October 25, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Finding comfort in imagination
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「妄想デート」に癒やされ /東京

With many celebrity couples recently tying the knot, it's become a hot topic during conversations with patients at my clinic. Female patients especially talk about how they are shocked to learn the news of their favorite stars getting married.

"It helped me emotionally to fantasize about going on a date with that singer," one of my patients told me. As a medical term, "delusion," is a serious psychiatric illness where a person believes in something that is not real, but "fantasy" is used to refer to innocent daydreaming. The patient didn't really think that she was going out on a date with the singer but, rather, she imagined it would be nice.


"If it's just a fantasy, you might as well go see a movie or travel together with the singer in your dreams. I do it all the time," I told her. It would be problematic if a psychiatrist recommended patients have delusions, but there is nothing more uplifting than dreaming about what could happen. It requires no money or tools. When I am daydreaming about something, my age or appearance doesn't matter.

Sometimes I'm asked, "All of that is not real. Don't you feel kind of empty after waking up to reality?" But I try to forget about my fantasy while facing reality and focus on what's standing before me. And sometimes I tell myself, "I'll go off daydreaming while having a cup of tea after I'm done with this work."

Most women would get excited when I told them about my daydreaming activities. "I'm in my 40s and I thought it was embarrassing to have fantasies, but doctor, you're much older than me. It's good to know that we are never too old to have fantasies." That's right. There is no age limit on imagination.

We should not be embarrassed to imagine how it would be like to travel to Hawaii with our favorite stars even though in reality they are married or have five kids.

"But even when I'm having fun daydreaming (about my favorite celebrity), the fun is all gone once I realize that he is married to that actress," someone once said to me. It sounds sad, but stars only appear on TV programs and on stage, and it'll do no harm for us to imagine that they are our lovers or best friends.

Those who talk about their fantasies at the clinic of course know the difference between their imagination and reality. They can dream whatever they like, and face reality when their hearts are warmed up, and then go back to daydreaming to get emotional comfort. It's OK to have that kind of night.

(Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2015年10月20日 00時41分