Is maladaptive daydreaming a psychiatric disorder?

Is maladaptive daydreaming a psychiatric disorder?

Whether at work, in the middle of a boring lecture or while traveling, one often finds one’s mind wandering into a world of its own. Lost in their own thoughts, people end up imagining, exploring, fantasizing and creating a world distinct from reality. This is commonly known as daydreaming. While some studies regard daydreaming as a sign of a strong memory, another segment of researchers have concentrated on getting to know the darker side of the phenomenon.

A person daydreaming can be seen blankly staring at an empty wall or out of the window or listening to a song but thinking of something else, etc. However, according to some studies, these signs could indicate a psychiatric disorder. This is because researchers have suggested that many people often find it difficult to transcend to the real world from the imaginary realm.

Debate around daydreaming

One of the proponents of the theory that daydreaming is a psychiatric disorder is, Eli Somer, a professor of clinical psychology at Haifa University in Israel. He has defined the phenomenon as an “extensive fantasy activity that replaces human interaction and/or interferes with academic, interpersonal, or vocational functioning.”

He termed the phenomenon as maladaptive daydreaming (MD) after he discovered that six of his patients found it difficult come out of their fantasy world and return to reality. His patients reportedly spent more and more time daydreaming and found it difficult to return to reality, which in turn affected their real-life relationships. Consequently, Somer strongly advocated that MD be formally recognized as a psychiatric disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

However, those opposing the appeal argued that none of the people suffering from MD had problems in distinguishing reality from fantasy nor did they hallucinate. The sufferers were completely conscious of their mental state and the fact that they were daydreaming. They further argued that their daydreams involved characters and plots or a life that was completely contradictory to real life.

According to a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin and the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science in 2012, daydreaming is beneficial as it helps in strengthening the brain’s functioning since the phenomenon includes thinking about several thoughts simultaneously. A “wandering mind correlates with higher degrees of what is referred to as working memory. Cognitive scientists define this type of memory as the brain’s ability to retain and recall information in the face of distractions,” added the study.

Probable causes of daydreaming

Despite extensive research, definite causes of daydreaming have not been identified. However, researchers consider a wide range of factors as probable triggers of the condition. Some believe that daydreaming is triggered by traumatic events in the past such as abuse and is often mind’s escape route or a form of defense. In some cases, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has been observed as a precursor to the condition.

Symptoms of MD

Looking out of the window purposelessly, staring at a blank wall for hours at end are some of the signs of daydreaming. Excessive MD is often compared to an addiction, wherein a person faces problems in coming back to the real world. While anybody can daydream, it often begins in childhood due to triggers such as books, movies, music, videos or other media. Besides, in many cases, it has been noticed that people repeat movements such as pacing, rocking, spinning or playing with something while daydreaming. In many, it disturbs the sleep pattern, while in others it results in a person lying in bed for hours. MD can also hinder one’s daily activities such as taking a shower.

Mental illnesses are curable

Whether daydreaming is a mental disorder or not, continues to remain debatable. However, excessive daydreaming could be indicative of other mental illnesses such as OCD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Therefore, parents should consider seeking medical help in case their children daydream a lot.

If you or a loved one is looking for assistance on mental health issues, the Florida Mental Health Helpline can help you find the best mental health counselor in Florida. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 846-5588 or chat online with our experts who can tell you about the best mental disorder treatment in Florida.

14 replies
  1. ferragamo belts
    ferragamo belts says:

    Good post. I study something more challenging on totally different blogs everyday. It’ll always be stimulating to read content from different writers and practice a little one thing from their store. I抎 prefer to use some with the content material on my weblog whether or not you don抰 mind. Natually I抣l offer you a hyperlink on your net blog. Thanks for sharing.

  2. nike air max
    nike air max says:

    Aw, this was a very nice post. In idea I would like to put in writing like this additionally ?taking time and precise effort to make a very good article?however what can I say?I procrastinate alot and in no way seem to get one thing done.

  3. read review
    read review says:

    I just want to mention I’m beginner to blogging and site-building and certainly enjoyed your blog site. Probably I’m want to bookmark your blog . You absolutely have wonderful article content. Appreciate it for sharing your web page.

  4. nike air max 90
    nike air max 90 says:

    An interesting discussion is worth comment. I think that you must write extra on this matter, it may not be a taboo topic but typically persons are not sufficient to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers

  5. plenty of fish dating site
    plenty of fish dating site says:

    Hi there very nice web site!! Guy .. Excellent .. Amazing ..
    I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds additionally?
    I am glad to search out numerous useful info right here in the
    post, we need develop extra strategies in this regard, thank you for sharing.
    . . . . .

  6. ps4 games
    ps4 games says:

    Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all people you actually
    recognize what you’re talking approximately! Bookmarked.

    Please additionally talk over with my web site =).
    We will have a link change agreement among us

  7. Marti Galbavy
    Marti Galbavy says:

    Real estate is very market specific and if you invest correctly, by city, geographical area within the city and even to individual neighborhoods and streets you can make quite a bit of money. Another great option is to encourage your customers to follow you on Twitter.

  8. yeezys
    yeezys says:

    A powerful share, I simply given this onto a colleague who was doing a bit evaluation on this. And he the truth is purchased me breakfast as a result of I found it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to debate this, I really feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic. If doable, as you grow to be experience, would you thoughts updating your blog with more details? It is extremely useful for me. Huge thumb up for this weblog put up!

  9. ps4 games
    ps4 games says:

    This is the perfect webpage for everyone who hopes to find out about this topic.
    You realize a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not
    that I actually will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a fresh spin on a subject which has
    been discussed for a long time. Excellent stuff,
    just excellent!

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.