An Imaginary Life: Where Do Dead Imaginary Friends Go?

An Imaginary Life: Where Do Dead Imaginary Friends Go?

My Imaginary Friends

I usually very frequently post articles about Barack Obama. In fact, my articles here about him go way back to when he first published The Audacity of Hope. I ran across Barack when he was doing a book signing at one of our neighborhood bookstores, 59th Street Books in Hyde Park. Immediately afterwards, I went home and began writing my first and second articles about Obama. One of my last articles about him was posted here upon the emotionally stunning occasion of Obama’s election to be President of the United States. Subsequently, almost all of the media attention has been focused on the quotidian details of speculations about who Obama might select for senior staff positions in his administrations, and about how and how well various potential candidates might perform. And media pundits’ quarrelsome bickering about all of that. I have decided to refrain from joining in on the daily dramas of the media “guessing games.” For now, Barack is gone; he’s been very busy in a bunch of secret meetings, hidden away behind closed doors. And for the time being, that leaves me feeling a bit sad, like my imaginary friend has faded away.

So then I began to think more about imaginary friends. It’s hard for me to remember having any imaginary friends. Never did. Ever. That I can remember, anyway. Well, now that I’ve thought about it some, I did meet up with some imaginary friends when I was a youngster. I liked them a lot, too. I met them through books. You see, nobody taught me how to read, but I was already reading books when I was just five-years old. Robinson Caruso was my first imaginary friend, though he was always a bit fuzzy and cluttered up by all the pictures of the flora and fauna on that lush tropical island, as well as by the various colorful characters he encountered. Anyway, I didn’t stick with any one imaginary companion very long, over the years running through uncountable adventures of the the Bobbsey Twins (mostly Bert), Dorothy from Oz (but mostly The Tin Man and The Scarecrow), Black Beauty, The Lone Ranger, Rocketman and Lassie. Oh, I certainly can’t forget this one, and I had a dog that was really my bestest-ever-ever imaginary friend. I rescued him from a situation of terrible physical and emotional abuse, and we immediately became inseparable. But then he died (actually, got run over). All of them ended up just fading away from me. But part of me still wonders: where did all of my dead imaginary friends actually go?

About Imaginary Friends

For much of the first-half of the 20th century, experts about children either relegated or attributed imaginary friends to an immature stage of “magical thinking” that children needed to outgrow, or else the very notion of the existence of imaginary friends was just plain darkly dismissed.

But nowadays, an almost exactly opposite perspective prevails about imaginary friends. Studies in the area of child development have found that far from being done with imaginary companions at the age of four, older children (as well as some teenagers) report having imaginary companions. Research now suggests that imaginary friends can provide emotional stability, feelings of competence and a sense of enhanced social perception. Once again, “wholesome fantasy” is alive and well!

But what happens to one’s imaginary friends when childhood imaginary companions fade away, are rejected or dismissed when real-world opportunities for social interaction become more available and appealing to the child? Where do the poor little imaginary friends go when they die? Are they really gone or dead, or are they still sadly hanging around down here, watching as the real world goes around and passes them by? The following animated short film addresses that very question. At first, the film seems to be a light-hearted and humorous one, but the issues with which it deals are universally serious topics, matters of rejection, life and death.

Where Do Dead Imaginary Friends Go?

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Child Sexual Abuse: Suffering Years of Unrelenting Sorrow

The Supreme Court Strikes Down Death Penalty for Child Rape

The Supreme Court has struck down a Louisiana law that allowed the execution of people convicted of a raping a child. In a 5-4 vote, the court said that the law allowing the death penalty to be imposed in cases of child rape violates the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. “The death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion. His four liberal colleagues joined him, while four other justices dissented.

