I Have Had an Imaginary Friend my Entire Life

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

To preface this, I have eidetic memory and therefore can remember large chunks of my early childhood. I grew up in a fairly normal middle-class home, with two parents, a roof over my head and a great education. However, ever since I was young, my parents have been so busy working and taking care of my two younger sisters who have autism and bipolar disorder, that I have been emotionally and psychologically neglected. To this day, I crave attention and have abandonment and attachment issues.

This is going to sound strange, so please stay with me. My parents have always been huge Queen fans, and I grew up surrounded by their music and pictures of the band members. When I was 5 months old, I saw for the first time, Freddie Mercury smiling at me over my crib. He has been my constant companion and best friend all my life. No one else can see him, and I know he isn’t real. Freddie Mercury died in 1991, and I was born years later. My imaginary friend Freddie has never said any negative things to me and has never tempted me towards negative or suicidal behavior. He has been nothing but a great friend and confidante. I have lots of other social relationships and am doing well academically. Having had this “imaginary friend” for 17 and 1/2 years now, he’s never caused me any problems. I’m not paranoid, I don’t hear disturbing voices, and I don’t believe I’m the anti-Christ or anything. But I do see Freddie, clear as day, flesh and blood, around me all the time. He’s the only hallucination I’ve ever experienced.

I would like to know if I have schizophrenia, and if I should be worried. I have honestly felt no negative repercussions from the relationship at all. I have lots of friends, and am on good terms with my family. I have never used drugs or alcohol and have only suffered a brief period of depression in middle school.

Tell me, should I be worried?

A. Freddy Mercury is either visiting you in spirit or not. Thus, your image or vision is either real or a hallucination/delusion. There are people who claim to see spirits but it’s never been proven scientifically as to whether this phenomenon is real. If your vision is not real, then it would mean that you’re experiencing a hallucination or delusion. Hallucinations and delusions are associated with specific mental health disorders.

Children often have imaginary friends because they have great imaginations. Parents tend not to worry because eventually the imaginary friends go away. It is rare, though not unheard of, for an adult to have an imaginary friend. You did not detail your conversations with Freddie Mercury. Without similar information, it would be difficult to determine what may be happening.

It would be advantageous to be evaluated by a mental health professional to determine if what you are experiencing is a symptom of a mental health disorder. You perceive this “imaginary friend” as being healthy but if it is not real, then it’s unhealthy.

When speaking and interacting with a mental health professional, he or she might identify other symptoms that the untrained individual might not perceive as being symptoms. There may be symptoms that you don’t perceive as being problematic but ones that a mental health professional would identify as such.

I hope you will consider my suggestion regarding an evaluation by a mental health professional. If your mental health is being compromised by a psychological disorder, then treatment is imperative. Even though you perceive this phenomenon to be healthy, if it is not real, then it can be psychologically damaging. Hallucinations and delusions, if left untreated, can become worse over time and can significantly degrade your life. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Oct 2012

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). I Have Had an Imaginary Friend my Entire Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/10/23/i-have-had-an-imaginary-friend-my-entire-life/