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Abstract

Background and aims: Maladaptive daydreaming (MD) has many features of behavioural addiction but research exploring this syndrome is limited. This case study provides a qualitative exploration of MD. Method: A structured clinical interview and mental state examination of a patient with MD was video-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were subjected to the interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results: MD developed as a strategy to cope with distress but led to uncontrollable absorption in fantasy, social withdrawal, and neglecting aspects of everyday life. It was coupled with excessive Internet use and viewing porn. Discussion and conclusions: Patients should be questioned about MD during clinical assessment. Further studies are necessary to determine whether MD constitutes a separate syndrome or is a part of other behavioural addictions.
Maladaptive daydreaming as a new form of behavioral addiction
IGOR J. PIETKIEWICZ
1
*, SZYMON NĘCKI
2
, ANNA BAŃBURA
2
and RADOSŁAW TOMALSKI
1
1
Research Centre for Trauma & Dissociation, Katowice Faculty of Psychology, SWPS University of
Social Sciences and Humanities, Katowice, Poland
2
Faculty of Psychology, Jagiellonian University, Krak´ow, Poland
(Received: February 16, 2018; revised manuscript received: May 27, 2018; second revised manuscript received: July 17, 2018;
accepted: August 13, 2018)
Background and aims: Maladaptive daydreaming (MD) has many features of behavioral addiction, but research
exploring this syndrome is limited. This case study provides a qualitative exploration of MD. Methods: A structured
clinical interview and mental state examination of a patient with MD were video-recorded and transcribed verbatim.
Transcripts were subjected to the interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results: MD was developed as a strategy
to cope with distress but led to uncontrollable absorption in fantasy, social withdrawal, and neglecting aspects of
everyday life. It was coupled with excessive Internet use and viewing porn. Discussion and conclusions: Patients
should be questioned about MD during clinical assessment. Further studies are necessary to determine whether MD
constitutes a separate syndrome or is a part of other behavioral addictions.
Keywords: maladaptive daydreaming, absorption, social exclusion, bullying, addictive behavior
INTRODUCTION
While the fth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) only lists the gambling
disorder in the behavioral addictions chapter, authors also
consider additional forms, such as Internet gaming disorder,
and recommend further research into excessive use of social
media or viewing pornography (American Psychiatric
Association [APA], 2013). Internet gaming may involve
role-playing games (RPGs) or live action RPG in which
participants are identied with their characters and co-create
imagined scenarios (Tychsen, Brolund, & Kavakli, 2006;
Vorobyeva, 2016). Some people use paid services allowing
participants to create avatars and virtual environments in
which they interact with others, for example, World of
Warcraft or Second Life (Messinger, Stroulia, & Lyons,
2008). Studies show that users often develop idealized
versions of themselves, with personality traits or preferences
similar to their own, and engage in normal actions, such as
socializing or shopping or express forbidden, conicting
desires (Gottschalk, 2010;Linares, Subrahmanyam, Cheng,
& Guan, 2011). RPGs, which are in signicant imaginative
involvement, compared with other types (e.g., shooters or
strategic games), have been associated with the highest
risk of generating behavioral addiction (Lee et al., 2007;
Lemmens & Hendriks, 2016).
There is a growing body of evidence identifying dys-
functional forms of imaginative involvement, dened as
maladaptive daydreaming (MD), which may be expressed
through extensive book-reading, watching lms, or gaming.
MD refers to extensive, often compulsive, absorption in
fantasy for several hours a day, which replaces human
interaction and impairs functioning in various domains:
academic, interpersonal, or vocational (Somer, 2002,
2018). This syndrome was found in patients with a wide
range of DSM-5 disorders, including attention-decit hy-
peractivity disorder, anxiety disorder, depressive disorder,
and obsessivecompulsive or related disorders (Somer,
Soffer-Dudek, & Ross, 2017). Somer (2002) initially asso-
ciated MD with dissociative pathology and personality
disorders. More recently, however, he described this behav-
ior in relation to four categories: a dissociative disorder,
disturbance of attention, obsessivecompulsive spectrum
disorder, or behavioral addiction (Somer, 2018). Maladap-
tive daydreamers may share certain similarities with prob-
lematic Internet gamers who play games to avoid real-life
difculties (escapism), and use fantasy to experience things
that are not workable in real life or live out alternative
identities through the game (Ballabio et al., 2017). Escap-
ism, according to Demetrovics et al. (2011), should be
distinguished from coping (i.e., improvement of mood or
channeling of aggression), which has no clear relationship
with problematic gaming. MD could be considered a be-
havioral addiction, because it is so rewarding that people
experience intense yearning for it or feel compelled to
extend and repeat this action (Somer, Somer, & Jopp,
* Corresponding author: Igor J. Pietkiewicz; Research Centre for
Trauma & Dissociation, Katowice Faculty of Psychology, SWPS
University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Technik´ow 9,
Katowice 40 326, Poland; Phone: +48 602 648 713; E-mail:
ipietkiewicz@swps.edu.pl
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium for non-commercial purposes, provided the original author and
source are credited, a link to the CC License is provided, and changes if any are indicated.
