Imaginary Worlds and Insanity

I came upon a forum post recently that read – ‘I’ve invented a complete imaginary world. Am I insane?’

Having created an extensive imaginary world myself, I was more than a little curious to read what the consensus was on this question. Not that anything was going to shake my belief that imaginary worlds are important expressions of our full and complete selves. I just wanted to know if I was in a strange minority and should hesitate to bring it up in job interviews.

Of course this lonely post was answered by a wave of people who had their own imaginary (often quite elaborate) worlds. The discussion was pretty fascinating (link provided below).

I have to say I get annoyed when people refer to daydreaming or imagined worlds as ‘escapism’. I would go out on a limb and say that this actually has nothing to do with escapism, and is one of the purest forms of ‘realism’ imaginable.

An imaginary world is a space in which to be different versions of ourselves and to experience unexpected, wonderful and sometimes alarming aspects of our minds. At these moments you are becoming as free from outside constructions (of who you should be, for example) as it is ever possible to become. You are actually facing yourself rather than ‘losing’ yourself.

I’m also annoyed by patronising accounts of children’s and teenagers’ imaginary worlds as ‘safe places’ where they can practice to be proper adults (of course, on reaching adulthood, they should instantly relinquish any make believe tendencies). Anyone who has an imaginary world worth its salt will know it’s not a safe place at all! (That’s enough of me getting annoyed now).

Obviously authors and artists need to hold onto their imaginary worlds. Maybe everyone else should start to feel a bit better about them too. After all, you’re using more of the creative capacity of your brain, and that has to be a good thing.

P.S. Good news on imaginary friends also. Apparently they’re the expression of a healthy imagination, and now we should all be a little self-conscious if we never had one. I don’t really think I did, just a cast of characters I inhabited at will. Nothing weird about that, is there?

‘I’ve invented a complete imaginary world. Am I insane?’:

Research on children’s imaginary friends:

Or maybe we can be a little lazy and just borrow other people’s imaginary friends:


The Brontes - imaginary worldbuilders par excellence

The Brontes - imaginary worldbuilders par excellence

Toys and imaginary worlds: 


5 thoughts on “Imaginary Worlds and Insanity

  1. I found you through a search for “imaginary worlds” here on wordpress. A couple of days ago, however, I did exactly the same thing as you did, I googled for Imaginary Worlds and found the same article as you mentioned. I did not read it though because the title stroke a very disharmonious chord in me.

    I love your post on the subject and in response to the article. I agree with everything you say. Our subjective world is inside our minds anyway so the distinction between real worlds and imaginary worlds are sometimes not that sharp. Anyway.

    As I see imaginary worlds at the moment is that we invent them because we are curious about ourselves. There are so many things that we never seem to find any answers too, so maybe our imaginary worlds are a way to build metaphors and concepts that helps us understand ourselves better? Not saying that that is the only reason of course.

    I make my an imaginary world myself and can never stop thinking and create around it. It is food for my mind and also a companion in all moments.

    Thanks for a good read


    • Oh, so happy to hear about other people’s imaginary worlds! It’s really a bit of a gift to live in different spaces like that. O


  2. Imaginary worlds….definitely good.
    I’ve written (well it’s work in progress) ‘My Imaginary lives’

    It was described by the editor of Zuiderlucht, who are previewing it as a ‘graphic novel for the 21st century’

    ‘My imaginary lives’ traces RJ’s ‘life’, considering actual occurrences and how they might have had a cathartic effect on his journey through life ……. though most of them had no effect whatsoever on his ‘career’. (Oxford English Dictionary: career vb. To fall headlong out of control)

    This fictional journey features a cast which includes the Archbishop of Canterbury, Joanna Lumley, Anaïs Nin and Arthur Schopenhauer, and wanders into worlds as diverse as blacksmithing, jazz, antique fountain pens and tattooing.



  3. Pingback: Why An Imaginary World Is Important For Every Girl.

  4. Pingback: Imagine if… « Beyond the Call

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