Jump to content
Mental Support Community

Imaginary Friends


Recommended Posts

Hello everyone! First off, I'm new here. Just registered. :)

I feel a bit stupid admitting this but am quite curious about if this is harmless or the result of a disorder or hidden problem...

It's not uncommon for children to have imaginary friends. I never had one as a kid though. Which is funny, because now I do. I'm 17.

If I remember correctly, I would daydream and resort to talking to a made up character on rare occasions when I was 15. However, as I grow older, that friend is around much more often. If I am not occupied with something else such as school work, games, computer, reading, etc and am alone, I'm talking in my head to what I call an imaginary companion.

Once or twice I've caught myself mumbling out loud, though it's in my head most of the time. It is hard to explain how it is to have it around to others (especially without sounding a bit batty or loopy :o). The best way I can explain is he is male (I'm female), always has the same look and personality. He seems to be in his mid 20's and is very friendly and comforting toward me but has a negative view toward a lot of other people.

Perhaps it's because I don't and have never had a friend who I really enjoy being around?

I do have friends at school, but not one that I'm really close to. I don't talk on the phone with anyone, go to the mall, or visit anyone's house. I'm pretty much solo. Sometimes I hate it, sometimes I just don't care. I'm horrible with talking to people anyway. It's uncomfortable and I stumble and mix up my words a lot.

At one time I thought I had social anxiety (I went to a counselor a while back but it did littler for me), but am not sure if I really have it that bad because I don't mind being alone most of the time and I just seem to have problems communicating with others.

I've read online and have had two people (also online) tell me that imaginary friends in older teens and adults can be an early sign of schizophrenia...

That's scary. Can it be true that it is an early sign, or is it possible it is another disorder that I have?

Or is it just a harmless thing?

Any comments or advice is welcomed and greatly appreciated. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is hard to give any insight about diagnosis based on the information you've given, but it does seem clear that your brain is trying to cope with or compensate for something. It sounds like your new friend fills a role where you have previously felt a void in your life.

The mental health professionals here on the site might be able to give you more insight, but it sounds like the appearance of this new friend could be evidence of any number of things, from a change in hormone levels to an unconscious process from childhood that was just triggered by something you saw or experienced. Of course there could be a more traditional mental health explanation as well.

Would you be willing to see a psychiatrist (medical doctor) and tell them what you are experiencing? They would be able to advise you further if this seems to be the result of primarily a physiological or psychological shift in your mind.

The most important thing is that you know you're not "batty or loopy". It is important to remember that you experience what you experience and you feel what you feel and those feelings and experiences cannot be judged by those who are not going through them. No matter what (if any) mental health diagnosis you may have (even schizophrenia), you are not a hopeless case and your feelings and experiences are completely real to you. There is help available.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey gordian knot.

Thank you for your response. :o

Actually, I've been trying to go to a psychiatrist for a while to get a true diagnosis on whether I have social anxitey or not. I'm hoping to go soon, but it's been hard lately to schedule a time.

Bringing up the topic of an "imaginary companion" may be hard (and very awkward) but perhaps I could pull it out of me and get their thoughts about it. Hopefully then I'll know if I should even be worried or not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...


i have asperger's syndrome, im not saying you do or anything, but i ahve a whole cast of detailed imaginary friends/personalities. my main one is also male, and im female, although ive had him for years and years. i don't think u ahve schizophrenia or anything, u just invented someone interesting to interact with. thats the way i look at it anyway

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm 30 and feel like I know exactly how you feel, pillbug. You sound exactly like me, or at least in that we have an 'imaginary friend'. Someone told me there is nothing wrong with having one, even as an adult. I see nothing wrong with it. I'm female, and the personality is a man. He's loving, nurturing. He's a great companion.

I've never seen a doctor for it, however with as much as I'm losing touch with reality these days, I think it is time. Still, I don't want him to go away. I just want help.

I'm not trying to scare you. Really. I'm just telling you that I feel you and you're not alone. For what it's worth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's probably not "normal" to have an imaginary friend as an adult, but hey - the nice thing about the internet is that there is so much happening here that people that aren't exactly normal can find each other and it can become more normal.

I wouldn't be too afraid of schizophrenia. Normally that is not experienced as an imaginary friend - it is more like a disembodied voice that is critical of you or plays out a running commentary on what you do.

Dissociation is one mechanism through which an imaginary friend can be present in adulthood. It is sometimes the case that someone has a dissociative identity disorder and doesn't realize it - because the personality that is "up front and center" is not privaleged to have that information. and when that is the case, the other hidden alters are perceived as voices or people if they are perceived at all.

There may be ways for there to be an imaginary friend which do not involve DID, but if that is the case, they have not been described clinically yet.

