Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
I have a 12-year-old who is extremely bright and creative, but I am feeling helpless and like I am losing him to the realms of maladaptive daydreaming.
He seems to engage in this activity now more than ever and it takes up hours of his day. He has done this since he has been a small child to some extent but never more than now.
He has some anxiety issues (extreme fear of embarrassment and other specific triggers) but not overwhelmingly so. He is an introvert and many of his daydreams feature himself in a powerful role.
He has had some issues in the past with addiction to video games (which we have completely eliminated) and reading books and now Maladaptive daydreaming. Now I think the books give him material for the daydreams. He gallops from one end of the apartment to the other. It seems to be spreading and taking over his life like a cancer to the point that he is really resistant to doing anything else and can hardly wait to come home from school so he can engage in this (for hours by himself).
At school, he read a lot (unrelated to class assignments) which kept him quite isolated and he was not participating in class and interacting with other kids. He just started junior high this year so new school, different set up, etc. So, I e-mailed all of his teachers to be on board with no outside reading assuming that he would by default start engaging more. But teachers reported the same thing.
So I asked him if he has started daydreaming in school and he admitted that he was. Instead of pacing or galloping like he does at home, at school he is able to sit in a chair and swing his legs back and forth and this is enough repetitive motion to propel him into his maladaptive daydreaming.
He told me “You see one thing just replaces the other. You took away video games and I replaced it with reading. You took away reading and I replaced it with daydreaming. Now there is no way you can take this away unless they invent mind control, which they haven’t”. His words seared me and truly showed how powerless I am in this.
I’ve had him see the social worker at school to work for help in being able to connect more, but he did not mention anything to him about his daydreaming because he is actually afraid they would give him a medication to make it “go away” and he does NOT want that.
He refuses to see any negative consequences in this either short term or long term. He is highly resistant to letting this go even a little. It is negatively impacting his life (he has only one friend and is loath to engage in most activities) and he does not view this shrinkage of his life as a problem. He is “happy” in his growing isolation and I can’t convince him otherwise.
I am reaching out for any guidance in this, root causes to address, and any help or advice at all would be greatly appreciated. What has helped?