Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
According to ICMDR “MD, or daydreaming disorder, is a psychological concept first introduced in 2002 to describe a time consuming absorption in fantasy that can create distress and/or interfer with social, academic, vocational or other important areas of functioning.” The “distress and/or interfer” part comes from the definition of mental disorders in the DSM-5 (Treatment for maladaptive daydreaming - Eli Somer).
But one thing that I am not quite sure of is, let's say that you are oblivious of what is happening, for you it is a normal thing, these fantasy daydreams, it doesn't cause you distress but maybe it is interfering in your life but you are not aware of that, because it already..too normal. When exactly the immersive becomes maladaptive, when it starts causing distress because it starts interfering with your daily life? When it starts interfering even though you are not aware of that? When someone tells you that it is wrong and then starts distressing you and only then you realise how much that thing was interfering with your life?
Not saying when the your fantasy become your coping mechanism. Not sure if maladaptive daydreaming is a coping mechanism for everyone. I’m guessing that you can have a healthy coping mechanism.
What is your opinion?
I would say that it's different for everyone. Someone can find MD as a healthy coping mechanism and someone sees it as a bad thing.
For me it's the second one. As much as I love my fantasy worlds, characters or the feelings I feel because of them, I'm breaking down. It's just a fantasy that will never be real, the characters will never really hug me or talk to me, I'll never hear their voices, I'll never be part of their worlds because they don't really exist and I will never get back the time I'm spending in this non-existing reality. At this point I feel more lonely then I should be, I find reality very ugly and don't want to live in it. The point when I realized my daydreaming is causing me distress was when I cried because of it for the first time.
I'm still wondering why I started daydreaming in the first place, but I can surely say I use MD as a coping mechanism. I start dreaming when I'm in stress situation or when I feel alone or uncomfortable. It helps, but not for long. For example when I feel lonely, I dream about my comfort character hugging me and talking to me, but then I remember they're not real and I feel even more lonely then before.
I'm not sure if I answered your questions but I hope my point of view helped at least a little.
I think we need to explore the subtle line of sorrow. Many things are just a little bit above or a little bit blow it and we don't really understand how to frame it.
The same is true for a lot of things. When does drinking become alcoholism? When does sadness become depression? When does worrying become anxiety?
May people happened to be young and keen on partying and drinking definitely more than what is supposed to be healthy for a certain period of their life, but does it make them alcoholics?
As human beings, we draw lines made of words to better understand what's happening, and it is extremely useful, but we can't forget that sometimes words are not enough.
There are areas of our life which we need to sense more than to think. How is our life really affected by dreaming? Would it be better without dreams? Would it be better without the situations that cause me the urge to daydream? How would it feel to be free of it all? There lies the difference between Daydreaming and MD.
We also need to keep our vision open to perspectives that don't belong to us. For example, I may say that daydreaming is my necessary coping method for a dramatic situation I'm living, but I don't (I can't) consider that people out there are able to solve that same situation, which I feel as a static mountain.
I think it can be both, depending on the person. It's all about perception. At first, my daydreams were a way for me to deal with reality and cope with abuse. Over the past decade they've consumed me.
In psychology, a disorder is something that impairs a person's ability to function. If you can maintain a job, a social life, take care of yourself and your home, be a good parent, and be able to do all of the other things you need to do, then you're probably fine. But, once it starts to interfere with these things, then there is the potential for a serious problem. Like anything else, it can spiral out of control.
Unfortunately, I don't know how to prevent that from happening. For me, limiting how often I daydream never really worked. I would have to constantly be in the moment and force myself to stop the second I realize that I had begun to wander back into my inner worlds. It's exhausting and I can only do it for a few days before I lose control and cannot keep the dreams at bay. This is how I know it's a problem. Otherwise, I would be able to let go and focus on reality more.