Maladaptive daydreaming

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Maladaptive daydreaming, also called excessive daydreaming, is when an individual experiences excessive daydreaming that interferes with daily life. It is a proposed diagnosis of a disordered form of dissociative absorption associated with excessive fantasy that is not recognized by any major medical or psychological criteria. Maladaptive daydreaming can result in distress, can replace human interaction and may interfere with normal functioning such as social life or work.[1][unreliable medical source?][2] Maladaptive daydreaming is not a widely recognized diagnosis, and is not found in any major diagnostic manual of psychiatry or medicine.[3] The term was coined in 2002 by Professor Eli Somer of University of Haifa.[2] Somer's definition of the proposed condition is “extensive fantasy activity that replaces human interaction and/or interferes with academic, interpersonal, or vocational functioning.”[2] There has been limited research outside of Somer's.

Range of daydreaming[edit]

Daydreaming, a form of normal dissociation associated with absorption, is a highly prevalent mental activity experienced by almost everyone.[unreliable medical source?][4] Some individuals reportedly possess the ability to daydream so vividly that they experience a sense of presence in the imagined environment.[2] This experience is reported to be extremely rewarding to the extent that some of those who experience it develop a compulsion to repeat it that it has been described as an addiction.[5][6][7]

Somer has proposed "stimuli" for maladaptive daydreams that may relate to specific locations. The main proposed symptom is extremely vivid fantasies with "story-like features", such as the daydream's characters, plots and settings.[8]

Somer has argued that maladaptive daydreaming is not a form of psychosis as people with maladaptive daydreaming can tell that their fantasies are not real while those with psychotic disorders have difficulty separating hallucinations or delusions from reality.[8]

Online support[edit]

Whilst maladaptive daydreaming is not a recognized psychiatric disorder, it has spawned online support groups since Somer first reported the proposed disorder in 2002.[9][10] One of the support groups include the online blog site 'Wild Minds', the website includes member blog posts about their experiences, a chat channel and reasonably active forums where people can discuss the issues and provide support to each other.[11]


Maladaptive daydreaming is currently studied by a consortium of researches (The International Consortium for Maladaptive Daydreaming Research or ICMDR) from diverse countries including USA, Poland, Switzerland, Israel, Greece, and Italy.[12][6][13][14]

Interested researchers are continuously added to the Consortium, in order to foster collaborations in this small field of research. The ICMDR's website features all scientific studies on MD in the "publications" section.[15]


There are no official ways to diagnose maladaptive daydreaming in patients because it has not yet been recognized in any official diagnostic manual for psychiatry, such as the DSM-5. However, some methods have been developed in attempt to gauge the proposed mental disorder's prevalence.[8]

Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS-16)[edit]

In 2015, a 14-item self-report measurement known as the Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale or MDS-16 was designed to identify abnormalities in the daydreaming of individuals. The purpose of designing this instrument was to provide a reliable and valid measurement of the existence of the proposed condition in patients, and to garner attention to the potential existence of maladaptive daydreaming as a mental disorder.[8]

Later, an additional two items were added, assessing the use of music in fostering daydreaming. The MDS-16 has been used in several countries such as the United States, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Israel.[16][17]

Potential Comorbidity[edit]

Maladaptive daydreaming has been identified to potentially have comorbidity with a number of already existing recognized mental disorder such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).[18] In one case study, a patient believed to suffer from the condition was administered fluvoxamine, a medication typically used to treat those suffering from OCD. The patient found she was better able to control the frequency of her daydreaming episodes.[19]

Maladaptive daydreaming in media[edit]

