Sunday, July 30, 2006

I'm Baaaack

Hey everyone!
I'm back from my vacation in Lake Tahoe and Yosemite. Pictures will be coming shortly. For now I need to work on a paper...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Out of Range

Just wanted to let you all know I won't be updating my page for awhile. I will be out of town until July 29th at Lake Tahoe and Yosemite. Feel free to browse previous posts...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Fantasy and the Unreal

Occasionally, someone will say that a child's loss of their imagination as they age is a tragedy. I have waffled some but lately I have seen that imagination can be harmful to a person's development. An imagination may be useful for the child but I think that it can be damaging to the adult. For while the child is still in a stage of physical and mental development where they cannot competently engage reality, the adult has the capacity to change their situations. Children do not need to make thorough plans for the future. But adults live in a world where they hold much responsibility and need to address the reality before them.

What I call the unreal can take on many forms. Some embrace the unreal through TV and movies by living vicariously through the characters. Others hold an embarassingly high (or low) view of themselves. And almost all people escape reality through some form of fantasy. That fantasy can be vocational (e.g. "if only I had another job"), criminal (e.g. "I want to kill my jerk boss"), sexual, romantic, suicidal (e.g. "what would it be like if I died"), and much more.

I often fantasize in different ways. For me, the problem is generally not in what I think about but why I am thinking it. I am much more apt to fantasize about things when I am emotionally disturbed in some way. By emotionally disturbed I mean set off balance by some event or thought. This can include being sexually attracted to someone, feeling angry, being worried, feeling afraid, etc. For example, the mother who worries when her son does not get home will fantasize that he has been involved in a car accident.

The problem is that fantasy does not address the emotional disturbance in a rational way. In fact it can often exacerbate the problem. Instead of focusing on what can be done in that moment, we focus on the possibilities, both negative and positive. It seems we are both gluttons for punishment and self-aggrandizement. We can either fantasize that something terrible will happen or that something amazing will happen. But our fantasies distract us from what we actually can and should do. The anxious mother might not be able to do anything but if she can control her thoughts then it would be best not to fantasize about catastrophes, for her own sake.

So, in my opinion, fantasy is almost always damaging. I believe it is best to live in the real. The only time that it is healthy to fantasize is when it actually functions as a mental rehearsal for action or if we are imagining a spiritual reality that helps us to engage our physical reality (i.e. believing that God lives inside of me as a reminder that I ought to love others). And, in my opinion, those types of fantasy only occur when intentionally imagined. But I know that there are plenty of people who would disagree. What are your thoughts, if you have any on the matter??

**Postscript: I should add that I believe that fantasy is unavoidable. I'm just arguing that we should try to become more aware of it so that we can address the underlying issues. In time we can learn to stop some of our fantasies by recognizing our emotional disturbances but in the end we're still going to escape reality from time to time.**