Two years ago when I joined this community, I think I was more dead than alive. I've been waging quite a brutal war with maladaptive dreaming and the array of issues that underlie it ever since then and I'm on my way out of this prison. I wanted to do something for you guys so here is a little essay with insights on MD and what you can do to understand better and finally tame this beast. Hopefully, someone will find it useful.

 The split and the life between two worlds

Do you think the vague feeling of being split in two and existing between two worlds but belonging to none is exclusive to maladaptive daydreamers?

“If you try to have a conversation with me, I can’t bring myself to listen to you. I pretend to listen and you really think I do but my mind is somewhere else, thinking about it. Every time I try to stop doing it, I genuinely feel as if a part of me has been torn off and a deep sense of personal loss ensues. I feel as if I’m not here but I’m not there either and I can’t shake off this feeling of being split in two.”

This is what a recovering heroin addict once told me. Heroin addict. But it’s also what a regular maladaptive daydreamer could have told you, isn’t it?

Maladaptive daydreaming is, among other things, a typical psychological addiction. Most of the negative issues associated with maladaptive daydreaming come from the fact that it is an addictive coping mechanism and not some unique disorder with specific symptoms just recently discovered. You have heard million times that addictions are encoded in the primitive part of the brain associated with survival – which means that if you don’t get your fix right now, you feel more dead than alive and you need your drug of choice to bring you back to life. Your brain is sending a false message to you – it is issuing an urge that is blown out of proportion, compelling you to constantly indulge in daydreams and making you think that if you don’t, the world will end and you will lose a part of yourself. Drugs usually invade your sense of self – they fuse with it and by giving up the drug, you feel as though you are giving up a dear part of yourself.

Addiction is addiction but different types of drugs and addictive behaviors tell you different things about their users. So what does fantasy reveal about you? MD is like a guardian angel that tries to protect you too much and eventually causes more harm than good. But it’s still your guardian angel that tried lifting a burden off your brittle shoulders. It’s destructive in its own way but it was originally born to protect you from something. To realize and accept what you are trying to run away from is your first step towards recovery. Maybe it’s depression, maybe it’s low self-esteem and loneliness or it’s anxiety or PTSD.

Fall of the self

Maladaptive daydreaming isn’t the act of random mind-wandering – it’s a highly immersive mental activity, where all attention is gathered and directed towards happenings of the fantasy. This would be parallel to a so-called flow state, which is characterized by immersing intensely in an activity to the point of losing the sense of self. Which means, whatever happens in fantasy, happens, but not to you. It is a selfless experience, never integrated into what you call yourself, into sense of identity, into what makes you you. It exists as a detached, ecstatic, fleeting moment that slips through the fingers the moment you try to make sense out of it and process it as your own experience. You witness traces of happiness but the happiness is never yours.

Fantasy is an egoless state of mind where we are not ourselves. And by temporarily cutting ties from your own ego, the conscious identity, you’re also cutting ties from all insecurities you have ever had, from all the problems that are currently bothering you and this is why daydreams feel so damn good. Everything bad is just cut off from your perception. The part of your brain that defines your sense of self, along with all the negative things and mental illnesses attached to it, is turned off.

As you venture into this egoless place that is MD, you make up imaginary people you sometimes end up loving dearly or even fall in love with or you conjure imaginary places you’re desperately drawn to, and then suddenly – you wake up from your dream and you’re violently pulled back to reality and to being yourself. And this is where the problem arises: all those things you’ve done in your dreamworld and all those made up people you’ve come to love have nothing – absolutely nothing – to do with real YOU. They are not attached to your conscious sense of self. All those dreams and false memories you made – you made them in an egoless state of mind. And it’s this that makes you feel split. It’s not the fact that you’re physically apart from the content of your fantasies. It is the fact that your subconscious feelings, fantasies and desires do not connect to your sense of self. Even if everything you’ve been daydreaming about came true, you’d still feel like garbage, empty and miserable. If your imaginary friend came to life to make you less lonely, you’d still be lonely – because MD isn’t about made up friends or lovers or getting a new life. It’s about you not wanting to be you. Everything else is irrelevant.

