The active formation of imagination in children becomes the basis for creating an invisible companion. The absence of external stimuli capable of captivating the child makes fantasy a source of entertainment. The causes of pronounced Carlson syndrome are psychological problems. Fictional character helps to cope with negative emotions, compensates for the missing personal qualities.
The provoking factors are:
- Lack of communication. The age of 3-7 years is a period of intensive development of communication skills. A fictional comrade satisfies the child’s need to communicate, play, eliminates the sense of abandonment, uselessness that occurs when parents are over-employed, and their peers do not accept.
- Fears, phobias. Invented character is endowed with courage, courage, becomes the protector of the child. Fantasy allows you to overcome the feeling of insecurity, children’s fears.
- Guilt. Children feel their involvement in family quarrels, problems of parents. Relationships with the Invisible Friend are used to transfer guilt or to obtain excuses, support.
- Hyperopeka, prohibitions. Total parental control, excessive care, restrictions, rules do not leave room for independence, the realization of the child’s desires. Friendship with an imaginary partner becomes a way to feel freedom, self-worth.
- Lack of interesting events. Fantasy is used to experience new experiences. A child invents characters, setting, events that capture emotionally – they let you experience joy, delight, surprise, fear.
The phenomenon of a fictional satellite is tracked in the early stages of phylogenesis – in early historical times, imaginary partners were supernatural beings: spirits, house gods, house-spirits, guardian angels, muses. Protected, provided comfort, helped to make important decisions, became sources of inspiration. In ontogenetic development, fictional friends arise in 3-6 year old children, perform similar functions.
The basis of Carlson’s syndrome is the intensive development of imagination – a function of thinking that realizes separation from a specific situation, the creation of new images. The appearance of a fictional comrade is provoked by psychological problems of various types – fears, loneliness, blocked needs. Character attributed features that reduce the feeling of discomfort, to compensate for emotional tension. Fantasy communication, games, household rituals restore the child’s comfortable state.
Symptoms of Carlson syndrome in children
An imaginary companion – a person (child, adult), an animal, a hero of a fairy tale, myth, religious teaching – is endowed with a certain set of qualities depending on the characteristics of the psychological problem that forms the basis of the syndrome. Fearful children create a brave, ready to protect character.
The feeling of loneliness creates a kind, sociable, cheerful companion, ready to play, have fun. A companion who is prone to leprosy, mischief, and adventure compensates for parental over-care, strict rules of upbringing. Children suffering from feelings of guilt have a partner who is able to support, express approval, justify or adopt guilt.
Carlson’s syndrome is manifested in stories about a fictional partner. Children rarely hide their existence in the imagination; they organize daily rituals, games taking into account the needs and desires of a comrade. During the meal, they put additional cutlery, ask mom to give food, put a second pillow, share toys for two, voice the rules of the game. Communicating, encourage, condemn, argue with a fantasy character. With pronounced symptoms, children spend most of their time with a fictional character to the detriment of real interpersonal contact.
Complications of Carlson syndrome – problems of social adaptation. With a pronounced clinical picture, the child refuses to play with his peers, does not try to make friends, avoids contact with his mother, father. Friendship-fantasy becomes a priority – any situation is controllable, emotionally comfortable. In children 5-8 years, the symptoms are gradually reduced. Care in fantasy can be fixed as a way of psychological protection, manifested in adolescents, adults. It reduces social activity, prevents the establishment of productive interpersonal contacts.
Diagnosis of Carlson syndrome in children
Most cases of Carlson’s syndrome do not become a reason for going to the doctor – the child has a “special” friend, but social activity and interest in communicating with children and parents persists. Gradually invented friendship is replaced by real relationships, study, sports, creativity. The question of the need for medical care arises when the child closes, refuses to contact people, does not separate fantasy from reality, does not show interest in activities characteristic of age (games, study, creativity). Diagnosis is carried out by a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a psychotherapist.
The following methods are used:
- Conversation. The specialist polls the parents about the features of the manifestations of the syndrome, their duration, frequency, accompanying emotional and behavioral features. Conversation with a child allows you to find out the name of a friend, age, personal qualities.
- Observation The child’s behavior, emotional reactions, relationships with mom, dad, the predominant way of education are evaluated. The fantasy character may be “present” at the doctor’s appointment; in this case, the observation suggests the reasons for the development of friendship.
- Projective psychodiagnostics. The pictorial method of research gives the most detailed information about the fictional character, his qualities, peculiarities of friendship. By the characteristics of the image, the results of the post-drawing survey are determined by emotional problems (fear, experiencing guilt, insecurity, loneliness).
In childhood differential diagnosis is not difficult: the main symptom – the presence of a fictional character – is unique. Episodic manifestations of Carlson syndrome in adolescent and adolescent patients require distinction with hallucinatory, delusional symptoms characteristic of schizophrenia. The key criterion is the critical perception of the “friend”, the distinction between reality and fantasy. Additionally, the emotional-personality traits, features of thinking are investigated.
Treatment of Carlson syndrome in children
If the fantasy friendship does not become central in the life of the child, does not replace communication with real people, then treatment is not required. Symptoms pass by the end of preschool childhood. Psychotherapist help is needed when the syndrome develops on the basis of serious mental problems – increased anxiety, insecurity, fears, repressed aggression, low self-esteem.
- Counseling. The psychotherapist conducts a conversation with parents, explaining the effect of upbringing and family relations on the development of the syndrome. Gives individual recommendations: spend more time together, reduce the level of prohibitions, requirements, express praise, support.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy. Individual lessons are aimed at eliminating existing behavioral and emotional disorders. The psychotherapist helps the child to feel, speak through existing fear, resentment, unpleasant feelings, replace them with productive ones.
- Family psychotherapy. Meetings of the psychotherapist, child and parents allow you to change family relationships that contribute to the development of the syndrome. During the trainings, games, participants learn to notice and correct behavior, style of education.
Carlson syndrome in children is a feature of mental development, characterized by the presence of an imaginary friend. A character – a person, an animal, a fairy-tale creature, a literary hero – is created by the child’s imagination. The syndrome is manifested by episodes of communication, games, household rituals with an invisible companion.
The child asks, voices the requests, puts an additional plate, shares clothes, toys. Diagnosis is carried out by the method of conversation, observation. Excessively closed, fantasies of the real world, children require family, individual psychotherapy.
Carlson’s syndrome is a social issue. The forecast is determined by the willingness of parents to become more attentive to the problems of the child. The outcome is favorable – fantasy friendship gives way to real. Prevention is based on maintaining trusting, benevolent family relationships, which are the basis of the child’s emotional comfort. The development of children’s imagination must be supported by creative activities – drawing, modeling, modeling, games. It is important to remember: a fictional friend – an assistant to the baby. You can not blame, punish the existing friendship. Smooth, calm attitude to fantasy without too much playing along contributes to the gradual disappearance of symptoms on their own.
The name of the syndrome has arisen due to the story A. Lindgren “The Kid and Carlson” about a boy and an imaginary little man living on the roof. The peculiarity of the friendship of the characters of the book – meetings occur when experiencing loneliness, resentment, sadness as a child. Communication with Carlson compensates for the softness, indecision of the Kid, directed against the requirements, prohibitions of parents. Synonymous names for the syndrome are an invisible friend, an imaginary partner. This psychological feature is manifested in children from 3 years, by 6 years the symptoms disappear. Information about the prevalence of the syndrome is absent – often the manifestations do not cause anxiety of parents, pass on their own, without hindering the development, socialization of the child.