© 2018 The Author(s)
CASE REPORT Journal of Behavioral Addictions
DOI: 10.1556/2006.7.2018.95
2016b). Some report an irresistible urge to immerse them-
selves in a fantasy world immediately on waking or want to
continue fantasizing when interrupted (Bigelsen, Lehrfeld,
Jopp, & Somer, 2016). Bigelsen and Schupak (2011),
however, note that daydreamers are also distressed about
losing control over fantasizing and unsuccessful attempts to
limit it.
There are only a few studies on MD, and its symptoms
are often unacknowledged or dismissed during clinical
assessment (Somer, Somer, & Jopp, 2016a). Because this
may lead to unsuccessful treatment, further research is
required (Somer, 2018;Somer et al., 2016b). There is also
an ongoing dispute among researchers whether or not to
classify certain problematic behaviors as newbehavioral
addictions. To avoid overpathologizing the daily life activi-
ties, Billieux, Schimmenti, Khazaal, Maurage, and Heeren
(2015) suggest that preliminary qualitative studies should
precede quantitative research and explore underlying
psychological processes and how certain behaviors are
experienced, instead of merely comparing behavior
against diagnostic criteria. This paper is in line with this
approach. It presents a case study of a patient having
MD with features of behavioral addiction, whose narrative
was explored adhering to rigorous diagnostic and methodo-
logical procedures of the interpretative phenomenological
analysis (IPA).
METHODS
This study took place in Poland in 2018 as part of the project
exploring alterations in consciousness. IPA was used for
data analysis. IPA generates rich and detailed descriptions of
how individuals experience phenomena under investigation
and synthesizes concepts derived from phenomenology,
hermeneutics, and idiography. Detailed exploration of how
participants make meaning of their world is combined with
researchersattempts to make sense of the participants
meaning (Pietkiewicz & Smith, 2014).
Participants
Peter (his real name has been changed to ensure condenti-
ality), aged 25 years, is a single Caucasian male who has
moved out of the family home and lives with a atmate. He
is about to complete an IT degree. He uses alcohol rarely and
in small doses and has never used drugs or other psychoac-
tive substances. He meets the DSM-5 criteria of the 301.82
avoidant personality disorder (he avoids interpersonal con-
tacts fearing disapproval, criticism, and rejection; he has
never had an intimate relationship or sexual initiation
because of shame and fear; he is preoccupied about being
socially ashamed or mocked and feels inadequate, inhibited,
and socially inept; he has poor self-esteem and feels inferior;
and he is reluctant to engage in activities potentially associ-
ated with being embarrassed). He also reported multiple
symptoms indicating non-substance behavioral addiction
associated with daydreaming and excessive Internet use for
watching videos, pornography, playing games, and reading
news. He has become increasingly involved in these activi-
ties to achieve desired excitement, experienced irritation
when unable to continue that behavior, stayed preoccupied
with it, and made repeated and unsuccessful attempts to
control his mental and physical actions. He used that
behavior to regulate affect but was ashamed and tried to
conceal it, experiencing distress as a result. However, he
reported neither posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and
somatoform or psychoform dissociation, nor symptoms
indicating the existence of dissociative personality parts.
Procedure
The study was approved by the local university research
committee. Our participant had been screened for dissocia-
tive experiences by a local psychiatrist who referred him to
the Research Centre for Trauma & Dissociation for an in-
depth diagnostic examination, where he was subjected to the
Trauma and Dissociation Symptoms Interview TADS-I
(Boon & Matthess, 2017) to explore his medical history,
substance use, and various aspects of everyday functioning
(including sleep, eating, self-image, mood regulation, inter-
personal relationships, and alterations in consciousness).
TADS-I is a comprehensive tool for a differential diagnosis
of dissociative disorders, thoroughly examining alterations
in consciousness (including depersonalization, derealiza-
tion, absorption, and daydreaming) and symptoms indicat-
ing structural dissociation of the personality. The interview
was held in two sessions and lasted approximately 4 hr in
total. A psychiatrist also performed a standard mental health
assessment and informed the participant about his results
and recommended treatment. All interviews were video
recorded.
Data analysis
A detailed, verbatim transcript of the video recording was
separately analyzed by all authors in Nvivo11 (computer-
assisted qualitative data analysis software), using the con-
secutive analytical steps recommended for IPA (Pietkiewicz
& Smith, 2014). First, the transcript was carefully read
several times and researchers made their interpretative
comments about the content and language use. They regis-
tered repetitive phrases, similes, and similarities in how the
participant described various experiences at different points
of the interview. The hermeneutic circlewas applied in
the analysis, meaning researchers tried to understand each
individual part by reference to the whole and vice versa.
Then, they categorized the notes into emergent themes by
allocating descriptive labels (nodes) and discussed their
coding and interpretations of data with each other. They
analyzed the connections between themes and grouped
themes according to conceptual similarities into super-
ordinate ones and subthemes. This article presents an
elaboration of salient themes relating to the experience of
excessive daydreaming and the participants associations
and interpretations.
Ethics
The study procedures were carried out in accordance with
the Declaration of Helsinki. The institutional review board
of the SWPS University of Social Sciences & Humanities
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Pietkiewicz et al.
approved the study. The participant was informed about the
study and provided informed consent.
RESULTS
Theme 1: Facing social rejection was unbearable
In primary school rst grade, Peter saw himself as a sociable
and communicative and focused on school achievements.
He had limited awareness of his competitive tendencies.
I think I didnt realise that I pushed too hard and they
[classmates] didnt like it. I wasnt arrogant, selsh or
unfriendly, I simply bragged about how fortunate I was. I
craved the spotlight.