In other words, you’re not addicted to your fictional characters or your imaginary love or to a fantasy about being a famous singer or writer. You’re addicted to not being you. You’re addicted to this erratic state of consciousness that is MD – regardless of its content – that provides a temporal relief.

I’m not saying that you don’t genuinely care about the content of your daydreams (quite the opposite, more on that soon) – what I am saying is that it’s not your love towards whatever is the content of your fantasies that creates this ugly feeling of being split between two worlds. One thing I can assure you (and this comes from my own experience) is that the moment you feel comfortable being you, those two worlds will reconcile, they will merge into one, and you’ll finally feel at peace with yourself.

Will a part of you be taken away as you give up your daydreams?

Maybe the saddest question I have ever asked myself was ‘how much of myself will I lose when I give up the only thing that makes me happy?’ Here’s a glimmer of hope: you’re not supposed to give them up. To give up the feelings you experience in your daydreams is self-mutilation. As strange or silly as they are, they still represent a censored part of your subconscious; maybe they are an epitome of your loneliness or your sadness. They are a testament to how hard you’re struggling and how hard you’re trying not to be dead – and to give this up is a crime towards yourself. Maladaptive Daydreaming isn’t just about wishful thinking and getting your wounds licked. It is that one place where your life flame stillburns while you may be dead in all other planes of existence. That’s enough to know that this MD thing isn’t all that entirely wrong. Maybe your real life is all emptiness and void but what you do in your daydreams – you do it with passion. And that’s enough to know that you are still capable of loving and caring about something just like other people. So passion exists and don’t you dare ever doubt that. It exists in a wrong place but it exists nonetheless. What you have to do is find a way to redirect those emotions from daydreams to reality and, as stated before, this causally happens once you’re finally you. All the positive emotions from your daydreams will flow back into you and you’ll feel as though these two worlds between which you have lived for so long have at last coalesced into one.

So what you want to do is focus on healing the self. It’s a tough one but there’s no quick fix here. Now comes the irony which you’ve been waiting for: in order to heal yourself, you need to let go of your daydreams. But didn’t I just say that you aren’t supposed to give them up, you ask? Don’t give up the passion, don’t give up the love you have for the content of your daydreaming, don’t give up the feelings – because they are all, real or not, a reminder that you’re alive. What you do have to give up is the false sense of comfort your daydreams give you. Try giving up all those countless hours you spend stuck in your own head pacing back and forth because you’d rather be there than here. Try giving up the temporal fix when you feel miserable. If someone angers you, don’t impulsively lock yourself in your room and act out a revenge in your head; go kick a sofa or something, lash out at something external.

You have to wean yourself off of this strange dissociative painkiller that’s fantasy, then let yourself feel all the pain with every ounce of your being, let all the negative emotions resurface, let them swallow you alive, don’t resist, don’t run away, accept them, let them ravage you, and somewhere along this process, a part of the you will be reborn. Something will awake. Not all of you, maybe just a small part but that’s enough to gather what’s left of your strength and continue the struggle. If you feel the urge to daydream, this is okay – as long as it doesn’t censor the pain which you shouldn’t run away from anymore, it’s fine to give in and indulge for a while if you feel like you have to. Don’t ignore temptations, this sparks the fire of addiction even more. It’s a well known pattern: if you fight the urge to engage in an addictive behavior, it makes it stronger. If you acknowledge it, analyze it, this is what breaks the cycle of addiction. In other words, the imperative is not to block the pain and negative feelings. If a sudden sense of self-disgust or low self-esteem suddenly hits you, welcome it. Welcome it, analyze it, let it consume you, and you will realize it is just a false message your brain is sending to you because that’s what brains of depressed people do, after all. The more you let yourself feel and process the negative feelings without censorship, the more will the urge to daydream weaken and the less you will run away.

Who are you really?

Depression usually enters people’s lives like a tempest – yesterday you were an optimistic person enjoying simple pleasures of life and today you feel like a suicidal or apathetic piece of shit, and this is how it is for most people. Depression that underlies MD, however, takes a different route. It enters your life stealthily, slowly, so slowly you don’t even notice it, then it gradually robs you of emotions, ambitions, memories, motivation, identity, empathy, and you end up thinking: “I don’t remember a time when I wasn’tmiserable,” or “these bad feelings must be a part of my personality, they have always been here. Because of this, most of us fail to realize where depression (or anxiety or any other kind of chronic mental illness) ends and where we begin. So if this illness isn’t you, then who are you?

