In regard to communication with an imaginary person, I know of a case that is quite unusual. The imaginary had the common name of Mary Jones. Mary's mother was a widow and did sewing for a living; consequently Mary had to work very hard. My friend said she always thought of Mary and her mother as living in a house with two rooms, and she described just how the rooms looked. She said she wasn't conscious of thinking it out; it just existed, and Mary was the same to her as any of her living playmates. She used to go to visit Mary every day. In the summer time this was on the porch, and she used to sit by the hour, appearing to other people to be dreaming, but to herself she was visiting with Mary Jones. In the winter time Mary was visited in a big rocking chair in the parlor; this was Mary's house. The two went to school together. In fact the girl preferred to go with Mary, and so would start off by herself instead of waiting for her sister. She said she never knew just what became of Mary when she met anybody on the way; when she did not meet anyone Mary went with her as far as the school and then seemed to disappear. Though the girl was not conscious of Mary in school they always had the same lessons. They also did their work together. Mary always had to work at pulling out bastings, and the girl helped her so they could play together. In time of distress or anything unusual it was Mary the girl thought of first. For instance there was a possibility at one time of their receiving some money through an inheritance, and as soon as it was mentioned in the family she went to Mary and told her about it; Mary was to have some of the money and then she and her mother would not have to work so hard. The girl planned her doll things with Mary, and she preferred to play with Mary rather than anyone else. Yet she never talked aloud to this companion; the conversation was only in her mind.

Mary was very important in this girl's life from eight years of age till sixteen, and had existed in a less important way for two or three years before that. The imaginary did not seem to prevent the girl from being sociable, for she played with other children. She preferred, however, to be with Mary rather than with her own sister for her sister was always wanting to do something else while Mary would do the same thing as long as desired. Between the ages of sixteen and eighteen there was a girl chum and Mary became less important, nevertheless Mary continued to be communicated with frequently. But even the chum never knew there was a Mary; nobody ever knew until years afterward. My friend was married at eighteen, and even after that she visited with Mary occasionally. After her first baby was born she never thought of her imaginary for a year. One evening at dusk as she was coming from town she happened to think about Mary. Then she realized that Mary was lost to her.

Adults also sometimes prefer solitary occupations or withdraw from the company of other persons, not for lack of interest in humanity or because they have no need of communication, but because they are too sensitive to endure the asperities of association with all sorts of people. Cooley cites Thoreau as an example of this:

He took to the woods and fields not because he lacked sociability, but precisely because his sensibilities were so keen that he needed to rest and protect them by a peculiar mode of life, and to express them by the indirect and considerate method of literature. No man ever labored more passionately to communicate, to give and receive adequate expression, than he did. - Cooley, Human Nature and Social Order, pp. 57, 58.

The quotation he gives from Thoreau shows a further motive as well:

I would fain communicate the wealth of my life to men, would really give them what is most precious in my gift. I would secrete pearls with the shell-fish and lay up honey with the bees for them. I will sift the sunbeams for the public good. ... - Ibid., p. 58.

This ambition to mature great gifts for humanity has led some of the foremost characters in history to spend a part of their time in solitude. They have retired, not to cut off communication, but the better to frame their own replies.

The social vision itself comes chiefly to the solitary soul, to Moses on the mountain, to Numa by the spring, to Emerson at Walden. Men ascend the hills to see. It is the man at the masthead whose report fixes the course, whose place in the ship's company is most vital. Temporary withdrawal is not a severing, but a fulfillment, of true relationship. . . .

. . . Society and solitude must alternate if temper, sanity, life itself, are to be preserved. ... - Lee, Play in Education, p. 322.

Those of our dispositions, like Craftsmanship or Love, whose normal stimulus is close association with familiar objects, are often confused and tired by our present environment. But other dispositions, like Curiosity and Ambition, find a richer satisfaction than before. When I was once asked by a Norwegian lad in the Romsdal whether he ought to stay and inherit his father's land, shut in, as he complained, "by the mountains, always the mountains," or venture landless into the new world of America or England, I did not dare to tell him to stay. - Wallas, The Great Society, pp. 322, 323.

The gregarious instinct is commonly confirmed by habit. The individual is born in a group and grows up in a group. To live with others accentuates the strength of the instinct and expands its manifestation. Solitary confinement is regarded by many as a mode of torture too cruel and unnatural to be longer practiced. For the normal man, to be forced to be alone for any length of time is a matter of the greatest torture. It is practically true that for everyone except a few more or less highly cultivated persons, the primary condition for recreation is that of being one of a crowd. For every person who goes to the mountains for a vacation, there are scores who go to the beaches. The normal, daily recreation of the population of the towns and smaller cities is that of walking up and down the streets where the throng is densest. The normal recreation for rural people on a holiday is that of rushing to the places where the crowds will be found. - Bogardus, Introduction to Sociology, p. 263.