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Abstract

Daydreaming, a common mental activity, can be excessive and accompanied by distress and impaired functioning in daily life. Although currently not formally identified by diagnostic manuals, daydreaming disorder (maladaptive daydreaming-MD) is a clinically well-defined phenomenon. However, research is lacking regarding the diagnostic reliability of MD. Our aims were: (1) to develop diagnostic criteria and a structured interview for MD, (2) to examine the reliability of this measure for distinguishing individuals with and without MD, and (3) to establish an optimal cutoff score for identifying clinical-level MD using an existing self-report measure. Thirty-one individuals who met screening criteria for MD and 31 matched controls completed the self-report measure and participated in two structured clinical interviews. Each participant was interviewed independently by two clinicians blind to the participant’s group membership. Cohen’s kappa values for the agreement rate between each interviewer and the screening criterion, and between the two interviewers, ranged from good to excellent (k=.63-.84). A cutoff score of 50 on the self-report measure yielded nearly perfect sensitivity and specificity and good-to- excellent agreement between the self-report measure and the interview (k=.68-.81). Our interviews were conducted over the Internet, rather than in person; results might have been influenced by self-selection; and interviewing wider samples is warranted. We found that MD can be diagnosed reliably using a structured interview developed for that purpose. The new diagnostic interview showed excellent agreement with a self- report measure for the disorder. Additionally, we identified a useful cutoff score identified for future self-report research.
... Total scores were averaged across items, with higher scores indicating higher degrees of maladaptive daydreaming experiences and features. A cut-off score of 40 across 16 items has been shown to have good sensitivity (95%) and specificity (89%) for identifying maladaptive daydreamers based on self-identification with the condition (Somer et al., 2017b). The MDS-16 has good validity via correlation with measures of fantasyproneness, r = 0.58, p = 0.01, and excellent internal consistency, α = 0.95, and test-retest reliability, r = 0.92. ...
... The Structured Clinical Interview for Maladaptive Daydreaming (SCIMD) was designed to diagnose MD based on suggested diagnostic criteria (Somer et al., 2017b). These criteria include "Persistent and recurrent fantasy activity that is vivid and fanciful…in 6 months" with intense absorption with visual, auditory, or affective properties. ...
... Additionally, the person should experience associated distress or functional impairment (Criterion B). The difficulties should not be better explained by substance abuse or another psychiatric or medical condition (Criterion C). Somer et al. (2017b) demonstrated that the interview differentiated individuals with scores above and below the cut-off with high sensitivity (96.8%) and specificity (87.1%); it aligned excellently with self-reports of MD experiences and had good inter-rater reliability (κ = 0.63). In the current study, the first author conducted all SCIMD interviews following training and consultation with the developer of the tool (E.S). ...
Article
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Objectives Maladaptive daydreaming (MD) is a condition involving excessive, highly immersive daydreaming. We conducted a cross-sectional investigation of the occurrence of MD in adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the overlapping characteristics between the conditions. Methods We surveyed broad ASD traits, MD symptoms, sense of presence in daydreaming, loneliness, emotion regulation difficulties, and restricted and repetitive behaviors in a sample of 609 adults without a diagnosis of ASD and a sample of 235 adults with a diagnosis of ASD. We also examined the occurrence of MD in the ASD sample using a structured interview. Results A path analysis revealed that broad ASD traits were associated with MD symptoms via the mediating effects of loneliness and emotion regulation difficulties. Moreover, 43% of adults with ASD reported experiences of MD, and hierarchical regression analysis revealed that these symptoms were associated with loneliness and emotion regulation difficulties. A multivariate analysis of covariance to compare groups showed that individuals with co-occurring ASD and MD scored highest on measures of loneliness, emotion regulation difficulties, restricted and repetitive behaviors, and sense of presence in daydreaming, compared to individuals with either ASD or MD alone or those with neither condition. Conclusions This research indicates that experiences of MD are common among adults with ASD and are associated with high degrees of loneliness and emotion regulation difficulties. Future research should further explore the unique presentation of MD in ASD and the associated challenges.