Let me make a digression here. MD is usually born when you can’t express yourself properly because you’re anxious, depressed or sometimes simply shy or lonely. Mental illnesses are like lenses which distort your perception. Everything you see appears more tragic, senseless or uglier than it really is. And your both eyes are infected with these lenses. But here your subconscious decides to play a trick on your mental illness and tells you: ‘well, if your both eyes are infected and make things appear worse than they really are, then why don’t you just close them?’ You do and this is the beginning of the addiction to fantasy. You stop paying attention to the outside world and you turn it inwards and use your mind’s eye to create things inside you: your daydreams. This mind’s eye, which is fantasy, cannot get infected with depression and this is why MD is a safe haven. Depression doesn’t reach there. What your subconscious forgets to tell you before it’s too late is that if you close those two eyes used for perceiving outer world, for things outside of yourself, you’ll be completely cut off from reality. But none of this is your fault – this is a war between mental illness, the attacker, and your subconscious, which is your protector, and you are their battlefield. You don’t have a single choice, they are the ones who decide – you only observe. So if you ever blamed yourself for being too weak to make a decision to cease this addiction, stop it. It’s wasn’t your fault.

Back to my question, who are you then?

The daydream version of you isn’t the true you but it’s not a fake one either. It’s a highly filtered product of your subconscious that tried to protect you. Then we have this other real-life you imbued with low self-esteem and negative thoughts that seem to go on a loop forever. Well, that’s certainly not your true self either. Heck, if it’s any comfort for you, the daydream you is far closer to the true you than this real-life depressed version of yourself will ever be.

Can you remember the time when you didn’t have MD? Can you remember your sense of identity when you were a child free of MD? Try conjuring up all those times when you knew how to live in the present. It doesn’t matter if you were 6 years old the last time you were here. Just try to pinpoint all those moments and try to remember the feeling of being in the now. Here’s one pretty handy trick you can use. I always joke that music is a drug that takes you on a trip down a memory lane. It’s like an emotional psychedelic. It transports you emotionally back in time, to another place, another reality, to wherever you wish. It helps people with Alzheimer’s remember who they are and regain a sense of identity for a short while. Maladaptive daydreamers often use music to help them imagine an alternate setting – but what if you used music to transport yourself to the past when you had neither depression nor anxiety or MD or whatever is bothering you? If you can remember a forgotten song which you used to listen as a child who at the time hadn’t had MD yet, listen to it again, try to remember who you were, and if the song is meaningful to you, the old you and your sense of self, which you used to have back then, will come back to you for those few minutes while the song plays. You’ll feel the warmth of finally being you. You won’t quite be in the present – you’ll be in the past, but it’s your real past, it’s your true self. Try to capture this feeling and then try to reenact it. It’ll strengthen your identity in the long run.

I’ll give another example on what set me free from my own MD for a short while. You all know what fight or flight mode is. What you also probably know is that most people with PTSD or chronic anxiety are stuck in a constant state of fight or flight. Spending too much time in this state eventually leads to a burnout and is a sure ticket to depression since you go from fight and flight into freeze mode where all your functions are off and you feel like an emotionless zombie. You don’t care, you don’t live, you don’t get angry or sad or happy, you only exist on autopilot. In order to feel normal and alive again, you usually need a fix so strong which will set your body back on fire. Someone or something has to attack you so fiercely in order for you to rethink your existence and regain your instincts and the will to fight back. This is what happened to me. When one of my daydreams violently crumbled some time ago, I got so ridiculously pissed off that for the first time after several years spent in freeze mode, I felt genuinely alive. I was me. The anger acted like a stimulant and the state lasted for 15 minutes until the anger wore off. But hell, during those 15 minutes, I was me. I was so mad but I was also indescribably happy. I could feel. I could let go. I was defeated but I also won. The thirst, the cravings, the split, this strange nostalgia for my daydreams all dissolved. But instead of just disappearing, every positive feeling that was limited to the daydream world only, such as sense of purpose, motivation and normal self-esteem, flew back into me. I didn’t lose a single part of me – quite the opposite – I regained back that detached part of my soul that existed only in daydreams. What took for me to awake was extreme anger, being defeated, my world crumbing to pieces. The moment I genuinely accepted that my dream world crushed, the moment I let go of all attachments holding me back for years, I was reborn. The anger, which is a natural stimulant, made something in me click. But note: this feeling of finally being alive and the desire to fight back woke up in me once my daydreams were in danger, not me. It’s because we’re so displaced, because fantasy is where we had hidden the core of our souls.

In the long run, you’re destroying neither the daydream you nor the positive feelings that come with it, you’re not giving anything up – you’re just transferring it to reality, to where it should be. But for this change to occur, before you can be reborn and whole again, you have to self-destruct, you have to let go.

-

If you made it until the end, thank you. I hope you found it at least a little bit useful. This is just a part, you can read the rest here: 

Part 2

[nature of fantasies]


Part 3

[return to reality]

Part 4

[emotional bluntness]

Part 5

[root of MD]

[Letting go]

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Thank you a lot for this and the other parts. You helped me find one of the reason behind my MD.

But in my opinion you shouldn't imply that there is just one mega reason behind MD or depression. I have been fighting for and wasted years trying to find THE one source, the cause of it all. But I learned that attempts at oversimplifying something so complex can only backfire. I believe these kinds of mental problems have many causes, big and small, behind them and they should all be taken into consideration and addressed one by one.

When did I say there's only one reason behind MD? Fantasy addiction is a dissociative issue and as such it's both an attempt to temporarily come in touch with oneself and distract yourself from insecurities/disorders. The issues fueling dissociation could be countless and they can be different for everyone. The only generalization I can make is that the problem is inside and not outside.

Givera Givera said:

Thank you a lot for this and the other parts. You helped me find one of the reason behind my MD.

But in my opinion you shouldn't imply that there is just one mega reason behind MD or depression. I have been fighting for and wasted years trying to find THE one source, the cause of it all. But I learned that attempts at oversimplifying something so complex can only backfire. I believe these kinds of mental problems have many causes, big and small, behind them and they should all be taken into consideration and addressed one by one.

Jane, keeping journal is actually an excellent idea. When writing a journal, you're analyzing a situation with much more caution and depth than when you're just thinking about it. When I wrote these essays, I came up with some conclusions I've never even thought about before.

Did you maybe notice mood swings? Now that you're trying not to daydream, you will probably occasionally experience short moments of intense emotions (anger, confusion) which will then be interrupted by numbness and coldness.

Tila said:

On Day 3 of tracking all DD thoughts. Now I am also taking note of the content of each thought that arises. I plan to journal all of these, so I can get a clear picture of what my madness looks like. At least, what it might look like to an outsider. 

I have to say that this feels almost like climbing a vertical wall. It feels nearly impossible to be myself. You mentioned that in dealing with life as yourself at first, you would be stone cold, numb. That is exactly what is happening to me.

I also feel overwhelmed by every social interaction I have -now that I can't transfer all those feelings inwardly into DD bs. Even a two minute conversation on Facebook can fill me with excited-nervous stimulation. I have to get up and do the little MD dance. I am shocked at how sensitive I am. I realized that all these emotions burn through me so fast that I can't release them in any coherent or controlled way. So I repress, push them down and down, and they become my storylines. Christ!

But I do think that if I keep on journaling and routinely noting every bit of content, I will grow wiser to how to accept my true emotional weather. How to not be afraid to check my pulse every step of the way.

I gotta say that I do feel the split identities coming apart most intensely when I track my thoughts in a journal. I recommend that everyone trying to quit DD cold turkey do this! 

Hello Eretaia. I'm a new member and this is my second post.
I just wanted to tell you that you and your series on MD was my entire reason for joining. You have inspired me to start a blog on this site where I post every week in order to keep track of my fight against MD.
I think I fit your image of the typical MD'er quite well, insofar that I have suffered from PTSD(still lingering) and lifelong abuse. MD and social phobia has followed me for as long as I could remember, even though I have been told I was very vigilant as a baby. Every attempt at getting help has backfired terribly and I have never been close to another human being who didn't abuse me or was not mentally ill in some way.

