Do you have maladaptive daydreaming?

ms spock

Until @chant2012 mentioned it in my diary earlier today I have never heard of "Maladaptive Daydreaming" but I have serious problems with maladapative daydreaming, and whilst writing this post I see someone else has mentioned it before. I also have intrusive thoughts and distorted cognitions as well.

How could I have never heard of it?

Do you have problems with it? What do you do to work to fix yourself?


Oh wow! Yes yes yes! I've done this for as long as I can remember. I am scared to say what mine are. They're very bad and twisted. I'm a very sick little girl. :(


Several things happen when I dissociate and/or maladaptive daydream:

1) I repeat things a lot like "key words" and "triggers" and lots of "code" things. Idfk lol.

2) How "I" talk depends on which me I am!

3) I also have changes in how I speak. For example(s), I might talk like a child, or rage like a raving lunatic (usually when triggered), is like a protector role or something. Sometimes I will get very sensual and sexual. Or like a terrified child. Or like a happy carefree playful child.

4) I have changes in how I hold myself too or how I sit sometimes or how I maintain (or don't maintain) eye contact, etc.

5) Sometimes I just stare blankly in an internal daydream for hours. This is a CONSTANT battle. Maladaptive daydreaming it's called. It's been happening since I can remember and is literally going on just about constantly.
I "act out" my daydreams and even cry and just really "get into it". I don't even know I do it. People say it's by choice, even some of the literature I read... But it sure doesn't feel like a choice to me. It just happens. It's involuntary. It's like I get sucked into this internal world/daydream. I see it all around me like it's real in a sense.

Usually though how I experience the dissociation is no longer feeling like "myself" and feeling like I am suddenly "a different me" in a sense. I have the experience of having multiple realities all at once. I get bad flashbacks. I have a sh*t memory. It's difficult to be in denial.

But in 5 minutes I'll be sure it's not real. Just wait. :P

Oh also I honestly have no idea how to deal with it. I was hoping you'd found some answers! :) Tbats why I wanted to talk. Could I PM you? If that's okay. Felt so alone and now not so much. I understand if you don't want to talk. Either way all the support to you.

ms spock

You are the first person that I have talked to that actually has a name for what I live in.

What I am doing is below- I work hard at a number of things.

I work on distorted cognitions so David Burns "Feeling Good" CBT
"Self Compassion" Kristin Neff - free audio on her website
Mindfulness - so many authors but the "The Mindful Way Through Depression" is where I found an entry.
DBT - teaching myself as I go along Marsha Linehan
Franticworld has free Mindfulness audio
You can listen also on the Perth Meditation mp3s.
I read a lot about neuroscience and neuroplasticity.
I exercise.
I am working on my avoidance, intrustive thoughts and now my maladaptive daydreaming.
I listen to youtube videos about lots of stuff.

I am working on being honest which is really hard for me as I was taught that lying was the way to go if you didn't want to get annihilated and the rules and reality changed from minute to minute at times.

I have participated and run a few challenges on this forum.
Tara Brach Radical Acceptance

Currently I am not living a life of a recluse - I am doing full on university - and just completed 7 weeks of prac.

I don't trust myself at all. I have major problems with self hatred.

I have severely disordered eating.

I did a quick search and found the below.
Link Removed

I have no answers @chant2012 I only learnt it was a thing when you commented in my diary this morning. I figured if I just regularly told the truth that was the way I would work things out.

I am also in therapy with a psychiatrist who knows a lot about Complex Trauma.

I need to work on grounding and breathing @chant2012 but I am away off getting on top of that.
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I don't have regular problems with it.

Dreaming is how I problem solve without trauma blocks & judging myself by the eyes of boring ass perpetrators of my life.

It's when I can't switch back to whatever my less-dreaming perception is and/or if it's in the way of tasks that's an issue. And by then I usually have someone to snap me out of it, knowing what's up with me and that it's all past trauma nonsense & current stress keeping me from functioning.


I have written about it extensively on here as have others.

