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Fantasy prone personality

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Fantasy prone personality (FPP) is a disposition or personality trait in which a person experiences an extensive and deep involvement in fantasy.[1] An individual with this trait (termed a fantasizer) may have difficulty differentiating between fantasy and reality and may experience hallucinations and out-of-body experiences, as well as self-suggested psychosomatic symptoms.


Psychologists Sheryl C. Wilson and Theodore X. Barber are credited with identifying FPP in 1981, said to apply to about 4% of the population.[2] Besides identifying this fascinating trait, Wilson and Barber reported a number of childhood antecedents that likely caused the foundation for fantasy proneness in later life, such as "a parent, grandparent, teacher, or friend who encouraged the reading of fairy tales, reinforced the child's make-[beliefs] and fantasies, and treated the child's dolls and stuffed animals in ways that encouraged the child to believe that they were alive." They suggested that this trait ws almost synonymous with who reponded dramatically to hypnotic induction or "high hypnotizables."[1] Later research by in the '90 by Deirdre Barrett at Harvard confirmed most of these characteristics of fantay prone people, but she also identified another set of highly hypnotizable subjects who had had traumatic childhoods and who identified fantasy time mainly by "spacing out."[3]

Characteristic features

A fantasy prone person is reported to spend a large portion of his or her time fantasizing, have vividly intense fantasies, have paranormal experiences, and have intense religious experiences.[4] The fantasies may include dissociation and sexual fantasies. People with FPP are reported to spend over half of their time awake fantasizing or daydreaming and will often confuse or mix their fantasies with their real memories. They also report out-of-body experiences.[4]

Research has shown that fantasizers often had a large amount of exposure to fantasy during childhood. People have reported that they believed their dolls and stuffed animals were living creatures and that their parents encouraged them to indulge in their fantasies and daydreams.[4] For example, one subject in Barrett’s study said her parents’ formula response to her requests for expensive toys was, “You could take this . . .(household object) and with a little imagination, it would look just like . . . (that $200-whatever-Susie-just-got).” And she reported, “this worked for me—although Susie couldn’t quite always see it.” Fantasy prone people generally functioned well in their adult life.[5]

Comparison to other psychological conditions

FPP shares some of the same initial causes with dissociative identity disorder (DID)[dubious] but unlike those with DID, the person does not seem to forget the traumas they faced but merely created a new world within their own mind to which they can escape from the harshness of reality.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Lynn, Steven J., and Judith W. Rhue. "The fantasy-prone person: Hypnosis, imagination, and creativity." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1986: 404-408. 20 Apr. 2009.
  2. Wilson, S. C. & Barber, T. X. "The fantasy-prone personality: Implications for understanding imagery, hypnosis, and parapsychological phenomena." In, A. A. Sheikh (editor), Imagery: Current Theory, Research and Application (pp. 340-390). New York: Wiley.
  3. Barrett, D. L. The Hypnotic Dream: Its Content in Comparison to Nocturnal Dreams and Waking Fantasy. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1979, Vol. 88, p. 584 591; Barrett, D. L. Fantasizers and Dissociaters: Two types of High Hypnotizables, Two Imagery Styles. in R. Kusendorf, N. Spanos, & B. Wallace (Eds.) Hypnosis and Imagination, NY: Baywood, 1996; & Barrett, D. L. Dissociaters, Fantasizers, and their Relation to Hypnotizability in Barrett, D. L. (Ed.) Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy, (2 vol.): Vol. 1: History, theory and general research, Vol. 2: Psychotherapy research and applications, NY, NY: Praeger/Greenwood, 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Horselenberg, Robert, et al. "The Creative Experiences Questionnaire (CEQ): a brief self-report measure of fantasy proneness." Personality and Individual Differences 2001: 987-995. 20 Apr. 2009.
  5. Barrett, D. L. Dissociaters, Fantasizers, and their Relation to Hypnotizability, Chapter 2 in Barrett, D. L. (Ed.) Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy, (2 vol.) NY, NY: Praeger/Greenwood, 2010, p. 62-63.

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