April 5, 2018

The problem of too much daydreaming.

I like the animation here, but I have some trouble understanding how this is a problem other than as the problem of believing you have a problem:



Why is this upsetting her? And how do you get daydreams that are so vivid and compelling? Why would you be unsatisfied with this super-power that seems to open pathways to art and ecstasy? NPR:
M worries that she has a newly diagnosed condition known as maladaptive daydreaming. Now, it's not in the mental health Bible, aka the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and doctors don't know what causes it. There's no official treatment....

M loves her never-ending story, yet she acknowledges her secret is isolating. "As much as I hate the feeling of being torn and being in two places, I'm not ready to give up my daydreaming and I'm not ready to give up my characters and the feelings that those daydreams give me," she says.
From the "maladaptive daydreaming" link, here are symptoms of the "newly diagnosed condition":
  • extremely vivid daydreams with their own characters, settings, plots, and other detailed, story-like features
  • daydreams triggered by real-life events
  • difficulty completing everyday tasks
  • difficulty sleeping at night
  • an overwhelming desire to continue daydreaming
  • performing repetitive movements while daydreaming
  • making facial expressions while daydreaming
  • whispering and talking while daydreaming
  • daydreaming for lengthy periods (many minutes to hours)

Here's my idea for a treatment: write fiction or poetry or draw and paint. Then other people will see what you're doing and probably support your work instead of treating you as though you're too withdrawn and self-isolating. And you'll get some real-world substance to what seems like only dreamland. You don't have to share your artwork. It can be like a diary.

44 comments:

Ann Althouse said...

It seems similar to the problem/"problem" of reading a lot.

Ann Althouse said...

Or playing music for a number of hours a day that seems weird to other people.

tcrosse said...

Or blogging.

ALP said...

Good lord - I get the impression that as life gets better and better for women in the US (despite what feminist SJW's think), one must dig deeper and deeper for new and exotic female maladies.

As a young child I was always thrilled when bedtime came as I could spend at least 20 minutes in "daydreams" before I fell asleep. Kids doing that today probably end up on prescription drugs.

Henry said...

It seems similar to the mental illness of not having meaningful work:

Get a Cow:

In the early days of the 21st century, a South African psychiatrist named Derek Summerfeld went to Cambodia, at a time when antidepressants were first being introduced there. He began to explain the concept to the doctors he met. They listened patiently and then told him they didn’t need these new antidepressants, because they already had anti-depressants that work. He assumed they were talking about some kind of herbal remedy.

He asked them to explain, and they told him about a rice farmer they knew whose left leg was blown off by a landmine. He was fitted with a new limb, but he felt constantly anxious about the future, and was filled with despair. The doctors sat with him, and talked through his troubles. They realised that even with his new artificial limb, his old job—working in the rice paddies—was leaving him constantly stressed and in physical pain, and that was making him want to just stop living. So they had an idea. They believed that if he became a dairy farmer, he could live differently. So they bought him a cow. In the months and years that followed, his life changed. His depression—which had been profound—went away. “You see, doctor,” they told him, the cow was an “antidepressant”.


Comically, my Google to find this article that I vaguely remembered, found other cow-cures-depression articles, including this, from Heifer:

Cow Remedies Armenian Farmer's Depression.

I don't know if a cow can cure daydreaming, but it sure might change what you daydream about.

TerriW said...

None of your posts today (yet) have been about Trump. Is that a first since the election? Rare, surely.

I suppose that could be considered a good sign, or a bad sign, on the state of the news and culture.

Anonymous said...

Didn't James Thurber tell that story a long time ago?

Yancey Ward said...

This is either not a problem, or if it is, then any hobby is a problem.

Yancey Ward said...

whyswhs,

Yes! As I was listening to that bit from NPR, I was wondering if anyone had coined Walter Mitty Syndrome.

Yancey Ward said...

And I just Googled it, and it has been.

Freeman Hunt said...

"Now take reality without adulterants like a good girl."

Sounds like daydreaming is her hobby. So what?

Is "maladptive daydreaming" a diagnosis specific to cultures suffering from efficiency mania?

tcrosse said...

A Spoonful of Sugar makes the medicine go down.

Ann Althouse said...

"None of your posts today (yet) have been about Trump. Is that a first since the election? Rare, surely."

It's more or less true of yesterday and almost true of the day before.

I kind of explained it 2 days ago, when I said "I feel almost as if I cannot read the mainstream news sites anymore."

I glance at stories and my reaction is: cut the drama, stop the fakery, I think you're wasting my time.

Also, this isn't a news feed.

tcrosse said...

None of your posts today (yet) have been about Trump.

They don't have to be in order for Trump to show up in the comments.

tim in vermont said...