Getting the dark stuff out of the way(kinda - I'm not the most optimistic person around) I want to tell you that your methods have resulted in a 60% reduction of MD. To the sceptics, we're talking about 5 weeks of work here, and I wouldn't say that I'm the most ressourceful person around. In fact, I have no money and my social life is dead.
What I have done, is most of what Eretaia has recommended and some journaling here and there.

Some things I want to add, is that
1) I have doing some demanding physical work a couple of hours a day(cleaning),
2) I have been walking in the woods for about 20 minutes every day,
3) I have recently taken up strength training, and
4) I've started drawing.
I believe that exercise and self expression has been wital in shaking me back to reality.

I've run into few problems along the way. I don't expect you to be some kind of a guiding light who knows it all, Eretaia, but maybe you can give me some advice on the stuff that you have been through yourself.
One of the problems is that... Well, my daydreams used to be the only source of real feelings that I knew of, and now, reality and MD has completely evened out - I don't feel as if though one feels more real than the other. I can already feel the carelesness, like I don't have the will to fight anymore. I'm not even drawn to my daydreams, at all - I just feel careless. Like I'm on the brink of slipping back due to mundanity
One of the other problems is that I don't know who I am, and I also don't know how to accept that I will never be as charismatic, beautiful, or as loved as the character in my dreams. I feel fragile. After my MD has reduced I have received the gift of taking action and becoming more social, but these gifts also result and the relization that I'm all alone. I know this is good if you want change - but given my background and lack of friends, this realization is too dark for words. I have been 'all alone' in many more ways than other people has, and even thinking of this makes me want to cry. I now see past lovers, not as they were in my daydreams, but for who they really are. It is super freudian - I even have terrible realistic dreams(whilst sleeping) of them, really bringing the true nature of the relationships to light, and it is very rough on me.
In short, I get the feeling of anxiety, but it is not normal anxiety - it's when you see the scary girl from a horror movie crawling towards you. It's panicky, but also filled with dread and this feeling of, well, deadness and rot It's scary in a dull way.

Hey, Sophie

"One of the other problems is that I don't know who I am, and I also don't know how to accept that I will never be as charismatic, beautiful, or as loved as the character in my dreams. I feel fragile."

Don't think like this, it can become incredibly toxic. You can feel the love and acceptance in your daydreams, right? If you can feel it there, then you have the potential to feel it here in reality too. The potential is there and with tough work, you can awaken it - so let this be a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe you can't be physically beautiful as you imagine yourself to be in your daydreams but you certainly can feel beautiful and charismatic in reality just as intensely as you do in daydreams - and to genuinely see oneself and feel as beautiful means to become beautiful. This is in fact what true recovery from MD means: transferring all those feelings from fantasy to reality. The challenge is that, in order to transfer them, first you have to face dissociation and issues underneath - and by bringing these to surface, you're allowing them to temporarily override all sense of hope and comfort.

It's Pandora's box scenario. If you want hope, you have to let everything bad out. Everything. Even this crippling anxiety and dread you feel, you have to surrender to them. Loneliness, meaninglessness, numbness, realization that you've wasted your life, just let it all out and don't resist. When I did this, it took me two months to become desensitized to the pain. I sort of accepted my anxiety and depression and they no longer scared me as much as before. But yeah, it took two months of crying and spitting it all out until I could look into the face of depression and loneliness and not fall apart. 

I understand what you mean by being alone in more ways than other people. For someone who has never had a place or a person to call home, it's perfectly understandable that you need a point of reference to hold onto. After you acknowledge your pain and become somewhat immune to it, you can actually relapse. In fact, as silly as it sounds, I'd encourage relapsing. Precisely because MD reminds you that you can be alive. In a weird and somewhat distorted way, but it does give you something to hold onto.

Like I wrote here several times, MD is an attempted cure, not a disease. Now, we don't want to obsess yourselves too much with the cure, we want to address the disease. You won't heal yourself by merely avoiding to daydream, which is why going cold turkey alone, without tackling issues underneath, never does the job. Instead you'll need to focus on healing yourself, or rather, on making yourself whole, on allowing yourself to feel all those emotions your daydream self feels. You can focus on healing the self and daydream at the same time. As long as you don't use MD to run away, it's fine if you use it as a stimulant to remind yourself that you can be alive and feel and whatnot. Just don't run away. In the meantime, try to break this dissociation between real you and daydream you. That should be your only goal. Don't think about reality, don't think about relapsing, just focus on allowing yourself to feel emotions which you've censored.

