Can fantasies ever become real?

“The things of the night cannot be explained in the day, because they do not then exist,” said Hemingway, and in this reflects the nature of all dreamlike activity. The meaning that exists in a daydream dwindles and collapses once brought to reality. They are two planes that cannot be literally translated one to another, yet transforming former into latter can and eventually must happen if you are to be free from its grip. But it comes with a twist. Turning fantasy into reality means understanding it. If fantasy is an indirect expression of unconscious activity, understanding where it came from, where it points to, what it tries to embody and compensate for equals translating it to the language of waking consciousness.

“The same feeling of not belonging, of futility, wherever I go: I pretend interest in what matters nothing to me, I bestir myself mechanically or out of charity, without ever being caught up, without ever being somewhere. What attracts me is elsewhere, and I don’t know what that elsewhere is.” – E. M. Cioran

Fantasies are projections, emotional content that got cut off from ego, from conscious experience of oneself, and taken to exist elsewhere as a separate entity, forgetting its relation to its source with whom it could no longer coexist. For instance, if you suffer from low self-esteem, emotions that require healthy levels of self-esteem to be expressed in the first place, such as self-acceptance or love, will not be able to be experienced consciously and spontaneously as an integral part of ego due to an internal conflict, and will consequently separate from you and manifest externally as fantasies that indirectly arouse these feelings in you through your stories and characters. It’s a shift of perspective; emotions originally supposed to be felt by you are now experienced by your characters, which, by being cast outside yourself, gain a certain degree of autonomy. It’s like having a second sense of self outside yourself, but this second self is never conscious and thus never fully capable of sustaining life on both sides. You may feed it with all kinds of fancy emotions, but you will always remain hungry and craving because the other half starves.

Carl Jung, whose entire psychoanalytic research was dedicated to studying workings of fantasy, wrote that to overcome and dissolve fantasies is to restore their contents to the individual who has involuntarily lost them by projecting them outside himself. They disappear spontaneously when what was projected outside of ego returns to ego.

But what does it mean to restore their contents? Please note that we are talking here about restoring emotional content of fantasies, not literal one.

When particular feeling, which you failed to experience yourself, separates from you and manifests through fantasy, what used to be a subject – that is, a part of you – now seemingly becomes an object, something distinct from you, something existing elsewhere. By starting to perceive the content of your fantasies as objects, you start to perceive them as something to be physically acquired, literally possessed or acted out in real life in order to stop craving.

But this doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because fantasy isn’t an object – it’s that second sense of self, a subject. To reclaim an object means to possess it physically, but to reclaim a subject means retrieve the emotions trapped within daydreams, to relearn how to experience them. Dissolving fantasy and reintegrating it into the self from which it separated means to release emotions that underlie it, not to possess its contents literally.

You can’t have a literal company of your imaginary companion and maybe you can’t have a PhD in nuclear physics you fantasize about, and no, you cannot undo your abusive childhood if you had one. Instead, you must identify what sort of emotions these scenarios awake in you. What emotions in particular are you coming in touch with when having an episode of MD? Is it a sense of belonging? Emotional intimacy? Is it attention? Can you experience these emotions in normal waking life when surrounded by others? If no, why not? What prevents you? Identify what traits are missing from your conscious self that are needed for you to be able to experience these emotions. If you fantasize obsessively about love, it probably doesn’t mean that you don’t have love in real life and are doing it because you are lonely – what it means it that a part of you needed to experience love in the first place went dormant. If you can daydream about romance only in third-person without involving yourself, what emotional receptor, what aspect of yourself did you lose so that you can no longer experience romance on your own skin? What part of yourself went dormant so that emotions processed by it had to dissociate? Why did it go dormant?

Analyze your fantasies. Write things down and find connections. There’s an unexpected amount of unconscious logic directing the inner theater.

The crucial thing to understand is that the allure of MD stems from identifying emotions experienced in a daydream with a particular scenario or a character. Instead of realizing that cravings are born from and governed by an emotion you want to experience (i.e. confidence, a sense of belonging), you end up thinking you are infatuated with a character that is merely a metaphorical container and a bringer of that emotion in you. This results in misplaced attachments, misplaced attachments result in hunger that can never be put out because you mistake the message for the messenger.

I know that for some of us imaginary companions feel too dear, too real to be left behind and disacknowledged – and if overcoming MD meant reducing them to a mere defense mechanism, I would be the last person propagating it. The only way to overcome them, without giving them up, without stripping them of importance, of zeal and fire they elicited in us, is to learn from them. They are personifications, messengers of emotions, and to dissolve them without robbing them of their meaningfulness, is to hear the message they carry. When emotional content projected onto fantasy is made conscious and reintegrated into the ego, the message is heard and the messenger, having carried out his purpose, dissolves.

In this way, overcome fantasies and inner companions don’t become lost or dispersed into thin air; instead, they are returned to you, reintegrated into conscious self, into the place where they originally came from, and you are no longer hungry to search for yourself outside yourself – in projections and dreams.

47 thoughts on “Can fantasies ever become real?

  1. sweetsugarbows says:

    Hi Eretaia! Thank you for posting these articles, they’ve been pretty useful. Everything in them is true, in its most naked form. However, while others might have trouble figuring out that the characters are the embodiment of the emotions they crave and believe by having to stop daydreaming they’re giving everything up, my problem is the emotional barrier I feel which prevents me from enjoying life as it is more. For example, I went out with an old friend these days but couldn’t enjoy it as much I would in my daydreams because I feel like something’s blocking me.

