Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Fantasy-life


Susan [pseudonym] sounds like what psychologists call a "fantasy-prone" personality. This means exactly what it sounds like: Some people are highly prone (vulnerable) to fantasies. With some, it is just entertainment, and never goes beyond that; but with Susan, it sounds as if it is life-interfering, or at least, life-affecting. This is a bit more serious.

You have a good solid understanding of why her childself created the fantasies in the first place, and that really helps; perhaps it can help you to help her. She is in rather desperate need of a "reality-check."

Perhaps you can discuss with her the whole, very rich, realm of fantasy, and then, compare that with the scientific perspective. The latter will bore her, but it is her path to liberation as a free being. She has fully, and correctly, expressed her right to believe as she wishes, and to share her beliefs with you. You also have precisely that same right -- to believe as you choose, based on your lifexperience, and to share your beliefs with her. It seems time to do precisely that.

Fantasy can, to some extent, enrich life. I use even "fantasy-therapy." But it can do this safely only within a matrix of moderation, coupled with a well-grounded and practical, worldview. If one goes too far, and is immersed completely in a fantasy -- and she is not a writer -- this can have unfortunate effects on the personality. So, my friend, as her friend, you need to determine how deep is the "saturation." How much negative effect does this fantasy-life have on her selfimage, her selfesteem, and her personal independence? If it is starting to affect these psychological parameters, then she has moved into a danger-zone.

She might be in need of some "reality-therapy." This will probably begin as some introduction to science and the value of objective thinking and reasoning. Again, boring as hell to her, but the key to a "heaven" of a more productive, reasonable, and happier life!

To sum up: Used as moderate defenses, fantasies are harmless, and might even help maintain sanity and balance, especially in crisis. But too much of this "medicine" becomes a psychotoxin, and starts to poison the mind. You are right: This syndrome has characteristics that exactly parallel the unhealthy Christian fundy obsession with "satan," "evil spirits," and the whole mass of related nonsense.

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