After reading this article you will learn about Imagination:- 1. Meaning of Imagination 2. Nature of Imagination 3. Types 4. Imagination in the Child 5. Development 6. Role of Images in Mental life 7. Abnormalities.
- Meaning of Imagination
- Nature of Imagination
- Types of Imagination
- Imagination in the Child
- Development of Imagination
- The role of Images in Mental life
- Abnormalities of Imagination
1. Meaning of Imagination:
Memory is the exact reproduction of the contents of past experience in the same order in which they were experienced in the past. Imagination consists in reproducing the contents of past experience and arranging them in a new order different from that in which they were originally experienced.
Sometimes memory is called reproductive imagination because in it the contents of past experience are reproduced in the same form and order. You perceived a garden with various kinds of plants and flowers arranged in a particular order.
You remember it now in the same order in which you perceived it in the past. This is called memory. You perceived gold and a mountain in the past. You remember them and conjoin them and picture the image of a golden mountain. This is called imagination. Therefore imagination is sometimes called productive or constructive imagination. In it the mind constructs an new image out of the contents of past experience.
2. Nature of Imagination:
(i) Imagination is Constructive or Productive:
It is re-arrangement of the past experiences into a new pattern. It does not create the elements or materials of an image. It reproduces the elements of past experiences and forms them into new combinations. Imagination is not exact reproduction of a past experience. The contents of past experiences are reproduced and combined in a new order.
There is conjunction in a new manner. You perceived roses and blue colour in the past, but never blue roses. But you can reproduce the image of a rose and the image of blue colour, and combine them into the image of a blue rose. Similarly, you can picture the image of a ten-headed monster. Sometimes there is dis-function or separation of the elements of past experiences.
You always perceived walking men with heads. But you disjoin the heads from walking men in imagination and picture the images of headless walking men. Sometimes there is substitution. Some parts of the objects perceived in the past are replaced by other parts in imagination. You may imagine a person with hands made of gold.
Sometimes there is augmentation of the contents of past experiences .When we increase the size of men hundred times and picture the images of giants, monsters, Brobdignags and the like, there is augmentation. Sometimes there is diminution of the contents of past experiences. When we decrease the size of men and picture the images of dwarfs, imps, Liliputs and the like there is diminution.
(ii) Mental Manipulation:
Woodworth calls imagination mental manipulation because an individual rearranges facts previously observed and recalled at present into a new pattern in imagination. A centaur is composed of man and horse, and mermaid of woman and fish.
(iii) Imagination is Motivated:
It is influenced by our wishes. The child builds ‘castles in the air’ to satisfy his wishes. Imagination is a process of trial-and-error activity in order to satisfy a want. It is a mode of adaptation to an ideal situation. It is a device for achieving unattainable goals.
3. Types of Imagination:
(i) Passive Imagination:
The mind is not completely passive at any time. It is partly active when it is conscious. In passive imagination the mind is comparatively passive, and does not make any effort of the will to picture the images. The images come of themselves to the mind and are combined automatically by the suggestive forces.
This is easy play of imagination. When we are in a listless mood and fall into a day dream and build castles in the air, our imagination is passive.
(ii) Active Imagination:
In active imagination the mind exerts itself to picture an image; it makes an effort to receive the contents of past experience and combine them into new patterns. The images are not automatically combined by suggestive forces.
The combination of images is effected by an effort of the will. The mind actively selects certain materials rejects others, and constructs a new image. When we write an essay we put forth effort of the mind to remember the relevant elements of past knowledge and arrange them in a fresh manner. So we have active imagination here.
(iii) Receptive Imagination:
In receptive imagination the mind makes an effort to picture a scene described. The materials of imagination and the order of their combination are suggested to the mind from without. When we read stories, novels, dramas, poems, history, geography travels etc. we have receptive imagination in which we receive the images from without.
