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Dangers of Maladaptive Daydreaming: How it Affects Professional Life

Is my excessive daydreaming harmful? Can maladaptive daydreaming affect my academics and professional life?

“It’s getting uncontrollable. The pleasure I get from it is so pure that I really can’t stop daydreaming, no matter how much I try”.

You are fully aware that your dream characters are not real and there are little to no chances that any of the dream scenarios can take place in real life. Yet, you feel so addicted to your imaginative stories that you just can’t stop dreaming. Whenever you come to real life, you feel that these imaginary characters are literally pulling you into their world. You feel a strong urge to wind up your “session of reality” (!!) and return to the dream world. The force is too strong that even if you know the work at hand is important, you can’t control your mind to stay focused.

Although maladaptive daydreaming is yet not considered to be an addiction, anyone suffering from MD knows it works exactly like any other addiction. It’s like drug or smoking; you know it is harmful and yet you want to keep doing it to get some sort of temporary pleasure. Unlike schizophrenia, where people can’t see the difference between real-world and imaginary ones, in MD, you clearly know everything is unreal, and it is harming your life, yet, you are not able to control it.

Maladaptive Daydreaming and Its Affects Your Professional Life/Academics

Excessive daydreaming can be career-destructor if you are not able to control it. You are not able to concentrate, read, research, and do any activity that requires your mind to stay focused in one place. You notice that you are struggling with deadlines or your grades are lower than your true potential. After each work assignment, project, and test, you feel guilty that you could have done better. But again, to deal with a heavy emotion like guilt and frustration, your mind even stays longer time in dreams than before.

You keep losing interest in your work/studies just because it demands you to be in the reality. You start finding excuses that work is “too difficult”, “too boring”, “not my type”, etc. But in reality, you are not able to concentrate properly as your mind is wandering somewhere else. You just want to complete your work in haste and go back to your dream world as soon as possible. In this haste, the quality and quantity of your work get compromised and you lose chances of promotion, gaining bonuses, or getting good grades. In the worst circumstances, you might get fired from your job due to bad performance or you have to drop your school/college.

As we said earlier, one of the biggest disadvantages of maladaptive daydreaming is that when you lose your job, get a demotion, fail the exam, or get suspended from college, your mind simply brings out silly excuses. For example,

“It wasn’t my calling. when I will follow my true interest, I would perform my best”,

“It was too boring. When I change my major, I’ll do great”,

“I wasn’t performing because there is too much politics in the organization. I am anyways not going to get that promotion/bonus”. 

“There’s no meaning to work hard. My grumpy boss is anyways not going to appreciate it”

“Overall economy is too bad. I am anyways not going to get a job so why bother studying sincerely?”

The Vicious Cycle Continues

Let’s say you find a new job after getting fired or resigning from it or choose a new major after failing or scoring low in the previous subject. Now you think things will change. Initially, you will be able to perform as your mind gets something new and challenging thing to do. But gradually, when you get a good grip on your job/studies, it becomes monotonous and ceases to challenge your mind. As soon as your mind starts getting bore, it will bring you to the vicious excessive daydreaming spiral.

You will notice that the same problem is happening now in your new academics and workplace i.e., missing deadlines, and lack of concentration. Your colleagues and superiors might notice that you are spending much time in your head or if you are careful enough, they wouldn’t simply understand why you are not able to perform.  Nevertheless, the attributes like failure to deliver decent quality work or getting good grades continuously stay present throughout your career. Every time you think the new job would make a difference, but it doesn’t.

The situation becomes more challenging when your work or field of study is indeed uninteresting. Your mind finds an escape in dreams to deal with boredom. But it is not the case all the time. In the same way, workplace politics and unappreciated bosses do exist, but you still need to dive deeply into your reasons for not performing. Having an interesting job and subject to study is important and you should always keep searching for your true passion. But if you see a constant pattern of scoring low due to lack of concentration and losing a job due to lack of performance, make sure you know what’s causing it. Please understand that it might be your maladaptive daydreaming that made you lose your ability to concentrate and not the type of work/subject of study itself.

If you find the pattern of losing in the dreams, then instead of jumping from one job to another or changing your major frequently, you should first start curbing your maladaptive daydreaming tendencies. Because it is a long-term thing and can be as addictive as any other addiction, it will keep making your professional life miserable if you don’t control it.

Final Words on Maladaptive Daydreaming and Its Effects on Professional Life

We really wish there are any scientific methods available to help people suffering from maladaptive daydreaming. It should be taken as seriously as any other psychological disease and addiction. Unfortunately, we don’t have any clinical methods to suggest to you how to get rid of excessive daydreaming. But we have written a series of articles to explore the probable causes and what you can do to reduce the intensity of maladaptive daydreams.

If you feel you or some you know is experiencing the same type of struggle in their career due to maladaptive daydreaming, please share this article with them and let them know that they are not alone. There are millions of people out there that resonate with you. If you want to share your experience with MD, please send your email to We will publish it here in our future articles with your name or anonymously-as per your wish.

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