Mal adaptive is a piss poor name for it. I had a therapist tell me that it is not MALaddaptive despite the name it is ADAPTIVE dreaming. It only becomes maladaptive when it seriously inhibits your day to day functioning. It got the name Maladaptive because people prefer it over real life. It is a survival mechanism. It gives us an escape when our minds can't cope with the reality around us. Instead of our minds fracturing during reoccurring trauma such as CSA we can pretend we are somewhere different and survive what is happening to us.

People do tend to get addicted to it because it is pleasant being in a world where you are in control. Even maladaptive daydreams that address negative topics are beneficial because you use them to overcome your fears and obstacles.

Maladaptive daydreaming has benefits, as we can role play situations in our minds that help us come up with real-world situations.

Any fiction writer worth their salt is a maladaptive daydreamer, so are artists and songwriters (you are more likely to maladaptive day dream while listening to music for some reason.) There is a website dedicated to people sharing their stories and adventures when they maladaptive daydream.

Maladaptive daydreaming is a perfectly acceptable coping skill. I used to do it almost nonstop as well, but as I developed other skills I started doing ti less and less without trying. I still do it but I have less of a need for it now.


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I used to do this alot when I was younger, stayed with me untill high school, now I do it off an on usually when I'm isolating. Though like you @Ms Spock ,I only recently found out what it was called.

I am an only child. Up until I was around 9 years old, my parents used to work opposite schedules so they didn't have to leave me alone all the time (With a babysitter of course. My parents never left me alone in the house at that age). The problem with this however, was that they both worked long hours and were often too tired or busy to spend much attention on me.

I wound up being by myself for most days, so I became my own company. The imaginary friend was born. Most kids do this anyway, but usually grow out of it as they attend school and make real friends. While I did have real friends, they all lived to far for me to go to on my own. Again the parents couldn't take me so I still had to deal with a lack of social interaction.

From what I have read about this, it's supposedly a psychological mechanism to combat isolation sickness. I've also read that it can sometimes be used as an avoidance technique for aspects of a persons life that are upsetting to them. The idea of going from chatting with yourself when you're bored, to building this elaborate fantasy to live in with an interesting personal life. Complete with a full cast of interesting characters to immerse yourself in. All with names, ages, childhoods, birthdays, chosen career, education, mothers, fathers, ethnic background, sexual orientation, views on religion, It goes on and on.

Yet at the same time, being totally aware that it is a fantasy. There are no hallucinations, audio, visual, or physical. No delusional episodes.

The character you play as, as yourself can have a more grandiose life, can have a talent or some other interesting skill. Though still fully aware that whatever it is you can "do", is in fact a fiction and never to actually be attempted untill when/if the proper steps are followed to actually learn how to do, assuming you actually want to do it in real life. (This was the best I could word it... sorry) There's no obsessive need to learn or become everything being fantasised about.

I didn't act it out beyond my early childhood years, but I do actually talk out loud, quietly. (when I am physically alone. Otherwise nope.)

I have been caught doing it a couple of times, when I thought I was alone in a room. Oh my god that was embarrassing. Lmao! The worst was a night I had been out partying too much and had called in to work "sick". For some reason I tend to more often converse with one of my characters when inebriated. So I left a message on the office voicemail, put away my mobile and proceed to have a lovely little chat with someone who wasn't actually there. (I quit pulling the 48oz flu crap, a long time ago. That was such a rude thing to do.)

The following day. I go to work, get called into the bosses office, where I was presented with a ten minute long voicemail message of me talking to myself. In which I also incriminated myself by admitting that I wasn't actually sick, but hungover. Apparently this was the one and only time my phone didn't disconnect the call after flipping it shut. I was mortified. It was totally my own fault, but Aaah!

Then trying to explain why I was talking to myself, without making myself sound like I fell off the truck headed for the funny farm. The look on my face must have been priceless. Weirdly despite everyone having been played the tape to hear me make an ass of myself. Other than a couple of questions from different people, It was never mentioned again. Nor was I treated differently after. No idea why. I didn't complain. Though it was a few weeks before I could look anyone in the eyes again. I laugh about it now, but that is one of the most humiliating experiences I have ever had.