... Attempts at legitimizing maladaptive daydreaming as a psychiatric disorder are evident throughout the literature. Several developmental and validation studies have aimed to create clinical measurement tools for maladaptive daydreaming (Jopp, Dupuis, Somer, Hagani & Herscu, 2018;Somer, Lehrfeld, Bigelson & Jopp, 2016;Dudek, Ross & Halpern, 2017a). Other maladaptive daydreaming studies have looked towards uncovering further clinically relevant information, such as: compensatory themes (Somer, Somer & Jopp, 2016a); related psychiatric disorders (Somer, Somer & Jopp, 2016b;Soffer-Dudek & Somer, 2018); symptomology (Bigelsen et al., 2016); antecedents and maintaining factors (Somer et al., 2016b); the way in which vulnerable groups, such as recovering substance-abusers (Somer, Abu-Raya & Simaan, 2019) and Rachael Haynes Student No: 11470570 child abuse survivors (Abu-Rayya, Somer & Knane, 2019a), may be more at risk of experiencing maladaptive daydreaming; and an attempted treatment plan to reduce maladaptive daydreaming (Somer, 2018). ...
... Scale ), (Somer et al., 2017a). This study used a constructivist approach to grounded theory with the data collected through case studies and online forums (Charmaz, 2008). ...
... This increase in the number of questions came as a result of the recognition of the importance of music in the maladaptive daydreaming experience. A second change made to the MDS-14 was the increase of the cut-off from the older 25/100 to a new cut-off rate of 50/100 (Somer et al, 2017a). This is a 100% ...
Thesis
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This thesis presents an original contribution to knowledge in the form of the Differential Emotional Processing Theory of Maladaptive Daydreaming. This theory provides new theoretical understanding of the maladaptive daydreaming experience. maladaptive daydreaming is a widely researched topic, but research into daydreaming, that is not maladaptive, but absorptive and vividly experienced, is newly emerging, with a need for more research to be conducted. Uncertainty is evident in how to theoretically explain maladaptive daydreaming beyond psychopathological suggestions. A constructivist grounded theory methodology enabled the researcher and 16 participants to co-construct a theory that provides a theoretical understanding of maladaptive daydreaming. In line with human research requirements, ethical approval was obtained from the Charles Sturt University Human Research Ethics Board (study one: case studies approval number: H17118) and (study two: forum approval number: H18078). The research data was derived from two research stages. These were two case study interviews and an online forum that involved 16 adult participants. Extensive coding was carried out across both research stages involving memo writing and a simultaneous literature review, along with an updated literature review in 2019 to 2022. The theory presented in this thesis relates to maladaptive daydreaming, positing that maladaptive daydreaming is one pathway of a wider construct ‘absorptive daydreaming’, with features that are maladaptive, whilst the other pathway is one that relates to emotional growth that is adaptive, through emotional processing factors. Key contributions of this thesis include: a move towards seeing maladaptive daydreaming as a potential emotional processing mechanism; ideas for meeting emotional processing needs in other ways than maladaptive daydreaming; and, moving treatment towards emotional processing rather than focusing on psychopathology. In conclusion, this thesis presents the first constructed grounded theory of maladaptive daydreaming. The theory provides a new theoretical understanding that may be able to be tested and extended into other populations in order to develop interventions that may assist the worldwide maladaptive daydreaming community. This thesis’s theory of maladaptive daydreaming and the wider construct of ‘absorptive daydreaming’ suggests that maladaptive daydreaming research would benefit from adopting broader understandings of maladaptive daydreaming, to include further areas of daydreaming experience, such as immersive daydreaming, which may be the emotional growth pathway within the current theory, that was found within this current study.
... Inclusion criteria were: (a) a probable MD diagnosis determined by a mean score of 50 or above on the 16-item Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS-16, Somer et al., 2016) 1 , (b) being at least 18 years old, (c) having a good command of the English language, and (d) not being in any concurrent treatment for MD. Respondents who reported being on a stable dose of medication for at least three months could participate in the 1 A recommended cutoff of 50 was reported in Somer, Soffer-Dudek, Ross and Halpern (2017), which was later discovered to be affected by a calculation error, when the actual cutoff should have been 40 (see corrigendum reported in: https://fac0c99d-218c-46be-b5c9-06d8b9d5ddbf.usrfiles.com/ugd/fac0c9_0791d1bce773444d8a2ba10d9c2d35f1.pdf). We were not aware of the mistake at the time of this study's recruitment, which is why we used the more stringent criterion of 50. ...
