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Am I Maladaptive Daydreaming?

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From a teen in the U.S.: I started googling about something that I do, and have done for years, to see if anyone else on the internet has posted about it or mentioned it. The closest thing I could find was some stuff about Maladaptive Daydreaming. I’m almost certain this isn’t it because, it’s not necessarily stationary daydreaming or pacing, per say, like everyone else describes. Its more so that I imagine these scenarios in my head, with fictional characters or even taking into account real people I know just fast forwarded a few years down the road, and I…act them out?

Like I’ll walk around and pretend that the scenario is actually happening in the moment and that my actions actually matter. Like I said, I’ve done this for at least since I was around 8-10 and I’l be 20 soon, it’s always made me feel “better”; I guess is a way to describe it? Like it gives me something to do and focus on that isn’t the things I have to do everyday, but I’m left feeling unfulfilled when I step out of the scenario and faced with “reality”. I’m kind of bad at explaining, and honestly not sure how else to explain it. I guess the overall question is, is this normal? Could it be maladaptive daydreaming? Or have I just been using the same coping mechanism since i was a child?

Am I Maladaptive Daydreaming?

Answered by on -


I don’t think what you are describing is maladaptive daydreaming. The stories in your head are not interfering with your ability to function. You did mention that it may be a coping mechanism, but you didn’t give me information about what you may have been coping from when you were young. Yes, we all have to develop coping skills in order to manage an unpredictable world. But if you were coping from traumatic events, the scenarios may have been a way for you to escape whatever was going on. If so, it would not be unusual for it to take on a life of its own.

It’s also possible that you are a fiction writer in the making. Many successful novelists report that they started telling stories to themselves and others when they were young. Those stories were a way to get ready to be the writers they later became. I would hate to see that kind of thinking be pathologized into an illness. If that is true for you, maybe it’s time to start writing your scenarios down to see if they are the seeds of a novel.

The key question to ask when looking at any behavior is whether it is getting in the way of social, educational, or occupational functioning. If it isn’t, it isn’t a “problem” to be solved so much as an interesting idiosyncracy. If it is getting in your way, I hope you will make an appointment with a mental health counselor to talk about it more fully.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Am I Maladaptive Daydreaming?

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2019). Am I Maladaptive Daydreaming?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 6, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 29 Nov 2019 (Originally: 2 Dec 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 29 Nov 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.