Maladaptive Daydreaming: An Addiction Of The Mind

Maladaptive Daydreaming: An Addiction Of The Mind

The addiction to extreme fantasizing is just as real as any alcohol, drug, or technology addiction, and may help us understand addiction better as a whole.
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The average person spends approximately half of their waking hours daydreaming -- and in some cases, it goes much farther than that. In 2002, Eli Somer, an Israeli professor, published a paper on a psychological phenomenon he dubbed "Maladaptive Daydreaming" (MD).

What is Maladaptive Daydreaming?

Maladaptive Daydreaming is a condition in which an individual is addicted to daydreaming or extreme fantasizing; so much so that the habit distracts the afflicted from their real-life, sometimes causing them trouble in carrying out daily tasks.

How do the daydreams work?

The daydreams of MDers are very vivid and complex, often coming with their own highly detailed characters, plots, and settings. The "worlds" these daydreamers create can be based on a lot of things, such as fictional worlds inspired by movies, TV shows, or novels, as well as a world completely of the daydreamers making or their "ideal life". As previously mentioned, these daydreams can last twice as long as the average person's -- extending anywhere from minutes to multiple hours at a time.

It's also important to note that, while these daydreams sometimes are preferable over real life to MDers, they are undoubtedly aware that these fantasies are just that: fantasies. That is what distinguishes MD from more severe dissociation disorders, like schizophrenia. MDers know the difference between their daydreams and reality.

What are the signs of MD?

1. Does it ever take you longer to get to sleep at night or to get out of bed in the morning because of your daydreams?

2. Do you constantly or obsessively play out fictional stories or situations in your head?

3. Do certain songs, movies, or TV shows trigger you into a complete zone-out?

4. Is it consistently difficult for you to focus on conversations, homework, or class because you're stuck in your thoughts?

If you answered "yes" to more than one of these questions, you may be a Maladaptive Daydreamer.

*It's been additionally noted that some daydreamers perform repetitive movements, make facial expressions, or even talk/whisper while daydreaming.

What's the cause of MD?

Due to a lack of research, the exact causes of MD have yet to be pinned down; MD seems to develop as a coping mechanism to other problems rooted in the psyche: i.e. abuse, depression, fear, anxiety, loneliness, etc. In that case, MD is a way for victims to survive psychological trauma, whether mild or severe. It is in and of itself neither good or bad; it is when it becomes an addiction that takes away from the fullness of reality that it becomes a problem.

Why is it important?

The addiction to extreme fantasizing helps prove that it's not the actual substance (drugs, alcohol, technology) people get addicted to, but rather the feelings the substances create that keep people coming back for more. The substance is simply the venue through which addicts get their emotional fix. That's an important realization to accept when deciding how to deal with addicts -- is addiction a crime, or rather a cry for help stemming from emotional, social or environmental need? I'd argue the latter.

Need an outlet?

Do you or someone you care about have MD and are not sure who to talk to or how to talk about it? Check out the "Wild Minds Network" -- an online forum dedicated to blogs and chats written by MDers about their experiences and their ways of moving past Maladaptive Daydreaming.

Cover Image Credit: pxhere.com

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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5 Tips To Help You Feel Better If You're Sick

A few helpful tips if there's a bug going around.

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Not to brag, but I don't get sick very often, maybe once a year. When I do find myself a little under the weather, there's a few things I like to do for a faster recovery. I have no idea if any of these are 100% accurate, but I'd like to think they do. None of these will immediately make you feel better, but they'll help quicken the process.

Drink lots of water.

This one is a no-brainer, but it can be hard to do sometimes. I know when I'm sick, I definitely don't think about it. Water can help flush toxins out of your body, makes you hydrated, and can help you feel more awake and energized! If you're not a huge water drinker like I am, Tea also helps.

Stay home.

If you're sick, it's honestly better if you just take a day off and focus on feeling better. If you're worried about going to school or work, it's better that you don't spread anything. Let me just say, I'm fairly certain the last time I caught something was because someone behind me in a class was coughing through the entire lecture.

Rest.

This one goes with the last point, but sleeping will help your immune system fight off any infections. It's good to take some time off and get any extra sleep you can.

Clean everything.

I like to wash all of my clothes and bed sheet, because they're what I wear and touch the most, especially my pillow cases. This will help get rid of some germs and stop them from spreading. It's also good to disinfect anything you touch often, like doorknobs and table surfaces.

Take medicine.

This one also sounds like a no brainer, but seriously if you expect to feel better soon you should be taking some sort of medicine. At the very least, it'll help with your symptoms, so you're not couching or sneezing every couple minutes.

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