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Imaginary companions : phenomenology and the child's response

Imaginary companions : phenomenology and the child's response
Imaginary companions : phenomenology and the child's response

The first paper in this thesis reviews the limited literature on imaginary companions. Publications have addressed their frequency in children and their associations with familial factors, intelligence, creativity and waiting time. The limited literature on imaginary companions in the adult clinical population is acknowledged.

The review notes that theoretical literature on imaginary companions is scant. The two models that have been empirically examined are discussed. The first proposes that imaginary companions are a form of practicing reality discrimination. The second suggests imaginary companions are the same experience as hallucinations, but labelled as the former in children and the latter in adults.

The second paper describes a study that aimed to test the above model. Two comparisons were conducted. The phenomenological characteristics of children's imaginary companions were compared to adult psychiatric patients' hallucinations. Patterns of cognitive, behavioural and affective responses of these two groups to their respective experiences were also compared. Additionally, the study aimed to determine if children's behavioural and affective responses were correlated with their parents' attitude to their imaginary companion.

More differences than similarities were found between the two groups descriptions of the phenomenological characteristics of their experiences. Conclusions regarding children's patterns of response to their imaginary companions were tentative. Correlations were found between Benevolence and Engagement, Power and Engagement and Resistance and Negative affective response, suggesting that children's behaviour and affective responses may be related to their beliefs. However, the association was not as strong as in the adult clinical population. The study's third aim was not tested due to lack of data.

University of Southampton
Ashcroft, Catherine
Ashcroft, Catherine

Ashcroft, Catherine (2002) Imaginary companions : phenomenology and the child's response. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

The first paper in this thesis reviews the limited literature on imaginary companions. Publications have addressed their frequency in children and their associations with familial factors, intelligence, creativity and waiting time. The limited literature on imaginary companions in the adult clinical population is acknowledged.

The review notes that theoretical literature on imaginary companions is scant. The two models that have been empirically examined are discussed. The first proposes that imaginary companions are a form of practicing reality discrimination. The second suggests imaginary companions are the same experience as hallucinations, but labelled as the former in children and the latter in adults.

The second paper describes a study that aimed to test the above model. Two comparisons were conducted. The phenomenological characteristics of children's imaginary companions were compared to adult psychiatric patients' hallucinations. Patterns of cognitive, behavioural and affective responses of these two groups to their respective experiences were also compared. Additionally, the study aimed to determine if children's behavioural and affective responses were correlated with their parents' attitude to their imaginary companion.

More differences than similarities were found between the two groups descriptions of the phenomenological characteristics of their experiences. Conclusions regarding children's patterns of response to their imaginary companions were tentative. Correlations were found between Benevolence and Engagement, Power and Engagement and Resistance and Negative affective response, suggesting that children's behaviour and affective responses may be related to their beliefs. However, the association was not as strong as in the adult clinical population. The study's third aim was not tested due to lack of data.

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Published date: 2002

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Local EPrints ID: 467093
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/467093
PURE UUID: a287da17-88e1-43cf-951e-92b74090c6b1

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Date deposited: 05 Jul 2022 08:11
Last modified: 05 Jul 2022 08:11

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Contributors

Author: Catherine Ashcroft

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