December 28, 2019

Is it unhealthy to use fantasy as a coping mechanism?

Hazel Allan, 49

Preoccupied with gaming, my teenage son spends substantial amounts of time immersed in alternate universes. This has made me question the impact of such behaviour on his health, and has also encouraged me to reflect on my own habits, values and desire to ‘fill the hole in my soul’ by retreating into fictional worlds. What is this universal craving to escape reality and is this magnified in our modern culture? Working through problems, either through gaming, writing, or creating fantasy worlds, gives us something to deal with from a solvable position. Fantasy sets up challenges and quests, offering rewards for their completion. Imagining fulfilling and exciting experiences – particularly ones we’re unlikely to ever encounter in our everyday lives – is far more appealing than dealing with a boring or depressing reality. However, daydreaming is typically frowned upon. At school I was continually scolded for my overactive imagination – like it was a terrible thing! And yet there were valid reasons why I spent so much time inside my head rather than outside it. So instead of sending out the message that young people need to focus more, perhaps we should take a lesson from them to dream more.

Marshmallow People, 2019Screenwriting