Anyway - I don't know that you need to be alarmed. Whatever the case may be, so long as your life is working okay for the most part, there is no reason to expect that things will suddenly change for the worse.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's a good quote floating around out there: "To a person with a hammer, all problems look like a nail". Point is taken John, and it is a good one as usual. I'm not meaning to pathologize overly. I view my primary contribution here (in these forums) as being able to bring a psychologists' perspective to the table, and of course, a psychologist or other mental health professional, being trained on the exceptions to mental health, is going to look towards ruling out such problems when confronted by something like an imaginary friend. I hope that my impulse is perceived as useful and does not come across as judgmental or patronizing. That is a risk inherent at all times when one is an "authority" talking about "illness".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a dissociative disorder -- I don't consider my "insiders" imaginary friends but then that's just a descriptive term, like my using "insiders" to describe them. I do think of them as "parts" as well.

Anyway -- I agree with John that having, parts, insiders, imaginary friends, talking to stuffed animals who are comforting to talk with is not a bad thing...

I know that I am a person with insiders -- and I know the reality is there is only one body, and that I function very well by anyone's standards in the outside world -- I'm a professional, have a good relationship with my partner, and am a good mom to 2 sons. Overall, I think my insiders and I are pretty much aligned in terms of what we want for our life and we acheive it -- we have a good life...

My biggest struggles are usually internal (though I recently went through leaving a therapist due to her limitations in working with me- see transference questions thread) I am in therapy with someone new now and with her (and with my previous therapist) I am dealing with the issues that caused the dissociation in the first place -- early trauma and abuse and parents who were not able to "be there for me" and were not even aware of those things happening to me. I have learned to function well on the outside, but sometimes things are very difficult inside and they are more difficult when we touch on the traumas. I recognize this as part of the process and tolerate it and believe that those struggles will subside as I continue to work in therapy. Whether the insiders will ever be fully gone, I don't know, but if we are working together and get through dealing with the trauma so that flashbacks don't cause us internal pain and stress, then I think therapy will have been successful. That's my goal at this time.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

It eases my worry to know there are other people in the world who have a similar way of confronting life like me. I see nothing wrong with having 'insiders' or 'imaginary friends' at any age. If I threw my insiders away because it isn't 'right' then I would be throwing part of me away.

What I struggle with now is reconciling Him with reality. It is a damn hard thing to do and, personally, I worry if I do I'll loos Him. But, as JR said, if it starts to affect life, then it is something to worry about. I feel like reality and me/Him are walking further and further a part. It's affecting my marriage and my ability to handle reality.

Appleby, you inspire me. That you can function with your insiders is what I seek. You give me hope and that is something I need right now. Thank you for posting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Sorry for the (extremely) delayed response. I can be a bit slow when it comes to these things!

I don't think my relationship with my "friend" would ever interfere with real life or alter me so to the point there is a problem, and if it ever does for some reason get out of hand, hopefully I'll be able to catch what is happening.

I came across other disorders aside from dissociation that includes imaginary friends (or at least creating imaginary situations) to cope with situations- avoidant, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders. While I can relate to something in each of these, I don't think I have to worry about having anything, or at least anything that is life-altering and serious.

I want to thank you all for your responses. :) Your comments have done quite a bit in making me feel better about having an imaginary companion, now that I know that I'm not a rare case or someone who needs serious help.

Oh, and I've never seen Harvey, though my school did a play on it. It sounds very interesting and something I would like to see!

Edited by Pillbug
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

I was just browsing this old thread and wanted to add my response. I'm similar lol, it doesn't interfere with my life, and I think it's just an outlet to cope with loneliness. Although, there is another possible dimension to it. I'm a spiritual person and mine seems more like a spirit guide - he's a tremendous comfort to me & when he tells me something it comes true lol! (Seriously - weird!) I've contemplated developing what I think is a bit of a psychic side in me but am still nervous of it! I know alot of people think it's baloney but seriously the guy has never been wrong - I have tested him before now. He's been around me since I was in my late teens & I've never felt him to be a problem, more of a helper really.

I think there's much contention between the psychic world and the psychological - voices from spirit could just as easily be schizophrenia - but the way I make the distinction for myself is that voices in schizophrenia are usually distressing and there are other distressing symptoms in that persons life as well. Aside from the fact that they don't tend to be able to tell the future hehe! My companion enhances my life and has prevented me from becoming extremely depressed on many occasions. I believe he is a spirit/guardian angel.

I just wanted to add this possible other aspect to it. Extreme caution has to be exercised when dealing with an unseen companion but I think the best indicator is their impact on our lives and whether they enhance & support our abililty to connect with the outside world (the ideal) or stand in our way. Enjoy our companions yes, but even with my strong spiritual beliefs I always remain vigilant just in case there is that tiny possibility that he could be a symptom of illness! I'm smiling as I type this, he's probably really offended by that! LOL! :) xxx

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 11 months later...

I started talking to what I can only describe as my imaginary friend sometime between age 9-12. Over the years it has basically become my guilty little habit that I can't quite seem to give up. It seems that whenever I'm having a particularly had time coping that's when he feels the most real, and seems to come up with his own dialogue instead of just saying what I want (if that makes any sense).

Anyway, I've had a couple other people tell me of similar experiences in the past, and it's one of the main reasons that I decided to join here, so even if it's not the most 'normal' thing, at least there are others that we can share our experiences with.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...