The decision prompted an unyielding rebuttal from the conservative wing of the court, and condemnation from both presidential candidates, even though no one has been executed for rape in the United States since 1964. Though capital punishment can be imposed for crimes against the state, such as treason, espionage and terrorism, of the 3,300 inmates on death row nationwide, only two face execution for a crime other than murder. Both were convicted under the Louisiana law in question, which authorized the death penalty for anyone who rapes a child younger than 12.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. questioned the majority’s logic that every murderer sentenced to death is more “morally depraved” than any child-rapist. “I have little doubt that, in the eyes of ordinary Americans, the very worst child rapists, predators who seek out and inflict serious physical and emotional injury on defenseless young children, are the epitome of moral depravity,” he wrote. Alito was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Both the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates strongly denounced the court’s decision.

Court Decision Evokes Strong Disagreement

Child Sexual Abuse Unveiled in Alaska

Child Abuse in Alaska: Years of Alaskan Sorrow

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My Faves for Saturday, December 08, 2007

“Photos of the Day: Vintage Christmas “Found Photos.” This is a set of vintage Christmas “found photos.” They range from the humorous, to the downright strange. My personal favorite is “The Most Unfortunate Midnight Mass Ever.”

For a good chuckle, take a look at these. Best wishes and Happy Holidays to all!!

[tags: Photos of the Day, vintage Christmas photos, photographs, Christmas, Xmas, Santa Claus, Santa, hoiidays]

 

“There are times I worry about what happens to our country,” Oprah Winfrey said, addressing a sea of people in an 80,000 person capacity stadium in South Carolina. “For the very first time in my life, I feel compelled to stand up and speak out for the man who…has a new vision for America.”

Includes photographs and the video of Oprah’s speech.

[tags: Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Oprah campaigns for Obama, celebrities, politics, photographs, video, South Carolina]

 

This is an animated film by Jeff Scher, a portrait of his son from infancy until he was a few years old. The film came from the notion that his son wouldn’t remember these years. The more Scher drew, the more he realized that he didn’t recall them clearly either.

The article includes colorful prints, as well as the animation video. Enjoy!!

[tags: art, photographs, animation, video, animation video, music, music video, children]

See the rest of my Faves at Faves

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An Oedipal Storyline: You Won’t Remember This

The Animated Life: You Won’t Remember This

Jeffrey Scher is an artist who is fascinated with vision, in particular the persistence of vision, the ability of the human mind to create the illusion of movement from disparate images. The New York-based filmmaker defines himself not as an animator, but rather as a painter working in motion. Scher’s montages, or “collisions” of visuals and sound, are dizzying arrays of color, light, figures, and forms that flit about like unruly thoughts, tricking the eye and revealing unexpected visual harmonies.

You Won’t Remember This is a piece that was inspired by his 18-month-old son, a rotoscoped re-creation of the evolution of vision during the first years of life. “I’ve tried to reproduce those early primal visuals from the infant’s point of view,” he has said, “by examining the way optical focus and color perception develop, and how the figurative and the abstract blur together and get sorted out over time.”

The film is a portrait of his son, Buster, from his first week of life until he was a few years old. The film came from the impression that Buster wouldn’t remember these years, as, indeed, he doesn’t seem to, but the more Scher drew the more he realized that he didn’t remember them as clearly as he thought he would, either. From Scher’s perspective, there is something about the omnivorous now in parenting, the constantly shifting challenges and demands of the moment, that creates a kind of rolling amnesia for everything yesterday. This film is an attempt to hold onto some of these moments and also to share them with Buster, who is now an articulate, opinionated, sugar- and movie-obsessed seven-year-old.

Scher’s work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He’s always searching for new ways of seeing. “How images layer up on the eye and the relationship between image and afterimage are triggers for powerful emotions,” he’s observed. “I want to make people feel, so I create aesthetic meals for the eyes.”

