What is obsessive daydreaming syndrome and how to deal with it

What is obsessive daydreaming syndrome and how to deal with it

Sometimes you want to turn off your phone, sit down and just dream about how good life would be if one event led to another. Such dreams can be both a source of inspiration and an obstacle to happiness. ABOUT Intrusive daydreaming is said to occur when episodic daydreaming begins to control our lives, causing us to become fixated on illusions.

  • What is this
  • Symptoms
  • Causes
  • Consequences
  • How to get rid of
  • Expert comments

The material was commented on:

Katerina Kaloeva, psychologist, gestalt therapist, Alter service specialist;

Armenui Arakelyan, psychotherapist at the Semeynaya clinic network.

What are intrusive dreams?

Still from the film “What Dreams May Come”

Obsessive dreams are dreams that do not let a person go and take him into their world, shielding him from reality. All people tend to dream, but dreams become obsessive when a person prefers to live his life in them, and not in the surrounding reality. Some dreamers have waking dreams that are similar to soap operas, vivid and eventful, in which an idealized version of themselves operates, and the characters do not age over the years.

What is obsessive daydreaming syndrome and how to deal with it

Symptoms of obsessive daydreaming

Still from the film “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar”

It is not difficult to distinguish obsessive dreams from ordinary ones – usually this state becomes obsessive in nature and negatively affects real life and communication (2). Obsessive dreams are characterized by:

  • Extraordinary impression. People with obsessive dreams report that these episodes are incredibly vivid and detailed, with unusual characters, settings, and plots.
  • Connection with real life events or stimuli, which force you to dive into fantasy worlds to escape reality.
  • Difficulty performing everyday tasks. Those who suffer from intrusive daydreaming become so deeply immersed in their fantasy world that it interferes with their productivity and functioning.
  • Preferring the real world to the dream. Often people refuse an invitation to go somewhere or a hobby in favor of their obsession.
  • Restless sleep or insomnia. Due to constant intrusive dreams, sleep disturbances can occur.
  • Compulsive desires. Often such people simply cannot help but go into their fantasies, resist this desire or control it.
  • Music may precipitate or be associated with the onset of episodes.
  • Gesticulation and facial expressions a person’s dreams often correspond to what he is dreaming about.

Causes of obsessive dreams

Still from the TV series Twin Peaks
Still from the TV series Twin Peaks

Scientists have not yet been able to identify the exact reasons causing this condition. Many agree that the cause may be a traumatic event in the past. Doctors also tend to believe that obsessive dreams are a behavioral addiction similar to gambling addiction (3). Therefore, the reasons may be similar:

  • a need to escape real-life difficulties such as social anxiety and childhood trauma;
  • using dreams to solve problems that seem insurmountable in real life;
  • dreams seem so useful that it becomes difficult to part with them;
  • dissociative tendencies, such as excessive focus on internal thoughts or mistrust of the senses;
  • experienced bullying at school;
  • lack of attention from relatives in childhood;
  • Excessive stress and lack of emotional support that interfere with interaction with others.

Consequences of obsessive dreams

Still from the film “What Dreams May Come”

There is no evidence that intrusive daydreaming can lead to other conditions, but it can reduce quality of life and cause social problems:

  • The ability to concentrate will decrease.
  • the ability to be productive at work and school will decrease.
  • there will be a neglect of relationships in real life.
  • There will be concerns about managing daydreams.

There are also more serious disorders with which this syndrome is associated. A direct connection between these conditions has not been identified, but some studies show that obsessive dreams can be harbingers of these diseases (4):

  • depression,
  • anxiety disorders,
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),
  • ADHD,
  • bipolar disorder,
  • borderline personality disorder,
  • dissociative disorder,
  • psychosis.

How to get rid of obsessive dreams

Still from the film “All Bo’s Fears”
Still from the film “All Bo’s Fears”

First, it’s worth determining how intrusive the dreams have become. A test that addresses different aspects of the influence of dreams on real life can help with this. (2). If the test shows a rather positive result, you should contact a specialist to confirm your concerns and choose a tactic to get out of the obsessive state.

An interesting technique was used in the treatment of obsessive dreams – doctors recommended changing the plot of dreams so that the ending would be negative. This helped reduce the number of episodes or eliminate them altogether (4).

Expert comments

Still from the film “Foam of Days”
Still from the film “Foam of Days”