Do you have maladaptive daydreaming?

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ms spock

I am making my life hard because of the stories that I am telling myself. This is a habituated reenactment of the trauma, I keep repeating the same thing over and over again. Often I don't even realise that I am doing it. I am catching it just that bit more now, and that will enable me to make progress over time.

I am making my life so hard by being so terribly hard on myself, and beating myself up. Part of the maladaptive daydreaming is to try and block things that are overwhelming. I am overwhelming myself. I am triggering myself. I am not doing myself any favours doing this. It is a practice thing.


I used to do this all the time as a teen, constantly. People would snap their fingers to get my attention, lightly tease me for "always daydreaming", but I always felt so embarrassed and guilty for what I was dissociating/ thinking about. Honestly for me most of the time it consisted of something terrible happening that prompted teachers/pastors/friends parents/my crushes to hug me and tell me I could live with them (i have a background of neglect). It did get to be a problem when I didnt reply to people who were talking to me.

Now that I'm married and in my 20s, I feel safe secure, and loved, and I dont do this anymore. But I often find myself trying to, even though it's entirely unsatisfying. Now that I'm not constantly daydreaming the same old triggers over and over, I have a hard time being alone with my thoughts. I find myself putting on podcasts at all hours of the day and night because I dont know how to fill up my brain space when I'm not dissociating or daydreaming about trauma.


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.

OH MY G-There is a name for cope at work, I'd rerun possible scenarios to different possible problems that might arise, so I'd be "prepared" and successful for any potential conflict.

I'm also a fictional writer and when I write I am the character. I love to write first person fictional stories. I love certain movie characters and it's like I've climbed into the TV and am almost completely in another world.....
and my art-I can't create unless I'm dissociating......
This came back with a vengeance, so Radical Acceptance time, and onwards I go. I am doing the things that I need to do. I fronted up to the school, and I set some boundaries and got some information. I have two students. I went to another meeting. Then I came home to do things. And I have gone off on a tangent but I have certainly been doing things.

The maladaptive daydreaming became especially strong after I challenged it by doing things in real time, so that is interesting. I am working on emotional regulation. I am working on emotional regulation through playing a musical instrument at the moment. It is working for me.
What kind of instrument are/did you learn?

Not 100% sure that mine is maladaptive daydreaming, but I think it is-- since childhood I often fall asleep to fantasies of being hurt or bad things happening to me to calm down in a weird way.
Then through middle school until this point, I use fiction/TV shows as a poor way to cope and daydreamed about that a lot when I was school.
Very recently, I have started spending good chunks of time daydreaming about reliving trauma, sometimes through characters so there's more distance between myself and what happened to me. I imagine someone helping/comforting me afterwards or being able to openly express how I'm really feeling. It ends up taking a decent amount of time and can be distressing, but also really cathartic (which is why it's hard to stop).
One helpful thing someone else mentioned that helps me as well is listening to music. The only other thing I have found that helps is forcing myself to change environments, because I usually end up doing this when I'm in bed. If I'm out of my room or around others, I'm usually forced to be more present. Doing something that takes a lot of concentration (playing an instrument, writing, work, etc.) may be helpful?
Good luck!

For some time, I spent a lot of time in bed-alone. You can do many private things in your bed, in your home, esp. if there are no others in the house.... including daydreaming which can take many unusual forms.

I first looked at where I was most of the time -isolated in my room. I now have a schedule on the wall which prohibits me from staying in bed all day, I make my bed, and don't get back in. I also had to find a purpose in life-something motivating that would get me out of bed and keep me doing things. Fun things I found were motivating so I tried a bunch of new things (art, water aerobic exercise, traveling more, etc. I had to set myself up for success....with a schedule of things to do....writing, art, music (playing/teaching an instrument), learning new things....using my brain to learn and problem-solve and work to change the wiring in my head. This has helped trememdously to live in the here and now, and not in a fantasy world.

My draw to fantasy.....led me back to a more innocent....a more playful me....a different part of me . It was protective and there were no memories of abuse. Stuffed animals and my cats played together....I felt younger....less mature....but felt safer......and I was alone with my feelings and nobody was judging or criticizing.

It wasn't until I made myself do new things and interact with people, that I began to feel less self-isolating-and things I did I began to feel accomplishment....more happy with the real me. I've had to fight fearful feelings,and I have left class crying-but I went back, and kept doing......and the world is starting to open up and I'm in it-me and all my parts keep........pushing forward. Communication with my parts has been extremely effective, as is rewarding them and making deals so all of me is happy in reality.

My experience in dealing more effectively with my own dysfunctional daydreaming (I like this better than maladaptive daydreaming) was to counter the time spent dysfunctionally daydreaming and become much more functional every day. Communicating internally-finding interests and fun things to do was a critical step ......and that replaced the time and extra energy spent dysfunctionally daydreaming and isolating.

I found to reduce this behavior (which I did in isolation first-and then at work unconsiously (talking/arguing with self aloud) I had to deal with the emotions/situation which triggered this behavior in the first place, and not give into isolation-which led to self-talk, problem-solving scenarios aloud, looping events in my head, and emotional craziness, and plain dreaming about being different. I'm still working things through....and I occasionally dip into the dysfunctional daydreaming mode....but when I isn't for days or weeks.....maybe just a half-hr here or there, in private, alone......I'm okay with that.....the concept of moderation has been a huge key in reducing this behavior-but I don't think I want to extinguish it altogether-once in a while....a trip into fantasy or feeling younger.... is enjoyable and de-stressing.

ms spock

I am making my life hard because of the stories that I am telling myself. This is a habituated reenactment of the trauma, I keep repeating the same thing over and over again. I hope to have more power with the stories that I tell myself. I am doing really well considering everything I am going through at this time. It's tough going.
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Anna Reese

New Here
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?

Yes, I have maladaptive daydreaming, it is awful. It compells me to search triggers and figure out stories when I should be doing other stuff.


yes I have done this but typically at night when I get into bed. For myself the theme was constant my grandparents and their friends praising me for my baking ability. I always thought I did it to “block” flashbacks from coming up.
recently I had a really huge and feeling “flashback” involving my grandfather and his friends doing unspeakably cruel things to me, and my “maladaptive daydream” has stopped. I thought it was because I see them for who they were not what I hoped they were. Knowing that these men were capable do treating a teenage girl (me) that way insults me to no end! I would t treat a dog that way. I don’t know why the “maladaptive daydreaming” stopped especially since I have done it for 50 years!!! But nope it is gone.
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