Promoting Mental Health Through Imagery and Imagined Interactions

by James M. Honeycutt (Volume editor)
©2019 Textbook XVI, 200 Pages
Series: Health Communication, Volume 14


Imagined interactions (IIs) can be used as a type of self-therapy when dealing with stress and trauma. We often have IIs in terms of flashbacks as portrayed in movies. It is hoped that this volume will inspire some people to use IIs as a type of self-therapy and to realize that having IIs in everyday life is a normal part of daydreaming and mental imagery. IIs can be used productively as well as dysfunctionally. Hence, it is up to the individual to decide how they use IIs to deal with stress and trauma.
Benefits of IIs include helping people rehearse strategies, reduce primary tension (which occurs before or at the beginning of interactions), and gain others’ viewpoints. Even though, you can think positively or negatively, thinking positively may be easier said than done. Human survival and mental health require a balance between optimism and pessimism. Individuals gain more self-understanding by thinking about interactions. It is a process called self-perception that clarifies feelings about people and topics. IIs can improve mood by reducing tensions through the catharsis function. They help us understand our beliefs.
The book is divided into three sections. Section 1 discusses how IIs can deal with teasing, bullying, abuse, and conflict. Section 2 covers physical, emotional, and material loss. Section 3 is concerned with policy concerns including hurricane evacuations, environmental concerns, police encounters, and presidential politics.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Tables
  • Acknowledgements
  • Series Editor’s Preface
  • References
  • Introduction: Types of Trauma and Overview of Imagined Interaction Theory (James M. Honeycutt)
  • Definitions of Trauma
  • Stress versus Trauma: Similarities and Differences
  • Imagined Interactions (IIs)
  • General Benefits of IIs
  • Sections of the Book
  • References
  • Section 1. Using IIs to Deal with Abuse and Conflict
  • Chapter 1. Using Imagined Interactions to Deal with Teasing and Bullying (James M. Honeycutt)
  • Evolutionary View
  • IIs, Teasing, and Bullying
  • Affectional Teasing
  • Aggressive Teasing
  • Bullying Trauma and IIs
  • Cyberbullying
  • Visual Imagery and Trauma
  • Bullying Through Road Rage
  • Catharsis and Dealing with Bullying Trauma
  • Imagery and Trauma: Imagined Interaction Interventions
  • Summary
  • Discussion Questions
  • References
  • Chapter 2. Rumination, Victimization, and Abuse Detection (James M. Honeycutt)
  • Advising Conciliation and Aggression in Conflict Escalation
  • Excitation Transfer and Using IIs to Deal with Negative Affect
  • Using IIs to Deal with the Stress of Taking Conflict Personally
  • The Trauma of Physical Abuse
  • Summary
  • Discussion Questions
  • References
  • Chapter 3. Applying Imagined Interaction to an Evolutionary View of Jealousy and Trauma (Ryan D. Rasner)
  • Imagined Interactions
  • Jealousy
  • Current Study
  • Procedures
  • Participants
  • Measurements
  • Imagined interactions
  • Jealousy Scale
  • Results
  • Summary and Applications to Mental Health
  • Discussion Questions
  • References
  • Section 2. Dealing with Physical, Emotional, and Material Loss
  • Chapter 4. The Role of Mental Imagery and Imagined Interactions in Coping with Bereavement and Loss (Jonathon K. Frost)
  • Examining the Bereavement Process
  • The Role of Mental Imagery in the Bereavement Process
  • Imagined Interactions as a Form of Relational Maintenance Following Sudden Death
  • Summary
  • Discussion Questions
  • References
  • Chapter 5. Using Music Therapy and Imagined Interaction to Cope with Stress (James M. Honeycutt / Jake Harwood)
  • Relational Maintenance
  • Forgiveness
  • Catharsis and Music Therapy
  • Functions of Music
  • Music and Group Connectedness
  • Incremental Sound Organizer of Music Therapy (ISO Principle)
  • Music and Stress Reduction
  • Depression, Music Therapy and IIs
  • Popular Love Songs and Using IIs to Deal with Relationships
  • Summary
  • Discussion Questions
  • References
  • Chapter 6. The Role of Imagined Interactions in Body Image and Eating Disorders (Pavica Sheldon)
  • Eating Disorders Explained
  • What Causes Eating Disorders
  • Eating Disorders Blogs
  • Imagined Interactions in Pro-Ana Blogs
  • Summary
  • Discussion Questions
  • References
  • Section 3. Attacks on Public Policy Concerns
  • Chapter 7. Fracking Out!: Using Imagined Interactions to Manage the Trauma of Environmental Degradation (Andrea J. Vickery / Michael F. Rold / Kayla J. Hastrup / Stephanie Houston Grey)
  • Background Studies
  • Current Study
  • Interviewees
  • Procedures
  • Analysis
  • Results
  • Applications to Mental Health Status in View of Stress and Trauma
  • Limitations and Future Research
  • Summary
  • Discussion Questions
  • Notes
  • References
  • Chapter 8. Using Imagined Interactions to Deal with Hurricane Evacuations (Michael Navarro)
  • Literature Review and Background Studies
  • Current Study
  • Applications to Mental or Physical Health Status in View of Stress and Trauma
  • Summary and Future Research
  • Discussion Questions
  • References
  • Chapter 9. The Role of Imagined Interactions in Actual and Vicarious Experience with Police Officers (Laura B. Carper)
  • Experiences with Law Enforcement
  • Actual Experiences
  • Vicarious Experiences
  • Imagined Interactions (IIs)
  • Current Study
  • Frequency
  • Retroactivity and Proactivity
  • Discrepancy
  • Valence
  • Specificity
  • Functions of IIs
  • Conflict Linkage Function
  • Rehearsal Function
  • Catharsis Function
  • Current Study
  • Summary
  • Discussion Questions
  • References
  • Chapter 10. Winners and Losers: Depression, Learned Helplessness, and the Trauma of Losing Political Elections (T. Phillip Madison / James M. Honeycutt / Emily N. Covington / Philip J. Auter)
  • Literature Review
  • Current Study
  • Procedure
  • Participants
  • Measures
  • Results
  • Applications to Mental Health Status in View of Stress and Trauma
  • Limitations and Future Research
  • Summary
  • Discussion Questions
  • References
  • Chapter 11. Epilogue: Tips on Using IIs to Deal with Trauma (James M. Honeycutt)
  • Benefits of Proactive IIs
  • Tips for Proactive IIs
  • Benefits of Retroactive IIs
  • Tips for Retroactive IIs
  • What Should You Avoid When Practicing IIs?
  • Catastrophizing
  • Keeping Conflict Alive
  • Egocentrism
  • Discussion Questions
  • References
  • Contributor Biographies
  • Subject Index
  • Author Index
  • Series index

