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Title: Imaginary companionship and adult memory narratives : an interpretive phenomenological analysis
Author: Rond, Caroline D.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7971 7337
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2016
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The purpose of this study has been to understand the experience of imaginary companionship through the memory narratives of adults. Following a mid-century lull in research on imaginary companions, contemporary studies have focused primarily on childhood populations. Using correlational methods to draw inference between imaginary companionship status and other developmental facets of childhood these large sample studies have sought links for instance to theory of mind, narrative ability, perspective-taking and creativity. However, as less is known about the personal meanings attached to and the lived experiencing of these early relationships, the study has taken a phenomenological approach. For the nine university students who remembered having had an imaginary companion and who volunteered to share their stories, the aim was to understand the meanings attached to these companionships through idiosyncratic, personal accounts. The delineated phenomenon, 'the remembered as told', permitted an understanding of both the experience and its interpretation within a context of intentionality and temporality. The individual narrative interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed for Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). From the narrative data emerged the following key themes: The relationship experience, social comparison, self-evaluation, the impact of the imaginary companion relationship on identity formation, the influence of mother as a key figure, the influence of others in memory and, the experience of temporality and loss. What is apparent from a collective examination of the narratives is how the imaginary companionship is experienced ecologically in terms of other co-occurring experiences and connections to relationships within the family. Interpretation shows further that the connections include past and present representations of self and that, as a potentially self-defining memory, this special companionship has, for some individuals, facilitated coherence in their evolving life stories.
Supervisor: Glenny, Georgina ; Wild, Mary Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral