Parallel lives: A phenomenological study of the lived experience of maladaptive daydreaming

TitleParallel lives: A phenomenological study of the lived experience of maladaptive daydreaming
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsSomer, E, Somer, L, Jopp, D
JournalJournal of Trauma & Dissociation
Date Publishedmar
Keywordsabsorption, Fantasizing, mind-wandering

This qualitative study describes the lived experience of maladaptive daydreaming (MD), an excessive form of unwanted daydreaming that produces a rewarding experience based on a created fantasy of a parallel reality associated with a profound sense of presence. Twenty-one in-depth interviews with persons self-identified as struggling with MD were analyzed utilizing a phenomenological approach. Interviewees described how their natural capacity for vivid daydreaming had developed into a time-consuming habit that resulted in serious dysfunction. The phenomenology of MD was typified by complex fantasized mental scenarios that were often laced with emotionally compensatory themes involving competency, social recognition and support. MD could be activated if several requirements were met. First, because social interaction seems to be incompatible with this absorbing mental activity, solitude was necessary. Additionally, kinesthetic activity and/or exposure to evocative music also appeared to be essential features. Besides delivering first-hand description of key characteristics of MD, the study also indicated that MD is associated with dysfunctionality for which participants expressed a substantial need for help.

Refereed DesignationRefereed