Although maladaptive daydreaming has not been officially recognized as a mental disorder, it has garnered attention from numerous news and media outlets starting in 2020.[20][21][22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tomalski R, Pietkiewicz IJ (September 2018). "Maladaptive daydreaming as a new form of behavioral addiction". Journal of Behavioral Addictions. 7 (3): 838–843. doi:10.1556/2006.7.2018.95. PMC 6426361. PMID 30238787.
  2. ^ a b c d Somer, Eli (Fall 2002). "Maladaptive Daydreaming: A Qualitative Inquiry" (PDF).
  3. ^ "DSM-5". Retrieved 2020-07-17.
  4. ^ Singer, J. L. (1966) "Daydreaming: An Introduction to the Experimental Study of Inner Experience". New York, NY: Random House
  5. ^ Somer, E.; Somer, L.; Jopp, S.D. (9 June 2016). "Parallel lives: A phenomenological study of the lived experience of maladaptive daydreaming". Journal of Trauma & Dissociation. 17 (5): 561–576. doi:10.1080/15299732.2016.1160463. PMID 26943233. S2CID 970330.
  6. ^ a b Bigelsen, J., J.; Schupak, C. (December 2011). "Compulsive fantasy: Proposed evidence of an under-reported syndrome through a systematic study of 90 self-identified non-normative fantasizers". Consciousness and Cognition. 20 (4): 1634–1648. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2011.08.013. PMID 21959201. S2CID 206954778.
  7. ^ Pietkiewicz, I.J.; Nęcki, S.; Bańbura, A.; Tomalski, R. (August 2018). "Maladaptive daydreaming as a new form of behavioral addiction". Journal of Behavioral Addictions. 7 (3): 838–843. doi:10.1556/2006.7.2018.95. PMC 6426361. PMID 30238787.
  8. ^ a b c d Somer, Eli; Lehrfeld, Jonathan; Bigelsen, Jayne; Jopp, Daniela S. (2016). "Development and validation of the Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS)". Consciousness and Cognition. 39: 77–91. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2015.12.001. PMID 26707384. S2CID 4848532.
  9. ^ Soffer-Dudek, Nirit; Somer, Eli (2018-05-15). "Trapped in a Daydream: Daily Elevations in Maladaptive Daydreaming Are Associated With Daily Psychopathological Symptoms". Frontiers in Psychiatry. 9: 194. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00194. ISSN 1664-0640. PMC 5962718. PMID 29867613.
  10. ^ Bershtling, O., & Somer, E. (27 August 2018). "The Micro-Politics of a New Mental Condition: Legitimization in Maladaptive Daydreamers' Discourse". The Qualitative Report.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ "Dissociative Disorders Links". Retrieved 2021-09-11.
  12. ^ "Maladaptive Daydreaming Publications". The International Consortium for Maladaptive Daydreaming Research (ICMDR).
  13. ^ Bigelse, Jayne; Lehrfeld, Jonathan M.; Jopp, Daniela S.; Somer, Eli (May 2016). "Maladaptive daydreaming: Evidence for an under-researched mental health disorder". Consciousness and Cognition. 42: 254–266. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2016.03.017. PMID 27082138. S2CID 4838048.
  14. ^ "Maladaptive Daydreaming researchers | ICMDR". md-research. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  15. ^ "Publication on Maladptive Daydreaming | ICMDR". md-research. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  16. ^ Soffer-Dudek, Nirit; Somer, Eli; Abu-Rayya, Hisham M.; Metin, Barış; Schimmenti, Adriano (2020-11-02). "Different cultures, similar daydream addiction? An examination of the cross-cultural measurement equivalence of the Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale". Journal of Behavioral Addictions. 9 (4): 1056–1067. doi:10.1556/2006.2020.00080. ISSN 2062-5871. PMID 33141115.
  17. ^ Schimmenti, Adriano; Sideli, Lucia; La Marca, Luana; Gori, Alessio; Terrone, Grazia (2020-09-02). "Reliability, Validity, and Factor Structure of the Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS–16) in an Italian Sample". Journal of Personality Assessment. 102 (5): 689–701. doi:10.1080/00223891.2019.1594240. ISSN 0022-3891. PMID 31012744. S2CID 128360603.
  18. ^ Somer, Eli; Soffer-Dudek, Nirit; Ross, Colin A. (2017). "The Comorbidity of Daydreaming Disorder (Maladaptive Daydreaming)". The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 205 (7): 525–530. doi:10.1097/NMD.0000000000000685. ISSN 0022-3018. PMID 28598955. S2CID 13618389.
  19. ^ Bigelsen, Jayne; Schupak, Cynthia (2011). "Compulsive fantasy: Proposed evidence of an under-reported syndrome through a systematic study of 90 self-identified non-normative fantasizers". Consciousness and Cognition. 20 (4): 1634–1648. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2011.08.013. PMID 21959201. S2CID 206954778.
  20. ^ Kelley, Story by Jayne Bigelsen and Tina. "When Daydreaming Replaces Real Life". The Atlantic. ISSN 1072-7825. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  21. ^ "The daydream that never stops". Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  22. ^ "People with "Maladaptive Daydreaming" spend an average of four hours a day lost in their imagination". Research Digest. 2018-06-25. Retrieved 2020-12-06.

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