Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them

Paperback | April 15, 2001

byMarjorie Taylor

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Many parents delight in their child's imaginary companion as evidence of a lively imagination and creative mind. At the same time, parents sometimes wonder if the imaginary companion might be a sign that something is wrong. Does having a pretend friend mean that the child is in emotionaldistress? That he or she has difficulty communicating with other children? In this fascinating book, Marjorie Taylor provides an informed look at current thinking about pretend friends, dispelling many myths about them. In the past a child with an imaginary companion might have been considered peculiar, shy, or even troubled, but according to Taylor the reality is much more positive--and interesting. Not only are imaginary companions surprisingly common, the children who have them tend to be less shy thanother children. They also are better able to focus their attention and to see things from another person's perspective. In addition to describing imaginary companions and the reasons children create them, Taylor discusses other aspects of children's fantasy lives, such as their belief in Santa,their dreams, and their uncertainty about the reality of TV characters. Adults who remember their own childhood pretend friends will be interested in the chapter on the relationship between imaginary companions in childhood and adult forms of fantasy. Taylor also addresses practical concerns,providing many useful suggestions for parents. For example, she describes how children often express their own feelings by attributing them to their imaginary companion. If you have a child who creates imaginary creatures, or if you work with pre-schoolers, you will find this book very helpful in understanding the roles that imaginary companions play in children's emotional lives.

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From the Publisher

Many parents delight in their child's imaginary companion as evidence of a lively imagination and creative mind. At the same time, parents sometimes wonder if the imaginary companion might be a sign that something is wrong. Does having a pretend friend mean that the child is in emotionaldistress? That he or she has difficulty communic...

Marjorie Taylor is Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon. She lives in Eugene, Oregon.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 4.88 × 7.72 × 0.59 inPublished:April 15, 2001Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195146298

ISBN - 13:9780195146295

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Table of Contents

Preface1. Introduction2. What Are Imaginary Companions Like?3. The Characteristics of Children Who Create Imaginary Companions4. Why Do Children Create Imaginary Companions?5. Do Children Think Their Imaginary Companions Are Real?6. What Happens to the Imaginary Companions Created in Early Childhood?7. Do Older Children and Adults Create Imaginary Companions?8. Fantasy in the Lives of Children and AdultsNotesReferencesAcknowledgmentsPermissionsIndex

Editorial Reviews

"For the parent seeking reassurance, she provides a judicious review of a wide range of findings showing that children who create and sustain an imaginary companion are not suffering from any obvious clinical disorder. At the same time, for the disinterested reader, she describes many vividspecimens of the phenomenon and engages in enough conceptual analysis to show that this intriguing aspect of children's early fantasy raises fundamental questions about human imagination." "Taylor successfully combines a century of research on the phenomenon with a sensitivity to some of those widerissues."--Paul L. Harris, Nature