I don’t know man. I just finished writing The Ballad of Yon Yonson in the other thread because I couldn’t stop until I finished it, and here comes this post! Maybe I have a condition!

Yancey Ward said...

I wonder how many progressives are suffering by day-dreaming about Trump's impeachment?

tim in vermont said...

Who am I kidding? Of course I have a condition. I was lucky to be able to monetize it over my working life, and I am lucky to be able to indulge it in my retirement.

tim in vermont said...

BTW, I am enjoying “Theft By Finding”

TerriW said...

"Also, this isn't a news feed"

It's more that the feeling of "everything is about him, even when it's not" is starting to fade.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Why would you be unsatisfied with this super-power that seems to open pathways to art and ecstasy?

Because reality intrudes and you have to face up to the fact that Hilary! isn't (and never will be) President?

Ann Althouse said...

"They don't have to be in order for Trump to show up in the comments."

Yeah, I'm tired of the way everything has to be about Trump.

I was reading a WaPo article this morning, "He thought something was wrong with the raccoon. Then it stood on its hind legs." It was about raccoons with distemper. The highest-rated comment was: "Around here they wear little MAGA hats." And someone added, "It was pretty clear trump suffers from Malignant narcissism but maybe it’s distemper?! Or a combo?"

Ugh. Nowhere is safe. I'm about to stand up on my hind legs and snarl.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Day dreaming, just like vitamins, can be overdone. Taken in too large a dose.

If we didn't have day dreams, flights of fancy, random thoughts, imaginative ideas and stories in our heads, we wouldn't have civilization, airplanes, computers, movies, books, works of art, philosophy and so on.

Daydreaming is an essential part of our mind, needs to be exercised and even encouraged.

However, like anything, daydreaming can be maladaptive or become an activity that is done to extremes. Daydreaming that becomes and endless loop of thoughts like the snake that eats its own tail.... Daydreaming to the extent that you forget about the rest of life, become so distracted that you can't function in life can be a real problem.

Althouse's ideas of how to channel those excessive daydreaming propensities are very good ones. Keep a diary. Online blog. Draw your dreams. Write your dreams. Sing and compose about your dreams. Talk about your dreams to your spouse or close friends. Once you have an outlet, the excessive debilitating focus will become something tangible, real and possibly even contribute to the rest of humanities pool of knowledge.

Dream and then accomplish something based on your dreams. It is a human feat.

Ann Althouse said...

Here's this guy, Trump, and he's basically the most interesting person to arise in American history in my lifetime, and I'm now bored with him. Not him, exactly, but other people saying things about him.

traditionalguy said...

Conversation and wit are their own reality. They make people happy and make them think. And the reactions you can get are priceless.

At Church Supper last night I broke into line in frontof a smiling lady. We talked about another lady we know who is going into surgery next week for a laminectomy. That topic became the fear of death, and I dropped the comment that I was dead 11 minutes once, but am fine now.

Her reaction was, " That must be why you are so crazy." I better act more religious next time.

Ann Althouse said...

"Althouse's ideas of how to channel those excessive daydreaming propensities are very good ones. Keep a diary. Online blog. Draw your dreams. Write your dreams. Sing and compose about your dreams. Talk about your dreams to your spouse or close friends. Once you have an outlet, the excessive debilitating focus will become something tangible, real and possibly even contribute to the rest of humanities pool of knowledge."

But, you know, you could just decide you're an artist in a silent, unseen medium, and that it's very pure and conceptual. You don't need to clutter the world with objects or insist that other people look at what you've done. Maybe the mature artist only works in the realm of the mind and needs no audience.

Again, I think the real problem here is the woman's sense of guilt, that she's doing something wrong. Give yourself credit for not hurting anything and for having a strong inner life. In another time, a person who does this could be seen as a saint, in endless rapt contemplation of God.

I wonder if she is not burdened by the stereotyped expectations of women, that her attention should be riveted on her husband and child. She's asking: Why aren't they enough for me? Do I not feel enough love? Why are other women so overflowing with love for their loved ones while I choose to commune with characters who don't exist?

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

Dreams of Wisconsin snows as far as the eye can see...It's Road Trip Time. Come South and see the pre-Trumpian days Most Popular man alive. Tiger Woods is actually back and in the running for Bobby Jones' old Invitational Title in Augusta. Will Tiger Master it? Only his spine knows for sure.

D said...

When I was young, I liked Blondies "Dreaming". Good drums, nice voice, liked the break part about the turnstiles. Here I was, ever since, thinking like Ms Harry, in that Dreaming is free. Oh, blessed naivete!!

(I also sang along with Blondie, without too much overregard about the boy/girl aspect. I somehow knew in my preteens that singing along meant singing along. Thats it. Sure, maybe it can mean something more, to someone else, but thats like George Costanza pestering the old guy about his not thinking about death.

