Excessive dreaming: Maladaptive Daydreaming (MD)

Excessive dreaming: Maladaptive Daydreaming (MD)

When he "Daydreaming" It becomes a problem.

“Sometimes I think of six impossibilities before breakfast. ”Alice in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll

Most adults have at least one fantasy episode every day. This can be a positive aspect, as it is linked to the creativity, among other important processes. The brain tends to wander and the mind can go from one place to another easily, this is directly related to the work memory, also called operational or short-term, which implies our ability to retain and remember information against distractions.

However, for some people this wonderful ability can become a serious problem. Eli Somer (2002), studied the phenomenon of excessive daytime reverie, and through his studies determined that people who have this condition, can pass around the 60% of your waking time, in imaginary settings, being able to perfectly distinguish your fantasies from reality; Unlike the schizoid and psychotic disorders where reality is split.

In his study, Eli, he discovered that the subjects had used daytime reverie as a coping strategy, or "stop escaping from an unpleasant environment", It often starts from childhood and can be triggered due to traumatic and abusive experiences.. It acts as a defense mechanism against any conflict that the individual could be facing.

The person's fantasy can be a combination of what their wishes are and what is socially acceptable according to their cultural context.

"Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality". Alice in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll


  • 1 When daydreaming becomes excessive maladaptive reverie?
  • 2 When is it necessary to ask for professional help?
  • 3 7 Strategies to improve the quality of life in people with MD

When daydreaming becomes excessive maladaptive reverie?

Many people with MD find that their condition can cause procrastinate or omit important tasks for them in the real context of their daily lives, with a tendency to perform “behaviors that seem to be unproductive,” thus representing an obstacle for them. The use of social networks can favor that the episodes of daytime reverie increase, given their characteristics, the type of interactions we carry out day by day and the frequency of these.

Time goes by without realizing sometimes, while these rich fantasies are being processed, they are usually pleasant and meet our ideals, although not necessarily. As in a novel, daydreams are often detailed and very elaborate.

Excessive daytime reverie can be associated with the dissociative personality disorder (TIDP), since the person separates or represses, the memory or emotion that is directly associated with a trauma of the conscious self, divides in a similar way to its immediate surroundings, both physically and emotionally, generally, fantasies are not related to the immediate activity or environment of the individual. Dissociation is a creative way of maintaining something that is not desired: “Out of the picture”.

Likewise, it has been observed that it may be related to borderline personality disorder, social phobia and mainly post-traumatic stress. An increase in the frequency of MD has been noted in patients with Autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and with him obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Studies have shown that poor sleep quality or an insufficient amount of it, lead an individual to daydream more frequently. Likewise, it is related with memory problems, attention problems and slower reaction times.

In fact, the daydreaming becomes an inevitable compulsion, as in one addiction, the person has the need to resort to it, finding great relief and pleasure in being in these states, thus reinforcing the behavior.

It is attributed, in large part to the default neural network (RND), which is a set of brain regions that collaborate with each other, the RND could be responsible for much of the activity developed while the mind is at rest, It helps to organize the memories and different processes that need preparation for future events. Currently, more research is conducted on how to operate, as it can reveal important clues to understand the nature of the conscious experience.

Some structures of the RND include the medial prefrontal cortex, the posterior cingulate cortex and the inferior parietal lobe. Other structures that can be considered part of the network are: the lateral temporal cortex, the formation of the hippocampus and the precutaneous. These people, It can take a lot of work to do a specific task, this because the brain activity is greater when we are daydreaming.

The geometry of the deep parietal areas of the human brain, and specifically of the central part, the precutaneous, is key in the brain evolution of Homo Sapiens, said Emiliano Bruner, head of the Paleoneurology Group of CENIEH (National Center for Research on Human Evolution) in the Journal of Anatomy.

An excessive reverie can replace human interaction with wide fantasies that people imagine in their own minds, being able to derive like this, in a detriment in the quality of life and the social interactions.

When is it necessary to ask for professional help?

First, you have to determine if the daytime reverie is excessive or if it represents a problem for you in any field, such as difficulty or inability to complete simple and even fundamental daily tasks like: not being able to fall asleep when you go to bed, get out of bed, eat, clean, work, do academic homework, and in your interpersonal relationships, mainly. If it is interfering in some way, it is a good time to ask for psychological support, because as I mentioned earlier, it may be combined with other disorders.

Psychologists can provide practical strategies and the most appropriate to help you, this according to your personality and your specific need. Why Each person is unique.

7 Strategies to improve the quality of life in people with MD

If after reading this, you have identified yourself as a daydreamer, here are some guidelines with which I have been able to help my patients with excessive daytime reverie to improve their quality of life:

  1. Keep an agenda and make a good time management to fulfill the tasks that are most important. For this it is essential that you have your objectives well identified.
  2. The journaling technique or write a diary, where you record the frequency of your daytime reveries, as well as additional thoughts and images that you want, can be of great help in the path of self-knowledge.
  3. You may include a tone in the discreet in the mobile or a type of vibration in the cell phone that we identify every hour, this can serve as a reminder to see where your attention is placed. If you find yourself on the beach in Bali sunbathing, instead of paying attention to the weekly work meeting with your boss and colleagues, You can kindly and WITHOUT reprimand yourself for it, try to focus your attention.
  4. Learn to identify the stimuli that disperse your attention and try to isolate them when you need focus. For example: if your favorite music evokes you to fantasy, you can choose to listen to white sounds that help you focus or some music that doesn't distract you, if you can't do without it to work.
  5. The Pomodoro technique to control the focus time on a specific task. Broadly speaking, it consists of focusing your attention on a task for 25 minutes, and then taking 5 minutes for another task to disperse or check your mobile devices, for example; The fourth break is 20 to 25 minutes and so on. This technique today helps many people increase their productivity in what they decide to focus on. You can download an application for your mobile from some Pomodoro or a productivity timer, there are many kinds and designs; They can be a tool to train your mind to focus.
  6. Practice techniques of meditation and of full attention. Query how to soften mental noises
  7. The suggestion techniques at deep levels of consciousness such as: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Theta To implement new and more beneficial programming can be a valuable tool.

Remember that the brain loves to wander and automate functions; This may have been a learned function, to escape a reality that was not pleasing to you, at a certain stage of your life. But in the same way You can de-apprehend this behavior and achieve the focus of your attention with discipline, when it is not associated with another disorder. Otherwise, psychological or multidisciplinary accompaniment may be the most appropriate, psychologists can determine if it is necessary to work together with other health professionals.


  • //
  • //
  • Images: //

Bibliographic reference

  • Somer, E., Somer, L., and Jopp, DS (2016). Parallel lives: a phenomenological study of people struggling with sick dreams. Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 17, 561-576. doi: 10.1080 / 15299732.2016.1160463
Related tests
  • Personality test
  • Self-esteem test
  • Couple Compatibility Test
  • Self-knowledge test
  • Friendship test
  • Am i in love