Could you be daydreaming too much?
What research says about people who spend too much of their lives in a fantasy land.
If you spend too much time looking out the window and thinking about how great you'd do in a talk show interview, there may be something wrong. At least, that's what Eli Somer thinks. Somer, a clinical professor of psychology at Israel's University of Haifa, led a team of researchers from Fordham University in New York City and University of Lausanne in Switzerland. The research team studied 340 people who said they daydreamed too much.
These "maladaptive daydreamers," as Somer called them, spent 57% of their waking hours daydreaming, often imagining celebrities and fictionalized versions of themselves. The control group participants only spent 16% of their time daydreaming, and they usually fantasized about simpler things, like events that really happened to them.
Over 80% of maladaptive daydreamers moved oddly while daydreaming – they'd rock, spin or pace, for instance.
“Everyone has moments of mind-wandering in which one plans a future discussion or anticipates an event in the near future,” said Dr. Somer. “They do not interfere with functioning and they do not cause any distress.”
It all sounds a bit ... daydreamy? But hundreds of people have contacted Dr. Somer over the years, seeking help for their propensity to over-dream. A good deal of maladaptive daydreamers are trauma survivors who use daydreaming to escape, and many report feeling shy or isolated. Some have trouble remembering normal events in their lives or even holding onto jobs.
Somer is now trying to put together some diagnostic criteria to help differentiate maladaptive daydreamers from regular daydreamers. He also wants to research how best to treat the dreamers' underlying issues and perform cognitive behavioral therapy.
For now, try not to daydream about daydreaming!
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