Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
Dimmer and I were having a conversation about the root of MD. We came across a question I need your input on to find the answer to.
If the reason you started maladaptivly DDing was some sort of traumatic event, do you have an alter-ego or just an idealized version of yourself, or are you the same as yourself in your DDs?
If the reason you started maladaptivly DDing was having OCD and making your way to MD, do you have an alter-ego that's completely different from yourself, or an idealized version of yourself, or are you the same as yourself in your DDs?
I may be onto something, but I need your help! Please comment with OCD or Trauma, then describe who you are in your DDs (alter-ego, idealized self, or yourself)
For me personally, this is what I have:
Trauma: multiple alter egos completely different from myself
I'd say it's pretty simple. If you go by psychodynamic understanding of addiction, both physiological and psychological addiction occur as a form of self-medication where the choice of drug is never random and complements the underlying psychological problem both psychologically and chemically. So, if you have anxiety issues, you are more likely to get addicted to alcohol because alcohol relaxes CNS, whereas if you experience anhedonia, your system may remain completely indifferent to the calming effect of alcohol but will become addicted to amphetamines since they induce exactly what anhedonia shuns. The entire point is: depending on what part of oneself is blocked and repressed, addictive behaviors and their manifestations will be different as each addictive behavior serves to deal with a very specific repressed issue.
For example, if you have self-esteem issues, which directly distorts your vision of the self, all those emotions which require healthy levels of self-esteem to be expressed in the first place (e.g. love) will not be able to expressed directly - through oneself - and you will end up having third-person fantasies. These fantasies get your own sense of self out of the way and allow you to temporarily experience emotions without running into that self you dislike. If, on the other side, your core sense of self is stable but only some aspects of it need some boosting, you'll end up with idealized self fantasies. Each fantasy mirrors different, blocked part of oneself. If you have 10 of what you call alter-egos, then you have 10 separate issues. The way fantasy manifests mirrors how much detachment between oneself and their emotions happened. Nothing is random.
Trauma itself can't explain the nature of daydreams. If you were sexually abused, the emotional impact can be so invasive that it could impact your sense of self so hard and lead you into total self-negation, ultimately resulting in third-person fantasies. But not necessarily. It all depends on how much affected one is. On the other side, if you have trauma from elementary school bullies, this is more likely to result in idealized-self fantasies, since the damage to the deepest aspects of the self isn't as severe as in sexual abuse. Third-person fantasies don't necessarily mean underlying issue is more severe, but in my opinion, it does mean that the level of detachment from one's own emotions is a bit higher. These fantasies usually serve to help one experience emotions one is struggling experiencing directly due to lower levels of self-esteem.
As for the OCD, I have to say one thing first. Real, clinical OCD isn't nearly as common as internet makes it to be and majority of people self-diagnosing themselves with OCD don't have real OCD but generalized anxiety mixed with an addictive behavior to soothe that anxiety. As for MD and OCD, I can't see any specific connection because, just like with trauma, OCD is too broad as a phenomenon. Since OCD is an anxiety-driven disorder, MD, assuming it'd arise out of OCD itself and not something else, would be used to relax CNS and bring forth fantasies that give one sense of control, more likely resulting in idealized self fantasies. But technically, it'd result in whatever gives one sense of control and dispels anxiety.
We cannot really make any global conclusions and put people into simple categories as everyone here is different but if you analyzed people individually, you could pinpoint exactly why two people with the same disorder have two completely different types of fantasies.
You need input from other people, that was the point of my comment. You just need it a bit more detailed, that's all. :) It would be very interesting to make a study correlating underlying issues with types of fantasies but you need two more strings of information from people to be able to make a valid conclusion:
1. If a person has a disorder/specific issue, what aspects of oneself are rendered dysfunctional by said disorder?
2. When you identify no. 1, see if and how fantasies compensate for whatever underlying disorder is blocking from being expressed.
E.g.: Trauma can trigger both first-person and third-person fantasies, so you have to know the exact kind of trauma person experienced and then measure how high the level of emotional dissociation is and see if that correlates with self-denying tendencies associated with third-person fantasies. Or, if one is plagued with OCD, this can also result in both first or third-person fantasies, so here you'd want to know if person dealing with OCD only deals with anxiety-driven thoughts (which would result in daydreams focusing on being in control) or OCD is concealing, say, some very deep-seated esteem issues, which would again be more likely to result in third-person fantasies.
To sum up my point: don't correlate fantasies to disorders. Disorder is too broad as a category. Correlate them to specific issues and blockages these disorders cause in people. If one suffers from depression, try to see what depression does to this person (e.g. is it anhedonic depression that takes away all feelings, or is it depression that makes people feel too much etc.).
Trauma, namely a series of traumas over the years. I can't quite pinpoint when it actually started, but it most certainly did because of some hard blow, and the subsequent ones empowered its effects incrementally.
