humor, more impressive things to say, and more interesting things to do. In fact, he was often too busy to play; he was experienced as having a mind and life of his own. A large part of what the adult recalled about having imaginary companions was his conversations with Hood about Bing— wondering what he was doing that day and if he would show up to play—and his feelings of longing for him.

It is not unusual for imaginary companions to have this sort of independence. Sometimes they do not go away when the child wishes they would, but instead follow the child around in a way that is described as annoying. Others, like Bing, do not always show up when they are wanted. Children also express complaints about imaginary companions who talk too loud, do not share, or do not do as they are told. Adults might interpret reports of autonomy in a pretend friend as evidence that the child is confused about the friend’s fantasy status or even as suggesting a dissociative disorder. Actually, we might have similar suspicions about an adult who described imagined characters as having minds of their own—until the adult is identified as a novelist. …

The similarities in the descriptions collected from adults and children suggest that the experience of imaginary others as autonomous might be part of the phenomenology of sustained fantasy for pretenders of all ages. This possibility raises some interesting questions. First of all, not all children report autonomy in their imaginary comparisons. In fact, for some children it appears that having an imaginary companion under one’s thumb is exactly what they like about the fantasy. Under what conditions do imagined characters become autonomous and what does this mean for the understanding or enjoyment of the fantasy experience? One way to develop hypotheses and gain understanding of the phenomenology of childhood fantasy is to look for parallels in the experiences of adults, who are better able to describe their fantasy activities than young children. Thus, in this research, we have moved beyond collecting anecdotes about famous authors to a more systematic investigation of the relationship that develops between adult writers and their fictional characters.


According to the reports of adult authors described above, fictional characters are often experienced by their creators as having their own thoughts, feelings, and actions. The essence of this conceptual illusion is the sense that the characters are independent agents not directly under the author’s control. As a consequence, writing becomes more like passive reporting than active creation. After all, once a writer feels as if the characters are acting independently, it follows that the writer would no longer have the sensation of “composing” fiction. The experience of this sort of autonomy in fictional characters is referred to here as the illusion of independent agency (IIA).

Although the illusion of independent agency is a very specific type of experience that occurs in the context of fantasy production, we see a number of connections to recent investigations of automatic and controlled processes in cognitive and social psychology. First of all, there is growing evidence that people often
fail to recognize their own causal role in outcomes in which they do play a part. This research has focused on perceptions of involuntary behavior in the motor realm (e.g., people are unaware of the small movements they have produced that make a dowsing rod twitch), but opens the door to the possibility that

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a person could be unaware of the thought processes giving rise to a sense of what a character is saying or doing. Research on reality monitoring also provides evidence of cases in which people sometimes misattribute self-generated images to other sources.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Flow theory

The illusion of independent agency is also related in some respects to the state of “flow,” described by Csikszentmihalyi. Flow refers to the pleasurable experience of becoming so totally absorbed in an activity that the sense of the passage of time is suspended, one loses track of the self and immediate surroundings, and the activity becomes effortless and unselfconscious. Authors often report the experience of flow while writing, and we suspect that flow might facilitate the development of autonomy in fictional characters. Note, however, that flow differs from the illusion of independent agency in important ways. First of all, authors’ accounts of flow do not necessarily include the type of personal interactions with characters that we are investigating. Moreover, the illusion of independent agency is often characterized

by conflict between the character and the author, which is in

marked contrast to the effortlessness that is the hallmark of flow. Nevertheless, flow and the illusion of independent agency are similar in that both seem to involve

the automatization of the creative process and may be associated with the development of expertise.

