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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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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Meditation Is Not A Perfect Practice, But It's Still Worth Your Time

You'll thank me later.

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I began doing yoga a few years ago, and I instantly loved it. The combination of stretching, mental relaxation, and emotional release is amazing. It creates a sense of zen and peace in my life that I can use during the stress that comes from school, work, and everyday life. But the one part of yoga that I am not in love with is the meditation aspect.

I absolutely dread meditation. I do not know what it is, but I can never quite seem to get my mind to quiet down. No matter how hard I try, there is always a million thoughts running through my brain. "Did I finish that homework assignment?" "Am I breathing too loud? Can other people hear me?" I become so focused on other things happening around me that I just can't seem to calm down and relax.

But meditation is not about just clearing your mind and going completely blank. It is about focusing on a single thought, object, or intention and just allowing those emotions and feelings to overcome you. Focusing on one intention in your life allows you to become focused and re-centered. Meditation is not a set in stone practice, it is adaptable based on each person's needs.

There are seven general types of meditation: loving-kindness meditation, body scanning meditation, mindfulness meditation, breath awareness meditation, kundalini yoga, Zen meditation, and transcendentalism meditation. Each of these general types can be adapted to fit ones specific needs in that time. All seven of these meditations offer stress release options to help with daily stressors and inconveniences.

There is no perfect way to meditate. Meditation can also be as simple as just closing your eyes and simply breathing for a few seconds while focusing on one important thing in your life to help you remain grounded. There is no one set meditation type that works for all people. Some people enjoy all of the forms or even several of them, while others such as myself strictly enjoy the body scanning meditation.

The body scanning meditation focuses on scanning the body for areas of tension and to encourage the release of tension in that part of the body. Once the release occurs, the whole body can begin to relax even more. It usually starts by focusing on the toes and relaxing then moving up the legs, the torso the arms to the fingertips, and all the way through to the tip of the head.

My ideal meditation type is not for everyone. Playing around with the different types of meditations is the best way to find an ideal type of meditation that fits what the body needs. Unlike with most things, practice doesn't make perfect. Practicing the art of meditation just helps to refine the overall calm and zen that is felt.

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