| ix →


Table 0.1. Common Types of Trauma and Treatment

Table 3.1. Correlations

Table 3.2. Predictors of Cognitive Jealousy

Table 3.3. Predictors of Emotional Jealousy

Table 3.4. Predictors of Behavioral Jealousy

Table 4.1. Correlations and Mean Patterns for Bereaving Behaviors and Perceptions in SDB and EDB Conditions

Table 4.2. Multiple Discriminant Analysis of Sudden Death vs. Expected Death on Bereaving Behavior and Perception

Table 5.1. Functions of Music Compared to Imagined Interaction Features

Table 6.1. Topics Communicated on Pro-Ana Blog (%)

Table 6.2. Logistic Regression Analysis Predicting IIs on Pro-Ana Blog

Table 8.1. Binomial Tests

Table 9.1. Support for Hypotheses

Table 10.1. Scale Properties ← ix | x →

Table 10.2. Regression of Functions and Attributes on Liking Trump Policies

Table 10.3. Regression of Functions and Attributes on Depression

Table 10.4. Regression of Functions and Attributes on Learned Helplessness

| xi →


We wish to acknowledge students in our imagined interaction classes including those who have interviewed others about their mental imagery and discussed the power of imagined interactions in providing solace and optimism. We thank Ryan Rasner along with our research teams in the Matchbox Interaction Lab who is pursuing quantum relational observation theory in which people use mental imagery to observe themselves with their relational partners. We acknowledge all of our research participants in the Matchbox Interaction Lab including the participants from the various universities represented in this exciting volume. We thank all of the contributors to this volume for their enticing topics in dealing with trauma through imagined interaction.

