Click following link to check out a collection of classic articles that all psychology students should read.

Psychology Classics On Amazon

Psychology Classics

Is Being a Fantasist Harmful

by Anonymous

I have an older brother (50 years of age) who makes up fantastic stories about past glory days. He seems to fantasize about things he wishes he had done/been, and finally reaches a point where he becomes bold enough to tell the fantasy to other family members.

Two components: a) he never tells these stories to anyone other than immediate family, and then only in one on one settings. b) His fantasies are always things that almost could have been. He doesn't ever seem to tell lies that can be easily disproven, like saying, "I was the winning pitcher at the 1974 Little League World Series, a researchable fact; more like, When I was 16, I raced motocross races every weekend and never lost a race. The Parents didn't allow it so I had to sneak out and race under a different name.

MY QUESTION: Is this harmful? He doesn't seem to be doing anything more than embarrassing the person he is telling the story to; is it harmful to him though?

Comments for Is Being a Fantasist Harmful

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments


by: Jonas

The behavior you've described, where your older brother creates and shares fantastical stories about past achievements or experiences that never happened, falls under the category of what psychologists often refer to as "confabulation" or "fantasy-prone personality." It's important to approach this behavior with empathy and understanding, as there can be various underlying reasons for it, and the impact can differ from person to person.

Here are some possible insights into your brother's behavior:

Coping Mechanism: Confabulation or creating such stories might serve as a coping mechanism for your brother. People sometimes engage in this behavior as a way to manage feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, or unmet personal aspirations. By constructing these narratives, they may temporarily boost their self-esteem or feel more significant.

Seeking Validation: Your brother's need to share these stories with immediate family members one-on-one could indicate a desire for validation or approval. These stories might be his way of seeking recognition or attention from those closest to him.

Memory Distortion: It's essential to consider that your brother might genuinely believe these stories due to memory distortion. Memory can be a complex and malleable process, and people may genuinely remember events differently from how they occurred.

Emotional Impact: Whether this behavior is harmful depends on its impact on your brother's well-being and relationships. If he becomes overly invested in these fantasies to the detriment of his real-life goals and relationships, it could be problematic. Additionally, if these stories lead to conflicts or strained relationships within the family, it may be worth addressing.

Understanding and Support: If you're concerned about your brother's behavior, consider having an open and non-confrontational conversation with him. Express your care and concern for his well-being and ask if there's a reason behind these stories. Encourage him to share his thoughts and feelings, and consider suggesting professional support, such as counseling, if needed.

Respect Boundaries: While it's important to be empathetic and supportive, it's also crucial to respect your brother's boundaries. If he is not receptive to discussing the issue or seeking help, you can only offer your understanding and support but cannot force change.

Your brother's behavior might not necessarily be harmful in itself, but it could be indicative of underlying emotional needs or coping strategies. Approach the situation with empathy and a desire to understand his perspective, and consider seeking professional guidance if you believe it could be negatively affecting his life or relationships.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Psychology Q & A.