Article
Objective: Maladaptive daydreaming (MD) is a compulsive form of daydreaming that causes distress and functional impairment. We present the first treatment trial for MD. Method: We tested the effectiveness of an eight-session internet-based self-help training for mindfulness and self-monitoring and compared three groups across three measurement points in time. A sample of 557 people was randomly assigned. A total of 353 participants (age M[SD] = 28.3[10.5], 76% female, 77% unmarried) completed our program: full-intervention group (n = 114, psychoeducation + motivation enhancement + mindfulness + self-monitoring), partial-intervention group (n = 125, identical excluding self-monitoring), and waiting-list group (n = 125, internet-based support as usual). Results: All MD measures assessing daydreaming pathology, daydreaming frequency, and life functioning showed significant improvement with a large effect size (ES) from baseline to posttreatment in both intervention groups, whereas the wait-list group showed no significant improvement, MD: F(3, 349) = 35.76, p < .0001, η² = 0.24; frequency: F(3, 349) = 32.06, p < .001, η² = 0.22; functioning: F(3, 349) = 20.43, p < .001, η² = 0.15. Mindfulness with self-monitoring training for MD was superior to mindfulness alone in the short term, but they both were equally efficient in the long term. Both interventions were superior to relying on internet-based support forums only. The clinically significant improvement rate of mindfulness with self-monitoring training was 24%, while the reliable improvement rate reached 39%. At the 6-month follow-up, achievements were maintained. Conclusions: A brief internet-based intervention program comprising mindfulness meditation and self-monitoring facilitated recovery or improvement in many individuals with MD. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).
... This hinders all their domains of life . A maladaptive daydreamer might fantasize as much as greater than half of their waking time (Bilgesen et al., 2016) this may even substitute their interactions with other humans (Somer, 2002;Somer, Soffer-Dudek & Ross, 2017). The fiction of dreams of maladaptive daydreamers resembles films and exhibits continuity (Somer, 2002). ...
Article
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This review involves an in-depth look at the available literature on Maladaptive Daydreaming (MD), a compulsive condition of creating fake scenarios that lead to immense distress and issues in various domains of life. The fake scenarios are continuous and are initiated by music, image, and speech. Neuro-biologically, the cognitive activities associated with this condition have their bases in the default mode network of the brain. On one hand, MD promotes creativity, future planning, and self-awareness but on the other hand, it makes it hard to engage in daily activities fully by creating performance issues and distractions. Psycho-dynamically, an Ambivalent-fearful type attachment style can be seen in maladaptive daydreamers. In certain cases, this condition might take the form of celebrity worship and reality shifting. Keeping the severity and issues created by this condition in our mind, we have carefully explored the peripheral facets of Maladaptive Daydreaming to reach to its core.
... It was found that DSQ-40 fully mediated the relationship between TEC and MDS-16. studies should use the diagnostic structured clinical interview to assess the severity of MD (Somer et al., 2017b). Another limitation of this study includes using a snowball sampling method, which does not allow to calculate a response rate and limits the representativeness of the sample. ...
Article
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Maladaptive daydreaming (MD) is a new proposed mental disorder in which an excessive absorption in vivid, narrative fantasies generates impairments in various life domains. This study aimed to examine the role of traumatic life experiences and immature, neurotic, and mature defense styles in MD. Three hundred and fifty-six Italian adults, ranging in age from 18 to 60 years completed an online survey, including measures of MD, traumatic life events, and defense styles. A multiple mediation model showed that immature, neurotic, and mature defense styles fully mediated the relationship between traumatic life experiences and MD. These findings suggest that clinical interventions for people with a history of traumatic experience who developed MD should aim to help them acquire more adaptive coping strategies to deal with traumatic memories.
... Differently from normal daydreaming, MD is characterized by impairment in different areas of functioning, such as social, family, couple, and work-related activities Somer, Soffer-Dudek, Ross, & Halpern, 2017). The capacity to discern reality and fantasy is still preserved in this clinical phenomenon, as it is shown by the rare comorbidity with psychosis (Bigelsen & Schupak, 2011;Schimmenti et al., 2019). ...