He could not understand why, months later, his classmates
began to tease him, intimidate him in front of others, or
inict pain.
They mocked me all the time, and avoided me. I sat alone
at the back in class and had no one to talk to. Everyone
knew I was a gure of fun.
This led him to feel weak, inferior, and socially excluded.
He felt especially ashamed and humiliated when teased or
mocked in the presence of girls he found attractive.
Theme 2: Seeking distraction and release of tension
Perceiving himself as an outcast and feeling worthless, Peter
sought ways to distract himself from negative thoughts. He
played video games or browsed the Internet for many hours
and masturbated excessively. This way of discharging
emotional tension started at a young age and he calls it
my detox after school.Over the years, the time spent
fantasizing increased, usually triggered by pictures, lms, or
news on the Internet, which he found difcult to stop.
I spend about 14 hours a day surng on my computer,
watching pictures of cars, YouTube, and wanking. Po-
litical news, for example, may trigger delusional fanta-
sies in which I am a multimillionaire who would never let
that situation happen. If nothing stops my fantasizing
like going swimming or to the library then I crave
music, which gets me even more hopped up. I walk
around the at, imagining how it would be in that world.
When I have had too much, I need to watch some porn
and masturbate.
Peter thinks he initially tried to avoid painful reality by
developing alternative scenarios of events and experiencing
them as if they were real. In this way, he could regulate his
emotions and cope with loneliness.
When I felt this pain as a child, I started imagining how
things could be different. I created stories which never
happened. To suppress that pain I would hug my pillow
or quilt, thinking I was being comforted by someone
else.
Theme 3: Intense imaginative involvement
In his experience, spending most of the time playing
video games, browsing the Internet, and masturbating com-
pulsively also involves excessive daydreaming, which gives
him excitement and pleasure. Peter seeks solitude and
favorable conditions to immerse himself in his fantasy
world. He realizes that daydreaming increasingly consumed
more time and energy. Over the years, he recorded this
activity in his diary, growing concerned, and angry with
himself when he realized that he had limited control over his
compulsive behavior.
Time goes by and I am not really able to control it. I sit at
my PC and daydream day by day. I start in the morning
and realise it is already night. It started by the second
grade but did not bother me then so much. Now I fear that
I have wasted my life and opportunities.
Although daydreaming is pleasurable, he says he has devel-
oped a delusional personalityand lost control over fanta-
sizing, becoming afraid of losing touch with reality or that
the alterwill take over.
Triggers for excessive daydreaming. Peter blames the
peers who bullied him at school for his current difculties
and coping strategies. He thinks he was overly stressed and
lacked emotional support, which discouraged him from
interaction with others and expressing his needs.
My main problem is that I was too traumatised to express
my feelings and needs. No life, women, hobbies through-
out these years ::: only fear and shame about saying
what I wanted. This is what they did to me at school.
Occasionally, Peter tries to concentrate on the here and
nowas his form of rehab. However, listening to music or
watching media triggers or supports fantasies. It is easy for
him to get hookedon one thought, which leads to him
developing elaborate and exciting stories.
Thinking about something, I automatically create a scenar-
io. For instance, I become this multimillionaire, giving an
interview. People admire my wisdom, respect me and make
way for me. I move around my at, listening to music and
getting really high. I live these delusions for a few hours,
daydreaming about that life: driving cars, car racing, sex.
Experimenting with alters. The protagonists in his fanta-
sy world are always men with special attributes associated
with admiration or awe. They use their abilities to help
others, which make Peter feel strong, proud, and special,
because he imagines being them.
I created this delusional personality of a multimillionaire by
building digital systems that allow mankind to conquer
death and cure all mental or physical problems. Sometimes
I am the king of Poland, a guardian of values, ideals, social
order, or a hero who can do things that other people are
unable to do. I rescue them. I am an FBI agent with a
photographic memory, an Iron Man who kills Muslim
terrorists, or I destroy villains like a Robocop. I am the best.
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Maladaptive daydreaming
He also produces elaborate fantasies in which he hugs
women or aggressively penetrates them, which he attributes
to his lack of intimate contacts. Peter maintains that being a
virgin is another reason for his shame. In his imagination, he
then inspires people who feel weak, hopeless, or possess
other qualities he himself despises. In his daydreams, he
ascribes vulnerability to those he would save. He also has a
sense of moral triumph for not expressing openly hostile
feelings toward those who caused him pain.
As a multimillionaire I visit my old school and share my
story with the pupils. I tell them how I managed to
conquer my own weakness and that this was the best
lesson I received from life ::: not giving in to my hatred.
Fantasies are private experiences. Peter is ashamed of
the fragile self-esteem and sensitivity to criticism or rejec-
tion that he rst experienced at school. He sees expressing
emotions and reacting to being teased as weakness, so feigns
indifference. He says,
I dont want people to see my emotions, whether I am
angry, happy, or sad. I want them to see nothing but my
unimpressed attitude, my poker face.
Talking about his fantasy world evokes tension and extreme
shame; thus, he has never spoken about daydreaming to any
healthcare provider before and neither has anyone asked
about absorption in earlier interviews.
