I'd like to start by acknowledging that there are obviously people here for whom this 'disorder' is a serious problem, restricting their lives to large extents. I don't intend to offend any of you with this - I'm just sort of thinking out loud (or typed down, or whatever the written equivalent is).

I've always loved those psychology quizzes - you know the ones where you tick boxes, or rate yourself against some scale, or try to figure out what those Rorschach blots are - but I've always wanted a positive result. As in, to get the 'uh-oh, you're a crazy!' result. I'm not entirely convinced that this is abnormal. Everyone wants to be special. Everyone most enjoys the 'abnormal psychology' section of the course. But I'm not sure that everyone spends hours researching known conditions (BPD, Asperger's, Social Anxiety Disorder, Schizophrenia, Depression etc.) on Wikipedia, mentalhealth.com, minddisorders.com or the online DSM-IV (to name a few off the top of my head) or doing all the quizzes up to the fiftieth page on dear old Google. My point here, which is rapidly getting lost, is that if anyone was going to blow a casual trait up into a mental disorder, it would be me.

So I'm asking, when does it stop being just an out-of-the-ordinary hobby and start being something serious? When does an active imagination become something that needs to be treated with drugs? Perhaps the fact that I'm asking is in itself proof that I don't have this disorder, and that this is just another case of confirmation bias, but maybe not. Anyway, I thought I'd try to compile a list of related behaviours in case I ever do become objective enough to decide, or in case a definitive list of symptoms is ever compiled.

  • An average of 2 hours spent daily fully immersed in a daydream (sometimes much more)
  • Acting out actions/speaking aloud within these imaginings, or at least rapid pacing/fidgeting
  • No real aversion to engaging in daydreaming in semi-public places
  • An imaginary friend who emerged at the age of sixteen. Numerous insubstantial ones during childhood.
  • Strong preference to imaginary worlds over reality (usually, anyway)
  • I know they're not real, but I'm not entirely sure I believe it, if that makes any sense.
  • Writing is a strong hobby, taking up a lot of time.
  • The daydreaming only affects my real life insofar as it takes up time that should be spent working. I am quite socially retarded as well, though that's probably not related.

I recall once in a psychology lecture, the presenter gave as an indicator. She said there was a scale and most people go in the middle, displaying a few mild symptoms of various diseases, which we simply call quirks, but the people that tend towards the extremes of the scale are the one's who's 'quirks' begin to seriously affect and detract from their day-to-day life. Using that scale, I'd have to say I'm completely normal (an appalling concept, naturally) and yet I would like to get more of a handle on this daydreaming - am I cheating, being here on this site?

Just thoughts.

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Comment by Katrina on December 13, 2010 at 7:34am

hmm.. i agree that it's definitely NOT just a hobby or a casual trait for some.  many here have posted that this addiction has ruined their lives.. it's certainly beginning to ruin mine.  


I'm going to say it IS  a disorder. For me, at least, it is.   I'm not proud of it, and i refuse to just accept it because accepting, to me, means submitting to it..  But I also refuse to be ashamed of it, nor of myself for having it.  It is simply there, a consequence of my past  and a presence in my life that was helpful for a while but is now a hindrance to living the kind of life i want to live.  It's not a completely horrible condition.... i believe case studies were conducted in which participants were still able to be successful in their lives in various fields.  and if you're an individual who's content living with this, then all the happiness in the world to you.  but i want more than a life of fleeting phantasms. 

Comment by Penguin on December 10, 2010 at 8:20pm

Try giving it up for a while. If you can't, I'd say a disorder, if you can, just something you spend your time on :p

Comment by Cordellia Amethyste Rose on December 10, 2010 at 3:15pm

BTW, for some of us it really is bad, and if we don't acknowledge that then we can't get help.  Just because many people can daydream and have it under control does not mean the rest of us shouldn't do whatever we need to to get help.  It's like the alcohol analogy.  When I spoke up and said I was out of control, I was shocked and saddened at how many of my friends refused to acknowledge it.  All they'd say was that they drink and they're not out of control.  It was out of fear.  People were afraid that if I was an alcoholic and they drank then it must mean they were alcoholics.  They just didn't want anyone to take their drink away.  It was kind of selfish on their part.  I say, drink up, if you can keep it under control.  That doesn't mean I shouldn't get help.  


Also, everyone's afraid people are going to make you do drugs.  I don't know why.  Doctors do push drugs way too much, but that doesn't mean you have to do them.  Speak up.  If a drug helps and someone wants to take it, they should be allowed to.  If a doctor pushes you to do anything that's not helping then tell them where to shove it and leave.  As long as we're strong and play an active role in our healing (a MAIN role) then it doesn't matter what drug companies do.  They don't boss me around.  

Comment by Cordellia Amethyste Rose on December 10, 2010 at 3:09pm

I think it's a way of being and thinking that can be healthy at best and a complete addiction at worst.  The reason we want it in the DSM is so that when it becomes an addiction, doctors will know about it and can think of ways to treat it.  I think that it has wonderful pros and horrible cons.  I think that anyone who has this trait, even if they're in complete control, should be aware of how bad it can get so they'll know to manage it.  I always thought it was no big deal when I was little...........until it was a big deal.  We have to know that it can get out of control if we're not careful.  Like someone who enjoys a glass of wine from time to time.  It can be perfectly fine.  It can help you relax and unwind..........but if you're not careful, it can get out of hand.  People just need to keep this in mind, so they'll know to keep control of it.  That's all.  


I would like us to accept ourselves and stop acting like we're corrupt and diseased.  I would like us to have all the benefits without the negative consequences.  Those of us for whom it's an addiction should take any steps they have to to get it under control.  That may mean quitting, or it may not.  You don't have to have it as badly as I do to keep an eye on it.  Most people don't have it as badly as I do.  Many live very fulfilling lives.  I want all of us to share our experiences and help each other.  I want all of us, even those for whom it's still just a pleasant hobby, to speak up and be acknowledged.  The more knowledge we have and share the better.  If we all declare ourselves cured and stop speaking, then the world will only acknowledge those of us who are severe addicts.  That would be very limiting and completely inaccurate.  Know what I mean?  



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