Article
Starting from the idea that dreaming could be considered an index of the psychological health of individuals regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, a major risk of psychological maladjustment has been registered for maladaptive daydreamers (MDers; i.e., people with a compulsive fantasy activity associated with distress and psychological impairment). Nevertheless, there is a gap in literature about dreaming in MDers in general and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of this study was to investigate differences in dreaming and dream content between probable MDers and non-MDers during the COVID- 19 lockdown in Italy. A total of 3,857 Italian adults (664 probable MDers), completed the Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS-16) and the Mannheim Dream Questionnaire (MADRE). Among them, 1,095 participants (222 probable MDers) decided to recount their dreams, subsequently analysed through a cluster analysis performed by T-LAB software. Significantly higher levels of dream recall, emotional intensity of dreams, nightmare frequency, nightmare distress, recurring nightmares about daytime, lucid dreams, interest toward dreams, problem solving and creative dreams, and dreams affecting daytime mood emerged in probable MDers compared to non-MDers. No differences were observed in the emotional tone of dreams. From the quali–quantitative analysis of dream narratives, similar themes emerged in probable MDers and non-MDers, except for a cluster named Dreaming the loss of others, where the non-MDers variable is highly represented. Our results highlight some significant differences between probable MDers and non-MDers with respect to dreaming activity. The massive use of dream activity as an affective regulator emerges for both probable MDers and non-MDers during lockdown.
Article
This study aimed to estimate the frequency of maladaptive daydreaming, and to explore the pathological personality traits of probable maladaptive daydreamers. Our sample consisted of 239 psychiatric patients. After screening, 42 persons were probable maladaptive, while 197 participants prove to be normal daydreamers. Two pathological domains and three facets measured by the Personality Inventory for DSM-5 showed a moderate significant correlation with the Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale. The score of nearly every domain and facet was slightly higher among probable maladaptive daydreamers. To quantify the difference between the groups, effect sizes were calculated: significant difference was found on the domain level in Antagonism, while on the facet level in Hostility, Grandiosity, Attention Seeking, Unusual Beliefs and Experiences, Cognitive and Perceptual Dysregulation. The group of probable maladaptive daydreamers was further examined to identify potential subgroups. Cluster analysis revealed heterogeneity in the severeness and patterns of pathological personality domains. Cluster 1 showed higher mean scores on the PID domains and on the MDS compared to Cluster 2. Cluster 1 and Cluster 2 broke further down into two subclusters: Cluster 1a and Cluster 1b differed in their mean scores on the domains of Antagonism and Detachment; the mean scores of Cluster 2a were uniformly low on each domain, while the mean values of Cluster 2b were scattered in a mixed way on the domains. Our results suggest that maladaptive daydreaming might manifest with differently pathological personality profiles in the background. This aspect might worth considering in planning treatment.
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Objective: The terms dissociative absorption and flow describe tendencies to experience immersive consciousness states, yet dissociation is sometimes considered maladaptive whereas flow is typically considered to be adaptive. We explored their trait and state associations with psychopathology, game task performance, and mood, and examined the hypothesized moderation effect of self-efficacy. Method: In the present study, 303 undergraduates completed trait questionnaires and 63 high/low absorbers reported their state before and after an immersive task (“Tetris”). Task performance was also assessed. Results: We found that flow was distinguishable from dissociation but was inconsistent; two of its components (“transformation of time” (ToT) and “merging of action and awareness” (MoAA)) were positively associated with dissociation and psychopathology, and, unlike other flow components, were unrelated to enhanced task performance. Although the trait associations of ToT and MoAA with psychopathology were not dependent on self-efficacy levels, trait dissociation was more strongly related to psychopathology under low self-efficacy. In the state phase, state immersion (both ToT and dissociative absorption) was associated with mood improvement, especially under low self-efficacy. Conclusion: Our results prompt us to question the validity of flow as a cohesive construct, as measured by the Dispositional Flow Scale-2. Immersive experiences, including ToT and dissociative absorption, led to short-term mood improvement in the state phase but, considering their trait associations with psychopathology, engaging in them excessively may be maladaptive in the long term.