Theme 4: Regret for lost opportunities
Although intense daydreaming helps Peter escape from
painful reality and regulate his emotions, he is aware of
the losses it involves. He believes that avoiding social
interaction has deprived him of opportunities for experi-
ences typical of his age. He especially regrets not having
established an intimate relationship and a sense of maturity.
I love my addiction and know I can escape unpleasant
situations with porn and daydreaming. But when I do that,
I miss something more valuable the chance to attract the
love of a woman. I had no social life at school, missed
parties and other chances to get to know girls. Later on, my
peers would wake up in bed with women, have relation-
ships, work and reach maturity. I never grew up. I could
have learnt the taste of love, kisses, walks, hugging, sex.
DISCUSSION
Literature acknowledges that many people engage in day-
dreaming as a strategy to cope with distress (Winnicott,
1971). This may become maladaptive when used
excessively, causing social withdrawal (Somer, 2002). MD
has been considered in terms of four psychopathological
categories: as a symptom of dissociation, disturbance
of attention, obsessivecompulsive, or behavioral addi-
ction (Somer, 2018). This case study illustrates the last
category.
Several distinct components of behavioral addiction
are commonly identied as: (a) salience the activity
becomes more important than anything else and dominates
thinking, (b) mood modication experiencing the activity
leads to an arousing buzzor a high,(c) tolerance
ability to do increasing amounts of the particular activity,
(d) withdrawal unpleasant states when activity is dis-
continued or suddenly reduced, (e) conict (inter- or
intrapersonal), and (f) relapse addictive patterns are
easily and quickly restored even after a long time of
abstinence or control (Grifths, 2005). Although the
DSM-5 only describes symptoms of gambling disorder,
the Appendix lists additional forms of behavioral addiction
that should be explored (e.g., excessive use of social media
or watching porn), and proposes criteria for Internet gam-
ing disorders (APA, 2013). Various authors note that this
form of entertainment can lead to preoccupation (obsessive
thinking about online games), overuse, neglecting areas of
everyday life, social isolation, inter- and intrapersonal
conicts, and escape from painful reality (Demetrovics
et al., 2012;King, Herd, & Delfabbro, 2017,2018;Király
et al., 2017;Kuss, 2013;Kuss & Grifths, 2012). Such
people risk substituting real life with virtual reality
(Smahel, Blinka, & Ledabyl, 2008).
While our subject has all these characteristics in relation
to Internet use and viewing porn, he also reports MD
as his main area of concern and difculty. His MD alone
involves seeking opportunities to indulge himself in
fantasies and elaborate his scenarios (preoccupation),
feeling very excited (mood modication), excessive and
increasing use (tolerance), feeling irritated when some-
thing or someone disturbs his daydreaming (withdrawal),
and inner frustration associated with avoiding confronta-
tion with problems (conict). Fantasy, which is normally a
natural coping strategy to regulate affect, apparently
becomes dysfunctional in MD and leads to escapism,
causing impairment of functioning in school, work, and
social life.
Our subject initially used daydreaming to distract his
attention from problems at school or aid emotional regula-
tion. Only later he discovered that daydreaming can be
triggered using the Internet or viewing porn. Although he
identied MD as his main problem for which he sought
help, there were few days when fantasy dominated his
functioning but did not involve using the Internet. This
shows that further quantitative studies are necessary to
distinguish whether MD is merely a component of other
disorders or compulsive behaviors (e.g., personality disorder
or porn/Internet addiction) or is an isolated symptom that
justies creating its own separate diagnostic category.
Interestingly, our entire subjects compulsive behaviors
(excessive Internet use, watching porn, and MD) required
being absorbed. This justies further studies into alterations
in consciousness in people with behavioral addictions. It
could be rewarding to analyze the function of imaginative
involvement and its impact on daily life in people exces-
sively using RPG (Tychsen et al., 2006;Vorobyeva, 2016)
or virtual reality (Messinger et al., 2008).
Literature shows that adverse childhood experiences can
lead to the structural dissociation of the personality
(Nijenhuis, 2015;van der Hart, Nijenhuis, & Steele, 2006).
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Pietkiewicz et al.
Our subject felt neglected at home and bullied at school,
which resulted in alterations in consciousness (immersion
in his inner world) and compulsive behavior. He also
developed symptoms of avoidant personality and revealed
narcissistic conicts associated with shame and fragile self-
esteem. However, he reported no symptoms of pathological
dissociation. This supports the observation that some cases
of MD do not involve dissociative pathology at all.
Although MD may involve a disordered form of absorption,
many researchers disregard these alterations in conscious-
ness as dissociative in nature. This, however, relates to the
ongoing theoretical dispute, what is dissociation per se, and
will not be explained here.
Finally, it is interesting that our subject had never
revealed his MD symptoms to any healthcare professional.
This can be attributed to intense shame associated with the
contents of his fantasies, limited control over imaginative
involvement, and perceived consequences. This, however,
justies the need to openly ask questions about potential
signs of MD during clinical interviews.
Funding sources: This publication has been created as part
of the project funded by the National Science Centre,
Poland, number: 2016/22/E/HS6/00306.
Authorscontribution: All authors made substantial contri-
bution to acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data.
Conict of interest: The authors declare no conict of
interest.
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Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Pietkiewicz et al.
