For many years we have all been told that having imaginary friends is a sign of a disturbed mind, that it is some kind of delusion to compensate for deep issues. As someone with invisible (not imaginary) friends, I’ve always found this attitude a strange one as I’ve been keenly aware of the profound benefits of their company in my own life.
Now Evan Kidd, senior lecturer in psychology at ANU, has started the work for us to understand these relationships in a different way. It’s clear he believes invisible friends are imaginary, but he has done some well-designed research to determine what, if anything, is the effect of having imaginary friends. And he has found that having such friends has enormous benefits.
The video here is of Evan Kidd, talking at TedX at Sydney. I’ll let him tell you himself about the benefits. Primarily he’s found that having imaginary (or, I suppose, invisible) friends helps us greatly with developing our ability to talk to people in different realities, which is what we’re doing when we’re children and talking to adults.
As he sees this very much in terms of his study of the importance of play he’s been able to apply these understandings to how important it is for all of us to learn through play. It’s through play we develop such higher skills, and so begin the development of our own wisdom.