Daydreaming has a dark side: are your fantasies holding you back? -Dlight News

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JAYNE BIGELSEN was always a dreamer. When she was a child, television fed her imagination. “I would watch certain shows over and over again…and create my own episodes,” she says. She found daydreaming an effective way to dispel boredom. By his teens, however, Bigelsen’s fantasy world had become more absorbing. “The first thing I would do when I woke up in the morning would be continue one of my stories,” she says. “I remember being frustrated when I ran into a friend because I had to stop my story and talk to him.”

Everyone knows the joys of daydreaming. Whether you’re envisioning your next vacation or an ideal romantic partner, it’s nice to let your mind drift into a stream of consciousness where aspirations come to life. Better yet, research shows that far from being a waste of time, daydreaming has all kinds of benefits and is particularly important for brain development. That’s okay, because we spend a lot of time doing it. Two thirds of children have imaginary friends. One in 10 invents fantasy worlds or “paracosms”. And when psychologists tracked the mental states of 15,000 volunteers, they found that adults spend about half of their waking hours daydreaming.

However, you can have too much of a good thing. As Bigelsen discovered, excessive daydreaming can undermine one’s ability to cope with everyday life. Psychologists call this maladaptive daydreaming. They believe it can be addictive and its prevalence increased during the covid-19 pandemic. Much of this condition remains a mystery, but we are beginning to discover who is prone to it, what causes it, and how it can be…

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