Parallel lives: A phenomenological study of the lived experience of maladaptive daydreaming

Eli Somer, Liora Somer, Daniela S. Jopp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This qualitative study describes the lived experience of maladaptive daydreaming (MD), an excessive form of unwanted daydreaming that produces a rewarding experience based on a created fantasy of a parallel reality associated with a profound sense of presence. A total of 21 in-depth interviews with persons who self-identified as struggling with MD were analyzed utilizing a phenomenological approach. Interviewees described how their natural capacity for vivid daydreaming had developed into a time-consuming habit that resulted in serious dysfunction. The phenomenology of MD was typified by complex fantasized mental scenarios that were often laced with emotionally compensatory themes involving competency, social recognition, and support. MD could be activated if several requirements were met. Because social interaction seems to be incompatible with this absorbing mental activity, solitude was necessary. In addition, kinesthetic activity and/or exposure to evocative music also appeared to be essential features. Besides delivering a firsthand description of key characteristics of MD, the study also indicates that MD is associated with dysfunctionality for which participants expressed a substantial need for help.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-576
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Trauma and Dissociation
Issue number5
StatePublished - 19 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Taylor & Francis.


  • Absorption
  • fantasizing
  • mind wandering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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