You Won’t Remember This

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Double Bind and Paradoxical Communication: A Hazard to Mental Health

Double Bind and Paradoxical Communication: A Hazard to Mental Health

The world of electronic communications exponentially opens the door to some very interesting comments. For example, I recently read a statement that exhorted its readers to focus their attention upon the need to ensure that something had to be “squashed.” “Squashed?” I thought to myself. I don’t hear that word too often in everyday life. It seems like an attitude that opposing elected political figures might develop, or what one nation would attempt to do to its enemy (declare) in a state of war.“Squashed”—crush, suppress, stifle, subdue, forcibly squeeze something into a tiny space. The conclusion of the entreaty was somewhat of a shock: “With warm regards.”

Squash, crush, stifle, subdue—with warm regards?

I thought, “What is this kind of statement?”  Then, I realized, it’s the form of communication known as the double bind. Like a road sign that you’re looking at that says: “Do not read this sign.” You cannot do both what it asks and implies simultaneously. The double bind or paradox gives the illusion of space between the opposites, but the space isn’t really there. The effects of such paradoxical communication can be devastating, especially to those already experiencing disturbed emotions.

Unless the more vulnerable are helped to be able to untangle or unravel themselves from being trapped within the double bind or paradoxical communication to which they are exposed, they will become consumed by doubt, which will in turn reinforce enactments of repetition-compulsion. This, I propose, is the real path, simply stated, to the development of repetition-compulsion states, designation of which has been so elusive for many years.

The only way out of such traps is an inter-subjective approach, which is why models based upon behavioral techniques boast of great promise, but never really work. In fact, the latter techniques only make matters worse, since they add feelings of guilt and shame to the already present sense of anguish about being trapped.

The French Quarter: A Reminiscence

Historic Apartment Rows in the French Quarter

The French Quarter

Very late last night, actually in the wee hours of the morning, I found myself repetetively searching for an image of a tiny, tiny house.  Finally, a sudden thought of New Orleans’ French Quarter emerged (along with a curiosity about how or why that had occurred).  Searching through my memories of last week, I began to realize the context within which this seemingly uncanny recollection had come into view.

Participating in a free-flowing discussion with a small group of adolescents, at a certain point our conversation shifted to issues related to achieving a stronger sense of one’s own particular vocational wishes, opportunities or potential choices.  These interactions included considerations about the differing, unique paths or journeys that individuals might take during that process.  In my own mind, I was thinking (associated with the element of freedom that we have, despite the constraints of “given realities”) that any choice that we make inevitably is accompanied by a sense of sacrifice and loss regarding the paths not taken.  That sense of sacrifice is amplified by an acknowledgment that those paths not taken are extensively unspecified and indeterminant.

One of the adolescents, knowing that I had originally come from a deeply antebellum part of the South, asked me whether I was happy that I stayed in Chicago after completing my training as a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst.  I responded that I was extremely pleased that I had stayed.

But, if you could go back and make that decision again,” I was asked, “where else would you have most greatly enjoyed living and doing your clinical work?”  Emphasizing that this was, of course, within the realm of wishful thinking (as emotions about Thomas Wolfe’s “Look Homeward, Angel” surfaced in the background), I said that I probably would have chosen to settle into the French Quarter, describing some of the many imagined enjoyable experiences of living quietly in a tiny courtyard apartment there. They all laughed in a cordial way and observed, “But you have so many things, even here in your office, it’s so cluttered, though in a warm and pleasant kind of way!”  “And you can just imagine what it’s like at home—clutter, clutter everywhere,” I answered, “but it manages to provide an atmosphere in which I actually can work in very creative ways.”

For me, the most important point to be taken from the overall commentary presented here is how the initial lack of any conscious sense of understanding about how or why my focus upon finding a satisfying image of a “tiny, tiny house” shifted to a thought of The French Quarter.  And, of course, the reference to a “tiny” courtyard apartment in The French Quarter during the reported group conversation of last week enabled me to unravel some of the previous ambiguity about the how the seemingly unassociated flow of ideas did contain a meaningful connection.

Perhaps all of this might strike some readers as an overly-long account of a seemingly minor event, but from a different perspective it might be understood as one particular example of the many, diverse ways that we all create in our attempts to organize the “clutter” with which we are continually confronted during the experiences of our everyday lives.

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