You may have heard about how people create wonderful worlds in their minds. Some of them are writers, movie directors, and other creative people. Also some of them are patients of psychiatric hospitals. The first group can create imaginary worlds, for example, because they like the process or the results. The second group often create such worlds to escape from reality.
And I can understand people from the second group. The real world can be a pretty scary place. There are many things around us we don’t know, many things we don’t understand. Also an understanding requires mental effort and mental discipline. It is also easier to succumb to the just-world hypothesis—a popular cognitive bias—then to accept that the world is not just.
So people can also experience some traumas which in addition to other factors can lead to creation of an imaginary world. At this point critical thinking wouldn’t help directly, a person should seek help from a medical doctor. At the same time critical thinking can help the doctor to be more effective, it can also help people before they fully submerge themselves into a fantasy.
Even if the real world looks scarier than a fantasy world, metacognition can help to direct one’s attention and thoughts to more positive things and topics, something they like, and feel comfortable to think about. Mental discipline can help transforming complicated mental processes into automatic mental actions, thus increasing one’s mental capabilities and saving energy for more creative tasks. Applying logic and using emotion regulation can solve hard issues and answer difficult questions, because events the most hard issues can be split into a set of less complicated problems.
But to use all of this effectively people also need to make their mental map to closely reflect the real world. People can have a number of imaginary worlds in their minds, but they shouldn’t be used as a model of the real world. It may be a hard step, but after passing this milestone a person can achieve his goals more easily because the road to the goals can be seen more clearly.
And still we can use fantasy worlds for recreation and creative purposes.