Maladaptive daydreaming should be considered a mental health disorder, Eli Somer of the University of Haifa in Israel, who came up with the term, told the Wall Street Journal. In fact, maladaptive daydreamers devote an average of 57 percent of their waking hours to fantasy, Somer and his colleagues reported in a new study in the journal Consciousness and Cognition. On particularly dreamy days, this went up to 69 percent. By comparison, people without the condition spend 16 percent of their time daydreaming.
After surveying 340 self-labeled maladaptive daydreamers recruited from online chat rooms, the scientists found that these people also had more reveries concerning fictional characters and intricate plots than others. They also had high rates of attention deficit and obsessive compulsive symptoms. Nearly all of them felt that their daydreaming interfered with their sleep, chores, relationships or life goals. Many felt as though they had an addiction.
“It stops me from interacting in real world and real people,” one person told the researchers. “I can’t concentrate on studies. I skipped school a lot just to be in my world.”
Another reported having 35 distinct characters in her daydreams. “I cannot remember a time when my mind was alone, with just myself. They have always been there.”