Maladaptive daydreaming disorder (MDD), also known as excessive daydreaming, involves vivid and excessive fantasy activity with elaborate and complex scenarios. Sometimes the daydreamer borrows characters from favorite books, video games, television shows and movies and makes up their own plots. Others make up their own cast of fantasy characters.  People with MDD know that their daydream worlds are not real and never confuse real life with their fantasy worlds. Those with MDD usually enjoy and even love their daydream worlds.  However, the daydreaming can result in distress, as it can sometimes replace human interaction and may interfere with normal functioning such as social life or work. People with MDD have trouble limiting their daydreaming and often complain that they find it compulsive or addictive. Maladaptive Daydreamers can spend more than half their days in “vivid alternative universes.”

Maladaptive daydreaming is typically associated with stereotypical movements, such as pacing or rocking, and the need for musical stimulation. Researchers on the topic include Jayne Bigelsen, Dr. Cynthia Schupak, Dr. Daniella Jopp and Dr. Eli Somer who coined the term Maladaptive Daydreaming Disorder. Somer’s definition of the condition is “extensive fantasy activity that replaces human interaction and/or interferes with academic, interpersonal, or vocational functioning.” It is important to note that not everyone who daydreams in this elaborate, vivid manner has MDD. Enhanced, vivid daydreaming only becomes a problem if the person experiencing it believes that it is interfering with his or her life, usually due to the inability to limit it and the time it takes away from pursuing real life activities.

Symptoms:
Extensive Daydreaming (often complex characters and plots)
Trouble limiting daydreaming so that it interferes with school, work, sleep or personal life
Can be annoyed when daydreaming is interrupted
Can be accompanied by pacing or other movement
Music can be a trigger

Please keep in mind that one can daydream in this enhanced fashion and have it not be a problem.  It is only a problem if it interferes with your life, (e.g. causes problems with your academic/vocational goals and with your personal/family relationships.)

Dr Somer discusses Maladaptive Daydreaming Disorder

 

Tips for Dealing with Maladaptive Daydreaming:

  • As Maladaptive Daydreaming is just starting to be studied, most doctors/mental health professionals will not have heard of it.  It could help to print out some articles on it, including the empirical articles below, and bring them to your doctor.  If they aren’t interested in it, then find another doctor/mental health professional.
  •  Try finding some hobbies that you love.  It is hard to daydream while engaging in your favorite activity.  Acting, writing and art could be useful channels for your creativity.
  •  Try to limit the time you engage in it.  Perhaps use daydreaming time as a reward for yourself after you have finished some things you need to do in your real life.  (For example, if I study for 45 minutes, I will give myself 15 minutes of daydreaming time.)
  •  Therapy can be helpful for anyone.  Try to find a good therapist.  Again, they probably won’t have heard of MDD.  But see tip #1.  If they aren’t interesting in learning more, then find another therapist.
  • Please join the MDD group and share what works for you.

 

Research and Empirical Articles

Compulsive fantasy: Proposed evidence of an under-reported syndrome
through a systematic study of 90 self-identified non-normative fantasizers

Excessive daydreaming: A case history and discussion of mindwandering and high fantasy proneness

Maladaptive daydreaming: Evidence for an under-researched mental health disorder

Development and validation of the Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS)

Actual validated tool to determine whether some on experiences Maladaptive Daydreaming

https://www.somer.co.il/images/MD/2019_MD-Nosology.pdf

Press Articles

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/04/when-daydreaming-replaces-real-life/391319/

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/living-in-an-imaginary-world/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/when-daydreaming-becomes-a-problem-1462818328

On line Support/Resources/Chatrooms

https://daydreamresearch.wixsite.com/md-research

https://wildminds.ning.com/forum/topics/yes-you-can-cure-yourself-from-maladaptive-daydreaming

https://www.reddit.com/r/MaladaptiveDreaming/wiki/index

https://madd-information.tumblr.com/resources ( A compilation of resources)