Have An Imaginary Friend? Join the Club

Those who believe that imaginary friends exist only in the realm of child’s play may simply need a better view of the subject. Dr. Tracy R. Gleason, Associate Professor of Psychology and Psychological Director of the Wellesley College Child Study Center, discusses the phenomenon of imaginary friends among children in Glimpse’s upcoming issue “Visions,” and even goes further to explain how imaginary friends subtly inhabit various corners of the adult world. According to Gleason, adults utilize imaginary companions for an array of reasons: from speaking with an imaginary other in preparation for a job interview to writing a novel where the characters are described so vividly that they take on existences all their own.

Our capacity for vivid imagining can serve as a muse for our greatest works of art. It certainly did for American author John Updike, the meticulous and unfailingly idiosyncratic documentarian of the American middle class. In a 2008 video interview with the New York Times (above), Updike describes the process of writing The Widows of Eastwick, a sequel to the famous Witches of Eastwick, which was written almost 25 years beforehand. Amongst other topics touched upon in the interview, Updike compares the experience of returning to the novel to reuniting with old friends (at about 4:04 in the video), and again being privy to their witchy conversations.

Cheers to friends, both real and imaginary.

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