Maladaptive daydreaming: Evidence for an under-researched mental health disorder

Jayne Bigelsen, Jonathan M. Lehrfeld, Daniela S. Jopp, Eli Somer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explores the recently described phenomenon of Maladaptive Daydreaming (MD) and attempts to enhance the understanding of its features. It documents the experiences of 340 self-identified maladaptive daydreamers who spend excessive amounts of time engaged in mental fantasy worlds, in comparison to 107 controls. Our sample included a total of 447 individuals, aged 13-78, from 45 countries who responded to online announcements. Participants answered quantitative and qualitative questions about their daydreaming habits and completed seven questionnaires assessing mental health symptoms. Findings demonstrated that MD differs significantly from normative daydreaming in terms of quantity, content, experience, controllability, distress, and interference with life functioning. Results also demonstrated that Maladaptive Daydreamers endorsed significantly higher rates of attention deficit, obsessive compulsive and dissociation symptoms than controls. In sum, findings suggested that MD represents an under-acknowledged clinical phenomenon that causes distress, hinders life functioning and requires more scientific and clinical attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-266
Number of pages13
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
StatePublished - 1 May 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Inc.


  • Absorption
  • Compulsive fantasy
  • Fantasy prone person
  • Kinesthetic activity
  • Maladaptive daydreaming
  • Stereotypic movement
  • Visual cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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