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I Pretend that Fictional Characters Are Real & Talk to Myself as Them

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I’ve always loved to play pretend. But now that I’m a teenager, instead of outgrowing it, it’s gotten worse. Now I’ve gotten to the point where it’s an obsession, and I spend more time with my imaginary friends then with real people. I pretend that my favorite characters from movies and TV shows are real, and I talk to myself, both as myself and the character. I have long discussions with myself. I also pretend that they are with me everywhere I go–to the supermarket, to my cousin’s house. I pretend that they’re with me, no matter what I do. Lately, I’ve also been doing something that’s hard to explain: I pretend to be two people (usually myself and my mother, or a cousin, or a made-up person) and have a pretend to have a conversation with them. I pretend that the fiction character is watching me and my mother/cousin/other. Usually, those scenarios involve either a verbal fight, or joking. I’m really concerned because I know this is abnormal and I’m not living a normal life. I’m worried that I’m insane. Please help!

I Pretend that Fictional Characters Are Real & Talk to Myself as Them

Answered by on -

A.

I do not believe that you are “insane.” Technically, insanity is a legal term and not a diagnosable condition.

I can’t answer the question of whether or not you are living a “normal” life. Only an in-person evaluation could provide a definitive answer to that question. However, you have provided enough information that I can offer general information.

It’s not uncommon for people to interact with fictional characters in their mind. As you noted, it is especially common among the youth. Sometimes these situations develop as a defense mechanism. Defense mechanisms are strategies used by the unconscious mind to protect oneself from painful emotions. They, however, can be costly. Much like a tourniquet, they provide temporary relief. If left in place too long, they can cause problems. Perhaps that’s what’s happening in your case.

Alternatively, it’s not clear from your letter that anything is wrong. Does it cause you severe distress or dysfunction in your social, professional or other areas in your life? If not, then there is likely no problem.

I wonder how similar your experiences are with that of a fiction writer. Perhaps the only difference between you and a fiction writer is that they record their conversations with characters in story form. What you’re calling “insanity” might actually be a literary gift. Have you considered fiction writing? You might be a natural.

If you’re worried, then it is advisable to meet with a mental health professional to determine if a problem is present. There may be nothing wrong but if so, a mental health professional can guide you in the right direction. Good luck and please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

I Pretend that Fictional Characters Are Real & Talk to Myself as Them

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). I Pretend that Fictional Characters Are Real & Talk to Myself as Them. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2018/10/17/i-pretend-that-fictional-characters-are-real-talk-to-myself-as-them/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 15 Oct 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 15 Oct 2018
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