The existential role of imagination

Imagination is a worthy partner to memory and perception.

In perception we observe what is currently happening.

In memory we recall what has happened in the past.

In imagination we conjure up what might happen in the future.

Imagination is the agent of our renovation and rejuvenation.

It is essential to us living a creative life, in which we seek to enhance and improve past, present and future. 

Instead of simply suffering negativity and frustrations, we can use our imagination in finding new angles to things, discovering new resources and coming up with solutions to problems.  Our imagination is our greatest inspiration, reminding us of what is possible.

We need to match and mix it with the painstaking work of remembering and the careful art of observation, whilst allowing ourselves to dream up new realities.

An imagination that is devoid of factual input is hollow and delusional.

A reality that is devoid of imagination leaves us feeling insignificant and redundant.

The creative life accepts and faces truth and history, to soar beyond them.

This leads to transformative experiences that bring us meaning and purpose.


Emmy van Deurzen is the Founder and Principal of The New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling in London, an authority on existential therapy, psychologist, philosopher and author of books including Rising From Existential Crisis: Life Beyond Calamity.