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Imaginary Friend or Psychosis?


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I'm 22 years old, and I've had an imaginary friend since I was little, his name is Ben. He has never been as influential in my life until I was 13. At that age, I was raped and Ben somehow was able to make me black out and he took over my mind during that event. I don't remember the actual rape happening; he took over so that he would be stuck with that memory instead of me. So as you can see, we have a very profound, special bond with each other. Even though nobody else can see him or hear him, he is as real to me as anything or anyone else. He talks to me. He comforts me. I've done years of research to find out if there is even anyone with my same situation. I've come up empty-handed.

But usually, imaginary friends are supposed to be friendly, constructive, and helpful. Ben isn't always friendly. He can be very cruel and abusive, and things can easily escalate into a power struggle between the two of us. When I'm scared or emotional, (not to blame it ALL on Ben) but he makes me very violent and I just get uncontrollably psychotic... He can control me, he can scream inside of my head until my head physically hurts from it, he can trick me, etc. So he doesn't really fit the pattern of an "imaginary friend" and more towards something being wrong with me..

Sometimes I don't know if the feelings and thoughts I experience are "real". "Real" meaning MINE, not Ben's. I've looked into a whole plethora of possible conditions, but I don't really match any of them... If it were Dissociative Identity Disorder, Ben would be me, right? To me, Ben feels like a completely separate entity, but he just lives inside of me. I don't match a lot of the other symptoms of schizophrenia, or other psychotic disorders. But how could it be a "disorder" if I am totally capable of certain things, I'm very intelligent, I love learning and researching stuff.

Also, I'm not religious and do not even consider it a possibility that I am "possessed." I don't believe there is anything supernatural about Ben.

Recently, this situation/relationship with Ben took a very strange turn (as if it wasn't weird enough). Usually, Ben is only inside my head, and I can only physically see him if I am really emotionally distraught over something. I was in the shower recently, and I felt Ben before I saw him. (Please don't judge me for what I'm about to say), I felt him like...spreading me apart and pushing inside of me..I actually felt it. I was scared and confused and didn't know what was going on, but I just kind of went with it. I didn't want it, but I liked it.. I just kinda zoned out for a little bit and then he just stayed in the shower and didn't communicate with me or do anything but watch me. This has really messed my head up and I feel like I'm spiraling since this happened. I feel disgusting for liking it, I feel like a complete lunatic because I KNOWWW Ben isn't actually here..but I felt it.. I saw him.. I smelled him. Something must be really screwed up in my brain.

I'm so scared to tell anyone because nobody will understand. It has made me feel kinda doubtful about life, and I don't want to get locked up in the mental hospital again so I don't want to tell my therapist. I want to get help, but I am SOOO afraid that the doctors will make me get rid of him. I don't want to lose him, no matter how bad he treats me.. I just want to be able to have a healthier life with him still inside of me...

Please..if anyone CAN help me, or knows of a similar situation, please help me...

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Hello, MDeCa. It seems to me that you haven't found on the web any condition that would match your experiences because 1) you expect a(n almost?) perfect fit between your condition and the descriptions to be willing to call them similar, 2) every person interprets differently both descriptions and experiences, thus they may be in fact more similar than it seems from the forms in which different people describe them, 3) you seem to have negative prejudices about mental disorders, as suggest your words:

2 hours ago, MDeCa said:

But how could it be a "disorder" if I am totally capable of certain things, I'm very intelligent, I love learning and researching stuff.

Here are at lest some talks that show you that people can be well functioning and very intelligent even with a quite severe mental illness:



I know, good functioning most often necessitates some medical help, but not always. Appropriate medication can make your life better, easier, but what's perhaps more important is the "talking cure"; the deeper understanding you can gain, the strategies you can discover and learn, ... with a good therapist.

2 hours ago, MDeCa said:

I'm so scared to tell anyone because nobody will understand.

But mental health care professionals are more understanding than "ordinary" people. They know much more than you do ("despite" your readings on the internet) about the functioning of the mind and its different disorders and you know more then them about your own feelings and experiences, so to understand each other and to understand both much better your mind, you need to communicate, explain in detail. You can start with printing and showing this post to your therapist, if talking about it is an issue.

BTW, this is the, so far, best approach people with to psychotic experiences - the therapy by open dialogue:



Perhaps most psychotic symptoms could be seen, not as symptoms of an illness, but as a strategy to survive strange and traumatic experiences—as a sane reaction to insane circumstances. As such, psychosis could be seen as more normal that it presently is, a natural human tendency. Indeed, psychosis is much more common that most people imagine: studies of young people reveal that over 25% have had psychotic experiences.

As you can see, psychotic experiences are pretty prevalent and people "function" and "cope", more or less, many even don't know "it is / was psychosis".

But, despite that it's natural that you've been searching for a proper label, the label / diagnosis isn't important. What IS important is your wellbeing: So, does the behaviour of your imaginary friend disturb you? Does it cause stress, worry, even pain? From your post, it's evident that it does. That's the only important reason why seek help and talk about it. You yourself put it well in this sentence:

2 hours ago, MDeCa said:

I just want to be able to have a healthier life with him still inside of me...

I see you're worried:

2 hours ago, MDeCa said:

I don't want to get locked up in the mental hospital again so I don't want to tell my therapist. 

What are the reasons shy people get "locked up in a mental hospital" against their will? When they are a danger to themselves or someone else. Are you? So why would they lock you up? They may suggest it as a good option, you may discuss it, explain why you don't want to, and perhaps avoiding hospitalization could be even an additional motivation to get better, to cooperate on your treatment.

2 hours ago, MDeCa said:

I want to get help, but I am SOOO afraid that the doctors will make me get rid of him. I don't want to lose him, no matter how bad he treats me..

Well, it would be great if psychiatry was already so very 'skillful' that it would be able to get rid of every imaginary friend it wanted to make disappear ;) . But seriously: I think it is rather unlikely that they would make him disappear. It's not even the aim of a cure; the aim is to make you feel OK and be able to cope much better than now, not to be treated badly by him anymore (it might result in him slightly or totally "subsiding", but in that case, you would be consenting and even glad - that would be a part of the healing process - not to need him anymore). If someone tells you the opposite, you may consider changing your doctor or therapist. 

I would recommend you to see the film Beautiful mind, if you haven't yet (it's not available on YouTube, so no need to try there, but you may find a way to see it, like borrowing it, for instance...). It's not 100% faithful to reality, but why I recommend it is to show that some people can live with their "imaginary friends" (which they see, hear, feel) if they find the right way how, if they find them the right place in their life and don't let them control it in a negative way.

So, yes, he is a part of you (and you can see and hear him as if he wasn't - that's also not surprising), he came into existence for a reason - to protect you - and perhaps he still has some protective role. But you see that it's not good if you don't have any control over him. And to gain that control, you first need to understand a lot more about him and yourself, which would be impossible without a very good therapist.

Good luck and keep us posted!

Edited by LaLa
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Hello MDeCa. I think I recall you sharing about Ben here in the past. Is it possible that your younger self needed some way to survive and cope with a traumatic experience and this then led to Ben? I think we all have different aspects or parts of ourselves and it can be challenging to accept and care for all parts. Sometimes the wounded and deeply hurt parts can be especially difficult to manage, especially if one part seems to hurt other parts.Therapy can be helpful and healing.

Best wishes.

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