Patented Q & A Database


Question

When my daughter was little, she liked to talk pretending that she have an imaginary friend, and I thought that was normal. Now she is 13 years old and I found out that she is still talking as she is having a conversation with somebody else but she is alone. When I asked her who is she talking with, she got mad. It is normal that she talks by herself or it is something wrong with her. What can I do to help her if there is something wrong?

Answer

Lexi Welanetz, Psy.D. Replied: This is something that I would respond to right away and could be indicative of something very serious or at the very least would be considered "abnormal." If she is lonely and using an imaginary friend for comfort, then a therapist may be best equipped to handle. However, this may be a sign of some irregular perceptions that are definitely best suited for a psychologist. I am not sure where you are located, but in Los Angeles there is a program that handles these exact kinds of issues. Here is a link and information : www.psychiatry.ucla.edu/pdf/capps_extern.pdf - Similar pages. If you are located somewhere else, you can google the word prodromal and look for resources in your area.
Posted On 2008-04-08 01:43:43
Dr. Vicki Panaccione Replied: I am so glad you asked. As you stated, it is very common for young children to have imaginary friends, and have whole conversations with them. At early ages, kids are learning to distinguish fantasy from reality; as that distinction becomes clear, generally the imaginary friends and solo conversations fade away. Thirteen is much too old for imaginary friends. However, that may not be the reason that your daughter is having conversations while alone. I wonder about whether she has friends, or feels lonely and is creating her own imaginary social network. Sometimes kids replay conversations that they had or overheard, as a way of processing information. Other explanations can include weighing the pros and cons of an issue, where talking out loud can be more effective, or role playing an interaction she would like to have occur (i.e.—a boy ask her out). Of course, the more serious explanation could be that she does not separate fantasy from reality, such that she loses touch with reality, which is known as psychosis. But, based on her reaction, my guess it that your daughter is not psychotic. Generally, if your daughter was truly out of touch with reality, she would answer your question, ‘Who are you talking with?' very matter-of-factly. Her answer may indicate some unseen person or character that isn't really present, but your question would most likely not upset her. Your daughter's anger suggests that she interpreted your question as an accusation, and was most likely embarrassed by being overheard, or perhaps insulted that you would actually think that she believed she was having a conversation with an imaginary person. My strong suggestion is that you have a conversation with her, starting by recognizing that she reacted angrily to your question, and that your intention was not to upset or embarrass her. Perhaps let her know that you were reminded of when she was young and had her little friend; see if she has memory of that and will talk about it. Let her know that people often talk to themselves when they are trying to solve a problem, daydream or put a new twist on a conversation that didn't go their way. Defusing her reaction, and making this a neutral topic will more likely facilitate her sharing what was really going on. However, if the behavior continues and your concerns heighten, then speak to your family doctor or consult with a child psychologist.
Posted On 2008-03-30 14:35:33
Press Esc to close