Robert Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze, Op.6, (published in 1837) literally “Dances of the League of David”, is an embodiment of the struggle between enlightened Romanticism and musical philistinism. Schumann credited the two sides of his character with the composition of the work (the more passionate numbers are signed Florestan and the more dreamy signed Eusebius). The work begins with the ‘motto of C.W.’ (Clara Wieck, Schumann’s wife) denoting her support for the ideals of the Davidsbund. The Bund was a work of Schumann’s imagination, members of which were kindred spirits (as he saw them) such as Chopin, Paganini and Clara, as well as the personalized Florestan and Eusebius.

The ability to create an imaginary companion during childhood is an early expression of the special ego aptitudes found in creative individuals in adult life. Such “companions” allow these children to attempt to master creatively a variety of narcissistic mortifications suffered in reality and to displace unacceptable affects. In creative adults who had imaginary companions in childhood, the early fantasies serve as an organizing schema in memory for the childhood traumata. Stimuli in adult life which evoke the earlier traumata may revive the original imaginary companion fantasies.

A long-time popular misconception — espoused by Israella Bash, Ph.D., by the way — is that most children dismiss or forget the imaginary friend once they begin school and acquire real friends.  According to one study, by the age of seven, sixty-five percent of children report that they have had an imaginary companion at some point in their lives.  Some psychologists have suggested that children simply retain but stop speaking about imaginary friends, due to adult expectations and peer pressure.  Still, some children report creating or maintaining imaginary friends as pre-teens or teenagers. Few adults report having imaginary friends.

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