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Daydreamers Anonymous

An update from Cynthia Schupak PhD: Preliminary results from our current study sample.

Thought you all might be interested in a quick summary of some of our initial findings, and a giant
thank-you to those of you who have provided us with invaluable information about your excessive
daydreaming habits – there is still more to explore, and new participants are still trickling in – as well
as some interest from the popular media! Let's keep this rolling...

You are males and females, ages 16 – 60, mostly single, a few in committed relationships or
marriage, of various ethnicities, and hail from the US, UK, Canada, and the Netherlands.

Many of you were understandingly reluctant to share explicit content of your fantasies, but those who
did described a rich variety of story lines and casts of characters that would put many novelists and
screenwriters to shame. Royalty, rescuers, and raconteurs abound, as do music-makers, captains of
industry, inventors, and caretakers. Many of you interact in your fantasies as idealized versions of
yourselves, while others take on the roles of others, or shift back and forth. None of you are boring—
or bored—the most frequently cited advantage to being a daydreamer—though most of you lament
that you aren't able to carry enough of your inventiveness and clarity of purpose with you into the
outside world.

Approximately 85% of you feel that your compelling daydream worlds provide so vivid a contrast
that your day-to-day activities and relationships pale in comparison. Meanwhile, nearly 15% of you
believe that the confidence and knowledge acquired during your fantasies actually enhance your lives.

Here are some of the adjectives you have used to describe how daydreaming makes you feel:
Comforted; stimulated intellectually and emotionally; on a natural high...good and excited;
relaxed...but like an addiction: fine when I'm doing it and stressed when I can't; happy; exhilarated;
[expresses] a normal human need to share...thoughts and emotions...even if they are 'pretend';
rewarding; euphoria...escapism...[though] often followed with dread and shame; motivated;
confident...because it's really me, just magnified; a sense of accomplishment...a guilty pleasure; a
major stress-breaker; fun; exhausting; it's like a's pretty drowning in honey.

What troubles you most about your daydreaming habits was summed up quite appropriately by one
subject who stated (similar to an old song lyric): "It feels like I'm dreaming my life away."

The percentage of daily time you assigned to your daydreaming:

Absolute reported range: 5% to 90%.
Most of you delineated between time when you were working or actively engaged in external tasks
from time when you were alone and permitted yourself to "binge" (occasionally for entire weekends):
Variable (circumstantial) range: 20% - 85%
Mean: 54.5%
20% of you reported chronic sleep problems
5% reported that daydreaming helps you to sleep.

All of you remember having daydreams and fantasies from very early childhood; and only one of you
suspects that a repressed memory of abuse may have contributed to this tendency (this finding, so far,
does not support the theories of Eli Somer, author of the study "Maladaptive Daydreaming" whose 6
subjects were all victims of childhood or adolescent abuse or trauma).

94% of you have tried to limit your daydreaming – using resistance, distraction, and avoidance of
such triggers as music, television, and the internet.

Approximately 25% of you believe that others may perceive you as "unusual" or socially anxious;
while the other 75% of you state that people view you as perfectly normal.
89% of you reported preferring to enact some type of physical movement(s) while daydreaming
(although you can daydream without these movements if necessary):
39% pace or walk
5% twirl
5% swing or roller blade
5% act out occurrences in daydream
5% shake hands quickly
5% wave a string in both hands while pacing
About 20% of you use music to induce/accompany fantasizing

83% of you expressed significant distress regarding the amount of daydreaming you engage in—
most specifically regarding the ways in which your fantasizing has interfered with your ability to be
productive in your daily life – in your social interactions, accomplishment of goals, and academic or
professional success. Primarily, most of you desire an optimal capacity for controlling and/or
balancing the time you spend in your daydream and real-life worlds. One of you lost the ability to
fantasize for over two years, and is now attempting to return to that state.

Approximately 90% of you keep your daydreaming private, discussing it either with no one—even
your parents—or only with close friends/family or therapists. Some treatments that you've reported
trying to address your excessive daydreaming include:
Luvox, Prozac, Adderal, Ritalin, Strattera, neurofeedback, meditation, and mindfulness training (none
of which, of course, have been established clinically as effective treatments for excessive
daydreaming—as this condition is largely unknown to clinicians). Several of you have been
diagnosed with OCD, depression, or other mood/anxiety disorders, which may be considered
comorbid to the primary complaint of excessive daydreaming. They could also conceivably be
reactions to your daydreaming or simply the closest diagnosis your practitioners can imagine—few of
the numerous psychologists/psychiatrists with whom I've spoken have been willing to entertain the
notion that this is a discrete and unitary condition or syndrome – which I am convinced it is.

One subject was tested using QEEG (a specialized electroencephalographic analysis) and was found
to have "excessive alpha wave" activity – a result consistent with active daydreaming and
visualization. This is exciting news. One of the goals of my original subject (the wonderful Patient X
who introduced me to your exclusive society) and myself, is to obtain relevant brain imaging data that
might potentially elucidate differences in the behavior or connectivity of the default-mode (mind-
wandering) network of the brains of low/normal fantasy-prone individuals when compared with
excessive daydreamers. As a biopsychologist (read: nerdy scientist) rather than a clinician, this is an
area of great interest to me. Meanwhile, read about the default mode network (M. Raichle, 2001);
"secret schizoids" (Masterson & Klein, 1995); and the DSM-IV description of ADHD-NOS—all
address daydreaming from different perspectives.

Importantly, virtually all of you have stated that you have no trouble distinguishing reality from
fantasy; and that you are acutely aware of the difference between what is imagined and what is real.
So far, it doesn't appear that any of you suffer from any sort of dissociative disturbance; which will
continue to be a salient factor in describing and ultimately classifying this syndrome.

There is still a good deal of material I need to summarize, and new recruits are volunteering their
stories – so I'll continue these updates. Also, there has been some interest from the popular press, and
two brave souls have stepped up to offer their insights to writers who may help bring our cause the
attention it deserves. The illustrious "amethysterose" – a courageous and determined instigator who
initiated the forums which many of you have joined – has declared her intent to go public, as the
"poster child" and spokesperson for excessive daydreamers the world over. I will permit her to post
her own feelings on assuming this role, but needless to say we owe her a dept of gratitude.

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