Sometimes, you are free to choose to get up out of the booth when Georges go on: life's too short!)

D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

You don't need to clutter the world with objects or insist that other people look at what you've done. Maybe the mature artist only works in the realm of the mind and needs no audience.

True. There is no real need or obligation to do anything about your daydreams. For many they are personal and internal.

Unless your propensity to day dream is really truly harming your life, as in you aren't eating, cleaning yourself, living in filth... etc....dream on.

traditionalguy said...

In all seriousness the older we get the more we dream of the past as if we are there again.I do it while reading a book, like the book tunes me into another channel.

And Scripture predicts that. See, Joel 2:17 quoted by Peter in his Pentecost speech in Acts 2:17. He was trying to explain the Last days to the stunned crowd.

Geoff Matthews said...

The problem with your suggestions is that writing poetry, drawing, etc., is harder than daydreaming.
Daydreaming is easy and it can be fullfilling. But it doesn't accomplish anything. And that's the problem.

Bad Lieutenant said...

I dropped the comment that I was dead 11 minutes once, but am fine now.

Her reaction was, " That must be why you are so crazy." I better act more religious next time.



Don't waste your time. Old lady people-radar is almost as good as a good dog's. Your secret is out. Perhaps if you kill he before she talks...

William Chadwick said...

I encourage statist pseudo-liberals to do MORE daydreaming. Keep what Thomas Sowell so aptly called "the Vision of the Anointed" to the realm of daydreams while taking your sadomasochistic power fantasies to the leather bars where they belong. And then--and this is the beauty part--LEAVE THE REST OF US THE HELL ALONE.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

One of our (husband and I) favorite activities is daydreaming together. We buy a $5 lottery ticket a few times in the months, because why not? You can't win if you don't play.

We are under no illusion that we are going to win. The fun is to sit and daydream about what you would DO with the money if you actually did win. Trips? Remodel the house? Build a new house? Buy a vacation place? Give money away? Set up trusts for family members? Fund projects for the community that we have been wanting? Indulgences that we don't need and can't afford now? (I want a 1949 Buick Roadmaster ...because reasons)

Endorphins are released by the pleasant daydreams and then back to reality.

tim in vermont said...

Daydreaming is easy and it can be fullfilling. But it doesn't accomplish anything. And that’s the problem.

I bought this program called Scrivener, and every day, in addition to the stuff I write here, I write 1,500 words on whatever the Hell I feel like. No plans to publish it. it make me feel better.

William Chadwick said...

Forgot to add: I've always liked Thoreau's "Build castles in the air--but put foundations under them." (Not you, "liberals"! Keep your castles--especially the dungeons part--in the air where they belong and are harmless.)

n.n said...

The problem of idle hands, and a liberal mind, is a minority privilege.

Tank said...

The key to this story is in the name of the story, "When daydreaming gets in the way of real life." Most people do daydream to some extent, but it is an "issue" when the daydreaming interferes with living a satisfying life. Althouse suggests, "Here's my idea for a treatment: write fiction or poetry or draw and paint," but, that's exactly it, the neurotic will not "do" anything, they will just daydream. Again, if you daydream and it does not interfere with living a satisfying life, there is no problem, but if it does interfere, you need to learn to be a "doer." It is phase Tank went through a long time ago.

Baronger said...

Oh, yes I have this condition. On the plus side I'm never bored. Fully plotted daydreams with vivid characters since I was in elementary school. Some of the "dreams" would go on for years. I wonder if that is what helped me develop my exceptional memory. Now I use it mainly to aid my writing.

The Godfather said...

I don't know how seriously to take "M" the person in the video, but if I suspend disbelief and treat her as though she is a real person that I know and have some connection with, then I would tell her that the daydreams are the symptoms, not the desease. The disease, if there is one, is her falure to deal with the challenges and responsibilities of her life. Writing poetry or blogging or joining a re-elect-Hillary group or whatever wouldn't be an improvement, if she used those activities as cover for her failure to deal with her life. On the other hand, if she IS dealing adequately with life and is concerned that there's something somehow wrong with daydreaming per se, she should chill out and enjoy daydreaming or whatever gives her enjoyment. Even blogging.

pacwest said...

I do love to daydream. Like the comment above, the 20 min before sleep is a great time. Not sure that is really 'day'dreaming though. The nice thing about daydreaming is you are never bored. And can lead a full rich life and still get plenty of daydreaming time. I've never had a problem with it interfering with real life.

tim in vermont said...

I would never take drugs, for example, to stop daydreaming. It would be a kind of suicide.

Robert Cook said...

"Here's this guy, Trump, and he's basically the most interesting person to arise in American history in my lifetime...."

What?

This must be an ironic or rhetorical statement, surely.