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BGU Researcher Explores How Long is Too Long to Daydream

BGU Researcher Explores How Long is Too Long to Daydream

December 17, 2021


Pop Sugar — Have you ever had a daydream that felt more real than reality, as vivid as a movie, with a plot and cast of characters to rival a fantasy novel? Have you ever wanted to daydream for hours without stop?

“It’s very vivid and very fanciful and very, very enjoyable,” said Nirit Soffer-Dudek, PhD, director of the Consciousness of Psychopathology Lab at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and a researcher at the International Consortium of Maladaptive Daydreaming Research (ICMDR).

This type of vivid, excessive daydreaming is called maladaptive daydreaming, a term coined in 2002 by psychology professor Eli Somer, PhD, and which has recently started to attract mainstream attention.

Characterized by extraordinarily vivid and lengthy daydreams, maladaptive daydreaming is sometimes associated with mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and ADHD, and is often related to trauma; it can act as an escape valve, a coping mechanism, a way to retreat into your own head for as long as necessary.

These epic daydreams can be entertaining to the point of becoming addictive, with some daydreamers preferring them to real life.

Maladaptive daydreaming is defined as daydreaming that is both very excessive and extremely immersive. It’s “the ability to daydream in a very unique way, which is more immersive, fanciful, vivid, emotional, than most people,” Dr. Soffer-Dudek explained, coupled with the compulsion to do it “excessively, to the point where it harms your life or impairs different domains of functioning.”

Dr. Soffer-Dudek compared it to watching a soap opera or a movie, “but you’re in the movie, so it’s even more exciting.” People with maladaptive daydreaming can spend hours in the daydream without wanting to stop; the behavior tends to become addictive. In her research, Dr. Soffer-Dudek has observed that maladaptive daydreaming also appears to be more prevalent among young people, though people of any age can experience it.

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