Multiple alter egos over time which might have coexisted, although it's hard to say for certain. All of them were idealized selves, centered around the current dominant theme - in turn derived from the real situation - while also influencing the daydreams themselves. Most common: "stolen" stories with "me" injected in them.
Interestingly enough, the combined weight of the "symptoms" ended up causing a sort of counter-trauma which drastically reduced its severity.
@Dimmer: Oops, I ignored your reply. Sorry. We posted roughly at the same time, so I didn't see it.
For some MD seems to be an addiction, not for others. In Parallel Lives the researchers said that only a subset of the participants described that yearning and loss of control.. At any rate we already know what the addiction in this case is, daydreaming.
You are assuming part of the self is blocked or repressed, and that it's always an addiction. We also know that there are several pathways to MD, so it's not a matter of traumatized, depressed or anxious people preferring to daydream more than another, here we all daydream.
You know what's funny? You and I could argue for days whether MD is an addiction or not and there wouldn't be any in-depth, conclusive studies that could prove either of us right or wrong because addiction and impulse control disorder are viewed differently by different branches of psychology and there isn't a single unified established model. My friend's psychiatrist thinks his is addiction while his psychotherapist thinks it's an impulse control disorder and my friend thinks he isn't addicted. I stick with psychoanalytic model of addiction because it views it as a pure symptom, a mechanism that was brought on to distract or allow to experience what cannot be experienced otherwise, and that leaves you a lot of room to speculate what lies beneath that symptom. In my opinion, MD is just a tip of the iceberg, a mere symptom, and the reason people have completely different manifestations of MD is because MD is defined by underlying issue or disorder - it's not a separate issue that can be put in one category. At its core, psychoanalytic version of addiction is exactly about this. It isn't about whether you can stop or not, whether you experience loss of control or whether you find it pleasurable or not, whether you do it for 1 or 10 hours. It's about being disconnected from yourself and engaging in whatever elusivly allows you to regain that emotional control for a short while. It's about being caught in high levels of emotional isolation and depending on a medium to express something you otherwise can't express directly.
I don't know whether I am right or wrong. I don't know if sources I rely on are right or wrong. And I think you know this too. What I do know is that this isn't math. This is human psyche. If it works for 3 people and fails for the other 7, it's still valid. I overcame a severe case of MD, seen a lot of patterns and I'm offering my experience now. Worked for me. May not work for you. But I am offering it regardless.
In Evidence for an Under-Researched Disorder researchers say that MDers showed significantly higher rates of obsessive compulsive symptoms than normal daydreamers. It's not a smoking gun, of course, but there is a connection.
Oh, I wasn't talking about connection between disorders and MD but about connection between disorders and types of fantasies within MD. I said I couldn't really establish a definite connection between OCD and whether fantasy manifests as first or third-person scenario (that was the point of this thread, wasn't it?), from merely knowing that one has a disorder from the obsessive spectrum.
I think that's what was being asked; a little community poll to see if trauma vs compulsion vs introversion might lean to one way or another.
Which is exactly why I said you need more detailed input from people because trauma and compulsion are very unspecific terms.
Also, can you throw a link for that my way, my familiarity with daydreaming studies is limited to the ones on MD specifically.
Carl Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz without a second thought - specifically, von Franz's Projection and Recollection in Jungian Psychology. Their works are not an easy read but you won't find a more complex branch of psychology that dealt with fantasy as extensively and profoundly as early Jungian psychology. Entire lifework of Jung and von Franz's focused on content that could not be expressed directly through ego and would therefore manifest as different types of fantasies. Be warned though, early psychoanalytic psychology was based heavily on studying unconscious material manifesting though fantasy, and given that it was dealing with different forms of imagination, a process not quantifiable, it may come across as drifting into philosophy at times. But it is still empirical psychology at its finest.
I don't disagree with any of this I just feel the need to mention, to anyone reading, that it was never implied, or meant to be implied, that one form of daydreaming was more severe than another.
Don't worry, I didn't even get the impression that you implied it. In fact, the reason I emphasized that severity isn't determined by types of fantasies is to make sure someone else doesn't accuse me of saying it because it could've easily been inferred from my previous sentence. ;))
This sounds wrong in an almost visceral way but I don't know enough about daydreaming to dispute it. To be honest though, it's not like daydreaming in general, nevermind MD, has ever been the most researched subject, I don't want to sound like a pedantic douchecanoe harassing you for citations but you're throwing a lot of facts up, and some of them sound sketchy.
