"Maladaptive Daydreaming" is a psychological concept first introduced by Eli Somer to describe a proposed condition in which a person excessively daydreams or fantasizes, sometimes as a response to prior psychological trauma or abuse. Excessive daydreaming may begin as an outlet for creativity or as a method of escaping trauma or abuse. The daydreamers experience very vivid and intricate fantasies and may become emotionally attached to the characters in their fantasies or express emotions they are feeling through vocal utterances or changing facial expressions, although most keep such behavior hidden from others. People with Maladaptive Daydreaming are different from schizophrenics, they know the difference between reality and fantasy; they realize that everything they are dreaming about is a fantasy. [They simply have trouble stopping daydreaming and focusing on regular tasks.] Some also exhibit symptoms similar to Asperger's Syndrome, ADHD or OCD.
Many people have social anxiety and/or depression along with maladaptive daydreaming. A large number also find their social lives are negatively impacted by this disorder. 79% of those self-identified as having excessive daydreams had a kinesthetic repetitive movement accompany their daydreaming, such as pacing, rocking, tapping, or shaking an object. Many others also move their hands around and make facial expressions: laughing, crying, whispering, and gesturing with hands [because they are trying to impersonate the characters themselves]. Listening to music while daydreaming is common and hearing music may trigger a fantasy. A repetitive movement may be articulated to music while daydreaming. Watching a movie or reading a book, can also trigger a fantasy.
Many people have novel or movie type fantasies. They create their own world [sometimes more than one] , with characters, settings, plots, heroes, villains, friends, etc. -- they also may imagine storylines using the characters or settings from already existing works of fiction.
Some people have reported dizziness, headaches and other physical symptoms after daydreaming
- Somer, Eli. "Maladaptive Daydreaming: A Qualitative Inquiry". Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
- Ardino, Vittoria (ed.). Post-Traumatic Syndromes in Childhood and Adolescence. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 162. ISBN 978-0-470-66929-7.