    I’m not sure if I can be considered as a maladaptive daydreamer because I have control over my daydreams, I can switch them on (if I feel bored for instance) and off whenever I want to and daydreaming doesn’t affect my concentration abilites while studying but what concerns me most of the time is how can I transfer the emotions I experience whenever I daydream to reality. I guess it really has to do with the fixing of the self and by trying to express everything outwardly, but sometimes when I do express bits and pieces of the real me, it doesn’t always go as expected. One day, I decided to write on the board an exercise during class with the confidence of the daydream me but while I was approaching it to write, my legs were trembling (subtly thankfully) and I kept questioning myself on the way home this: Why did I feel nervous? My self in the daydreams and this (slightly) broken self here have no need to.

    Note that I daydream to lift myself up a little and not block all negative feelings. If I have to get angry, I will. Maybe it won’t happen in the first place, but someday it will. And even though anger works, my purifying method are tears. I can feel all the toxic feelings slipping away once I get things out of my system.

    Nevertheless, how can I break this emotional barrier? Can it be achieved by expressing myself more?

    I’d be grateful if I could get a respond to this. I hope you have a nice day!

    Like

    • Eretaia says:

      Expressing takes practice. Lots of if. You have to do it all the time, without holding back before you can start seeing progress. Addiction arises because trapped, unexpressed feelings remain unintelligible and formless to us. If, for example, you lied to your parents about something and this caused you distress and inner tension, telling them the truth would instantly relieve you from that stress – but only because you knew what you wanted to express and confess in the first place. But with MD, with any addiction, in most of the cases, you don’t even know what you want to express. So, it takes time, it takes lots of practice for feelings to crystalize. I can’t give you any answer more concrete than this because I have no idea what’s blocking you and what’s behind your anxiety in the first place. Maybe you don’t know it either, and maybe expressing yourself over and over again is the only way to find out.

      Liked by 1 person

      • anoop says:

        hi eretaia. thank you for this article. its exteremely useful. is there anything else that you have written. or any video or any book you might suggest to read that might help. also if i could communicate with you on email? thank you anoop

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    • Kyle Barnes says:

      I was diagnosed as disorganized schizophrenic at age 21. I’m 24 now. This is an email I sent a couple weeks ago to different researches and psychiatrists. Is this MD? I wrote this email well before I discovered your blog and firmly believe I now have MD. I hope you can provide some insight into my psyche. Thanks.

      First, I wanted to send this email so that the researchers and/or psychiatrists in the field of schizophrenia could, hopefully, gain an understanding of me, my disease and the evil ramifications that accompany it. I hope you consider everything I type and give it some serious thought before thinking of a reply. This is very important to me. Thank you.

      This may sound outlandish. But I believe my disease is intricately linked with self esteem. Considering the type and nature of the auditory hallucinations I often experience it makes perfect logical sense. For example, it always presents itself in the form of a conversation taking place in my head, nothing unusual for me, before my diagnosis I would do the same thing: hold conversations in my head. It always felt like I was practicing talking and conversing with people. As a kid I never really understood why I thought this way. I would research and research and all the results would show that that was normal and healthy. But I don’t think it was ever normal and healthy in my situation. In fact, I believe my intentions were much more troubling. I was holding conversations in my head in an attempt to practice what I would say to people so that I could impress them on a later date. I would think of jokes, anything that I thought might impress someone. The cause of this is unknown, however I believe it has something to do with low self esteem. I was trying to impress the people in my head so that I could impress the people outside of my head. Now to the real question, what happened in my childhood, that caused that terrifying way of thinking. Was it neglect? Was it abuse, physical or emotional? The causes are unclear as I have a very limited recollection of my earliest years. But then, what happened? Why did I think this way? I believe it had something to do with my schooling. I was picked on and belittled because I was different. Was it that I was smarter than the bully? Was it that I was cuter than the bully? And, later on, was it that I was struggling with life’s most delicate of circumstances, personal and sexual identity? Was I gay? Was I straight? Who was I? All of these questions unsettled me as a teen and pre teen. So what does this have to do with anything? Well for starters I wanted to prove, not to myself, but to the world that I could do and be anything I wanted to be. As a child that meant being an actor. As a pre teen that meant being a rockstar. As a teen that meant being the CEO of my own company. Why is that wrong? To dream? It isn’t. It’s healthy. Every child does that to a lesser or greater degree. But the trouble is, I never grew up. I never realized those dreams were just that. Dreams. So as I got older I thought, hm, maybe I’ll grow out of it. But I never did. I hit 18 and got the idea stuck in my head that I could be the next Steve Jobs. And I worked at it. Really, really, really, fucking hard. I read everything I could get my hands on. Articles, blogs, books, whatever. I learned to code. I thought this would help. I’ll build a website I thought. I’ll practice. I’ll learn more and more and, eventually, with enough diligence, I too could become the next Steve Jobs. And the years passed and I kept at it. I believed my fantasies would come to fruition. But then something funny happened. I had a child. And… Just… Like… That. All my dreams came to an end. I freaked. I STRESSED. I had, what some might consider, to be the worst meltdown a person could ever experience… The stress of having a child and realizing my dreams were never going to happen for me caused a psychotic episode. Over the next few months I lay awake in bed, staring at the walls, laughing to myself, pacing around the yard, completely unaware of my surroundings… I remember what these auditory hallucinations were like. They would present themselves, just as how I described when I was a child. I would hold conversations in my head. I would be different people. One second I would be a crazed sex god rockstar another the CEO of the worlds most valuable company. Only these were much different. Much more intense. Much more engrossing. I would alternate between a handful of different identities that I believe now, were coping mechanisms. It was a self defense mechanism of my brain so that I could fantasize about being who I always wanted to be. I didn’t realize any of this at the time. I was just deeply, deeply insecure. There is something deeply rooted in my psyche that triggered my psychosis. I need to feel loved. I can look back on only a handful of times that I have not experienced auditory hallucinations since I got diagnosed. But those moments would last minutes, hours, 12 hours maximum. But for some seemingly inexplicable reason I haven’t experienced any type of hallucination in the past two weeks. I was confused at first but after much thought I realized what it was. It was that I cried. I came home and realized my life was in the shitter. And I realized it HARD. And I cried. HARD. I mean, really hard. Hardest I have ever cried in my life. I just completely fucking lost it. And my mom and Dad cried with me. And just listened to what I had to say. And it felt GOOD. I mean really fucking good. In a strange and bizarre set of circumstances I felt the best I have ever felt. And the next weeks would prove to be even better. My head was clearer. I could think. I could socialize. I could read. I wasn’t as emotionally flat. I was more engaged. And all that from one little moment that I shared with my parents.
      I can only hope you take the time to consider everything I have written and explained and provide some sort of analysis and insight into this woefully dire, dreadful, and disturbing disease. Thank you.