(iv) Creative Imagination:
In creative imagination the mind constructs an imaginary situation; it creates a new image out of the materials which it receives from within itself and arranges them in a fresh order. When an engineer constructs the plan of a building he has creative imagination. When a novelist arranges the incidents of his story into a plot he exercises creative imagination.
(v) Intellective Imagination:
Intellective imagination serves the purpose of knowledge. So it is also called cognitive imagination. Imagination engaged in intellectual construction is called intellective imagination. When Newton hit upon the hypothesis of gravitation to explain the fall of bodies to the earth by a stroke of imagination he had intellective imagination.
These are examples of creative imagination. But there may be also receptive imagination which serves the purpose of knowledge. When we read history, geography, novels, etc., we have receptive imagination which adds to our knowledge. Thus intellectual imagination may be either creative or receptive–.
(vi) Practical Imagination:
Practical imagination serve some practical purpose. It is also called pragmatic imagination. It is involved in a practical construction. It is controlled by objective conditions. In order to realize a particular end, it must satisfy the real conditions of the external world.
Pragmatic imagination must conform to objective conditions. It must be subject to objective control. When we devise a plan of a building or a machine, we have practical imagination. When we devise plans for a picnic, a railway journey, etc., we have practical imagination. It fulfils the practical needs of our life.
(vii) Esthetic Imagination:
Esthetitic imagination satisfies our aesthetic impulse. It is directed towards the gratification of sentiments. It does not satisfy any practical need; nor does it add to our knowledge. It is neither practical construction nor intellective imagination.
It satisfies our craving for beauty. Esthetic imagination is the imagination which is involved in the creation and appreciation of beauty. Here the constructive activity is essentially free. It has not to satisfy external conditions.
The constructive activity has for its end emotional satisfaction. In aesthetic imagination the constructive activity itself gives pleasure. Its value lies in itself and is independent of objective values. When a painter paints a picture, he has aesthetic imagination.
When a musician composes a song, he exercises aesthetic imagination. When a poet composes a poem, he has aesthetic imagination. Esthetic imagination may be artistic or phantastic. Phantastic imagination is mere play of imagination as in daydreaming. The imagination which forms ideals of truth, beauty, and the like, is artistic.
(viii) Image Imagination:
Memory is reproduction imagination. It is exact reproduction of past experiences. Imagination is productive imagination. It consists in reproducing the elements of past experiences and rear ranging them into a new pattern.
A memory image is a faithful reproduction of the original percept. You remember the Taj Mahal that you perceived, and you have its memory image. You remember a woman and a fish, conjoin them in imagination, and have the image of a mermaid. You have an image of imagination.
There are different types of images of imagination as there are different types of memory images. Different individuals imagine in terms of different images. Most persons can easily picture visual images of a house, a garden, and a flower. The imagery of sight is most predominant with most persons. Others can easily picture auditory images.
They imagine a factory in terms of the images of its sound. Others can easily picture tactual images. They imagine the sea in terms of the coolness of its water. Others imagine it in terms of the muscular experience of plunging into water, lifting water and the like, and have motor images.
Visual, auditory and tactual images are vivid. Olfactory images and gustatory images are less common and vivid. But some persons can imagine the taste of quinine and the smell of turpentine.
They have gustatory and olfactory images. Same may imagine the discomfort of illness and have organic images. It is possible to have any or all these types of imagery. Persons are classified into visites, audiless, tactiless, motiles, and the like according as the largely imagine in terms of visual, auditory, tactual, and motor imagery.
A few persons have vivid images of taste and smell. Different types of images are treated as symbols only. We mean by them not only themselves but other things associated with them in sense experience. We have images corresponding to all kinds of sensations.
4. Imagination in the Child:
Imagination is mental manipulation of the objects of past experience. The child gradually develops the power of imagination. It is manifested in manual skill, make-believe, constructiveness, and story-telling.
(i) Manual Skill:
The development of manual skill in the child shows that he has developed a power of imagination. He grasps and manipulates objects and gradually acquires manual skill. Manual skill depends upon mental manipulation or imagination of objects.