Research on skill acquisition has shown that many goal-directed processes become increasingly efficient with practice until they operate without conscious guidance. Thus, becoming an expert involves an increasing amount of automatization. When a person first starts to operate within a domain—driving a car, playing chess, or making medical diagnoses—judgments and behavior come slowly with lots of conscious, effortful thinking and reasoning. For example, the demands of operating a car (e.g., shifting gears, attending to traffic lights, changing lanes, etc.) might make it difficult or even dangerous for the novice driver to participate in a conversation with a passenger at rush hour. With increased expertise, however, the process of operating the car becomes automatized, freeing the driver’s conscious attentional capacity for other tasks. It becomes possible to listen to music or have a conversation, while continuing to drive safely. Perhaps someone who pretends a lot—a child who regularly plays with an imaginary companion or an adult who day after day thinks about the world of a novel—could be described as developing expertise in the domain of fantasy. Thus, the process of imagining the companion or the fictional world could become automatized until it is no longer consciously experienced. As the person readies him or herself for the imaginative act, the fantasy characters present themselves automatically. Their words and actions begin to be perceived, listened to, and recorded rather than consciously created. As a result, the imagined characters are experienced as speaking and acting independently. …If sustained pretending automatizes the creative process, then anyone engaging in sustained pretense might experience the illusion of independent agency.

The first step in our investigation was to investigate the extent that illusion of independent agency was a common experience for writers. We wondered if writers who varied in skill and experience would report

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the illusion. In a pilot study designed as a first step in investigating this question, we analyzed information from a Webpage for writers that periodically asks questions and solicits responses from its users. …



We recruited writers through a newspaper, ad, flyers on campus, and word of mouth. No mention of the illusion of independent agency was made in recruitment. We asked for writers who had been writing fiction for at least five years to take part in an interview study in exchange for $10. …


Writers were first asked to complete a questionnaire that asked them about their genre of writing, whether they were published, if they earned a living either partially or completely by writing, and for demographic information. Then participants filled out two self-report individual difference measures (one male writer did not complete these measures) and were interviewed about their writing…


The interviews with the writers were transcribed. Two of the authors then coded the transcripts, identifying instances in which the writer described the illusion of independent agency (IIA). Initially, we tried to distinguish between two different aspects of IIA:

  • Autonomous characters reflected characters who seemed to have stepped out of the fictional frame and were acting within the writer’s—not the character’s—world (e.g., “I was out for a walk … suddenly, I felt the presence of two of the novel’s more unusual characters behind me”).

  • Independent writing was characterized by experiencing writing as passive reporting, as opposed to active creation (not to be confused with “automatic writing,” a phenomenon in which both the content and the motor behavior are sensed as being generated without will.) As an example of independent writing, one writer reported that “I see my characters like actors in a movie. I just write down what they say.” …
    After individual instances of IIA were coded and counted, the coders assigned each writer’s interview an overall IIA score that incorporated both the frequency of IIA instances and also the “intensity” of the experiences of IIA (e.g., reporting that a character “refused” to do what the author said was more intense than reporting that the character merely evolved on his or her own). …
    Prevalence of IIA
    In the first round of coding, 187 instances of IIA were identified by at least one coder. Out of these 187, 143 instances (76%) were agreed on by both coders. Through discussion, the remaining discrepancies were resolved leaving a total number of 169 instances. The mean number of instances was 3.38 per writer. The number of instances ranged from 0 to 9. There were only four writers (out of 50) whose transcripts contained no instances of IIA…
    Individual Difference Measures and IIA
    The results for the Davis Interpersonal Reactivity index [showed that] [i]n this sample, females scored higher than males, which replicates past research with this measure. However, the more interesting finding was that both men and women in the sample of writers scored significantly above general population male and female norms on all four subscales of Davis’s IRI.
    The writers also scored higher than general population norms on the Dissociative Experiences Scale… In fact, the writers’ scores are closer to the average DES score for a sample of 61 schizophrenics … Seven of the writers scored at or above 30, a commonly used cutoff for “normal scores.” There was no difference

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between men’s and women’s overall DES scores in our sample, a finding consistent with results found in other studies of normal populations.

