All You Need to Know About Maladaptive Daydreaming

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A psychiatric condition is maladaptive daydreaming. Professor Eliezer Somer of the University of Haifa in Israel discovered it. This disorder induces extreme daydreaming, which takes a person’s attention away from their current situation (working in a company that specialises in branding service in Malaysia for example). Daydreams are frequently triggered by real-life occurrences. These occurrences may include:

  • Discussion topics
  • Sensory stimuli (noises or smells)
  • Physical encounters

The current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not include this disorder (DSM-V). There is no official treatment for it. However, some specialists believe it is a serious disorder with real consequences for a person’s daily life. 

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The following are some of the signs and symptoms of maladaptive daydreaming:

  • Daydreams that are intense, vivid, and present themselves as a storey with people, settings, and storylines.
  • Real-world events or sensory cues can generate daydreams.
  • Daydreams are accompanied by unconscious facial expressions, repetitive body motions, or chatting or muttering.
  • Daydreams that linger anywhere from a few minutes to several hours
  • A strong or compulsive desire to daydream
  • Daydreams make it difficult to focus and complete daily duties.
  • Sleeping problems

A person may also exhibit some of the symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, including a short attention span.

What triggers maladaptive daydreaming?

MD, according to experts, is a coping mechanism that causes the maladaptive daydreamer to build a sophisticated imagined world for them to withdraw into in times of hardship, loneliness, or possibly even helplessness in real life. It’s an escapism technique for avoiding real-life contacts with family, friends, and coworkers. 

Somer had discovered six sexual assault survivors in his research who would routinely retreat into an imaginative world of their own design, fantasising about their living in compensatory, empowering tales that they felt lacking in their real lives. “One man told us that there are roughly 35 characters in his imagined storey repertoire. Another described how he has been visualizing the storylines of a series that is always evolving for the past 30 years. Daydreaming normally begins as a simple daydream that makes individuals happy, but it quickly becomes addictive – to the point where it takes over their lives. However, because the disease was previously undiagnosed when patients sought treatment, therapists often rejected their complaints,” Somer explained. Bigelsen, on the other hand, argues that the causes go much beyond Somer’s trauma theory.

Is it possible for a doctor to diagnose maladaptive daydreaming?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to diagnosing maladaptive daydreaming. The Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale was created by Somer (MDS). This scale can be used to identify whether or not a person is engaging in maladaptive daydreaming.

A 14-part scale is used in the MDS. It assigns a score to each of the five main criteria of maladaptive daydreaming:

  • Dreams’ content and quality (detail)
  • The power to control one’s dreams and the desire to dream
  • The amount of distress that daydreaming causes
  • A person’s perception of the advantages of daydreaming
  • How much can daydreaming impair a person’s ability to carry out their daily tasks?

People also rate how frequently they experience symptoms of maladaptive daydreaming.

Schizophrenia, a kind of psychosis, is frequently characterised as maladaptive daydreaming. This is because people with schizophrenia are unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Maladaptive daydreaming, on the other hand, is not a psychosis, according to Somer, because persons who have it realise that their daydreams aren’t real.