When a child makes a house of damp sand, he has an image of a house in his mind. Clay-modelling, making kites, ink-pots, cups, and boats of paper, and other manual skills beat testimony to the child’s imagination.
The child’s imagination is expressed in make-believe which is an important element in play. The little boy rides a stick and treats it as a horse. He knows that it is a mere stick, but imagines it to be a horse for the time being. The little girl plays the mother and treats the doll as her baby. Thus make-believe is an expression of imagination. Play with imaginary companions also is an expression of imagination.
The child’s constructiveness also is an expression of its power of imagination. He builds a house with damp sand or mud, arranges dolls into parties, takes things apart and puts them together. In these acts of construction the child sees the ways in which objects can be arranged, or mentally manipulates certain objects.
The child later develops the power of story-telling. He invents a story out of the elements of past experience. Thus he shows the power of constructive imagination. In make-believe the child manipulates actual objects. In story-telling the child thinks of certain objects and combines them together in his own way. Some children are capable of making verses, which also is a manifestation of imagination.
5. Development of Imagination:
Imagination depends upon memory which depends upon perception. Children under three have only memory of reproductive imagination. They can only revive their past experiences. At a later stage their imagination is largely receptive. They can picture images as suggested by other persons or books. They cannot create images. During the third and fourth years, children have abundance of creative imagination.
They are very fond of fairy tales in the disregard of the reality. From four to eight their creative imagination is of the phantastic type and divorces from reality due to their lack of knowledge of the external world and its laws. Manual skill, constructiveness, make-believe in play, and story-telling indicate the development of imagination in children.
As they grow older, they acquire knowledge of the external world and become more practical. Their creative imagination ceases to be phantastic and becomes more pragmatic. Pragmatic imagination satisfies the demands of the reality, and is more objective then subjective. During adolescence Phantastic imagination again becomes predominant with a strong element of emotion. It takes the form of daydreaming.
The adolescents become the heroes of their own daydreams. Adolescence is pre-eminently the age of daydreaming. Excessive daydreaming is harmful to the individual. It makes him worthless and unable to cope with the world. With the passing away of adolescence, imagination again becomes pragmatic.
It ceases to be fantastic and emotional. Pragmatic imagination takes the place of emotional daydreaming. At last artistic imagination emerges. It creates ideals of truth, good, and beauty. It rises above the practical needs of life and satisfies the deeper cravings of the mind. This may also be called idealistic imagination.
6. Role of Images in Mental life:
Imagination affords pleasure to a person. He can remember past scenes of great enjoyment and imagine himself enjoying them over again. He can anticipate future experiences full of joy and derive pleasure from them. Vivid reminiscences and expectations are sources of great delight.
Social sharing of interest depends upon vividness of imagery. Persons of vivid imagination can easily follow and enjoy descriptions of concrete things. They are Appreciate narration of events. They can carry on conversation fluently.
They can lend colour to their language on account of their vivid imagery. They can appreciate wit, humour, and even slang. They can enjoy jokes. They can understand delicate shades of meaning, simples, metaphors, fables, parables, and the like.
Sympathy is the ability to share the feelings and emotions of others. This depends upon the ability to put oneself in the place of others, and this involves imagination. Thus sympathy depends upon imagination. We can enjoy a drama by identifying ourselves with the imaginary characters. Children can enjoy stories of the people of other lands and other times by means of their vivid imagery.
(iii) Creative Work:
Weaving, beautiful plots, creating interesting scenes, making grand designs, inventing machinery, and the like depend on creative imagination. Engineering, architecture, sculpture, painting, music, poetry, drama and novels utilises creative imagination.
(iv) Misuse of Imagination:
(a) Telling Lies:
Young children have very vivid images. So they are apt to confound images with percept. This is the reason why sometimes they tell lies. They cannot distinguish between things perceived and creatures of their imagination.