... MD has high comorbidity with various mental disorders sharing some features with attention-deficit and dissociative disorders (Schimmenti, Somer, & Regis, 2019), ADHD-Inattentive type, OCD, depression anxiety disorders , and behavioral addictions (Pietkiewicz, Nęcki, Bańbura, & Tomalski, 2018). Several explanations for the formation of the phenomenon have been proposed (Greene, West, & Somer, 2020;Somer, Abu-Rayya, & Brenner, 2020); however, the mechanism of MD has yet to be understood. ...
... 767). Evidence suggests that individuals with elevated MD experience their loneliness as being assuaged by daydreams featuring soothing or supportive fantasy relationships (Pietkiewicz et al., 2018;Schupak & Rosenthal, 2009;Somer, 2002;Somer, Lehrfeld, et al., 2016). Themes of companionship, intimacy, and romance in daydreaming are sometimes associated with adversity in childhood, including early rejection (Pietkiewicz et al., 2018;Somer, 2002;Somer, Lehrfeld, et al., 2016), and with boredom . ...
... Evidence suggests that individuals with elevated MD experience their loneliness as being assuaged by daydreams featuring soothing or supportive fantasy relationships (Pietkiewicz et al., 2018;Schupak & Rosenthal, 2009;Somer, 2002;Somer, Lehrfeld, et al., 2016). Themes of companionship, intimacy, and romance in daydreaming are sometimes associated with adversity in childhood, including early rejection (Pietkiewicz et al., 2018;Somer, 2002;Somer, Lehrfeld, et al., 2016), and with boredom . These fantasies offer daydreamers a compensatory emotional alternative to their dismal reality. ...
Article
In this study, we analyzed the responses of 539 adults who met an evidence-based criterion of probable maladaptive daydreaming (MD) and met the description of at least one of the following personality facets: grandiosity, separation insecurity, and anhedonia. Respondents reporting grandiosity tended to use their fantasies as a means for wish-fulfillment for power and dominance, while respondents characterized by separation insecurity fantasized more about relationships with others. Their fantasies often featured an idealized relationship, sometimes of love, or an idealized version of their own family. Separation-anxious individuals reported fantasies in which they received extra attention on account of illness, vulnerability, or neediness. Respondents who reported characteristics of anhedonia were more likely to use daydreaming as a distraction from an unpleasant reality and gravitated to fantasies experienced as rewarding. The daydreams of respondents with anhedonia tended to feature themes of escape and physical violence. Our data show that particular personality facets can uniquely distinguish the functions and contents of fantasies in MD. Our findings suggest that maladaptive daydreaming may have a compensatory role in regulating unmet personal needs.
... A new pathway in the conceptualization of maladaptive daydreaming is the behavioral addiction hypothesis. According to this approach, problematic daydreaming might show similarities with behavioral addiction (for example with gambling disorder) (Pietkiewicz, Nęcki, Bańbura, & Tomalski, 2018;Sándor, Münnich, & Molnár, 2020;Somer, 2018). Maladaptive daydreamers also have positive emotions (such as excitement and pleasure) deriving from the intense involvement into fantasy; they dedicate more and more time and energy to this activity; they are unable to control daydreaming; they experience negative feelings and frustration when daydreaming is disturbed; and the life impairing effect of this excessive fantasy activity causes intrapsychic conflict. ...
... Maladaptive daydreamers also have positive emotions (such as excitement and pleasure) deriving from the intense involvement into fantasy; they dedicate more and more time and energy to this activity; they are unable to control daydreaming; they experience negative feelings and frustration when daydreaming is disturbed; and the life impairing effect of this excessive fantasy activity causes intrapsychic conflict. Based on the results of research in the field of maladaptive daydreaming, it can be suggested that further qualitative and quantitative studies would be necessary to identify the phenomenon as a distinct clinical condition or as a symptom or component of other disorders (Pietkiewicz et al., 2018). ...
... Online data collection was justified by the fact that it is challenging to reach the research target group in any other way. Previous studies clearly indicated that individuals affected by maladaptive daydreaming feel intense shame and make efforts to hide their excessive fantasy activity from family members, friends, and even within a trusting therapeutic relationship they never talk about the phenomenon (Bigelsen & Schupak, 2011;Pietkiewicz et al., 2018;Schimmenti, Sideli, La Marca, Gori, & Terrone, 2019;Somer, Somer, & Jopp, 2016a). The results of previous international studies Bigelsen & Schupak, 2011;Soffer-Dudek & Somer, 2018;Somer, Lehrfeld, et al., 2016; also confirmed that online data collection is appropriate, as it provides complete anonymity, voluntary participation and facilitates honest answering. ...
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Maladaptive daydreaming is an excessive form of daydreaming which causes significant distress and functional impairment to the affected individuals. Research on maladaptive daydreaming has intensified in recent years, but its pathogenesis has not yet been clearly elucidated. The aim of the study was to examine the attachment characteristics and the difficulties in emotion regulation among maladaptive and normal daydreamers. 717 individuals were recruited online, 106 of whom were screened as maladaptive daydreamers. The results of the Attachment Style Questionnaire revealed a specific attachment style among maladaptive daydreamers, who were characterized by ‘Ambivalent-fearful’ attachment characteristics, while normal daydreamers showed ‘Secure-independent’ attachment style. Regarding emotion regulation difficulties, maladaptive daydreamers showed a significantly higher level of deficit on each subscale of the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale compared to normal daydreamers. The findings highlighted the potential role of early attachment experiences in the etiology and pathogenesis of maladaptive daydreaming, as well as the presence of severe emotion regulation deficits among problematic daydreamers. The results revealed by the present study might give contributions to the development of psychotherapeutical treatment of maladaptive daydreaming.
