-When Daydreaming Goes Too Far-
Now what happens when day dreaming goes too far? You find yourself missing days and hours of time daydreaming. This is known as maladaptive daydreaming (MD) — an extensive daydream that replaces human interaction with extensive fantasies that people envision in their own minds. Although it is not a medically recognized term, the concept was first coined by Eli Sómer, Ph.D., in 2002. Somer believed that the trigger for this excessive form of daydreaming might be from trauma or abuse.
In his study, Sómer’s patients had used their daydreaming as a coping method or escape from unpleasant surroundings. However, further research is needed to quantify this theory.
Many people with MD find that their condition can cause them to be unproductive and can actually be an extreme hindrance to their everyday lives. Time is passing while they are processing these extensive dreams, and before they know it, a whole day is lost to their fantasies.
Since this isn’t a recognized condition, however, there isn’t extensive research to determine if this is an actual mental imbalance. But theorists have also attributed MD to dissociative personality disorder, because with such disassociation, the person is often similarly detached from his or her immediate surroundings in both the physical and emotional aspect.
What are the symptoms of maladaptive daydreaming?
A person who is purported to have maladaptive daydreaming may have one or more symptoms of the disorder, but not necessarily all of them. Common symptoms include:
• extremely vivid daydreams with their own characters, settings, plots, and other detailed, story-like features
• daydreams triggered by real-life events
• difficulty completing everyday tasks
• difficulty sleeping at night
• an overwhelming desire to continue daydreaming
• performing repetitive movements while daydreaming
• making facial expressions while daydreaming
• whispering and talking while daydreaming
• daydreaming for lengthy periods (many minutes to hours)
Can a doctor diagnose maladaptive daydreaming?
There is no universal method used to diagnose maladaptive daydreaming. Somer developed the Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS). This scale can help determine if a person is experiencing maladaptive daydreaming.
The MDS is a 14-part scale. It rates the five key characteristics of maladaptive daydreaming:
• the content and quality (detail) of dreams
• a person’s ability to control their dreams and compulsion to dream
• the amount of distress caused by daydreaming
• a person’s perceived benefits of daydreaming
• how much daydreaming interferes with a person’s ability to carry out their daily activities
People also rate how often they experience maladaptive daydreaming symptoms.
Maladaptive daydreaming is often diagnosed as schizophrenia, which is a type of psychosis. This is because people with schizophrenia cannot differentiate reality from fantasy. But Somer says maladaptive daydreaming is not a psychosis because people with maladaptive daydreaming recognize that their daydreams aren’t real.
Can maladaptive daydreaming cause other conditions to develop?
Some people who experience maladaptive daydreaming also experience:
• attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
• obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
It’s not yet understood how these disorders are related to maladaptive daydreaming.
Disclaimer: All the articles above along with the corresponding sources are relatively new, with the oldest source being dated back to 2002 so there are great chances that many psychiatrists and psychologists aren’t aware of the findings above. I’ve been suffering from MD at about four years now. I can’t even remember how many different psychiatrists and psychologists I had to visit only to have each and every one of them telling me complete crap and not helping me with my actual problem.
Please re-heart and raise awareness for everyone suffering everyday in silence.