With these comparisons, our goal is to highlight the unusually high scores for our writers, not to suggest that they were psychologically unhealthy. Although scores of 30 or above are more common among people with dissociative disorders (such as Dissociative Identity Disorder), scoring in this range does not guarantee that the person has a dissociative disorder, nor does it constitute a diagnosis of a dissociative disorder. Looking at the different subscales of the DES, it is clear that our writers deviated from the norm mainly on items related to the absorption and changeability factor of the DES. Average scores on this subscale … were significantly different from scores on the two subscales that are particularly diagnostic for dissociative disorders: derealization and depersonalization subscale … and the amnestic experiences subscale …These latter two subscales did not differ from each other… Seventeen writers scored above 30 on the absorption and changeability scale, whereas only one writer scored above 30 on the derealization and depersonalization scale and only one writer (a different participant) scored above 30 on the amnestic experiences scale…

Imaginary Companions and IIA

Twenty-one of our writers reported that they had imaginary companions as children; 29 reported that they did not. Five of the writers reported that they still had their imaginary companions from childhood. Overall IIA scores did not differ significantly between writers who reported having ICs … and those who did not… In a pattern resembling our results on the other individual difference measures, having an imaginary companion did not predict IIA, but our writers as a whole looked different from the general population. Forty-two percent of our writers recalled having an imaginary companion; whereas Schaefer found that only 18% of a sample of high school students reported having had an imaginary companion in childhood. Qualitatively, the descriptions of the imaginary companions of the writers in our sample were noteworthy for detail and uniqueness. …

IIA and Success as a Writer

Seventeen of the writers in our sample were published; 33 were not. Writers who were published had marginally higher IIA scores …than those who were not published. We found the same pattern of results (although also not significant), when we divided the writers into those who earned no income from writing and those who supported themselves either partially or completely from writing. The latter group received higher IIA scores than the former…


Our exploration of the relationship between adult fiction writers and their characters suggests that the experience of imaginary others as having minds of their own is common. Almost everyone (92%) in our sample reported at least some experience of the illusion of independent agency. All the participants seemed to understand what we were asking about, and none of them looked at the interviewer in confusion when they were asked questions about whether they interacted with and heard the voices of people who were not real. Furthermore, the writers provided vivid examples of their characters who not only had taken over the job of composing their own life stories, but who also sometimes actively resisted the writer’s attempts to control the story. Furthermore, some of the fictional characters were experienced as sometimes leaving the pages of the writers’ stories to inhabit the writers’ everyday worlds (e.g., wandering around in the house).

The downside of this nearly universal experience of IIA in our writers was that the minimal variance made it more difficult to investigate the extent to which experiencing the illusion was related to other characteristics of the writers within our sample. We had hoped initially to identify markers that differentiated writers who experienced IIA from those who did not. Given that nearly all the writers experienced IIA, we instead attempted to look for ways to predict who experienced it the most.

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We found some evidence that more frequent and intense experiences of IIA might facilitate writing. In our sample, there was a trend for published writers to demonstrate greater overall levels of the illusion of independent agency than unpublished writers. Future research might tap additional measures of writer “success,” for example examining whether works containing characters perceived by authors to be autonomous are more popular among readers. Perhaps a certain amount of autonomy in characters makes them more compelling. As Andre Gide puts it: “the poor novelist constructs his characters, he controls them and makes them speak. The true novelist listens to them and watches them function; he eavesdrops on them even before he knows them. It is only according to what he hears them say that he begins to understand who they are.”

… The most striking result here was that the writers seemed to differ from the rest of the population. The writers as a whole scored higher than average on all four subscales of the IRI, and were particularly off the charts for the fantasy and perspective-taking subscales. These two subscales tap the components of empathy that seem most conceptually related to IIA and might be seen as “grown-up” versions of variables associated with children who have imaginary companions (pretend play and theory of mind skills).

Similarly, the writers scored higher than average on the DES, although, as a group, they did not appear to have unhealthy levels of dissociation. In particular, the writers differed most from general population norms on the absorption and changeability subscale of the DES, which measures the component of dissociation considered least likely to be related to pathological experiences. The profile of our writers that emerges from these two individual difference measures is that of a group of people who readily adopt other people’s perspectives and who revel in the imaginative worlds of fictional characters, fantasy, and daydreams.