... Maladaptive Daydreaming (MD) is a proposed mental disorder characterized by excessive, compulsive immersion in vivid and complex fantastical daydreamed plots, generating intense emotional involvement, often accompanied by stereotypical movements (1)(2)(3). This addictive absorption in daydreaming becomes maladaptive as it consumes many hours a day, generates shame or guilt, hinders achievement of shortand long-term goals or tasks, and overall causes clinically significant distress and/or interferes with functioning in social or occupational realms (2,(4)(5)(6)(7). Maladaptive Daydreamers (MDers) report a strong urge to daydream whenever they can and annoyance whenever they cannot, and, repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop daydreaming, like other behavioral addictions (4,7). ...
... This addictive absorption in daydreaming becomes maladaptive as it consumes many hours a day, generates shame or guilt, hinders achievement of shortand long-term goals or tasks, and overall causes clinically significant distress and/or interferes with functioning in social or occupational realms (2,(4)(5)(6)(7). Maladaptive Daydreamers (MDers) report a strong urge to daydream whenever they can and annoyance whenever they cannot, and, repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop daydreaming, like other behavioral addictions (4,7). Negative emotions follow their daily daydreaming activity (8,9). ...
Article
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Background: Maladaptive Daydreaming (MD) is a recently identified psychological disorder, 28 characterized by excessively and addictively engaging in vivid, narrative, intensely emotional fantasy 29 activity, at times with the aid of music and/or repetitive movements, causing distress and functional 30 impairment. Over 100,000 self-diagnosed individuals are active online and thousands of them have 31 been researched; yet there are no studies using clinical interviews on large, systematic general (non-32 MD) samples, to assess the estimated prevalence of this suggested disorder, and establish norms for 33 its main psychometric tool. 34 Methods: Four independent Israeli samples (three student samples, and one sample representing the 35 general Jewish-Israeli population; total N=1,023) self-reported MD. In two samples, those exceeding 36 the cutoff score for suspected MD were invited for a structured clinical interview. 37 Results: The skewness of most items of the 16-item Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS-16) 38 supports the notion of MD as a binary construct rather than a normally distributed trait. In the 39 community sample, 4.2% exceeded the cutoff for suspected MD. Rates were higher when focusing 40 on the young adult age group or student samples (5.5%-8.5%), suggesting a likely age effect. 41 Following clinical interviews, only 60% of interviewed respondents met criteria for diagnosis, 42 suggesting a true point-prevalence of 2.5% in the Israeli-Jewish population. 43 Conclusions: This is the first systematic clinical evaluation of the prevalence of MD. In an Israeli 44 sample, a point-prevalence of 2.5% was found, like several other internalizing psychiatric syndromes. 45 This result, along with the non-normal nature of item distribution, both support the validity of MD as 46 a psychological disorder, which should be considered as a potential addition to future psychiatric 47 diagnostic manuals.
... MD is associated with a strong yearning, it can be activated or maintained by evocative music, and is often accompanied by stereotypical physical movements such as pacing, swinging, or hand movements (Somer, 2002). Although maladaptive at a functional level, immersive daydreaming (West & Somer, 2020), the trait underlying MD, may confer individuals with stress tolerance (Pietkiewicz et al., 2018). In other words, it might be a form of autistic fantasy a person employs to avoid stress related to real-life problems (Schimmenti et al., 2019). ...
... In line with our previous report , the current data demonstrate that exacerbated MD can be a mental health consequence of the stressful effects of the lockdown. Several hypotheses concerning the general relationship between stress and MD have been suggested: Pietkiewicz et al. (2018) argued that MD is a type of behavioral addiction, initially developed as a mechanism for coping with stress. According to this hypothesis, immersion in vivid mental scenarios serves as a distraction from stressful circumstances and can relieve emotional tension. ...
Article
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Since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost all countries have employed varying degrees of lockdown measures to limit the spread of the infection. Previous studies showed that individuals with maladaptive daydreaming (MD) are affected negatively by the lockdown. In this study, we explored a set of lockdown measures (e.g., self-quarantine) and personal factors (e.g., education, history of depression, and personality traits) that might potentially exacerbate MD experienced during the lockdown period. We also examined whether perceived stress acted as a mediator in the relationship between these factors and MD. During the first lockdown from April to June, we analyzed data provided by 1083 individuals from the USA, the UK, Italy, and Turkey. A path analysis revealed that perceived stress mediated the effects on MD of self-quarantine, previous episodes of depression , low education level, and introversion and emotional instability. Our study suggests a conceptual framework for the factors that intensify maladaptive daydreaming under the threats of the pandemic and forced home confinement, offering implications for interventions with vulnerable populations.