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Aim: Daydreaming is a cognitive phenomenon characterized by the redirection of attention from the external world to inner representations. Although serving several adaptive functions, excessive daydreaming has been related to emotional problems and poor psychosocial adjustment. During adolescence, this phenomenon has been scarcely explored as potential psychopathological correlate. This study aims to explore daydreaming frequency and association with psychopathological symptoms in a non‐referred population. Methods: Participants were adolescents from a community sample (N = 251). Daydreaming was assessed through the Daydreaming Frequency Scale (DDFS). Youth Self‐Report (YSR) and Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) were used as self‐reports to evaluate psychopathological problems and adaptive functioning. Results: Excessive daydreaming was present in 12.7% of participants. DDFS scores were significantly elevated in respondents with clinical scores for internalizing, depressive, obsessive–compulsive, and post‐traumatic stress problems. Symptom severity correlated positively with the DDFS. Higher daydreaming was also associated with emotional symptoms, conduct problems and total difficulties on the SDQ. Conclusions: Adolescents who daydream show increased depressive, obsessive–compulsive, and post‐traumatic stress symptoms. Possible cognitive processes at play in the relationship between daydreaming and psychopathology are discussed. Daydreaming may represent a silent psychopathological index that deserves better recognition in the clinical practice and in mental health initiatives for adolescents.
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This study explored the fantasy activity of 16 individuals who were seeking online peer-support and advice for maladaptive daydreaming (MD). MD is an under-researched mental activity described as persistent vivid fantasy activity that replaces human interaction and/or interferes with important areas of functioning. We employed a grounded theory methodology that yielded seven common themes presented as a sequential descriptive narrative about the nature, precursors, and consequences of MD. The presented "storyline" included the following themes: (1) daydreaming as an innate talent for vivid fantasy; (2) daydreaming and social isolation-a two-way street; (3) the role of trauma in the development of MD; (4) the rewards of daydreaming; (5) the insatiable yearning for daydreaming; (6) shame and concealment; (7) unsuccessful treatment attempts. A main conclusion of our study is that there is an urgent need for early identification of MD and its correct diagnoses in adulthood.
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This qualitative study describes the lived experience of maladaptive daydreaming (MD), an excessive form of unwanted daydreaming that produces a rewarding experience based on a created fantasy of a parallel reality associated with a profound sense of presence. Twenty-one in-depth interviews with persons self-identified as struggling with MD were analyzed utilizing a phenomenological approach. Interviewees described how their natural capacity for vivid daydreaming had developed into a time-consuming habit that resulted in serious dysfunction. The phenomenology of MD was typified by complex fantasized mental scenarios that were often laced with emotionally compensatory themes involving competency, social recognition and support. MD could be activated if several requirements were met. First, because social interaction seems to be incompatible with this absorbing mental activity, solitude was necessary. Additionally, kinesthetic activity and/or exposure to evocative music also appeared to be essential features. Besides delivering first-hand description of key characteristics of MD, the study also indicated that MD is associated with dysfunctionality for which participants expressed a substantial need for help.
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Nearly 60 years ago, Jerome L. Singer launched a groundbreaking research program into daydreaming (Singer, 1955, 1975, 2009) that presaged and laid the foundation for virtually every major strand of mind wandering research active today (Antrobus, 1999; Klinger, 1999, 2009). Here we review Singer's enormous contribution to the field, which includes insights, methodologies, and tools still in use today, and trace his enduring legacy as revealed in the recent proliferation of mind wandering studies. We then turn to the central theme in Singer's work, the adaptive nature of positive constructive daydreaming, which was a revolutionary idea when Singer began his work in the 1950s and remains underreported today. Last, we propose a new approach to answering the enduring question: Why does mind wandering persist and occupy so much of our time, as much as 50% of our waking time according to some estimates, if it is as costly as most studies suggest?
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Throughout the history of hypnosis, excellent hypnotic subjects (sometimes referred to as somnambules or somnambulists) have been studied in terms of how they respond and what they experience when given suggestions to hallucinate, to age regress, to experience anesthesia, to go into a trance, etc. Although their behavior in a hypnotic or suggestive setting has been looked at extensively, there has been very little research in which they were intensively interviewed to discover how their extremely high responsiveness to suggestions is related to their life histories.