      Also if anyone wants to email me it would be greatly appreciated. j.kylebarnes1@gmail.com

      Like

  2. Ruby says:

    Wow. I just stumbled on this site because I desperately wanted to discover whether or not I was the only person alive who struggled with this. Everything you’re saying makes SO much sense and so many lights are going on re: why I’ve ended up being wired this way, and it’s so incredibly freeing and relieving to realize that this “condition” is actually understood and experienced by others, and even has a name! This is really helpful and empowering in terms of dealing with this problem in an efficient way, though I’m so attached at this point to the other world and the “characters” in it that I already feel a deep sense of mourning in terms of shutting it down. But I feel like I have the courage now to open up to someone about this, as painfully awkward as it may be, and I know that alone will be a huge step. Anyway, I never post on things like this, but I felt compelled to say thank you… I’m so excited that I’m not insane or alone!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. purplecupcake says:

    Hi Eretaia,
    I have decided to just let go and wait for my feelings to naturally return to me. Only thing is this dullness is becoming unbearable. What’s even more unbearable is this is numbness. Like I know I’m finding it hard, but there’s no “feeling”, like…I mean, you know the feeling you get when things are hard and unbearable? This makes it all the more harder since like…gahh I don’t even know if I am making sense but the “feeling” that’s actually there isn’t being “physically” manifested if that makes sense? So you can say it’s a combination of numbness and dullness. I’m tired of waiting….I just want my feelings to come back to me again 😦 like something, just SOMETHING to be there. I don’t even know…I feel like an absolute rock who doesn’t care about anything, who doesn’t feel anything but this is the last thing I know myself to be. This is not me, this isn’t me and the wait is becoming a bit discouraging now. How do I just keep going?

    Like

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hi!
    I am sorry to write the same thing under another post, but maybe someone will stumble opon this and help me a little 🙂
    I have to say, that I have a problem with attachment. I have this main character that I am turning into every time when I daydream. Her story has been going on for about three years. I have to say that I started to feel like her and… to think like her in reality.
    I realized it when I one day watched some video on youtube and I had this reaction that people have when you also experienced something and you can relate to someone. “Oh, you too?”.
    Then moments later I felt like something was wrong. I realized that I didn’t actually go through that, it was my main character!!! It never really happened to ME!
    That was when I got really scared. It started to happen more and more often, like I am losing my real self!
    Don’t get me wrong, I know that my imaginations are only that and I know that I am not my characters. I am not confusing reality and dreams, I am confusing.. feelings… Sometimes I have an impression that my feelings in real life are somehow fake… And sometimes I think that the feelings from my fantasies are real…
    Did someone have a similar thing? How to overcome it when even if I am not daydreaming, this character is somewhere inside of me?
    I have also a second question, it’s a bit off topic here, but:
    Does anyone act like someone is watching them in real life? Like when I talk to myself (I do it out loud) and I feel someone is looking at me and judging me, even when I am alone in the room. I don’t know exactly how to put it… Please, help?
    Thanks in advance
    V.

    Like

    • Eretaia says:

      Hi. Didn’t I already answer your question in the very article? 🙂 I wrote that experiencing emotions through characters is like having a second sense of self outside yourself, but this second self is never conscious. You’re in two places at once (she and you) out of which only the latter is self-conscious. *You* have a limited spectrum of feelings while *she* is made of all those remaining feelings you lost when a part of you necessary for processing them in the first place went dormant. You have to figure out what’s this aspect of yourself that went unconscious. When you reclaim it, all that she can feel but you can’t will be transferred back to you. I’d really recommend you get a few sessions with a good psychoanalytic therapist.