... Maladaptive daydreaming (MD) refers to compulsive fantasy activity characterized by immersive imagination and shifting of attention toward a rich inner world while neglecting social, occupational, and academic activities (Bigelsen & Schupak, 2011;Somer, 2002). It is a form of behavioral addiction embodied by a constant urge to daydream and to be absorbed in a self-directed imaginary world (Pietkiewicz et al., 2018). In many cases, repetitive movements and exposure to music serve as triggering or enhancing mechanisms for this behavior (Somer, Somer, et al., 2016b;. ...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Maladaptive daydreaming (MD) entails excessive immersion and engagement in complex fantasy worlds, causing distress and impairing functioning. Maladaptive Daydreamers often report that existing diagnostic labels are unhelpful for them. Previous studies reported high rates of comorbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among persons with MD, raising the question of their separateness. The present study explored whether MD differs essentially from ADHD by examining an ADHD sample, hypothesizing a much lower incidence of MD. Method: Adults diagnosed with ADHD (N=83) were assessed for ADHD symptoms, MD, depression, loneliness, and self-esteem. Participants who exceeded the study’s cutoff score for suspected MD were invited to participate in a structured diagnostic interview for MD. Results: In accordance with the hypothesis, only 20.5% of the ADHD sample met the proposed diagnostic criteria for MD. Compared to ADHD-only participants, this subgroup presented increased depression, loneliness, and lowered self-esteem. Conclusion: MD has unique clinical characteristics that are distinct from ADHD. We suggest that in some cases presenting with ADHD symptoms, an MD conceptualization may better explain the clinical picture. Future research should aim at a better differentiation of daydreaming, ADHD, and related constructs such as mind-wandering.
... However, the characteristics of maladaptive daydreaming also showed similarities with behavioural addiction and compulsive disorders; in some cases, this problematic daydreaming activity evolves into dependence which can be described as a compulsion to daydream causing significant time loss and severe distress (Somer et al., 2019a). This fantasy activity is so rewarding that it causes a yearning for daydreaming, a loss of control over fantasizing, and a significant wasting of time, and also interferes with interpersonal, academic and professional functioning, as well as leading to significant distress, social withdrawal, and shame (Bigelsen & Schupak, 2011;Pietkiewicz et al., 2018;Somer, 2002;Somer, 2018). According to a study (Somer et al., 2017a), 53.9% of maladaptive daydreamers (N = 39) met the criteria for an obsessive-compulsive or related disorder, but this rate was not as high as the rate of comorbidity for other disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; 76.9%), anxiety disorder (71.8%) or depressive disorder (66.7%). ...
Article
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The aim of the study was to identify some potential etiological segments of maladaptive daydreaming, especially the relationships between maladaptive daydreaming, childhood traumatization, and dissociative propensity. The questionnaire package included the Hungarian version of the Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale, the Traumatic Antecedents Questionnaire, as well as the Dissociation Questionnaire. 717 participants were recruited online, 106 of whom were problematic daydreamers. The results revealed that certain types of childhood trauma occurred significantly more frequently in the group of maladaptive daydreamers. Furthermore, maladaptive daydreamers possessed a significantly higher level of dissociative propensity compared to normal daydreamers. The estimated SEM models showed that dissociative experiences - more precisely Identity confusion and fragmentation and Lack of control – mediated the relationship between certain childhood traumatic experiences and maladaptive daydreaming. The results suggest that we should consider childhood traumatization and increased dissociative propensity as potentially significant factors in the etiology of maladaptive daydreaming.
... Again, in another study supporting the result of this study, it was concluded that individuals with emotion regulation difficulties exhibit more maladaptive daydreaming behavior (Greene et al. 2020). In some studies, it is said that maladaptive daydreaming behavior may turn into an addiction and thus negatively affect the functionality of individuals (Pietkiewicz et al. 2018, Somer 2002. Symptoms of maladaptive daydreaming behavior, which is a new area of research and whose diagnostic criteria have not been fully developed, are given below. ...
Article
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The aim of this study was to examine the concept of maladaptive daydreaming, defined by Eli Somer, with the method of film analysis and to concretize it with case studies. Maladaptive daydreaming is defined as the daydreaming behaviors that prevent individuals from focusing on their job and academic studies and that negatively affect interpersonal social relations. In the study, the movie The Sleep Science was analyzed in terms of maladaptive daydreaming. In this study, document analysis method, which is one of the qualitative research methods, was used. Accordingly, some scenes of the film concerned were examined in terms of maladaptive daydreaming behaviors. On the other hand, it has been tried to reveal what kind of difficulties the maladaptive daydreamers experience in their daily lives by analyzing the sample scenes. Considering the experiences of Stephane, the protagonist of the film, it is clear that maladaptive daydreaming has negative effects on the lives of individuals. It is noteworthy that the concept of maladaptive daydreaming is a situation that may have a negative impact on individuals' well-being, mental activities, academic and social lives.
... This hypothesis is consistent with previous research showing that escapism-related motives are associated with a maladaptive use of online activities (Deleuze et al., 2019;Hagström and Kaldo, 2014), including PSMU (Kircaburun and Griffiths, 2019). Furthermore, it has been observed that books, television, internet content, or other mediatic stimuli may trigger immersion in daydreaming (Bigelsen and Shupack, 2011;Pietkiewicz et al., 2018). Accordingly, SNSs might trigger compensatory fantasies and might thus coincide with the onset of PSMU. ...
