Falling in love with fictional characters?

Why do we do it? The short answer - we want what we can’t have.

Whether in books or films or TV shows, there are always one or two characters that we just become completely obsessed with. We can truly get absorbed by the story and experience emotions in a very real way even though we know everything in it is fiction. It’s common for us to feel real happiness or pain or any real feeling of connectedness from a fictional character. The worst thing about it is, they aren’t real. And sometimes, if we aren’t careful, we look for those qualities in real-life people. Our expectations get a little ridiculous. 

Why and how do we feel this way about fictional characters though? 

Think of it this way… Freshly brewed coffee (if you like coffee) in the morning… what does your brain do? Scientists have found that the part of our brain that deals with smell lights up when we smell something that makes us happy. The same thing happens when we are watching or reading something that makes us feel good, happy and/or completely absorbed. Philosopher Tamar Gendler uses the term ‘alief’ to explain why this happens. Meaning it is a response to how things seem.

Sometimes characters and stories are so well written, so believable and relatable to our own lives, that they could be real people. It may seem funny but some people rely on these people as comfort characters. It is completely normal! Even if they are animated… don’t worry, you’re not crazy. 

Tagged in what messes with your head, mental health, comfort, Film, tv shows, books