Maladaptive daydreaming

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"Maladaptive Daydreaming" is a psychological term first used by Eli Somer[1] to describe a condition in which a person excessively daydreams or fantasizes, sometimes as a response to prior psychological trauma or abuse.[2] Maladaptive Daydreaming is a symptom of multiple Mental Disorders. In the DSM-IV-TR it is classified as a dissociative disorder, while in the ICD-10 it is called Maladaptive Daydreaming and is currently in the process of being classified as an independent neurotic disorder. As of right now, its still listed as a symptom.

Maladaptive Daydreaming is still listed as being symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Bipolar and/or Schizophrenia. But, through a little more research, Psychologists are working on making it an independent neurotic disorder.

Maladaptive Daydreaming is most commonly caused by excessive amounts of stress, Depression, Anxiety, Loneliness, low self-esteem, social awkwardness, feelings of "Not fitting in with anyone", and a response to Emotional, Physical, and Verbal Abuse and/or Neglect in early childhood, early teenage years and early adulthood.

A lot of the time patients do develop Anxiety, Depression, Depersonalization/Derealization and some even hallucinate. Some Maladaptive Daydreamers claim to hear voices from their daydreams and/or see things and people from their daydreams due to their case of Daydreaming being extreme or having high Anxiety and/or paranoia. Maladaptive Daydreamers usually have daydreams that resemble movie-like plots and story-like plots.[3]


Maladaptive Daydreamers symptoms vary from patient to patient. The most common symptoms are:

  • Obsessive behavior (Persistent daydreams that are hard to push out your mind)
  • Compulsive behavior (Pacing, Rocking back and forth, shaking objects)
  • Showing emotion towards characters in your daydreams (Laughing, Crying, Gesturing, Changing Facial Expressions)
  • Showing Mild to Severe Anxiety (partially uncommon)
  • Becoming Depressed
  • Having unusual and/or more frequent mood swings
  • Becoming upset or angry when Daydreams are interrupted
  • Decreased school performance
  • May become easily distracted
  • Is almost, or is, constantly in a "Distant, Dazed and disconnected state" (Meaning, staring off into space constantly, dozing off and/or not paying attention)

Psychiatrists and Psychologists are mostly unaware of the existence of Maladaptive Daydreaming. Its currently thought of as OCD, ADHD/ADD and Bipolar disorder.

Many people have novel or movie type fantasies. They may also imagine storylines using the characters or settings from already existing works of fiction and real life people.

There have been reports of physical symptoms during, after and even before daydreams occur. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Trouble Focusing
  • Chest Pains
  • Nausea
  • Pins and Needles in the Hands and Feet
  • Twitching
  • Feeling as if one were about to faint
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of increased energy
  • Feelings of decreased energy

There's been multiple reports of people saying their daydreaming has lasted more than 1–5 hours as most Maladaptive Daydreamers say theirs last. Some have said their daydreams have lasted up to 14 or more hours. However, daydreaming that severe is usually a response to excessive stress, loneliness, abandonment, depression and/or anxiety.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Somer, Eli. "Maladaptive Daydreaming: A Qualitative Inquiry". Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  2. ^ Ardino, Vittoria (ed.). Post-Traumatic Syndromes in Childhood and Adolescence. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 162. ISBN 978-0-470-66929-7. 
  3. ^ Bachai, Sabrina. "Medical Daily". Medical Daily. Medical Daily. Retrieved 18 May 2014.