My Daughter Projects Her Psychic Apparatus Onto Imaginary Friends

My two-year-old daughter has personified the warring factions of her psyche and is literally working out her issues using imaginary friends.

Kids are concrete thinkers. They are literalists who imagine all manner of abstractions as physical beings. Everything unknown is magic and The Dark, or disquieting unknown, is the perfect breeding ground for magic of any sort. Fears and anxieties become monsters… nocturnal monsters that can hide under your bed. 

Brontë lives in a world bursting with monsters, but also has a strong coterie of imaginary stuffed animal and doll friends.  She makes them talk, giving them unique temperaments and catch phrases.

Within her inner circle are a number of distinct personalities, roughly corresponding to Freud’s model of the psychic apparatus.

The Id

Pink Bear climbs the Forbidden Cat Tree
Pink Bear climbs the Forbidden Cat Tree
Pink Bear strikes again, flipping Brontë's bed into a jungle gym
Pink Bear strikes again, flipping Brontë’s bed into a jungle gym

Don’t be fooled by how adorable Pink Bear looks in his little pink hoodie. He is pure chaos. He jumps on the bed, knocking everything over. He scrambles up into the kitchen cabinets to sneak honey. He pulls all of Brontë’s clothes out of her dresser and dumps them around her room.

Walk into Brontë’s room to see all the books knocked out of her bookshelf into piles on the floor? “Pink Bear did it!” she will say.

Pure chaos
Pure chaos

Pink Bear will take off whenever he feels like it, living by the pleasure principle alone. Pink Bear will unwind toilet paper all over the place. He will make a mess, just to do it. He’s a rebel without a cause.

Sometimes he even locks Brontë’s baby sister in the bathroom. Pink Bear is clearly a bad influence.

The Superego

Perfect Punzel, the Pollyanna Princess
Perfect Punzel, the Pollyanna Princess

Brontë’s Superego is embodied by “Punzel,” the princess doll. She has long blonde hair and always wears beautiful dresses. She is pretty: her hair is pretty, her face is pretty, her clothes are pretty, and all of her things are pretty. She likes to ride horses and eat cupcakes. She is friends with all other the other princess dolls and likes to invite them to princess parties.

Brontë invites her aunt to Perfect Punzel-Land
Brontë invites her aunt to Perfect Punzel-Land

Punzel is everything we expect her to be, as well as everything we want little girls to be. She wears frilly dresses, hosts tea parties, and talks in a pretty, soft voice. She never gets angry, never says anything ugly, and never, absolutely ever, sneaks honey out of the kitchen cabinets. She often finds herself in distress and needs rescuing, but that comes with the territory of being a glamorous princess.

Punzel does, however, sometimes come into conflict with Pink Bear. She disapproves of his mess-making and general barbarian tendencies, whereas Pink Bear thinks Punzel is a prissy little goodie two-shoes with no backbone.

At story time, which is Brontë’s favorite nightly ritual, Punzel and Pink Bear will often jockey for position next to Brontë as a book is being read. They both want to see the pictures, but don’t want to look at each other’s stupid face.

The Ego

Brontë's consigliere and best imaginary friend
Brontë’s consigliere and best imaginary friend

Chief among Brontë’s inner circle is Minnie. She is a Minnie Mouse puppet blanket and Brontë’s constant companion.

Minnie knows how to balance her public persona with a good dose of merrymaking, but also has a wild side. She will throw tantrums, draw pictures of poo, blow indignant raspberries, grab books in her mouth and throw them, and even try to bite the other animals when angry enough.

Ensconced in Minnie's comforting loyalty
Ensconced in Minnie’s comforting loyalty

Most of her antics, however, are motivated by her desire to keep the other imaginary friends in line. When Pink Bear and Punzel are disrupting story time with constant bickering, Minnie Mouse tells them to “SHUT UP” and points out where each of them needs to sit. She can be a little bossy, but without her level-headed mediation, all hell would break loose.  Someone has to step up.

The Shadow

Monster double agent
Monster double agent and all-around untrustworthy bear.

In Brontë’s imaginary pantheon of psychic dilemmas, there even exists a shadow figure. Meet Orange Bear, the traitor.

See that gentle grin? Those reassuring eyebrows lifted in the middle in a way that suggests harmless benevolence? Don’t believe them. Those eyebrows are a lie.

Brontë thought Orange Bear was her friend, but he was entrusted with the sacred duty of protecting her from monsters at night. He looks big and tough, so one night when she was telling me all about the scary night monsters that sneak into her room, I reassured her that Orange Bear was there to keep her safe.