I would like to thank Gary Kreps, whose inspiration has created the exciting, health communication series for Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. I am also indebted to Kathryn Harris of Peter Lang Publishing for her encouragement in the books that I have written for Peter Lang.

| xiii →


Communication and the Neurobiology of Health

I am very pleased to include this important new book about Promoting Mental Health Through Imagery and Imagined Interactions as an important part of the Health Communication book series that I edit for Peter Lang Publishers. This exciting book breaks important new ground in health communication research and applications, examining the ways that individuals can use intrapersonal communication processes to address personal trauma through mental imagery. My friend and forward-thinking communication scholar Jim Honeycutt has worked closely with the chapter authors of this book to report an impressive array of studies examining the influential applications of imagery and imagined interactions in promoting recovery from personal trauma to promote mental and physical health. The implications of the chapters in this book suggest that there is much we each can do ourselves to promote health and wellness, even when addressing deep-seated mental health problems.

Typically, when we address health issues, we only think about physiological health issues and not about the broader emotional and cognitive psychological bases of health. Health care must be addressed holistically, clearly recognizing and responding to the interplay between individual physiology and psychology. Every physical ailment has significant psychological implications. For example, personal responses to serious health issues (such as heart disease, cancers, and paralysis) often influence psychological as well as physiological ← xiii | xiv → functioning, including the personal experiences of trauma, depression, and stress. To treat physiological health issues effectively, we must also treat the psychological dimensions of health and illness. Similarly, the ways we think and feel have powerful influences over our physiology. Serious mental health problems (such as stress disorder, psychosis, and bi-polar disease) invariably influence our physiology, including individual immune responses, sleep cycles, digestive processes, and pain responses. Directed intrapersonal and interpersonal communication practices can help address both mental health and related physiological health issues!

Too often, the modern health care system tends to focus primarily on the use of (often invasive) external biomedical therapeutic processes for addressing health problems, such as surgical and pharmacological interventions. This book takes a unique self-directed approach to therapy, focusing on how intrapersonal and interpersonal communication can be harnessed to help address mental health issues, especially to reduce the debilitating influences of trauma on wellbeing. The book vividly illustrates that we each have tremendous opportunities to influence our own health through directed application of intrapersonal communication processes such as the use of imagery and imagined interactions. This communication process illustrates the powerful neurobiological mechanisms of meditation, mindfulness, and imagery (see: Tang, Holzel, & Posner, 2015; Vago, 2013). The interesting chapters of this book address a broad range of relevant traumatic mental health threats experienced by many people, including teasing and bullying, victimization and abuse, jealousy, bereavement and loss, stress, body image and eating disorders, environmental degradation and hazards, violence and difficult interactions with police, as well as personal disappointments from losing political elections and other losses. There are clearly many opportunities to use the communication strategies described in this book to improve mental health and enhance quality of life.

Overall, this book helps to expand our understanding of the psychological dimensions of health and illness, indelibly connecting communication practices and mental health. It encourages a holistic approach to examining and addressing neurobiological aspects of health and illness. It promotes personal consumer responsibility and self-directed communication action to address individual health threats. It helps increase personal control and advocacy in delivering non-invasive health care. The book also increases access to care for those who are suffering. In addition, I hope this book also encourages ← xiv | xv → careful empirical investigations of future applications of mental imagery and imagined interactions for addressing serious health concerns.


Tang, Y. Y., Hölzel, B. K., & Posner, M. I. (2015). The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 16(4), 213–225.

Vago, D. R. (2013). Clarifying Habits of Mind: Mapping the Neurobiological Substrates of Mindfulness through Modalities of Self Awareness. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1–15. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12270

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Types of Trauma and Overview of Imagined Interaction Theory

James M. Honeycutt


XVI, 200
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (January)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2019. XVI, 200 pp., 1 b/w ill., 16 tables

Biographical notes

James M. Honeycutt (Volume editor)

James M. Honeycutt is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Senior Scholar Researcher, and consultant. He was founder of the Matchbox Interaction Lab and senior managing co-editor of Imagination, Cognition, and Personality with over ten books and 135 publications. He was designated BASF Professor of Excellence in 2012.


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