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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I Weigh Over 200 Lbs And You Can Catch Me In A Bikini This Summer

There is no magic number that determines who can wear a bikini and who cannot.
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It is about February every year when I realize that bikini season is approaching. I know a lot of people who feel this way, too. In pursuit of the perfect "summer body," more meals are prepped and more time is spent in the gym. Obviously, making healthier choices is a good thing! But here is a reminder that you do not have to have a flat stomach and abs to rock a bikini.

Since my first semester of college, I've weighed over 200 pounds. Sometimes way more, sometimes only a few pounds more, but I have not seen a weight starting with the number "1" since the beginning of my freshman year of college.

My weight has fluctuated, my health has fluctuated, and unfortunately, my confidence has fluctuated. But no matter what, I haven't allowed myself to give up wearing the things I want to wear to please the eyes of society. And you shouldn't, either.

I weigh over 200lbs in both of these photos. To me, (and probably to you), one photo looks better than the other one. But what remains the same is, regardless, I still chose to wear the bathing suit that made me feel beautiful, and I'm still smiling in both photos. Nobody has the right to tell you what you can and can't wear because of the way you look.

There is no magic number that equates to health. In the second photo (and the cover photo), I still weigh over 200 lbs. But I hit the gym daily, ate all around healthier and noticed differences not only on the scale but in my mood, my heart health, my skin and so many other areas. You are not unhealthy because you weigh over 200 lbs and you are not healthy because you weigh 125. And, you are not confined to certain clothing items because of it, either.

This summer, after gaining quite a bit of weight back during the second semester of my senior year, I look somewhere between those two photos. I am disappointed in myself, but ultimately still love my body and I'm proud of the motivation I have to get to where I want to be while having the confidence to still love myself where I am.

And if you think just because I look a little chubby that I won't be rocking a bikini this summer, you're out of your mind.

If YOU feel confident, and if YOU feel beautiful, don't mind what anybody else says. Rock that bikini and feel amazing doing it.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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Your Health Journey Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint

Perfection takes time.

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When you first start to do something, you have all of the motivation in the world to accomplish that goal set out in front of you, especially when it comes to being healthier. The problem is as you continue through this journey and food and laziness kick in, motivation slips. It's human, and it happens to everyone no matter how physically strong they are.

Trying to be healthier doesn't always mean losing weight. It can be so your knees don't ache as much, so you don't feel as out of breath climbing stairs, or any goal you have set for yourself. Being healthier is personal and different from person to person.

I will be the first to admit that there are plenty of changes I would love to make about myself. From my weight to my body type and many other things about myself inside and out. I am by no means the most confident person about how I look, but I have worked hard for the past year to be an overall healthier person.

Becoming healthier isn't about looking thinner or fitting into a specific size of clothes. It is about taking care of yourself from eating better to working out more. There comes a feeling of confidence in what your body can do if you put a little love in it.

Perfection takes time, and I know firsthand how frustrating trying to be healthier can be.

Pizza tastes so much better than salad. It is so easy to fall into a rhythm of something that seems never to change whether that is your weight or your mile time. Sadly, you can't build a city, or become healthier overnight.

We see people who are thinner, curvier, smarter, faster, and so much more than us. We all waste time comparing ourselves to people around us and on our timelines, but some of our biggest strengths are our individuality and the gift of getting back up after falling down.

All I can say is, please don't give up on your goal of being healthier because this is solely for you. We can have a great support system in the world and have everyone in our corner, but that isn't enough.

You need yourself. You need to know that if you don't entirely put yourself in this journey, then you won't fully succeed. Your commitment to bettering yourself can keep you going even if you want to give up.

Your motivation may not be at its peak level right now, and you may have every cell in your body screaming at you to quit. Don't do it. Prove to yourself that you can keep going no matter what. Not giving up will be worth it. The results and taking the hard way will make you a stronger person inside and out.

You can do this. You can do anything you want to accomplish if you just believe in yourself. You need to understand that becoming healthier takes endurance. There will be periods where you slow down and may not be going at your fastest pace. The difference is that you are not giving up and you are still trying and moving.

Don't treat becoming healthier as a sprint: short term and quick. That mentality will only leave you feeling deflated and defeated. It is a life-long marathon of pacing yourself and pushing yourself further than ever before.

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