How is it possible for us to believe in something that we "only" imagined? What are we to make of those who claim to have been abducted by aliens, to have multiple personalities, or to have recovered long-lost memories of childhood abuse? This edited volume applies thoughtful, scholarly analysis to topics more typically found in tabloids. Its subject is how we may come to believe in the reality of phenomena that spring from our imaginations, and the function of such imaginings in our emotional lives.

Believed-In Imaginings presents the varied perspectives of distinguished thinkers from the fields of psychology, anthropology, and sociology. They discuss conceptual issues such as how the terms imagining, believing, and remembering are defined, as well as developmental phenomena, such as children's attachment to the Tooth Fairy and transitional objects in times of need. Other chapters investigate topics ranging from the nature of hypnotic subjects' belief in the contrafactual, to the role of dream elements in believed-in imaginings and the controversial subject of recovered memories of abuse.

This provocative and fascinating book will appeal to clinical as well as theoretical psychologists and sociologists, and to any reader interested in exploring the topics of memory and the imagination.

Table of Contents

List of Contributors


—Joseph de Rivera and Theodore R. Sarbin

I. Defining Belived-In Imaginings

  1. Believed-In Imaginings: A Narrative Approach
    —Theodore R. Sarbin
  2. Believed-In Imaginings: Whose Words, Beliefs, Imaginings, and Metaphors?
    —Morton Wiener
  3. Replicas, Imitations, and the Question of Authenticity
    —Karl E. Scheibe

II. Developmental Issues

  1. Imagination and True Belief: A Cross-Cultural Perspective
    —Penelope G. Vinden
  2. Childhood Imagination in the Face of Chronic Illness
    —Cindy Dell Clark
  3. A Developmental Perspective on the Construction of Disbelief
    —Richard J. Gerrig and Bradford H. Pillow

III. Creating Interpersonal Narratives

  1. Rendering the Implausible Plausible: Narrative Construction, Suggestion, and Memory
    —Steven Jay Lynn, Judith Pintar, Jane Stafford, Lisa Marmelstein, and Timothy Lock
  2. Dreaming, Believing, and Remembering
    —Giuliana A. L. Mazzoni and Elizabeth F. Loftus
  3. Volition as a Believed-In Imagining
    —Irving Kirsch
  4. Relinquishing Believed-In Imaginings: Narratives of People Who Have Repudiated False Accusations
    —Joseph de Rivera

IV. The Social Significance of Believed-In Imaginings

  1. Social Construction of Satanic Ritual Abuse and the Creation of False Memories
    —Jeffrey S. Victor
  2. The Mythic Properties of Popular Explanations
    —Donald P. Spence
  3. Imaginings of Parenthood: Artificial Insemination, Experts, Gender Relations, and Paternity
    —Jill G. Morawski
  4. Women's Stories of Hidden Selves and Secret Knowledge: A Psychoanalytic Feminist Analysis
    —Janice Haaken
  5. The Proof Is in the Passion: Emotion as an Index of Veridical Memory
    —Michael Kenny

V. Contrasting Agreements

  1. The Poetic Construction of Reality and Other Explantory Categories
    —Theodore R. Sarbin
  2. Evaluating Believed-In Imaginings
    —Joseph de Rivera

Author Index

Subject Index

About the Editors

Editor Bios

Joseph de Rivera, PhD, received his doctorate from Stanford in 1961. He is Professor of Psychology at Clark University and is well known both for his investigations of emotional experience and his work on the psychological aspects of peace and justice. His seminal work on emotions was first reported in A Structural Theory of the Emotions, followed by Field Theory as Human Science, Conceptual Encounter, and numerous chapters, journal articles, and an issue of the American Behavioral Scientist devoted to the qualitative analysis of emotional experience. His work in political psychology includes The Psychological Dimension of Foreign Policy and edited issues on peace and justice in the Journal of Social Issues and Social Justice Research. He is currently integrating these different lines of inquiry by investigating the emotional climate of different neighborhoods, cities, and nations, observing how different believed-in imaginings (such as the nation-state) affect emotional climates, and how these climates affect the way in which conflict is managed.

Theodore R. Sarbin, PhD, is Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Criminology at the University of California, Santa Cruz and, since 1987, is Senior Research Psychologist at the Defense Personnel Security Research Center. He earned his doctorate at Ohio State University in 1941. He has been the recipient of a number of awards and fellowships, among them, the Fulbright award at Oxford University, the Guggenheim fellowship, the Center of the Humanities fellowship at Wesleyan University, and recently, the Henry A. Murray Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. His publication list includes almost 250 papers, reviews, and books dealing with clinical inference, emotional life, role theory, hypnosis, metaphor, social identity, espionage, schizophrenia, imagination, and critiques of psychiatric nosological systems. His current work addresses some of the problems in narrative psychology raised in his book Narrative Psychology: The Storied Nature of Human Conduct.

Reviews & Awards

These essays turn on the editor's notion of "believed-in imaginings"— the belief in the veracity of events that most consider illusions or hallucinations— a concept of interest to literary theorists and philosophers as well as clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, social workers, and legal authorities. Framing a "poetic" way of talking about how individuals come to construct what they believe about the world and their relation to it, Sarbin (a psychologist) suggests a theory connecting narrative and emotional life. The illuminating papers respond to Sarbin in a variety of ways: some theorists offer criticism influenced by postmodern controversies about the foundations of truth, but most of the papers focus in the contemporary syndromes (e.g., "survivors" of possible childhood sexual abuse or imagined abduction by aliens and those with multiple personality disorders). The contributors engage these pressing psychological issues from perspectives as diverse as feminist theory, psychoanalysis, and psychiatric nosology. The most recurrent theme is that mental illness is a historical construct. The writing is sophisticated, aims at a professional audience, but in general remains remarkably free of jargon. The book is accessible to all literate readers, upper-division undergraduates and above. This reviewer plans to use an essay on emotion and catharsis for a seminar on literary theory involving Aristotle and Freud.
—CHOICE, April 1999, Vol.25, No.8