Dear Papa Bear,
I'm a 21 year old male and I have 5 imaginary friends. I talk to them every night before I go to bed. I use to be depressed (it's gone now) and would think about suicide but they (my imaginary friends) would tell me not to think like that and give me reasons why I should live. I don't have a lot of friends and for instance if I was playing basketball by myself I would pretend they are playing along with me. I know they are not real but I like talking to them. Like I said before, I don't have a lot of friends and talking to them takes the loneliness away). So my question to you is do you think having 5 imaginary friends and being 21 is bad for me mentally?
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I would only be concerned about you if you said that the five friends who live in your head were real or if they were telling you to do things that were hurtful to you or others. You describe them repeatedly as “imaginary,” as well as helpful, so, therefore, you are not crazy. Many people have imaginary friends in their lives, although they usually imagine them when they are children, not 21-year-olds.
But let’s consider this, as well: a lot of people would say that believing that Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit is watching over you is just as imaginary as having pretend playmates or companions. Or, look at people like me, who believe that they have guiding spirits in their lives who help them survive the vicissitudes of our existence. These things could be considered equally, if not more, crazy than your imaginary buddies. It’s all a matter of perspective, you see.
In a more quotidian example, many people in this country feel very close friendships to people they see on the television, especially on TV series. For lonely people, these characters become comforting, reassuring presences in their lives. Or look at the recent movie “Her,” about a man who falls in love with a talking operating system.
The thing is, G, we all need companionship; it is a very human need. And, when we find ourselves living alone or in isolation and unable to connect, the human mind and spirit will do what it can to cope with that situation. Your invention of five friends is your method of coping, and it clearly works for you. As long as you have a healthy perception of the real world (know what is real and what is not) you’ll be fine.
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