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Childhood Antecedents and Maintaining Factors in Maladaptive Daydreaming

Somer, Eli PhD; Somer, Liora MA; Jopp, Daniela S. PhD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: June 2016 - Volume 204 - Issue 6 - p 471–478
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000507
Original Articles

This study explored the fantasy activity of 16 individuals who were seeking online peer-support and advice for maladaptive daydreaming (MD). MD is an under-researched mental activity described as persistent vivid fantasy activity that replaces human interaction and/or interferes with important areas of functioning. We employed a grounded theory methodology that yielded seven common themes presented as a sequential descriptive narrative about the nature, precursors, and consequences of MD. The presented “storyline” included the following themes: (1) daydreaming as an innate talent for vivid fantasy; (2) daydreaming and social isolation—a two-way street; (3) the role of trauma in the development of MD; (4) the rewards of daydreaming; (5) the insatiable yearning for daydreaming; (6) shame and concealment; (7) unsuccessful treatment attempts. A main conclusion of our study is that there is an urgent need for early identification of MD and its correct diagnoses in adulthood.

*School of Social Work, University of Haifa; †The Interdisciplinary Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Sexual Abuse, Bani Zion Medical Center, Haifa, Israel; ‡Institute of Psychology, Université de Lausanne; and §Swiss Centre of Competence in Research LIVES–Overcoming Vulnerability: Life Course Perspectives, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.

Send reprint requests to Eli Somer, PhD, School of Social Work, University of Haifa, 199 Aba Khoushy Avenue, Haifa 3498838, Israel. E-mail:

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