      Like

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you very much for your response! 🙂 I’m sorry, I am not a native speaker and I must have misunderstood here and there, while reading…
        The fact is, that actually what she is feeling are mostly negative emotions… You could even say that she is constantly being tortured emotionally. Somehow (I don’t get it) I like it when bad things are happening to her. It’s very confusing, like you feel two things at the same time: desperation (as her experiencing a traumatic event) and some kind of weird joy because of that.
        I have to say now, that I am definitely not a person who enjoys seeing people in pain. Somehow it doesn’t work like that in my daydreams.
        I didn’t get numb and stopped caring about what is happening around me. When I am “there”, I don’t care about “here”, and when I “come back”, I care very, very much about my real life. But at the same time I feel like I have been through all those things that I just IMAGINED going through ten minutes ago. The event
        I am sorry if I don’t make any sense.
        I do have a limited spectrum of feelings (I don’t remember the last time I felt self confident or worthy for example), but SHE isn’t capable of them too.
        So I guess my question is, if I CAN feel what she feels, then why am I escaping? Why do I spend hours having this fake life when it’s much worse than my real life?… What is the point of escaping from BAD to HORRIBLE( feelings)? How am I enjoying the latter?
        I have also been to the therapist (because of my social anxiety). I never mentioned those things, I guess I just felt like it wasn’t worth the trouble of opening up about it. I am scared that he will not understand and either totally ignore the matter and say that I have a good imagination or decide that I am crazy and I have a mental ilness. But I know that I have to try.
        I am sorry once again for any mistakes and if I am not clear on something, feel free to ask 🙂
        Thanks , that you’re spending your time even talking to me 🙂
        V.

        Like

      • Anonymous says:

        “I didn’t get numb and stopped caring about what is happening around me. When I am “there”, I don’t care about “here”, and when I “come back”, I care very, very much about my real life. But at the same time I feel like I have been through all those things that I just IMAGINED going through ten minutes ago. ”
        I meant feelings that my character has been through, not events.

        Like

  5. Bahaus says:

    I stumbled upon this network, after eighteen years and counting of MD. Seeking assistance from a psychologist did not help as the focus during our sessions was over my history of being bullied and abused of. My daydreams are built around a wildly successful version of myself. The problem that has been destroying me is how to get the motivation to quit and turn these strong dreams into reality. I cannot get myself to concentrate on work or study and I feel like I’m wasting my life. Can anyone help.

    Like

    • Neverbeenmyself says:

      hey, i go through dreams that also have a theme of a ‘me’ being incredibly more successful than me. One of the biggest problems because of that is that because I use the ‘dream me’ in order to live out achievements, any real-life achievement begins to not matter as I won’t really be experiencing it or it will never be as great as something ‘dream me’ could do. In terms of finding motivation to move past this, reading stuff about what other people experience when it comes to MD and moving past it and also different articles about the inner-workings of it all was very helpful to me. But also, i try to be just really present in daily life more, which usually means trying to talk to people around me more, not watching media that feeds into my dreams, not listening to music too often otherwise i get lost in my own head, also using technology less as that also distracts from the present. These are some pretty basic things that maybe you’ve heard before but because they are so basic it becomes easier to implement them in daily life in an easier fashion. It doesn’t mean that the dreams go away in an instant and the idea isn’t even for it to be like they never existed but moving on involves not letting dreams interfere with life.
      Im sorry if this reply is rambling and ultimately unhelpful, I haven’t been going through MD too long but it has noticeably lowered my quality of life so I wanted to share my thoughts with someone who is familiar with this. I wish you the best in leaving behind MD!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. addictedtonotbeingme says:

    Hey Eretaia! Just read your article on wild mind networks. I wish I read it long ago when i was sobbing every now and then feeling the need to share all that you already mentioned in your article so perfectly but never could. Thanks a lot. I have really connected to almost every word of it. Your thoughts must have help thousands of people suffering out there. God bless you really.
    Lots of love- Your new fan<3
    P.S. I would love to talk to you personally about some little this and that about me as i think you would definitely understand. I would be very grateful..if you can spare some time and please ping me on this mail address-atiyaf91@gmail.com
    Hope you see this soon:)

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Anna says:

    Hi there,
    Thanks for your insightful article, it really helped me understand myself. But as a disabled shut-in, dying of a long, progressive disease, I find so much comfort and peace in my daydreams. When my body is failing and I live with unending pain, and I can’t get out of bed, I can escape into my fantasies where I am healthy and not dying of a fatal disease. Sometimes fantasies have a good purpose.
    When I was healthy and able to work and go out into the world, I did not rely on fantasy so much, but now in my final days, they are better than morphine.

    Like

  8. melodie says:

    Please continue writing, because it is so encouraging! Your post inspire me so much to want to grow and change. Have you ever thought about writing a book? I will love to read and support it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. AUROCH says:

    Here is what people think when I tell them about my (failing attempts to cease) MD: When I am lonely, depressed or sad, I feel an urge to escape into daydreams. Despite my resolution, I give in and this is how I ‘fail’.

    It’s not so.

    What really happens is I start daydreaming without even noticing it. And then, I ‘wake-up’, I come back to my senses and have to consciously make an effort to stop.

    Giving in to urges is different. Totally different. It means you are proceeding with your own consent.You are allowing yourself to daydream.

    My MD, on the contrary, never seeks my consent. It starts automatically. I have not once ‘chosen’ to daydream. It always starts on it’s own. I only get to choose whether or not to stop, once I become aware that I have already escaped in daydreams.

    I have lost control over my MD. And over myself.

