On the Creation of Imaginary Friends

From Alexsander Hamon’s The Aquarium

It is not unusual, of course, for children of Ella’s age to have imaginary friends or siblings. The creation of an imaginary character is related, I believe, to the explosion of linguistic abilities that occurs between the ages of two and four, and rapidly creates an excess of language, which the child may not have enough experience to match. She has to construct imaginary narratives in order to try out the words that she suddenly possesses. Ella now knew the word “California,” for instance, but she had no experience that was in any way related to it; nor could she conceptualize it in its abstract aspect—in its California-ness. Hence, her imaginary brother had to be deployed to the sunny state, which allowed Ella to talk at length as if she knew California. The words demanded the story.

2 thoughts on “On the Creation of Imaginary Friends

  1. Sharon Sweet

    Having never had children this is only hypothetical for me to suggest. Could it be that a child of that age hasn’t yet embraced the concept of Self being only they themselves and so are free to create other “personalities” with whom they can speak in a “you and I” context? Does the child have an excess of cognitive experiences to share so that they must create a sort of “extra” one of themselves in order to satisfy the need to dialogue about things? Is this expansion of oneself into an entirely “other” being a necessary step toward the integration of oneself into the whole person who will hopefully eventually emerge? Your post just got me to thinking and I was enticed to respond.

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