Article
Maladaptive daydreaming describes excessive fantasy activity that interferes with an individual's life. Surprisingly, the precursors of maladaptive daydreaming and its role in excessive involvement in virtual worlds have been scarcely investigated. In the current study, we examined the relationships among attachment styles, maladaptive daydreaming, and problematic social media use (PSMU) in a sample of community-dwelling adults. Eight hundred seventy-seven participants between 18 and 68 years old were recruited via an online survey and asked to fill out self-reported measures on attachment styles, maladaptive daydreaming, and PSMU. Mediation analyses showed that maladaptive daydreaming is a significant mediator in the relationships between preoccupied and fearful attachment styles and PMSU, suggesting that maladaptive daydreaming partly explains the established link between insecure attachment styles and excessive use of social media. Individuals with PSMU fostered by maladaptive daydreaming may benefit from clinical interventions that promote the use of adaptive regulatory strategies to develop feelings of security and self-confidence that may serve to reduce the excessive involvement in social media.
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Bu araştırmada Eli Somer tarafından tanımlanan uyumsuz hayal kurma kavramını film analizi yöntemiyle incelenmek ve örnek olaylarla somutlaştırmak amaçlanmıştır. Uyumsuz hayal kurma bireylerin işlerine, akademik çalışmalarına odaklanmalarını engelleyen ve kişilerarası sosyal ilişkileri olumsuz etkileyecek şekilde ortaya çıkan hayal kurma davranışları olarak tanımlanmaktadır. Bu araştırmada orijinal adı The Sleep Science olan Türkçe'ye Rüya Bilmecesi olarak çevrilen film uyumsuz hayal kurma davranışları açısından analiz edilmiştir. Yapılan bu çalışmada nitel araştırma yöntemlerinden biri olan doküman analizi yöntemi kullanılmıştır. Bu doğrultuda ilgili filmin bazı sahneleri uyumsuz hayal kurma davranışları açsından incelenmiştir. Diğer açıdan uyumsuz hayalperestlerin günlük yaşamlarında ne gibi zorluklar yaşadığı örnek sahneler analiz edilerek ortaya konulmaya çalışılmıştır. Filmin baş kahramanı Stephane'nin deneyimlerine bakıldığında uyumsuz hayal kurmanın bireylerin yaşamları üzerinde olumsuz etkileri olduğu açıktır. Uyumsuz hayal kurma kavramının bireylerin iyi oluşları, zihinsel aktiviteleri, akademik ve sosyal yaşantıları üzerinde olumsuz etkisi olabilecek bir durum olduğu dikkati çekmektedir.
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This article reveals the educational change in Finland in the context of multiliteracy. Multiliteracy is one of the seven transversal competences introduced by the Finnish basic education curriculum reform between the years 2012 and 2016. School multiliteracy is developed through cross-subject studies with the usage of particular language. There are involved various texts during teaching to prepare well-educated global citizens who are able to to overcome obstacles of the contemporary world and to follow the global changes in a job market. Multiliteracy helps prepare a global citizen with the skills of global lingua franca. Key words: multiliteracy, transversal competences, cross-subject teaching, multidisciplinary learning, educational change
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This paper describes the course of psychotherapeutic treatment of a 25-year-old man presenting with maladaptive daydreaming (MD), from analysis of the underlying rationale through the treatment process to the outcomes. MD, a condition marked by highly absorptive daydreaming , consumed many hours of his day and produced distress, dysfunc-tion, and excessive Internet use. Ontological analysis resulted in classifying MD characteristics under several categories: as a dissociative disorder of absorption, as a behavioral addiction, and as an obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorder producing significant attention deficits. The therapy plan was derived from evidence-based treatment modalities for conditions elucidated in the ontological analysis and included cognitive behavioral interventions as well as mindfulness meditation. Therapy was provided for a predetermined period of six months. MD and relevant indices were measured before and after therapy, as well as at a two-month follow-up. The data show that the client was able to reduce his daydreaming time by over 50% and his time spent on the Internet by over 70%. He reported an improvement of over 70% in his work and social adjustment. Nevertheless, his maladaptive daydreaming scale score and his self-assessed pleasure derived from daydreaming showed more modest gains. I discuss this discrepancy and suggest future research directions.
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In order to determine the comorbidity profile of individuals meeting criteria for a proposed new disorder, Daydreaming Disorder (more commonly known as Maladaptive Daydreaming, MD), the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-5 and the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Dissociative Disorders were administered to 39 participants who met criteria for MD on a structured interview. We determined high rates of comorbidity: 74.4% met criteria for more than three additional disorders and 41.1% met criteria for more than four. The most frequent comorbid disorder was attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (76.9%); 71.8% met criteria for an anxiety disorder; 66.7% for a depressive disorder; and 53.9% for an obsessive-compulsive or related disorder. Notably, 28.2% have attempted suicide. Individuals meeting criteria for MD suffer from complex psychiatric problems spanning a range of DSM-5 disorders. This finding provides evidence that MD is different than normal daydreaming, and that these individuals experience considerable distress and impairment.
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Received 16 October 2015 Accepted 14 February 2016 KEYWORDS Absorption; fantasizing; mind wandering ABSTRACT This qualitative study describes the lived experience of mala- daptive 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 pro- found sense of presence. A total of 21 in-depth interviews with persons who self-identified as struggling with MD were ana- lyzed 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 sev- eral requirements were met. Because social interaction seems to be incompatible with this absorbing mental activity, solitude was necessary. In addition, kinesthetic activity and/or exposure to evocative music also appeared to be essential features. Besides delivering a firsthand description of key characteristics of MD, the study also indicates that MD is associated with dysfunctionality for which participants expressed a substantial need for help.
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