    Like

    • Mark says:

      I have the same issue. My MD usually kicks in when i walk or drive without me noticing it. The bathroom at my work is about 30 meters away from my chair and it can kick in even within that short distance. It becomes an issue when I need to make a stop somewhere before reaching my destination. F.ex. going from work to home and need to stop by a grocery store to get milk. Once I start walking down a familiar path I can go full auto mode and wake up at the destination. I have had this as long as I can remember myself and I didn’t think of it as anything unusual until the age of 25. When I realized this, it is kind of strange how I managed to stay out of trouble considering that it constantly happens when I drive a car down a familiar path. There have been very close calls though.

      Like

  10. Laura says:

    “For instance, if you suffer from low self-esteem, emotions that require healthy levels of self-esteem to be expressed in the first place, such as self-acceptance or love, will not be able to be experienced consciously and spontaneously as an integral part of ego due to an internal conflict, and will consequently separate from you and manifest externally as fantasies that indirectly arouse these feelings in you through your stories and characters.”

    You have hit the nail on the head once again!

    Like

  11. Ada says:

    Dear Eretaia, thank you for your blog which I follow for a couple of years now. I have to say that I have found the most powerful thing which so far helped me to get rid of my MDD for almost like 90 percent. I was waiting for someone and found this book lying on the table – started to read it and something very striking was in it. I asked about it the coffee place if I can pay for the book and keep it. I read it at home few times and put it away … come back to it several months later when I just got the message slowly and slowly. In the meantime struggling with MDD. I started to practice the teachings from the book and I feel like a new person. That book is from Eckart Tolle and its called Power of Now. It points exactly to the issue of MDD – say no to the present moment, drifting of to daydreams, it described the egoic mind, the mind chatter and how the mind is really human´s worst enemy. The most important message is that we, you, me, we are not what we think and there is a peaceful state above thinking when you are completely in the present moment. I would recommend this to any MDD sufferer. It is a mind-blowing book.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Buttercup says:

    Eretaia, thanks for these great and insightful posts. I’m an anglo-italian woman, currently living in Italy who has been struggling with MDD ALL HER LIFE. Would you give me permission to translate your articles in this blog into Italian and share them with the Italian fb group ? (Obviously mentioning the source, your blog and you as the author.)Your insights are wonderful and your writing truly beautiful. Thanks for writing this.

    Like

    • Eretaia says:

      Sorry for my late reply. Sure, it’d be a pleasure to have them translated to Italian! This blog gets quite a lot of traffic from Italy, and I can even put the translations here so that they are accessible to Italian speakers. I also speak Italian (but it’s B2 as a second foreign language), so I’d probably make a lot of mistakes if I tried translating them myself. :)) Feel free to let me know if you have any questions with translations.

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  13. Marcy says:

    I would like to thank you for sharing your insights to the world with this enlightening blog. I was shocked to realize that so many people, professionals and MDers themselves alike, have been treating this habit like a unique mental disorder and a label, and became ashamed and afraid that I was always meant to behave this way for the rest of my life, unless I take some chemical-altering drugs or a brain scan or something lol.

    But I have you to thank for assuring me that that is far from the case and that many MANY other people possess this habit as well. Thank you again. 🙂

    Like

    • Eretaia says:

      Thanks for your comment. Ah, I really don’t like to speak of MD as a stand-alone mental disorder or a label, because it almost sounds as if it were some mysterious illness with a mechanicsm of its own, incurable, untouchable and independent from all reason. I know it doesn’t always apply, but I like to think of psychological turmoil as something inherently human and driven by logic, like heartbreak; something had to break somewhere for you to develop MD. If depression is the loss of liveliness and creative impulse, MD is a trapped liveliness that cannot leave the confines of oneself and be communicated and shared with the world outside us. At one point, we lost the ‘mouth’ that allows us to express this liveliness accumulating on the inside. Daydreamers are reserved and self-absorbed because all their creative impulses are trapped inside. But this is not a disorder – at least not to me. It’s just a displaced life force. A dangerous, maladaptive trick, but it’s not a disorder.

      Like

  14. valh675 says:

