Maladaptive Daydreaming

[This was originally a post about maladaptive daydreaming.]

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‘MDD’: This condition causes intense daydreaming that distracts a person from their real life. Many times, real-life events trigger day dreams.

“This was developed as a habit over 5 years”. While I don’t have your condition, my day dreams can be very intense causing me to move impulsively or feel sensations similarly to when I am dreaming. As such I assume your issue is the result of not being able to control your day dreams. Something positive you can do is attempt to have your day dream help you study as a student, this will be easier than getting rid of it.

Meditating will help you control and filter out the MDD over time, which may lead to it ceasing.

Since you can’t get this treated its better to do things to get rid of it, the obvious thing you can do is spend time with friends which you can make(real friends). As you have said meeting people on its own doesn’t help, I would say you need to meet people you really like and get along with. Being lonely may have been the initial cause of this. I know its not the best thing when you have to study, hence I strongly advise you to try meditating.

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This is the first time I have heard of this condition. I wonder if it would help to seek EEG neurofeedback therapy to learn to train your brain waves. People produce brainwaves in different patterns, as you probably know. Brainwaves are typically analyzed to see how a subject produces different frequencies (Theta, Delta, Alpha, Beta, Gamma). Alpha and Beta are common wavelengths when you are awake and attentive. Theta and Delta are typically indications of either sleep or daydreaming states. Some people may produce an excess of waves in the Theta frequency range, which is a fairly slow frequency. Neurofeedback training can help you become more aware of what is happening in your brain and gain more control. So, you might learn to reduce your Theta and (for example) increase your Beta or Alpha at times when you otherwise tend to go into your daydream mode.

If this is a subject you are interested in, you can look for neurofeedback professionals in your area. I recall that there are professional associations that you would want your professional to be a member of, just to make sure you are getting help from somebody with a real background. Caveat emptor.

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I find the suggestions of meditation and neurofeedback are similar, from my experience using both for my own reasons. My method of meditation is similar to self-hypnosis. Meditation, neurofeedback, and hypnosis are good, but living life in your own way is also good if you can clearly imagine your ideal life.

  • Try to:
    sleep enough
    eat properly
    find time for your friends
    find joy in your work however you can

I sometimes slip quietly into my own thoughts and I am unfamiliar with maladaptive daydreaming. I did have a touch of depression a few years ago and I was amazed at the difference sleep, food, friendship, a plant growing at my desk, and weekly emails to an old friend all combine to bring me out of my internal thoughts and out into thoughts of the outside world. If you can speak with a professional (medical or spiritual or both) then you can get tailored advice to suit your needs, but it can’t hurt to get enough rest and nutrition and time with loved ones.

There was a guy interviewed on the Magnetic Memory Method podcast and he teaches people how to improve their inner vision. He mentioned that his inner vision is so acute that sometimes he cannot tell the difference between what is real or imagined.

I have a friend who practiced lucid dreaming a lot and he got to the point that he often didn’t know if he was awake or asleep. It become too much for him and he let go of the practice and returned to normal.

The movie A Beautiful Mind also features a man who works out the difference between his imaginations and reality.

Anyway, the root of it is excessive subjectivity, IMO. The antidote is objectivity. So I would not recommend eyes-closed meditation because that would encourage subjectivity. It would be better to do something physical like yoga or Tai Chi or running or rock climbing that requires focused attention on real external things.

Also, you can talk to your mind and tell it that you need to focus and see what’s real. This is not fighting the mind, but directing it.

In a subjective world you don’t really need other people. Being around other people is the opposite of that. Other people require that you be present with them.

At the end of the day the place of freedom is the present moment according to Eastern philosophy. Escaping in the past, the future, fantasy, etc, are just forms of pain. And the more we learn that, the less we want them. Have you read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle?

Edit: as an afterthought. There is a principle called over-focus and under-focus. What you’re describing sounds to me a lot like under-focus. A lot of people under-focus. Getting swept up in emotions is under-focus - some people are chronically carried away by their inner experience of emotions and it causes them many problems in daily life. Same with people who over-focus on physical sensations in their body at the expense of being present. I think it is a similar dynamic to the escapism of addiction.

I don’t think ‘Maladaptive daydreaming’ is a recognized mental disorder either in the DSM 5, or the ICD 10. As such there would be no specified treatment course recommended (specific individuals excepted of course).

If there are no neural issues, then a developed treatment would likely be based on behavioral techniques, unfortunately such issues could not be decided without a body of appropriate research being completed first

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I agree, the type of meditation I use is the “moving” style which my jiujitsu classmates and I learned to use in order to be prepared for changes in our environment/safety. In this style, the mental noise is hushed so that the reality of the moment is the focus of attention because in each moment our reality can change and if we are unaware of our surroundings then we cannot protect ourselves from our surroundings.

A bit of a dreamer here too, i’m not really sure if i can call it maladaptive but i have encountered similar problems as you.
I think I mostly use it as an escape from difficult things, along with music, which i often base my daydream stories around. I think i’ve done it for 3-4 years, i’ve only begun seeing it as a problem about a year ago. I found myself daydreaming during every possible free moment, like going between rooms or walking up the stairs, and i’ve been getting worried about my attention span.

A thing that helped me, is to simply write it down. I mostly dream up stories in some fictional world and it often happens that i get stuck on certain “scenes” for a very long time and i’ll be constantly repeating these in my head. But when i write these scenes on paper, i think it kinda “calms” my brain knowing that the info is now preserved somewhere external, rather than internal, and that helps me stop a bit.

Also, just by writing it changes my perspective and made me realise just how ridiculous these stories were. Maybe if you try and write down details about this imaginary partner or the youtube videos you talk in, it will help?