Also, when it comes to PTSD, maybe you should consider EMDR therapy. It's pretty popular and supposedly works really well with phobias and traumatic memories. It's supposed to be really short (just a few sessions), so it can't be that much expensive, I hope. Oh well, check it out and see if it resonates with you. I've never done it but a few people I know resolved moderate PTSD with it.

Anyway, I think I'll manage to update my series on MD within two or three days and I'm writing about similar issues, so I think you'll find something interesting there.

Thank you, thank you so much for writing this. It has helped me more than you could ever imagine.

Very very scary. I went through a very strong period of daydreaming when my life was at its worst in the mid 2000s. Then suddenly I realised high school was over and I had to leave and get a job and grow up, etc, and it hit me like a brick wall...I had to be "me" and couldn't just drift into oblivion and live in my daydream. Suddenly I felt like I was losing my imaginary world but it scared me to no end. I had the most intense anxiety I've ever experienced. I didn't care about myself at all, I just wanted to be my alter ego. I hated myself, but also noticed that the real "Me" had no real substance. Who was I? I knew who my alter ego was, but not who I was. It was terrifying.

After about a week or so, dad said to me that I could keep daydreaming 'as long as I knew what I was doing.' Of course, I knew it wasn't real (I wasn't hallucinating!) so I started back into doing it thinking I could still do it but only in small doses. Fast forward a few years and it was back, but less. The original themes of abandonment and isolation had gone, as well as the dreams of reliving my primary school years (which were very traumatic), but in their place were fantasies of being famous.

Then the same brick wall anxiety happened again, somehow it just washed over me for no reason, a couple of years later.... but the more my friends and colleagues in real life started to treat me how my "friends" in my daydream treated my alter ego, the more my alter ego's personality came back into the real me. The real me had some substance after all.

So I had a few years of travelling, loved my life, and slowly the fame fantasies were gone and replaced by the current one, about being addicted but completely helpless. Reading this post I feel like I'm at another hurdle. The current daydream about being addicted is about how I currently feel...I am addicted. I'm whittling the daydream away slowly and surely, and I write about it instead. But, I was wondering...is it ok to continue doing graphic novels on my imaginary world whenever I have the urge to daydream? Or is this just prolonging the next brick wall? I have daydreamed for as long as I can remember....

Hey Padraic,

Yeah, speaking about cures is a tricky one. I was in love with my daydream world; the idea there could be a pharmaceutical cure that would make me fall out of love with something always felt a little bit foreign and wrong to me, which is why I think that the real struggle must be fought and won by you and you alone. Yes, there can be pills that reduce the amount of mind wandering or depression and anxiety feeding MD but there will probably never be a medication that treats dissociation which is the driving force of MD. It's something you have to fix for yourself. That's why I wrote this article and that's why I tried to break down.

As for people not wanting to lose the ability to daydream, I think we need to analyze this a bit. If MD is really a dissociative coping mechanism that allows people to bring forth emotions that are otherwise not accessible to them, then losing the ability to daydream would automatically mean that people would lose this temporal access to detached parts of themselves, which would result in emotional suppression and frustration and it'd ultimately cause more harm than good. That's not how it should go. "Losing the ability to daydream" is the exact opposite of curing MD. Curing MD means being able to access all aspects of yourself at all times without having to trigger dissociative non-self states like deep daydreaming. So, when you succeed in curing MD, you don't actually lose a single thing.

Thanks for your kind words. :) PS. I have no idea about my username's origin. I stole it from a book I read long, long time ago. :)

This discussion is becoming very interesting!

The nature vs nurture debate regarding MD, has always caused much confusion to me. I suffer from multiple traumas, but I also know people who are way more damaged than me, who never has any problem staying in the physical reality.