The next morning, she stomped out of her room, disgusted, while dragging Orange Bear behind her. With utter disdain, she summarily dumped Orange Bear in the hallway.

Confused, I started dragging him back into her room and she had a fit. “NO!” she screamed, “NO ORANGE BEAR!”

“You don’t want Orange Bear in your room? He keeps the monsters out,” I said.

“HE DO NOT,” she shouted, “He let monsters IN my room!” And with that, she banished Orange Bear forever.

Brontë considers loyalty a great virtue. Betrayal will not be tolerated. Orange Bear’s transgression was unforgivable, and to this day, Orange Bear is not allowed to step foot into Brontëland.

Technically, the Shadow figure is an element of Jungian psychology, not Freudian. I find this gratifying, since I’m fonder of Jung than Freud. Perhaps this entire schema should be revised  in terms of Jungian archetypes. Let’s see… Punzel would be the princess. Pink Bear is the outlaw, and Minnie is the mentor?

Whoever thought that child’s play is frivolous? Seems fraught with emotional drama to me. Next time your kids (or any kids) are acting stuff out with their dolls (or “action figures” if they are boys, because obviously boys play with “action figures”), pay attention. You might be surprised by how often inner turmoil is personified into concrete characters.

17 thoughts on “My Daughter Projects Her Psychic Apparatus Onto Imaginary Friends

  1. Oh my gosh, you’re writing is HILARIOUS AHAHAHAHA. I’ve been reading other posts too,oh man,always such a pleasure to read :)) I like how you linked Freud to your daughter’s toy personalities hehe. Geek mom! But its so damn true.
    HA! Consigliere 😉 That was straight from the Godfather wasn’t it!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, thank you! 🙂

      I mostly wrote this one just to amuse myself, but I’m happy you appreciate my sense of humor. It was more a raw post about the weird stuff going through my head as I watched my daughter play.

      Yup, total Godfather reference! The idea of Minnie Mouse steepling her giant white hands while acting as consigliere cracked me up.

      Geek mom, for sure. You’re onto me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your children are really cute! It’s so nice that you’re doing this so that you can remember the good ol times. I think alot of people just seem to forget that.
        I bet she said ‘Minnie, welcome to the family.’ 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you! 🙂

          One nice thing about blogging all this is we will probably remember many stories we would otherwise forget. Either my kids are going to be very touched one day or very embarrassed. 🙂

          That’s GREAT… “Minnie, welcome to the family,” haha. I believe we can trust Minnie. She’s very loyal to the family, even though she was adopted in.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Orange bear’s transgressions were unforgivable XD That’s why I love reading your posts. Btw I find Jungian archetypes interesting but mainly because I don’t know much about them,I only know freud haha cos I studied freudian and nietzsche interpretations for one of the books I did for alevel lit, A streetcar named desire

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, they really WERE! My daughter just dragged Orange bear out of her room with toddler disdain and unceremoniously dumped him in the hallway before slamming her door. Orange Bear sold her out. 😀

      I know a little about Jung and Freud and prefer Jung (but Freud worked well for this). I like his archetype and shadow theories. You can go Jung crazy on Star Wars too, especially Empire Strikes Back.

      Streetcar named Desire? Talk about selling people out… It would be interesting to read Freudian and Nietzchien (?) interpretations of it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. HAHAHA 😂😂😂 You make me laugh all the time haha :))
        Really? I should read more about Jung. I don’t particularly like Freud’s overarching idea of life revolving around sex.
        Yeah, it’s my favourite play! I really recommend it especially since it’s not really long and really interesting. I think you’ll pick up alot of interesting interpretations and maybe we can discuss it once you finish hehe 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks! 🙂 I’m glad you get me.

          I completely agree about Freud. Sure, he had some innovative ideas and yes, sex factors into our psychology, but I think he took it way too far. Sometimes a circle is just a circle and a line is just a line… not everything in the entire universe represents genitals, sheesh…

          I guess Jung had the same issue with Freud, which is why he broke off. His views aren’t as one-dimensional, in my opinion, and he came up with archetypes, the shadow figure (our dark side), the collective unconscious, etc.

          You favorite play? I’ve read it and really liked it too, but it has been a while (high school). I remember Blanche likes to paint beauty onto ordinary things (paper lanterns covering the lights), Stanley was a feral caveman, and Stella straight up sold her sister downriver.