    So, I’ve read every word of your blog between yesterday and today and tbh… THANK YOU for this! I’ve been so ashamed, so damn embarrassed about this, and your story fills me with the reassurance that I can get better.
    I’ve fantasized about TV shows fictional characters’ romantic relationships for over a decade now. I was never a part of those daydreams. I never considered myself to be pretty, I never had a boyfriend. When I got to the age for my mom to give me the sex talk, she was very loud and clear about how wrong sex was and why I shouldn’t do it. It still haunts me, deep in my subconscious, I think. So my daydreams were romantic af, cheesy af (even though I don’t like watching romantic movies, lol!), and had built so many scenarios of my characters in my head that I started writing them down and posting them online as fan fiction. I can’t explain how much I love writing them, I’ve spent hours in front of the computer writing and writing, feeling like only half an hour had gone by. And the best thing was that my stories got insanely good feedback. Thousands of readers, of comments asking me for more, so I gave them more (a LOT more). That external validation, I craved it, and I gave them more if it meant I’d get more of those comments, but I also craved writing those daydreams and submerging myself deep in them.
    The thing is, I became addicted to writing them down, I fleshed out my characters carefully, to the tiniest detail of their personalities, building up their flaws and virtues and a perfect relationship. I think now it’s turn to put all that effort into knowing myself. I write about relationships, yet I’ve never been in one, and after reading your posts I’m wondering, is it a boyfriend I want? Or is it just love—self-love? Is it a conciliation of the traits of these 2 characters what I’m seeking in me (like it was with you)? I got so many questions now and I’m starting this introspective journey with optimism. I just got today a couple of books about developing self-love.
    I decided it was enough when these characters didn’t have a good fate in the show they’re in and my world came down. I was in charge of them in my head, but when the actual writers fucked up, it was like I’d lost a loved one. My mother came up to me and told me I was absent and she needed me, she needed help to pay the bills, and I was only studying and not working because I couldn’t get myself to focus on other things. She kept on telling me to come back down to earth, but she can’t understand how challenging this is.
    Anyway, I’m sharing this to thank you for giving me hope to improve, for giving me a starting point for my journey—the rest is up to me and my findings in myself—and I also hope that someone else who goes through the same can read my comment and realize they aren’t the only ones obsessed with a TV character. I’m used to being them, not me. Finally, the fact that my entire daydreams are written down as stories gives me easier access to every detail for my analysis of them—I’m starting to look for the feelings and emotions in them that I’m denying myself in real life, instead of focusing on the situations they’re in, as you so wisely have said.
    I’m not really sure how to stop cold turkey, though. I’ve read much about handling obsessive thoughts and CBT books say that the more you push them away, the more they come back, and that the key is to just acknowledge them and let them pass by. Have you tried this method?
    Thank you very much for your blog again, you have no idea how helpful it is for many of us. Much love to you and I wish you the best in everything in life!

    Like

  15. Anonymous says:

    I just came here for a read, because I just had a relapse (that does sound incredibly strange, doesn’t it?). And so I decided to tell you what you would like to know, I think. Your blog has helped me. A lot. It has been a year since I found it and I am finally starting to feel who I really am. A year back I decided to stop, to read carefully through your texts, to understand the underlying feelings behind my fantasies. It turns out, they weren’t even difficult to find when I finally knew what I should look for. Before that I tried to tear apart the content of my fantasies to understand them, but thanks to you I realized : The content, all those characters I imagined, the stories, adventures – they never really mattered. They weren’t why I was so attracted to my fantasies. What mattered was how I felt. The self-worth, psychological strength I lacked in real life, persistence, and just simple feeling of control over who I was. Those things manifested themselves through my daydreams and those were the feelings I wanted to feel.
    And I do. Not always, mind you, but I am slowly finding myself.
    I think you’re right about many aspects of MD. I used to daydream when I was very little, but those were just imaginations, dreams of a seven-year-old. “I wanna have a pony and travel the world”, you know, that kind of dreams. Just a simple way of escaping reality sometimes, when the adults talked about their boring stuff. As I grew older I was all about school, learning, I found many purposes in my life and abandoned imagination almost completely. But then some bad things happened and my life got almost unbearable. And suddenly, the fantasies came back and took over my life completely. They were soothing, at first, but after three years I started freaking out, realizing that I didn’t know who I was anymore. I felt much better as my character, in my stories.
    And I know that you’re thinking right now ; “I didn’t ask you for an autobiography”, so I am getting to the point and I am sorry for that long text.
    The life kicked me in the butt and that’s when I stopped daydreaming.
    Funny, how bad occurrences triggered the MD and then they were the ones stopping it. I realized that this was the moment I had to be there. For my family, for my friends, for myself even. Then I realized that everything I had imagined wasn’t real. And then I realized that all I felt in my dreams – all those things – I could feel them in real life. And they were real.

    Like

  16. Cristina says:

    Thank you so much. This is what’s real helpful and not the how to stop daydreaming tips. This really needs to be heard, it’s really hard to get to the cause but you express it wonderfully. I am very thankful to you for helping us through this challenging process.

    Like

  17. Anonymous says:

    Looking back since I began to realize that I had MD, I found that I always confused the messenger with the message. I even bought a guitar because in some of my daydreams I played along with the bands I listen to, but I got frustrated when I practiced and gave up on seeing it wasn’t for me.
    For most of my daydreams, I had the presence of a friend. It was always someone who was always by my side in every situation, believed that we were both connected and that we were one. It was like this for most of my childhood. When I wake up from a daydream I feel a great melancholy and it’s like being alone. Since I started reading your blog and learning more about MD, when I felt this sadness around here I started having daydreams related to panic and anger attacking and talking about MD in front of many people, as if I were on a stage or in a classroom. (I’m in high school). About this friend, since I read your post about these messengers, I have been trying to interpret the message. He is someone I can count on when I am sad and feel understood when he listens to me. What do you think about this?
    Sorry if I wrote something wrong I’m learning English, I am Brazilian. There isn’t much about MD in Portuguese 😦

    Like

    • Eretaia says:

      Hey! This is a very, very belated reply and I hope you don’t mind me answering you this late but I temporarily neglected the blog because of work. 🙂 Anyway, it’s really interesting what you have there. I would think of it this way: if you are sad without MD and spring back to life when daydreaming, then MD is an expression of your creative impetus, a sort of life force and vitality that have been lost in waking life and now only strieve trapped in fantasies. This companion of yours is the embodiment of this vitality, he’s made of it, animated by it. It’s like all your life force that you lost in waking life took form of a person and came to find you in dreams because it could no longer find you in real life. So, he is a leftover of meaning that was lost, the idea of self-acceptance. If you feel that emotions he brings to you are genuine, don’t try to reduce him to a mere defense mechanism. In psychoanalytic psychology, there’s a technique called active imagination – it consists of conjuring up imaginal figures, which are the expressions of unconscious, and trying to see what they want to concey. If you can’t break down and understand rationally what he wants to convey to you, do it in a fantasy.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Darpan says:

    I want to thank you from my heart for such great work. I have hard time falling asleep from MD, if you come across this comment please share your thoughts, Thank you!!