Finally, having an imaginary companion as a child did not predict greater levels of IIA, but once again, our sample looked different from the general population in their retrospective reports of imaginary companions. The percentage of writers reporting that they had imaginary companions as children was more than twice that found in a study of normal high school students. Given that the mean age in our sample of writers was 37 (well beyond high school), it is all the more impressive that this percentage remembered having imaginary companions.

Dickens’s Dream, Robert William Buss (1875)

The higher than average percentage of imaginary companions reported by our writers could reflect a higher base rate of imaginary companions in childhood than is found among non-writers. Alternatively (or additionally), it is possible that writers have more memorable childhood imaginary companions. Writers may have had companions who were more highly elaborated or vivid, who attracted the attention of adult caregivers such as parents (who may later remind and tell their children about their imaginary companions), or who actually never completely disappeared as the future writers grew up (as was the case for the five writers in our sample who reported still having their imaginary companions from childhood). In addition to their

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frequency, the imaginary companions described by the writers were noteworthy for both detail and uniqueness.

Thus, on a variety of dimensions related to imagination and pretense, our writers may very well be outliers—after all, they were eligible for our study because of their dedication to the fantasy-oriented activity of fiction writing. However, it is possible that our fiction writers differ from other adults more in the time devoted to inventing imaginary others than in a general disposition to enjoy fantasy. Fiction writers have a job (or at least a serious hobby) that has them spending a great deal of time thinking about their characters …

Fiction writers are particularly interesting because they are fantasy-oriented to begin with and they develop additional imaginative skills on the job. The intersection of these two factors produces the fascinating illusion of independent agency that was so prevalent in the fiction writers we interviewed. But just as the activities of our fiction writers might represent an extreme form of imaginative behavior, it must be noted that imaginative experiences, including interactions with imaginary companions, also span a diverse range in children…

We are not the first to see a connection between children pretending and adults writing fiction. In 1908, Freud wrote, “Might we not say that every child at play behaves like a creative writer, in that he creates a world of his own… ” Freud hoped to develop an account of the creative process by identifying an activity that was related to creative writing, but more easily examined. For this purpose, he suggested that pretend play in children might be the key to understanding the process of adult fiction writing. He paralleled the two by noting that both children and writers create an imaginary world, enliven it with real life material, and take it seriously to heart, while still keeping it separate from reality. But just as childhood pretense might provide clues about the creative process in adults, the study of adult fantasy could lead to a better understanding of what is going on when children pretend. In any case, the similarities we found between children’s imaginary companions and the characters of fiction writers support the emerging view that there may be considerable continuity in the imaginative lives and experiences of children and adults.

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Personality Disorders Paper

Write 1,050word paper describing the theories related to personality disorders. Include the following:

Describe the general symptoms of three types of personality disorders.
Explain the theories behind the etiology of these personality disorders.
Determine the relationship between these personality disorders and criminal behavior.
Include a minimum of two sources.

Format your paper consistent with APA guidelines.

Submit your assignment.


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Labeling Theory

The Research paper will examine a research question (hypothesis) that has been previously approved by the professor. The paper will be in the form of a literature review in the sense that you will provide a summary of what the scientific literature says about your particular question. You will use a minimum of five (5) peer reviewed journal articles as your sources. Make sure that the articles are studies as opposed to literature reviews. When preparing the paper you should follow APA guidelines. The paper will be approximately 5-7 pages in length (not included title, abstract and reference page). 1. Present an introduction that explains why the research question to be examined is important. In doing so, provide statistical data as evidence. 2. Literature review- review what the research has to say about your topic 3. Policy implications 4. Conclusion this is what she gave us on the syllabus but we never had to do a hypothesis she cut that part off this is basically what we have to do and we just had to pick a theory from one of the chapter on our book

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Instrumental Ethical Climate

