Representations of maladaptive daydreaming and the self: A qualitative analysis of drawings

Eli Somer, Liora Somer, Naomi Halpern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents an inquiry of art products produced by 9 individuals with maladaptive daydreaming who provided pictorial and verbal descriptions of both their condition and themselves. We found that the perceived benefits of maladaptive daydreaming for our respondents included the ownership of a self-controlled means of emotional regulation that served as protection from grim external and internal realities combined with the gratifying joy of an easily accessible internal entertainment mechanism. Although such daydreaming was depicted as an intensely rewarding experience, there was also an allusion to diminished sense of control over the flow of fantasies. The self in the artwork of participants was often represented as a fragmented experience of duality: an inert, and an emotionally dismal, dreary and dysfunctional sense of existence in reality compared to an emotionally rich, lively and pleasurable experience associated with their gratifying states of consciousness. This schism was pictorially conveyed through: (1) graphic boundaries that demarcated the two distinct states of consciousness, (2) a richer palette of colors applied to represent the inner world and (3) thematically, an inner world represented as more busy and rewarding compared to a sense of emptiness or malfunction that emanates from representations of reality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-110
Number of pages9
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
StatePublished - Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • Art
  • Drawing
  • Maladaptive daydreaming
  • Self-representation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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