You just called the biggest guy in psychology sketchy. :p That's Jung's theory right there. Not that he'd mind, he gets called crazy a lot. ;))
Now allow me to tell you why it's not so wrong. You have many people here who have several MD storylines going at once, right? Say you have a person whose one of the storylines focuses on third-person fantasy, a relationship between two fictional characters, so no self involved. At the same time, this person also has an idealized self, first-person fantasy that focuses on her being prettier than she really is and being admired by her peers. She also has another parallel storyline going on, and that's first-person fantasy where she is constantly confronting her oppressive parents, and here her physical appearance is totally irrelevant. So, three parallel universes. This would be what your friend called different 'alter-egos'. Each of these three versions of the self is different and is governed by a respective unresolved issue. The first third-person fantasy may mirror her desire for intimacy but fear of engaging in it herself, hence two other characters are used. Second fantasy is need for attention or need to be acknowledged by others and get ego boost. Third fantasy is need to speak up, where elements from the second fantasy, like being prettier, are completely irrelevant because it's verbal and emotional expression that she wants, not admiration, not attention. Three different fantasies, three what Fallen Messenger called alter egos, three different issues where fantasy is mirroring each.
Now you tell me why you think this is nonsense. I don't mind that you don't know much about scientific side of daydreaming. You have a brain. You are an MD-er, you've been inside the box. That's enough for me. This isn't cardiology. These are our emotions. You are qualified enough for me.
PS. I think Freud is nuts. ;))
I don't think a global conclusion was ever the aim, simple category was though, and I don't think that's weird for a casual internet poll.
I'll repeat what I wrote to OP. Don't correlate types of fantasies to disorders. Correlate them to specific issues arising out of disorders. Disorder in itself is a huge category, you'll run into generalizations.
Just ignore me, I always write too much... you don't have to reply to everything. ;))
I can see what you mean. When you first see Jung's areas of research, he comes across as a total nutcase but he is a fucking genius if you can stomach the philosophies and religious analogies he built his psychology on. His entire work revolves around individuation, which is the integration of unconscious material - usually manifesting as external projections or internal fantasies - into one's own psyche, eventually resulting in the self, which is the converging point between inner and outer world, which he calls respectively shadow and ego. His definition of fantasy is far more encompassing than what we call MD, but the mechanics of how fantasy operates (how it emerges, how it disappears, how it resolves, how the characters/dream figures are formed) has no rival.
This is an excellent discussion, which has already given me a lot to think about. i have to agree with Eretaia. She made the distinction between 3rd-person fantasies and fantasies involving an idealized self. If i understand the logic behind this, then the following is true:
The severity of the inhibition is what causes one form over the other. This a fair explanation (I, personally, have both kinds of fantasies, but never thought to categorize them in this way, nor have i thought to call them "alter egos," as Fallen Messenger says). I would also accept the observation that the addiction reflects the need: as alcohol to anxiety, or amphetamines to anhedonia. For daydreamers, the underlying cause is to relieve a sense of deficiency in some aspect of life. Its purpose is compensatory.
Now to quote Eretaia: "In my opinion, MD is just a tip of the iceberg, a mere symptom, and the reason people have completely different manifestations of MD is because MD is defined by underlying issue or disorder..."
This is my thinking as well, but we are fortunate to already have a system that specifies the underlying issues. Jung was the first to categorically identify, or "type," personalities by function, rather than by temperament. This is the basis for the MBTI, e.g. INFJ, ENFP, ISTP, etc. But that's not the whole story. For instance, the MBTI says nothing about our motivation and how we employ those psychological functions in the real world. If we include the Enneagram of Personality into our understanding, then we discover different manifestations of the same fundamental type, each with their own underlying issue. For instance, depending on where you get your information, there are only 4 kinds of INFJ, each with a characteristic vice, or problem: INFJ 1 (anger), INFJ 4 (envy), INFJ 6 (fear), and INFJ 9 (sloth).
To answer the question, then: the content of the daydream, which is itself compensating for a sense of deficiency, should be correlated with the particular issue--or neurotic conflict--that is at the center of the personality. This issue regarding OCD or trauma may be moot, since the experience of MD itself is only symptomatic of the underlying sense of inferiority that causes us to act obsessively or dissociatively in the first place. In other words, if it wasn't MD, it would just be something else, maybe alcoholism, maybe drug abuse. Then we would all be on a forum for these respective health issues, wondering how we all got there in the first place.
I am aware of myself as an INFJ 6, but for the longest time i thought i was a core type 5 (which deals with detachment and stinginess). Only after i squared with myself over my problem of anxiety and the resulting sense of paranoia and my tendency to accuse others did i realize why i fell into this self-defeating loop called MDD. It was unflattering, to say the least, but it was the truth. Fear is the reason, but it's not necessarily the reason for everyone else. To understand the reasons why you daydream excessively, try pairing the content of your dreams with one of the particular fixations mentioned in the Enneagram. There should be a running theme.
On a final note, I'd like to point out that Jung was truly perceptive and original. He was also an INFJ, and his Enneagram type was 9w1, which is, not coincidentally, called "the Dreamer" type. It's also the most mystical and enigmatic variant of the INFJ, being the "eyes and ears of the universe." This man had such soulful interpretations of the unconscious that he paved the way for generations of personality theorists, as well as numerous artists and writers.