Imaginary Friends, Creativity, Innovation and a few Giggles

From Who is Your Imaginary Friend?

You’ve got these friends,
That we can’t see,
Is that normal
When you’re three?
I only ask,
Because, you see,
If you weren’t three,
I’m sure that we
Would worry
For your mental health,
And take you off
With measured stealth,
To shrinks,
And folk who nod and smile,
Jotting notes and making files,
Deciding what to label you,
Whilst we would worry
…What to do?
But you are three,
And so I think,
That we can live
Without a shrink,
Without a label and concern,
But at what age
Do these friends turn
From playmates into
Mental woes,
When is it that,
Friends become foes?
I ask because I’m puzzled, see,
Why is it okay when you’re three,
But never okay later on,
Why prescribe drugs ‘til friends are gone?

By PookyH


A few months ago an Ask Reddit thread invited users to share tales about their children’s imaginary friends. They got thousands of responses. Below is one of my favourite:

“When I was little my “imaginary” friend was named Bobby, I distinctly remember him existing and being real. On day when I was 5 or 6 I was going somewhere with my aunt and cousins and I was talking to Bobby. My cousin got pissed that I was talking to someone she couldn’t fathom was there (we are same age) .
She unbuckled Bobby’s seatbelt and threw him out of the van. I screamed bloody murder at the top of my lungs and wouldn’t stop, so my Aunt went back for him. She had to turn around twice on the highway and drive really slow because I was the only one who could see him and pick him up. While she was crawling at a snails pace on the highway, she got pulled over by a cop. I was still screaming in the back seat and told the cop that my cousin killed Bobby and she needed to go to jail!

Needless to say my aunt had a hard time trying to explain to the cop that he was my imaginary friend. But while we were pulled over Bobby came up to the car and said he was fine, claimed in through the window. I told my aunt it was ok Bobby was back now. When the officer came back. I told him that Bobby wasn’t dead just hurt.

The officer then proceeded to talk to my aunt for a second and then asked my 6 year old cousin to get out of the car. He told her she was going to jail for trying to kill an imaginary friend and put her in the back of his car for 5 minutes. My cousin never messed with Bobby or me again.”

Loved that policeman’s sense of humour and ingenious response to situation 🙂 . However it does make me wonder, what his response would have been, if the main character of this story was not a young child, but an adult. ;-)

ImaginationsFrom Laughing at Everyday Life

Did you have an imaginary friend as a child?  Perhaps it’s time to reunite!

According to Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, imagination is the cornerstone of creativity.  “It’s pretty hard to conceive that anyone could be creative without a rich imagination,” he says.

Today, it’s all about doing things differently and doing different things.  Did you know Google runs 50 to 200 search experiments at any given time?  Innovation and creativity is the lifeblood of growth – organizations who think differently and act quickly as the ones who will break from the pack.  And projects drive the change needed in any organization to survive.

Regrettably, most of us give up on imagination (and leave our pretend friends behind) around grades three to five, when we naturally become more interested in rules. The trick to keeping creativity going, according to Shelley Carson, a researcher and lecturer in pyschology and Harvard University and author of Your Creative Brain, is helping us see that rules and imagination are not at odds.

To keep the creative juices flowing, give yourself time every day to daydream and turn off the critical thinking and eliminate distractions – turn off electronic devices.  And get enough sleep: studies show that creativity declines with lack of sleep.  Who know’s, you just might meet with your long-lost imaginary friend in your dreams. Good night 🙂

ImaginationFrom Imagination

Treasure your imaginary friends 🙂



52 thoughts on “Imaginary Friends, Creativity, Innovation and a few Giggles

  1. Steve Morris says:

    Very thought provoking, but I’m sure there’s a world of difference between a child’s vivid imagination and an adult who can’t distinguish reality from the creations of their own mind. That must be a terrifying state of mind. I have a friend who suffers from psychotic episodes and they are truly awful for him and his family.

    • Otrazhenie says:

      Very good point, Steve. Psychotic episodes can be very awful and terrifying for everyone involved and do require medication. No doubt about that. Hope your friend managed to get them under control. There’s a world of difference between a vivid imagination and very serious mental disorders.

      • PookyH says:

        This was inspired by my bipolar mum, when I was a kid she had some horrible psychotic episodes, but sometimes she had imaginary friends who were just as real to her as my daughter’s are to her but if my mum owned up to them she’d be given a chemical strait jacket whereas my daughter is encouraged and told she has a vivid imagination!

      • Otrazhenie says:

        I personally see no harm in kind imaginary friends and believe that a ‘chemical strait jacket’ is not necessary unless those friends turn into nasty terrifying foes.

        New Zealand famous writer Janet Frame spent four and a half years out of eight years, incarcerated in mental hospitals. The story of her almost miraculous survival of the horrors and brutalising treatment in unenlightened institutions has become well known. She continued to write throughout her troubled years, and her first book (The Lagoon and Other Stories) won a prestigious literary prize, thus convincing her doctors not to carry out a planned lobotomy.

        later in England she was assessed by specialists and liberated from the misguided diagnosis of schizophrenia. Acting on advice from her doctor, she produced the novel Faces in The Water: an exquisitely written fictional transformation of some of the torments she had experienced and the misfortunes she had witnessed during her stays in psychiatric wards.

        Reading her biography and her stories makes me so sad. I can only hope that mental health system improved from those years. 😦

      • PookyH says:

        Wow – I must look her up, she sounds fascinating. My mum always maintained that she was considered mad because she was uneducated and poor but if we’d have been a rich, educated family, she’d have been considered eccentric. I think she might be right..