          I should read it again. It’s a great play and I’m sure I’ll catch more details the second time.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Oops typo. Your posts always brighten up my day :)) Yeah, Freud is like squeezing everything into sexual theories,I don’t even think oedipus,electra complexes and the three stages of development which I find quite ridiculous. Yeah!! I like Blanche as a character but also because she’s very complex…quite tragic too,she to me represented a sort of effeminate aristocracy/old world vs the more aggressive new world. She herself represented a confused superego. Haha yup you’re right, Stella backstabbed her, damn, she just swept everything under the rug. Survival of the ruthless. You most definitely should, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Couldn’t agree more. Freud put a truly disturbing take on everyday life, and I think he went way overboard. I read a biography about him once, trying to understand him, and decided he had a strange upbringing that gave him a really skewed perspective.

              I like your old world/new world perspective on Streetcar Named Desire. It makes perfect sense, with Blanche always talking about the good old days at their estate and frowning at her sister’s new common life.

              I’ll definitely reread it and get back to you. I’d love to hear more about why it’s your favorite play. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Hey Erin, sorry for the super late ass reply. Been a little busy. I saw in one of your posts you had a hand surgery? How is it? Are you feeling better? Get well soon okay 🙂
                Yeah, totally, I’ll pour out all my thoughts once you’ve reread it, can’t wait to have another conversation like the fembot one HAhahah 🙂
                Oh really? I didn’t know that, yeah that explains ALOT about him.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Hey, I’m just touched you’re getting back to me at all, what with your blog and studies and everything else! 🙂

                  It’s all good, I’m almost 100 % better. It’s sweet of you to ask 🙂

                  Sounds great! I love analyzing films, books, ideas… whatever. From fembots to Freud to Blanche DuBois. It was a great fembot convo and I love being able to debate topics with someone thoughtful and curious.

                  Yep. He grew up with a pack of sisters and was weirdly favored by his mom. Fo example, he was about six when one of his sisters showed musical promise, so the family bought her a piano and little Sigmund said it bugged him, so they got rid of the piano. It seems like a strange relationship.

                  He also got into cocaine at some point and decided we could figure everything about about someone’s psychology by studying their nose and its anatomical structures. Nose surgery could fix mental problems, he thought.

                  Not saying he didn’t have innovative ideas or anything, but obviously he didn’t have his fingers on the great pulse of human truth, lol. The guy had an odd worldview.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. That’s great :)))) I look forward to our discussions!
                    That was some weird childhood he had, I wonder why he’s given so much credit still, I mean his theories are super skewed. The oedipus/electra complex thing is probably not even the norm…weird.
                    Nose?!?! Now that’s too absurd. I’ve had nose problems since I was young with all my sinus and narrow airways (which I recently had surgery for haha), I wonder what that says about me!
                    Sorry my reply’s so late, I’ll be quicker I promise!!
                    Oh I just watched Mustang and did a review of it, I think you’ll like it 🙂

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. I’m glad you think so too, because many of his theories creep me out. He put a creepy veneer on life in general, imo.

                      Maybe part of his popularity comes from people’s tendency to think of brutal/uncomfortable stuff as realistic. They feel like he’s facing uncomfortable truths or something.

                      And there’s probably a little something to it, like the idea that we can have opposing motivations or tend to project our fears. But he takes it too far.

                      Yeah, he might’ve thought any problems you had were because of your sinuses, haha. I think he moved past the nose theories, but it goes to show he thought some crazy stuff.

                      I’ll check out your review for Mustang–I think you have great taste and I love your reviews! 🙂

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. Thanks Erin 🙂
                      Weird guy he is…Do you like Nietzsche btw? I read abit of his book the birth of tragedy which I found really interesting but again, he takes it too far at times as well.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    3. You know, I don’t know enough about him. I had to read a little of his stuff in college, and thought he had an interesting take–the idea that pandering to the weak would bring down society (at least, that’s how I read it).

                      But it seemed to me he was pushing a might-makes-right agenda and I would argue that if the “weak” managed to unite enough to topple the strong, then why isn’t that a valid strategy?

                      I guess I thought it didn’t make sense to call the “weak” unnatural leader if they were overthrowing the strong, but again, I don’t think I’ve read enough to really understand him.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    4. Happy Easter Erin 😊😊 Sorry for the late reply, hmm I didn’t know about that. I mainly studied the literary side of his works with the birth of tragedy. His theory focused on how tragedy was an essential part of life, and that too often nowadays, people can’t seem to accept tragedy as a natural force, and people often can’t come to terms with finding meaning and peace through tragedy. It’s also reflected in recent art forms too where resolutions come from some easy or ‘forced’ catharsis instead of true catharsis haha yknow what I mean? I think he’s quite right here.

                      Yeah what you said is right, how can the weak be unnatural if they naturally displace the leader HAHA


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