Ethical Climate has become a mainstream management topic since it was introduced by Victor and Cullen roughly 30 years ago. Corporate scandals continue to be part of our culture in the United States and around the world, reminding us of the importance of this concept and how it shapes corporations. “There is a growing acceptance of the notion that corporate indiscretions are the result of more than just a few ‘bad apples’ and that the organizational environment has a strong influence on employees’ unethical behavior.” (Mayer, Kuenzi, Greenbaum, pg. 182) There are five types of climates that can exist in an organization: Instrumental, Caring, Law and Order, Rules and Independence. (Victor and Cullen, 1987) The focus of this essay will be on Instrumental Ethical Climate. It is important to understand the difference between Instrumental value and Intrinsic value in order to understand this. Intrinsic Value refers to something that holds value, meaning that “the universe is somehow a better place for that thing existing or occurring.” (Westacott, 2019). Instrumental value, however, is a means to an end and does not hold value by itself. An example of this would be money, which is traded for goods and services that hold value. (Schiffman, 2014)”

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Teamwork and Leadership in Emergency Department

The assignment is a poster about the team work and leadership in emergency department, so in the files attached you’re going to find in the first file, all the information and structure. in the second file I attached an example about the structure of the poster that may help to guide you.
I need less than 2000 words for the poster.
in addition, I need extra page that explain, and answer the questions that being provided.
I need 16 references in APA 6th edition style.
finally, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask me ASAP.

Argumentative Essay

DescriptionUsing social media has become a way of life. We can now easily connect with old friends, keep in touch with people across the world, and even form relationships with people we may never meet face-to-face. Is the increasing use of social media leading to more enhanced, meaningful connections than ever before, or is it detrimental to people’s relationships with one another? Can real relationships begin on social media? Consider these questions as you write an essay on your position regarding whether the use of social media is beneficial or harmful for creating and maintaining relationships.

Use 4 sources and in APA format

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White Paper on Issues with privatized housing onU.S. military bases

This is a white paper on the issues with privatized housing for U.S. Military bases. It can look mutilate problems. The biggest one is why everyone pays the same for the housing pending on your rank. A senior NCO can live in lower enlisted housing but pay a higher month payment because of his rank. It has to use the (DOTMILPF-P-TRADOC) Model. It is listed on the power point. Here is my problem statement- The Purpose of this paper is to look at the issues with privatized housing on Military installations. The Department of Defense (DOD) went to privatizes housing in February 1996 it was supposed to improve the quality of life for the service members the problems. However, with this move it let private corporation move in and take over the housing on post. Regardless of their rank, location, type, or quality of housing provided, if a Service member lives in government owned military housing, they pay for the government housing through allotment of their Basic Allotment for Housing (BAH). Although the housing is identical, senior NCOs, junior and middle grade Officers, who receive a higher BAH rate, are required to pay a higher amount for the same quality housing. Paper is broken below. Intro 1ST Level 1 heading (Background) 2nd Level 1 heading (Problem) 3rd Level 1 heading (Solution) Conclusion

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Solution for conflict in the Kashmir Region

It is a research paper. It has to be on a realist view to write it. I have attached the attachment of my part of the paper which I included the back ground and history of the content. I just want you to finish the solution part of it. I wrote 2 paragraph of it as well but I want you to make that information more deep and rewrite it and finish the rest of it; it′s the second attachment. Solution part has to be 3 pages and I want to include the conclusion of the paper as well. It would be helpful If you will combine my paper and yours to one. Thank you.

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In what ways would, or could you argue that Congress is and is not a representative body? If you were charged with reforming Congress to provide greater representation of the people in all their glorious diversity, what specific changes would you imply?

Use the information provided by the required textbooks, other books and/or periodicals, valid web sources, and your own reasoned understanding, knowledge (or even imagination) to answer the question. I will be expecting you to provide proper foot-/end-notes, and a bibliography. By proper, I mean that your foot-/end-notes will be individually and sequentially numbered, and will follow the format known as Chicago/Turabian style. This is the style to be used for both foot-, end-notes and also for the separate bibliography. The foot-/ end-notes and bibliography for your essay, do not count as part of the 5 pages.Your completed essays are to be posted in the form of attachments. Papers should be attached in .doc, .docx, .odt, or .pdf format.

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