  2. I love the stories Otrazhenie, I feel so much better now. Me telling everyone I speak with spirit must elicit many a smile. Maybe I never grew up 🙂 Still have that beautiful loving sensation each time I connect with spirit though….I think I’ll stay ‘crazy’ thank you 🙂 Namaste

  3. I used to have a grand time dancing with Gene Kelly when I was a kid and carried on conversations with him for hours. My parents thought it was fine and left me to it!

  4. bkpyett says:

    I just loved the policeman story, how brilliant! The poem is meaningful too. So many memories were stirred.

  5. great post O. I must have had a sad childhood as I didn’t have an imaginary friend. but I know kids who did.

  6. risinghawk says:

    Splendid post! A lot to think about. Peace . . .

  7. As an author of a book of bicultural short, short stories about imagined characters, I applaud this post. Simply fantastic!

  8. Monia Swaans says:

    I agree full-heartedly. Imagination is more powerful than wings.

  9. bkpyett says:

    Your post about imaginary friends has made me think and talk about it a couple of friends, so I shall write about it on my blog, by tomorrow at least! Thank you for getting us started!

  10. Sue says:

    Just popped in to say hello & thank you for visiting my blog & liking today’s post! LOVE your blog!

  11. Mirada says:

    Well, I have an imaginary husband I wouldn’t trade for a million bucks or “real” love. And since it’s not psychosis, I wouldn’t take drugs to move him out of the house. Great post!

    • Otrazhenie says:

      Love your comment. 🙂

      • Mirada says:

        Thanks–I do wish he were more helpful with household tasks, but nobody’s perfect.

      • Otrazhenie says:

        He-he, at least he does not create much mess, which makes household tasks a bit simpler 🙂

      • Mirada says:

        True, he’s quite tidy, very quiet, and usually quite complimentary and supportive of me!

      • Otrazhenie says:

        If only all real-life husbands were as good as your one 😉

      • Mirada says:

        I probably shouldn’t be so transparent, but even tonight, 36 yrs since my divorce, I’m still haunted by the abuse/cruelty of my ex-husband. So I’m grateful for a creative imagination, and a sense of humor, to fabricate a man who loves me. And he makes entertaining writing material.

      • Otrazhenie says:

        So sorry to hear about all the cruelty and abuse you’ve experienced in your marriage. Such scars never stop bleeding and hurting, no matter how well we are trying to hide them. 😦 I wish you all the best with your ‘imaginary’ man. May be, one day he will turn onto a real one – a very supportive and caring one….

      • Mirada says:

        Thank you for your lovely thoughts–I’m quite content to be alone, truly, and feel grateful for that, as I know some people just can’t be solo. Mr Invisible allows me to think I’m not really talking to myself! Plus, I’ve gotten some great writing mileage–poetry and short stories–out of the “marriage”. Thank you again.

  12. Loved the poem and the story! Reminded me if a book by James Patterson called Sundays at Tiffany’ s.

  13. That was a great post! I was smiling and laughing throughout. Thanks for sharing. Although I never had an imaginary friend I think it’s totally fine for a young child imagination to soar.


  14. dearmiracle says:

    Powerful stuff! Yes, I had an imaginary friend–actually, I was her when I was 4, 5, and 6 years old. She had superpowers, and was from Venus where the cloud covering over Venus was merely a protection against the sun’s heat, and where a whole superpower society lived beneath those protecting and cooling clouds used to also fool any other planetary system looking at them. I had a whole story line going and every night, I would lay in bed and run these amazing stories about what I/she could do which including flying. This went on for several years, at least. Interesting looking back, that I seemed to know what I knew about Venus and its atmosphere. I was writing science fiction stories about alternate dimensions, universes and selves by the time I was 9 and 10. I had a very vivid imagination. It seemed to land me in a lot of hot water as a kid, and so I spent a lot of time confined to my room or doing my time with corporeal punishment for my stories, which were quite real to me. In any event, you have a fantastic blog! Thanks for visiting and liking mine!

    • Otrazhenie says:

      Loved your story. Thanks for sharing it. It is a pity, that you were not well understood as a kid and were punished for your amazing stories and vivid imagination. 😦

  15. Everything about this post is awesome. Bravo

  16. olivierlehe says:

    Creativity is the basis of innovation. Of course, we can explain how to enhance creativity but the way is creativity, creativity by try ourself, and always creativity. Innovation comes from analysis of our own creativity and creativity of the others and the way to innitiate project without any thing existing somewhere.

  17. ljandrie57 says:

    I found this fun to read. My writer friends often think about conversations with characters. I have used conversations with parts of myself at different ages to come to terms with some issues. I know them as imagination but that doesn’t stop them from bringing up things that are deeper than my conscious mind.

    Somewhere along the way, we are taught to narrow our thoughts to a certain part of reality and our conscious mind works hard to shut out the other things inside that don’t fit the regulations society gives it. I hope as a world, we can find a balance that recognizes this.

    Once dementia hits, anything left buried inside can surface. I have seen it in my dad and I don’t want to visit that on my children should something in my life ever bring me to a point of dementia.

    • Otrazhenie says:

      Thanks for your insightful comment. You are raising very good points. Luckily, we did not have anyone with dementia in my family. My grandma is over 92 and her memory is still amazing good. Very proud of her, my hard-working nanna, a really tough but sweet ‘cookie’ :- )

      • ljandrie57 says:

        My dad was in cancer treatment and the chemo as well as a fall seemed to bring the dementia to the surface.

      • Otrazhenie says:

        Feel so sorry for him and for you as well. It must have been very hard for all of you 😦

      • ljandrie57 says:

        In some ways, for me, the dementia in those last days was a gift. I got to see the ugliness that I had seen in the past on rare occasions, yet because of the files in his head being all mixed up, I also got to understand it. Thanks for showing sympathy.

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