Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
An imaginary friend is a friend that is created in the minds of some young children. They may do this for companionship, as part of play, or other reasons.
Imaginary friends are also a very important form of companionship for autistic individuals, especially amongst those who have Asperger's syndrome. For these individuals imaginary friends have very complex personalities and sometimes even includes an imaginary language. Many autistic people have imaginary friends right into their adulthood and for a very long time.
Imaginary friends for both children and autistic adults, serve as important source of companionship, especially if it is absent for them in the social world. Some young children in boarding schools develop imaginary friends to cope with extreme stress and separation from their intimate relations. The development of imaginary friends by young children and autistics does not signify a problem or disorder. However, it can occasionally become problematic if it begins to interfere with everyday social interactions.
For parents, an understanding of a child's conversations with their imaginary friends can reveal a lot about the anxieties and fears of that child. It can also give an insight into the child's aspirations and conception of the world.
It has been suggested (often satirically) that deities, spirits, totems, demons, and similar supernatural beings are the invisible friends of adults; this is seen as insulting by many who believe in these beings.
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