Childhood imaginary companionship and mental health in adolescence

Omer Bonne*, Laura Canetti, Eytan Bachar, Atara Kaplan De-Nour, Arieh Shalev

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


An imaginary companion (IC) is a frequently encountered childhood fantasy, invisible to anyone but the child, who may be named, addressed or played with. Whether the presence of an IC is a normal developmental feature has not been determined. We examined psychometric measures and the presence/absence of childhood IC in a sample of 850 mentally healthy adolescents. 17.6% of our subjects, more often females, reported having had such a companion. Subjects who reported having had an IC in childhood exhibited higher levels of distress and emotional discontrol, displayed prolonged transitional object attachment and immature modes of coping with stress. Thus, although childhood imaginary companionship is not indicative of psychopathology, it may denote a vulnerability for adolescent perturbation and difficulty in coping with emotionally laden situations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)277-286
Number of pages10
JournalChild Psychiatry and Human Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Imaginary Companion
  • Normal Population
  • Transitional Object


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