Daydreaming- the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


Maladaptive daydreaming is the bad and the ugly for sure. But I wanted to also look at the good side of daydreaming, healthy normal daydreaming. The balance we all hope for.  I think knowing what is normal will help us to identify maladaptive behavior easier.

The Good

“According to one recent research survey, we underappreciate the impact of introspection and daydreaming on our cognitive life and individual wellness. Open-ended reflection, Dr. Immordino-Yang of the University of Southern California notes, is critical to our development of personal reasoning and socioemotional well-being. It can help us synthesize learning and experience – to make memory and meaning of them in our lives. Sometimes, however, reflection can favor fantasy to blunt an emotional impact when we’re simply frustrated by or deeply disturbed by the circumstances of our day. Daydreaming can be as protective as it can be productive………. When you daydream, the fact is, you’re exercising your mental muscle. You’re honing your critical and creative thinking. You’re sowing the seed of self-development. You’re owning your evolutionarily bestowed cerebral potential – and its privilege.”

“If you have no fantasies, you’re bored and boring to others. If you can’t distinguish between fantasy and reality, you’re no good to yourself and others. I think life will be happier if you not only fantasize but linger long enough to explore what those fantasies are telling you. Like the fantasies themselves, those messages are unique to every individual, yet the times when they are shared can have impacts on our lives, culture and society.”

The Bad

Daydreaming too much can be bad for your emotions and have negative effects on your life and those around you. Even what would be normal healthy daydreams if used to escape life or put off necessary work can be bad. It can become a bad habit if not controlled. But then there is maladaptive daydreaming that is not by choice and cannot be controlled. It is bad, regardless of the dream itself. It makes adapting to life very hard.

“Fantasies are indispensable to having a fulfilled life, yet there has to be a happy medium. Without fantasies your life is impoverished. If you’re flooded with fantasies, there’s no reality. You need fantasy, but there has to be a way to put the brakes on. Killing your boss may be a pleasurable fantasy and can reduce tension, but murder is a terrible thing. The vast majority of us do maintain a balance but, of course, almost every day we’re presented with another example of someone who crossed the line.”

“Recent studies have shown that daydreaming makes one look miserable. The findings claim that people spend closely half of their waking hours day dreaming, despite the fact whether they are at job or doing something else.

However strange thing to be noticed goes opposite to the perception, that idle thoughts do not make one happy, even if they are pleasant and likely suitable. Cons tarry to it, day dreaming lands us on yearning what possibly might have been instead of what is there.

Researcher Matthew Killingsworth said: `This study shows our mental lives are pervaded, to a remarkable degree, by the non-present.’ The respondents seem to be less excited after allowing their mind wander than they it was before. The experts claimed that one of the probable reasons is that it acts like a wanderer to a neutral or unpleasant topic than to a pleasant one.

Researcher Professor Daniel Gilbert stated: `Many philosophical and religious traditions teach happiness is to be found by living in the moment. They suggest that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.’”

The Ugly

The separation from reality, the nightmare style visions and difficulty interacting with people. These are some of the ugly effects of maladaptive daydreaming. It can go far beyond simply wasting time when you should be doing chores. It can cause depression and steal the joy from life.

“I’m not completely sure what I may have said in the past. Daydreaming is very similar to night dreams, and they’re both wish fulfillment. A person daydreams when they have desires (either conscious or unconscious) which aren’t being fulfilled in real-life. The more someone’s real-life is thwarted, the more they tend to trap themselves in dreaming………A desire comes up, which you have no way of fulfilling in reality, and so your body shoots it to your imagination, in order to avoid anxiety and depression. (This is one way of dealing with thwarted desires in reality)

Daydreaming is an unstable mental state to be in. It’s basically self-induced hallucination. Various energies are being sent through the body wanting fulfillment, and instead of directing those energies toward something outside the self, and making something happen, instead you redirect the energies back inwardly through your imagination.

One problem about fulfilling desires through daydreaming is that it puts you on the edge of neurosis. You’re not necessarily neurotic if you’re fulfilling desires through daydreaming, but you’re oftentimes right on the edge. It doesn’t take many more bad experiences, or thwarted desires before the mind just can’t handle it anymore.”

The black sheep of common daydreaming, these fitful flights of fancy ”run a range of brutal responses and brutal misadventures” and occur to ”substantial percentages of people,” says the author of Daydreaming, a book that combines his findings of three decades of research into mental dalliance.

Typically off-key and violent, sometimes frightening or disturbing, almost always contrary to the daydreamer’s own mores and values, they are figments of imagination that blip onto the mental screen like a teaser for a chain saw massacre flick.

”It is what the analysts call ”ego alien.’ They seem to come from outside of what you’d like to do and how you’d like to think of yourself,” says Klinger.

To make matters worse, they tend to repeat themselves……..”In and of itself, it is probably not going to go anywhere,” says Klinger. ”It is a signal, an indication of something else going on in your life. That may be a matter of concern, but the fact that you are having a thought needn’t be.”

Klinger encourages people to view daydreams as tools of self-understanding,….. But wandering minds want to know: What do the negative daydreams mean? The bloody ones? The lurid ones?

Klinger warns against trying to translate them too literally – a mistake that obviously can be very upsetting……. If the meaning of such episodes can be ”quite different than what they seem,” that doesn’t absolve them of any important meaning at all, says Klinger.

”I try to put these obsessive daydreams into a broader context,” says Klinger, emphasizing that daydreaming has not been thoroughly researched and some conclusions are speculative.

”Daydreams seem to be triggered by things that remind of us what we want or what we fear, which then plays through our head components of that thing . . . But it is necessary to say that no one interpretation is going to be valid for everybody.”


One thought on “Daydreaming- the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  1. […] are detrimental and are more like ‘nightmares’ to them Don’t let your daydreams become ruminative and self-destructive. There are cases where people use daydreams to fulfill desires which cannot be fulfilled in real […]

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