    Like

  19. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much all your thoughts and work writing this. I was afraid that I was an emotionless, hollow person who was never going to have an emotional connection to anyo things.

    Liked by 1 person

      • No name says:

        I’m so sad😢 cause i didn’t understand every thing you said
        I don’t speak english good
        I hope you to give me a summary with the important ideas that you said in this blog , maybe that I can translat it easily .I really want to find solution for MD …. and thank you .

        Like

  20. Dani says:

    I just found this blog today and I literally cried while I read every single post. You have put to words and expressed so clearly why I fantasize, and have given me hope for reconciling the self I lost as a child with the self I am today. Thank you for your courage in sharing this; it is the most helpful information I’ve read on fantasy addiction in my personal battle to overcome it.

    Like

  21. ratsalad says:

    Eretaia, thank you so much for this blog. You’ve confimed what I’ve always suspected – that my daydreams are spot treatments for my low self-esteem and lack of self-acceptance. I’ve taken your advice and am writing down my most common daydreams and what they could mean for me in the real world, and almost all of the point to my suspicions, that I simply need to accept myself for who I am. Thanks again for these posts, they’ve been such a help.

    On a different note, your writing is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Are you a writer? Do you have any books or other blogs you’ve written? I would lovelovelove to read more of it!

    Like

  22. marcydel says:

    I used to think that I physically couldn’t go cold turkey from MD long enough to heal and stuff because I couldn’t control the compulsion to give in, it felt like mind control and it annoyed the crap out of me because I literally felt trapped. I guess mentally and emotionally I was ready to give up MD, but my brain had other ideas. So I finally just plain gave up trying to fight MD. Though it’s funny how epiphanies always unintentionally come to me usually soon after I genuinely decide to give up. After I decided to let myself MD until my heart’s content, I figured out why I always give in to cravings: fear, anxiety, and worry. 

    My MD started out of (petty) fear to begin with, fear of emotions and fear of certain situations (even though it was the fear itself I should have been more afraid of, ironically lol), to the point of attempting to control both of those by placing them in my MD fantasies. After I associated euphoria and other feel-good states with this control, I became addicted to it without knowing it at first, thinking it was normal. Then when I realized that daydreaming like this isn’t normal, I tried to limit myself, to stop, but I couldn’t, it was my default mode. Even after I discovered your blog and reread it a bunch of times, I still didn’t think to analyze the actual (unconscious) mechanisms and emotions DRIVING me to MD, and not necessarily just analyzing the emotions I experienced WITHIN the daydream, if that distinction makes sense.

    I guess back when it just felt natural and right and when I didn’t know it was a problem, I had better control over it. I WANTED to daydream, I loved it without any of the feelings of uneasiness and guilt (or I just buried those feelings for the sake of more daydreaming with more freedom, I think that’s more likely). I think realizing it was a problem affected how much control I had over it because when I was starting to become concerned, I think that’s also when it truly started to become more of an impulse-control-ish problem. I think this is because it caused a sort of split: I went FROM wholeheartedly wanting to MD without any concern TO one part of me still wanting to indulge and the other part of me switching between denying and hating that first part of me. It caused conflict, which I let cause more fear and anxiety and overthinking, which made my MD harder to control. Sure that could have been me realizing that MD was my default mode rather than it actually becoming worse, but anxiety and lack of acceptance always seems to make everything worse than it should be for me if handled wrong. Hopefully that makes sense.

    I guess another way to make this make sense is the “forbidden fruit tastes sweeter” analogy. What if the “fruit” (MD) is only forbidden because I forbade it, and if I don’t forbid it anymore— I.e. if I don’t let it bother or cause conflict within me, if I accept the MD as a part of my life— then it won’t taste as sweet, or be as fun and fulfilling to engage in? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not challenging you. I still think your explanation that MD itself isn’t the problem, the MDer herself is, is true. I’m not saying that MD itself is one of the main issues, I think it’s how we handle the concept of us MDing that’s an issue. I believe what you wrote about still holds truth, but I was desperate to try to control the compulsion that was preventing me from stopping because I felt absolutely trapped.

    Bottom line, I just want to live in the here and now, free of all unnecessary worries of the past and future. I feel they have wrecked me so badly, I missed so many opportunities to be myself and I’m tired of living this way. Um I hope you don’t mind the long post, and I know I’ve commented here before, but I felt the need to put my thoughts somewhere and give them the opportunity to be read by someone whose views on this topic I value a good deal.