They mix up percept with images unconsciously. Little children often do not deliberately tell lies. They omit those parts of the incidents which are disagreeable to them, and insert incidents which are agreeable to them. Sometimes they fail to remember certain minor incidents that happened in the past and fill in the gaps by imagination.
(b) Night Fears:
Many night fears of young children are due to the confusion of images with percept. They vividly imagine ghosts, giants, demons or hobgoblins in the dark corners of a room when alone at night, and seem to perceive them actually. Their vivid images are hallucinations. They are images projected to the external world and appear to be real objects of perception.
(c) Imaginary Companions:
Little children three or four years old often experience imaginary companions. They have vivid images of playmates and confuse them with percept. They are found to play with imaginary companions when they are all alone.
Constant indulgence in play with imaginary companions does not develop the qualities of cooperation and fellowship. If it is continued up-to adolescence, one may become reserved, mordid and unsocial.
(d) Living in Unreality:
The mind and introvert child flies away from reality and lives in an imaginary world. Excessive daydreaming is harmful. It makes the child diffident and unable to cope with the world. In adolescence also persons indulge in daydreams and substitute an imaginary world for a real world. These are the misuse of imagination.
(v) Day-Dream Reverie:
(a) Day-Dreaming is Passive Imagination:
It consists in reverie, phantasy, or building castles in the air. There is free association of ideas in it. Images suggest one another by the force of association. They come of themselves to the mind which remains comparatively passive.
This was the view of older psychologists. Normal persons indulge in daydreaming. Introverts are more prone to daydreaming then extraverts. Daydreaming is more frequent in children than in adults. It is of the nature of what Bleuler calls “autistic thinking” which is sufficient unto itself, and not subject to criticism.
(b) Dreams and Daydreams:
Dreams are the work of the subconscious mind during sleep. They are memory images due to the revival of subconscious images combined in a fantastic manner. They are sometimes excited by some external stimuli, but mostly by the brain.
Sometimes they are wish-fulfilling. But many dreams are not so. Dreams appear to be real because they are not checked by the real facts in the environment. Day-dreams are images of imagination woven together into a pattern during waking hours, which gratify the mastery motive that is not satisfied in real life.
They have a greater continuity than dreams, and are always wish fulfilling. In both ideational activity is not consciously controlled by a definite purpose.
(c) Daydreams are Motivated:
The modern psychologist maintain that day-dreams are motivated by some desires. Adler holds that they look forward to the future. They plan a future course of action, though it is not a serious plan. They are mere play of imagination, which gratify some desires.
Day-dreams are expressions of some desires which give an impetus to the imagination. Sometimes they are the direct fulfilment of repressed desires. They are wish-fulfilling. Adler holds that day-dreams are the fulfilment of the instinct of self-assertion.
(d) Conquering Hero and Suffering Hero Daydreams:
Day-dreams generally have a hero; they are woven round him. The hero is usually the dreamer’s self. Sometimes he is the conquering hero and sometimes the suffering hero. The conquering hero day-dream in which the dreamer tides over all difficulties in life, defeats his rivals, and carves out a career for himself satisfies his mastery motive or instinct of self-assertion.
It does not require the efforts of real execution of the plan. Such day-dreams are very common. The conquering hero day-dreams, may be accompanied by delusions of grandeur in insanity.
The suffering hero daydreams seem to be inexplicable at first. But these also may satisfy the mastery motive. A young man neglecting his studies and being severely rebuked by his parents may think of a career for himself. He may imagine himself either a martyr of desperado or some other kind of suffering hero.
Thus the instinct of self-assertion is satisfied in this kind of day-dream also. The suffering hero day-dreams may be accompanied by delusions of persecution in insanity.
(vi) Autistic Thinking:
(a) Autistic Thinking is Uncritical Imagination:
Autistic thinking is thinking that is sufficient unto it-self, and does not submit to any standard. It does not agree with reality or the standard of the society. It is contracted with realistic thinking and socialized thinking. It does not submit to self-criticism or the criticism of other people. It is self-sufficient. It does not accord with reality.