One thing that is for sure, though, is that the themes of my daydreams perfectly mirrors those real life problems I am having. If people could experience my daydreams, they would know that I am extremely lonely, codependent,(living out my emotional life through abusive people from my past) and that I am haunted by some pretty shattering emotions - and that they keep running in a loop, unable to get fully processed. Those emotions running in loop are the engine that kickstarts it all and keeps my daydreams going - is the repeated thoughts OCD, or is it damages created by trauma, and therefore curable through self love? I can't tell. 

The big question is: if I healed enough for those emotions to disappear,  if I got a stable network of people who liked me back, and if I learned to focus on myself instead of self-defeating romantic fantasies, would my daydreaming then disappear?

Or would they just bother me less, now that my other issues are gone?

I would certainly be disappointed if it turned out to be 'just' the latter, as I have been suffering severe consequences from MD for so long. I'm not sure I could live with being imprisoned in my own mind for the rest of my life.

I surely can imagine that it is genetic, since my mother has the same problem just in a milder variant - but given that I only daydream about my internal conflicts and pressing issues, I'm not sure what exactly I would need from MD, should I get some self-esteem? What purpose would it serve?

I cling to the hope that once I get better, my MD will disappear. Trauma does cause people to self-hypnotize. It does cause them to avoid intimacy unless it is short, intense and heavily idealized. It also causes them to become very passive and removed from life in one way or the other - in fact, I don't think trauma can exist without at least one expression of dissociation.

MD permanently in the brain is a scary thought indeed.

Guys, I apologize for mega late reply. My uni got in a way.

Sophie, to answer your question, yes, MD would disappear. Completely.

MD is not an emotion in itself, it's just a mechanism that takes away your sense of self and identity and then lets you experience everything you crave from some other plane where you is no longer you. By engaging in daydreams, you are depriving yourself of yourself - which is fine by you because somewhere deep inside you hate yourself and you want it out of the way - but it's also why you keep craving. Without a healthy and solid sense of self, those beautiful things and feelings you experience in MD remain stuck in this strange state of non-self and can't connect back to you. Because you weren't you when you experienced them in the first place. So you keep craving.

But once you reestablish your sense of self, then a medium such as MD will no longer be necessary. Those positive emotions you daydream of will flow back naturally to you without you needing MD to make them anonymous.

Padraic, cure, overcome, whatever. Of course I'm not talking about scientific 'cure' here. There's no one answer here. Your answer may not be my answer and my answer may not be your answer. But an answer there is and that is what I am trying to say. Yes, MD can be fully overcome, I'm convinced. But whether you'll do this doesn't depend on science or cures - it depends on you.

Firstly, I'm obviously not an expert, and like yourself, I'm just speaking from my own personal experience with MD and what I believe the newer studies have indicated. Paddy also made some valid and interesting points which I have to still "mill over".

I find your writing interesting and it made me think of my MD in a different way. So please keep writing - lively debate is always healthy and keeps us asking more questions which is great for everyone. I’m very glad you’ve found a way to live an active and happy life in spite of having MD.  :D

However, I take issue with the idea that we have MD, because we're simply "missing" something in our lives or have somehow "misplaced" our sense of self (some form of dissociation). I believe our MD has left us wide open for things like depression, anxiety or OCD to take root. These might not be the cause of our MD, just the natural response of our minds to the MD. While those "conditions" might be manageable, the MD might have a totally different cause.

Next, as Dr Schupak last study stated - all her participants remembered their MD manifesting at quite a young age.

From the preliminary results of Dr Schupak study:

All of you remember having daydreams and fantasies from very early childhood; and only one of you suspects that a repressed memory of abuse may have contributed to this tendency (this finding, so far,does not support the theories of Eli Somer, author of the study "Maladaptive Daydreaming" whose 6subjects were all victims of childhood or adolescent abuse or trauma)

I don't believe young children feel like they’re being deprived or disconnected from their sense of self on some deep psychological level or that they feel an intense hate towards themselves (the study did not indicate any of this). That's a pretty complicated concept for a young child - especially since the research now shows that while most of us can identify the young age at which our MD started, there seems to be no psychological trauma that leads up to it.

My MD started when I was 3 - I vividly remember pacing in circles while my mind was floating in a dream. I was a happy, average three year old - I never longed for affection or was lacking in anything. My brother and I grew up together and he's a total "normie".