@Fadeaway What you said about being a useful tool for problem solving. Yes, totally. To be able to come at a problem with a different point of view, from someone who is at least as smart as you. Helps immensely with figuring unorthodox ways of thinking. This makes me the best MacGyver I know how to be. And for the added bonus, it doesn't matter "who" actually thought of it, I still get all the credit.


I was an only child as well, which was probably a huge factor in it for me. As an adult, my most intensive time of this was when I was in the midst for severe long-term isolation.

I have heard an author explicitly state that she knows her characters in her books so well because they were her playmates as a child. The adventures in her books are adventures she went on as a kid in her mind.

For future reference, if you do get caught, which I fear because I don't speak out loud, but I am very facially expressive, you can always say you are working on character development for a novel you are working on.


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I'll have to remember the novel idea. I have found that if I keep a headphone in one ear, I can usually pass it off as either, singing:singing:, phone call:headphone:, or language tape.:bookworm:

What you said about the author. I can't remember who it was, but I distinctly remember hearing an author say that exact thing on a tv or radio broadcast.

Gotta love being a latchkey kid.


I must be a bit different then because I have done this since I can remember. And for me it IS maladaptive. It's severely impacts my life. Also, no one seems to have the daydreams that I have. Most everyone's seem to be good things (a better version of themselves, happy things, the life they really want, etc). But mine are NOT like that. Mine are very disturbing and makes me feel like I'm a sick girl. Very f*cked up. I've been doing perverted and disgusting things since I can remember (both literally in the real world and internally in my daydreams). I am a sick person and should be locked away I feel sometimes. I want to give examples of what I'm talking about but am not sure if I'm allowed. :'(

I can't stop doing it. I've tried everything. I am so upset pretty much every day all day because I literally without notice, become aware that I'm doing this (in a daydream) but it might be minutes to hours after being in this world where disgusting perversions play out. So it has the potential to go in for a long while before I even realize what's going on. Honestly I don't even know I'm in a daydream a lot of the times until very much "into it".

It's like I trance out immediately and am just *poof* gone. It's seamless. I'm semi-aware of the world around me (the real one) but am so preoccupied with the other one that everything just begins to fade away more and more until I'm gone. I might become aware and "snap out of it" only to realize say 20 minutes later that I returned shortly after "leaving" and didn't even realize it and have actually been daydreaming this whole time! So the idea that the daydreams are fully under our control confuses me.

In fact I'm not sure if I've ever really even left a daydream fully. It's all very confusing. I think I've been in one my whole life.

I too have a severe eating disorder and also.

But I think one of the biggest issues is my lying problem. It's like compulsive. I didn't start doing this until probably mid-childhood but I'm not sure. I think it has to do with me needing to lie so much as a child (as I was many different me's for many different people). I was basically made to lie and now I can't stop.

I wish I could share more. But I'm so ashamed about these things if people REALLY knew what went on inside my head and internal fantasy world. It's very sick. I am not okay.... And I still have not been able to figure out how to get this to stop. Maybe I will try mindfulness.
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Any fiction writer worth their salt is a maladaptive daydreamer, so are artists and songwriters

Slight disagreement here... If it's a useful, positive, & wanted thing in your life? It's not maladaptive.

Any fiction writer worth their salt is a maladaptive daydreamer, so are artists and songwriters... I'll agree with whole heartedly.

Like the line between imagination & delusions, anger & abuse, daydreaming & maladaptive daydreaming are different things :)

I've known many people in the trade who shifted their maladaptive daydreaming into a useful, valuable, and wanted part of their lives... By redirecting their imaginations. ((This used to drive me insane, I hated it, etc...until I found XYZ creative outlet for it.)) But when it shifts from something destroying their lives to something enriching their lives? It became a very different thing.
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