(b) Daydreaming Involves Autistic Thinking:
It gratifies some desire, and that is enough for it. Autistic thinking is found in normal persons who are immersed in their imaginary worlds impervious to realities. It is also found in insane persons. Some of them are uncommunicative and unresponsive to the environment. They live in their own worlds of fancy and refuse to take note of the external world.
Others transform the world into a make-believe world, and read their own meanings into things and persons that surround them. Moderate daydreaming is a safety-valve for our repressed desires. But excessive daydreaming leads to mental disorders.
Day-dreams are expressions of desires that are unfulfilled in reality. McDougall points out that sex, fear, anger, tender emotion, curiosity, ambition, vanity, self-reproach, horror, loathing—every kind of impulse and desire—may be the motive of such brooding reverie or day7dream, which is partly re-collective, partly constructive.
(a) Worry is Motivated:
An individual indulges in worry when there is no scope for real action. Worry is the substitute for real action. A student has prepared for the examination; he has taken the examination; he has done fairly well; he has nothing to do now. So he should dismiss the matter from his mind. But he cannot do so; he speculates and worries. Here worry is a substitute for real action.
(b) Worry is an Expression of a Repressed Desire:
Some abnormal cases of worry may be disguised expression of repressed desires. When a person feels extreme worry for the recovery of his formidable rival from serious illness, his worry may be a clock for his unacknowledged desire to get rid of him. His repressed desire for his rival’s death may take the disguise of extreme worry for him.
(c) Worry in Indoor Speed:
The child has gone to play; she is late in coming back home. The mother worries over it. If there were a real danger, she would do something to save the child. But the mother indulges in worry in order to enjoy the pleasure of her company better when she comes back.
7. Abnormalities of Imagination:
Identification is a form of phantasy. The readers of novels, adventures, and dramas, as well as the people in theatre and motion-picture audiences, tend to identify themselves with the important characters portrayed, and so escape imaginatively for the time being from their misfortunes or humdrum experiences. Identification is a kind of day-dreaming. It affords imaginative satisfaction to ungratified desires.
It provides an imaginative escape from the world of hard facts, sorrows and misfortunes. Identification is an important element in art appreciation. Excessive phantasy may lead to mental illness. In mental derangements there is identification of the patient with a hero or a martyr, attended with a grandiose delusion or a persecutory delusion.
Failure to secure mastery, social approval, or to gratify some strong desires may be partly averted by projection. It consists in imagining that our own trouble, weakness, or deficiency is the result of the action of some other thing or person, real or imaginary.
There is a universal tendency to project one’s trouble to some cause other than one’s own deficiency. A person attributes his failure in life to his not getting opportunities. His failure is an examination is due to unfair questions.
A clumsy carpenter accuses his tools. Persons do not recognize their own faults, project them to other things and persons, and blame them for their own inability and inefficiency. Projection provides an imaginative escape from self-reproach consequent upon one’s own deficiency weakness, guilt, or repressed complex arising from ungratified desire.
In mental disorders there is projection. The patient attributes his distress to the persecution of others, or his imaginary superiority to the communication from spirits, angels, or God. Excessive projection may produce mental disorders.
Children resort to regression when their desires are frustrated. They weep, stamp their feet, kick objects about, and perform other such inadequate responses, Even adults revert to such regressive behaviour when they are forced to take bitter and distasteful medicines.
In mental derangements the patient unable to adjust himself to the social environment adequately adopts regression to earlier irresponsible behaviour. Regression involves an abnormal form of imagination. It will be considered again in connection with mental mechanisms.
In mental derangement a person is sometimes haunted by a fixed idea, for example, of killing his father or mother or son; and does not recognize it to be abnormal. He ought to be confined in a lunatic asylum to prevent him from committing the crime. He has not the power of inhibiting the idea and the consequent action.
When a patient is the victim of such a fixed idea, he has abnormal imagination. Identification, projection, regression, and fixed idea may be abnormal modes of imagination.