    Like

  23. Airpainter says:

    Hello Eretaia!
    Thank you so much for this blog. I found out About Maladaptive Daydreaming by accident on Pinterest of all places, and immediately knew that I had this condition. It was a real Relevation for me. I really thought I was the only Person who paced, listened to Music and daydreamed in the meantime. It was crazy for me to find out that MD was a real Thing that other People experienced as well…
    I already Kind of new that my daydreaming was a means to Escape from my low self-esteem, but the way that you explained the whole psychological basis behind it really helped me understand myself better and see my daydreams in a different light. Hopefully I will be able to leave MD behind me one day.
    Thank you once again, your articles really helped!!
    Greetings from Austria 😉

    Like

  24. jo says:

    Thank you so much for all your excellent and insightful articles, it truly helped me (and I’m sure for many others) a lot! Now with COVID-19 I’m alone almost all of the time and I’ve noticed an increase in my MD (it’s gotten almost so bad I can barely have a thought without projecting it into a fantasy scenario… I can barely read anything without inserting it into a MD about my idealized self speaking what I’m reading), which is why I started a google search today and stumbled upon your very helpful resources. I can’t thank you enough, this has been the most helpful find on the topic of MD.
    I’ve noticed my main MD shifting from a 3rd person I was observing to an idealized self with my own body, which I personally took for a result of having more body confidence (no longer the need to project myself onto someone who doesn’t look like me at all). I thought that what a good thing, but now I realize in a way it’s almost worse? At least before I knew I wasn’t nowhere near close to this fantasy person. Now she looks like me so all I see is how I’m not receiving that love and understanding she’s getting, I guess.
    I’ve also noticed that the characters that star in my MDs are romantic interests love me? Unconditionally? Find me desirable? Is it too simplistic to think that is what the message is?
    You write that “If you fantasize obsessively about love, it probably doesn’t mean that you don’t have love in real life and are doing it because you are lonely – what it means it that a part of you needed to experience love in the first place went dormant.” So, is that lack of self-esteem, or something else? Is my interpretation too simplistic?
    I’m sorry if these questions are vague. I’m gonna start processing all your writing in the coming time, maybe I’ll understand what you mean fully.
    Once again, thank you so much for all the time and effort you’ve put into making this website, I really, really appreciate it.

    Like

    • Abia says:

      Hi. I think you’re struggling with low self esteem and insecurity. You may be feeling undesirable. Do you struggle with self love? Bc you might be looking for love from characters in your fantasy bc you lack love for yourself in reality. If I were you, I’d practice affirmations in front of a mirror morning and night. It’ll be silly at first but you’ll see progress, I promise. And monitor your thoughts. Do you put yourself down a lot? If so, try to be more gentle with yourself. I hope this helps and wish you luck

      Like

    • Eretaia says:

      Hi, jo! I can’t really tell, but I’d agree with Abia’s statement on self-esteem. I always do this little mental experiment: imagine yourself being just as you are in real life, without any daydream self idealizations. Imagine this real self interacting with daydream characters. If you receive love from them, but you remain as you are now, how would it make you feel? Would this idea still be appealing?

      Like

  25. Abia says:

    Hey Eretaia,

    I love your blog and it’s really motivating me to conquer this addiction. But I’m confused about one small thing and I wanted to ask you something. I am extremely self aware about my problems and have talked about my insecurities and traumas with multiple people my whole life. I guess you could say I’ve done the whole getting intimate with your pain part. What’s really prevented me from overcoming MD is simply not fixing or working on my issues, even though I’m very much aware of them. My question is, can I overcome MD by working on these issues but still daydreaming at the same time? Or do I have to physically cease myself from daydreaming and then work on my issues? I thought that physically stopping yourself from daydreaming only helps you learn about your pain, but since I’m already familiar with it, can I just continue to daydream but begin to work on my issues and insecurities? Thank you so much.

    Like

    • Eretaia says:

      Hey Abia. I’m not sure if others would agree with me, but my answer is: yes, you absolutely can continue daydreaming as long as you tackle issues along the way. Abstaining from daydreaming or ignoring the triggers in the long term seems ridiculous to me, because that’s just treating the symptom instead of the core problem. The only thing that will really absolve you of desire to daydream is releasing the emotions that are held captive in the unconscious, which also happen to be the same emotions that fuel your daydreams. It’s to them you’re compulsively returning. As you are intuiting yourself, to be able to release them in the first place, you need to work on your weak spots, strengthening your feeble sense of self so that it can host those emotions without collapsing. Only then will daydreams spontaneously disappear. You can’t really force stopping daydreaming through will power. Cessation will happen spontaneously when what was held captive gets released into the conscious. Your only task is to think how to release it. So, yes, you can daydream along the way BUT don’t daydream mindlessly. Analyze your daydreams all the time, even as you engage in them. Always look for the messages in them; what they are making you feel, what they are trying to say, what they are occulting, why they are occulting it. Use them to come in touch with yourself – even if this is done through dissociation – BUT don’t let them censor you pain. Daydreams are like mines, they hide treasures, but it’s up to you to take these treasures to the surface. Another thing: getting intimate with your pain is an emotional task. It’s much easier to understand our traumas intellectually, rationally, but getting intimate with them happens when they are processed emotionally. So, until you start actively working with your insecurities, until you’re exposed to them not only rationally but also emotionally, you probably won’t be seeing substantial results.

      Anyway, I was planning on writing another article that deals with your question. I’m super busy lately, so it may take me a month to gather some time and write it, but yeah, if you’re interested, it’ll hopefully be published soon.

      Like

  26. Helen says:

    Hi- my problem is…I love my MD husband. I really do. He feels real. He expresses interest in this world, the real world. He is here with me and there, even if he…isn’t. I do have RL love. But it isn’t like him. I don’t know what to do. It’s evil to the person in my life, I KNOW. But I can’t give up my MD husband. Nobody is like him. I am cheating and I can’t stop…

    Like

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