Nothing happened to start the MD - there was no emotional trigger and my mind one day just started to "wander" off. Not because I was suffering from a lack of self, or because I was looking for some psychological “reward” or because I hated myself - but I believe -  because that’s just how my brain was wired since birth. I would’ve always ended up with MD, no matter what happened in my life.

Also, interesting, is that Dr Schupak noted that none of the participants showed any signs of dissociation.

MD might not be a purely "psychological" phenomenon alone, the dreaming might be a manifestation of a yet unidentified physical cause. Something inside our brains might be responsible - casting some doubt on the idea that we can somehow “cure” our MD by just changing our mindset. One cannot simply reprogram base biology with positive thinking.

For example: Jayne Bigelsen is a well adjusted, successfully person - she remembers having MD since the age of 8 -  but admits that while her MD no longer affects her daily routine, she still has MD. Shouldn't her MD be "cured" by now? She certainly sounds happy and satisfied in her interviews. 

Also, many of us have tried cognitive behavioural therapy with little results. And trust me, if something was going to change the way I thought, intensive CBT would've shown lasting results. In my case, it was like trying to hold back a hurricane with a single umbrella.

While positive thinking and centring might help me cope with my MD - we can hardly call it a cure at this stage and it’s pretty dangerous to do so. What if someone tries and fails using this method? Have they failed the “cure” or has the “cure” failed them.

(I just feel if this was the answer many MDers would've been identified by medical professionals and cured - the idea certainly isn't new in some fashion to this forum or in psychology. )

Hi Bee!

I really love this debate. I agree that there is not only one explanation for the cause of MD, and that it is probably also different from individual to individual what exactly led them to develop MD.

However, whether or not MD can stem from trauma or dissociation or not, it is well known that children can be hurt to the core in the same way that adults can - in fact, many experts think that children are even more vulnerable to this than adults. I think perhaps all this talk about ego can sound a bit Freudian to the average reader, and as someone who has read a lot about PTSD, I know that there are more than one way to explain it that doesn't involve that much focus on 'the self'.

But stuff like dissociation and derealization does involve the feeling of being removed from either the world, or oneself. Children who gets beat up, for example, learn to leave their body emotionally to 'survive',(depersonalization) and if the abuse is constant or particularly cruel, they may do anything they can to not 'rest' in their bodies again. This is almost always looked upon as self hatred, since such a child will - at least temporarily - often forget to cater to their own needs, to listen to their gut instinct, and to take action to prevent further harm. Since the feeling of being alive is now dangerous, many things will shut down. All in the name of self defense, sadly.

Now, not everyone who suffers from dissociation has been traumatized in the way that I describe. One visit to dissociation support forums will reveal that many people can get dissociated permanently from light drug abuse or a bad relationship.

Perhaps a life with MD can be normal, happy, and without any dark origin. I know from being obsessed with reading and writers from a young age, that many of my favourite authors suffered(or not?) from MD. In the movie, The Hours, Nicole Kidman who plays Virginia Woolf, literally sits around whispering loudly to herself whilst having guests over for tea, much to the amusement of two little boys. She is constantly muttering to herself, trying to find the perfect expression in her mission to write a book. Now, Woolf was also very mentally ill, but I know so much about my favourite writers, and MD does indeed seem to be quite a writer's disease. In fact, I believe it to be impossible to write good literature without engaging in MD.

As for me, I personally daydream way less when I'm feeling good. I'm also able to control my MD to a certain extent. Sometimes, I don't really need to daydream - I have this inner fight with my self, quicky make up some lousy excuse, and just fall right back on it, like an addiction(having been addicted to certain people thoughout my life, I know that this form of indulgence is a warning sign no matter what - I recognize the feeling).  Is MD all bad for me personally, then? I don't know. I won't ever know before I start feeling good about myself. But in order to feel good about myself, I need to stop daydreaming in order to confront some things in my life... So for me, there's no answer yet. It's going to be a long process.

Eretaia's theory is that MD is/can be(?) a form of dissociation. Therefore all this focus on the self and trauma makes sense, and for obvious reasons, it does to me as well. However, I will leave it up to him(her?) to explain this.

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