Daydreaming can be a pleasant pastime, but people who suffer from maladaptive daydreaming are trapped by their fantasies.
Maladaptive daydreaming<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTUwMjgyMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0OTUxNzc3Nn0.yVIUGnZl6VnJhfevESkBpb1TEvwKrHcLtobwNJV55HI/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C63%2C0%2C63&height=700" id="713cf" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e2d24a66284b3aa58ad16b66c135dc9d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
One maladaptive dreamer spent hours a day dreaming he was a powerful man who could solve the world's problems.
Credit: Pixabay<p>Daydreaming is an indulgence of the mind and imagination, one provided courtesy of the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/default-mode-network#:~:text=The%20default%20mode%20network%20(DMN,and%20Exercise%20Psychology%20Research%2C%202016" target="_blank">default mode network</a>, a network of interacting brain regions that is active even when the conscious mind is not. But like so many of life's indulgences—wine, steak dinners, video games, and even <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/why-too-much-exercise-can-be-bad-042514" target="_blank">exercise</a>—too much daydreaming can be harmful to our well-being. When daydreaming crosses that threshold, it can be considered maladaptive.</p><p>This disorder was first identified by <a href="https://haifa.academia.edu/EliSomer" target="_blank">Eli Somer</a>, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Haifa, School of Social Work, in <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1020597026919" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a 2002 paper</a>. That paper looked to six patients in a trauma center whose daydreaming habits replaced human interactions or interfered with their standard life functions, such as going to school or holding down a job. </p><p>Since then, other case studies have looked at <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/maladaptive-daydreaming#:~:text=Maladaptive%20daydreaming%20is%20a%20psychiatric,life%20events%20trigger%20day%20dreams." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">maladaptive daydreamers</a> and compiled a list of potential symptoms. These include vivid, richly-detailed daydreams; abnormally long daydreaming sessions; daydreams triggered by real-life events; daydreaming sessions that interrupt sleep; and repetitive motions or whisperings while daydreaming. On average, one study reported, maladaptive daydreamers spend <a href="https://bigthink.com/bps-research-digest/people-with-maladaptive-daydreaming-spend-an-average-of-four-hours-a-day-lost-in-their-imagination" target="_self">four hours a day</a> housed in their imaginations.</p><p>"This is not like rehearsing a conversation that you might have with a boss," <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2016/12/30/health/maladaptive-daydreaming-feature/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Somer told CNN</a>. "This is fanciful, weaving of stories. It produces an intense sense of presence."</p><p>While such symptoms are common, though not comprehensive or guaranteed, how maladaptive daydreams manifest are naturally individual to the dreamers. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6426361/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">In one case study</a>, researchers analyzed the diary of a man codenamed "Peter." Peter described investing as many as 14 hours a day online. The news and images he happened upon would trigger related fantasies. For example, he may envision himself as a multimillionaire genius who could prevent bad news from occurring or self-insert himself into the power fantasies of superhero movies or police procedurals for hours at a time.</p><p>"When I felt this pain as a child, I started imagining how things could be different. I created stories which never happened. To suppress that pain I would hug my pillow or quilt, thinking I was being comforted by someone else," Peter wrote.</p><p>In an interview with CNN, Cordellia Rose described her maladaptive daydreaming like a drug and noted that her daydreams developed into intricate storylines that could last for years. These stories proved so distracted that she was unable to complete everyday tasks such as driving lessons.</p><p>"You get hooked on it, because it can be like an action movie in your head that's so gripping that you cannot turn off," Rose told CNN. "This [condition] needs to be public, because these are people suffering, and badly."</p><p>To be clear, maladaptive dreaming is not a <a href="https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/guide/what-is-psychosis#1" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">psychotic disorder</a> like schizophrenia. Daydreamers such as Peter and Rose are aware that their fantasies are as unreal as they may be unrealistic. Because of this, many maladaptive dreamers understand the difficulties they face and the real-life losses they have endured for the sake of their fantasies. </p>
More research needed<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6fdb8ca5dcc87c58b441d9c7cd766f35"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vI7b4_-MA8g?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Researchers don't have a <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319400" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">standard diagnosis or treatment for maladaptive daydreaming</a> because they aren't yet sure it's a unique psychological condition. Maladaptive daydreaming has not been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition—blessedly abbreviated as the DMS-5—the definitive book on mental disorders. To date, there isn't enough evidence to determine if maladaptive daydreaming is a separate condition or a manifestation of an already listed disorder.</p><p>Somer has developed a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1053810015300611" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">14-point scale</a> to help people determine whether they are experiencing maladaptive-daydreaming symptoms, but the results only indicate whether an individual should seek help. They provide no formal diagnosis.</p><p>Also, maladaptive daydreaming is often expressed alongside other conditions, such as anxiety disorders, <a href="https://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/home/topics/anxiety/ptsd-trauma-and-stressor-related/high-prevalence-of-maladaptive-daydreaming-among-patients-with-dissociative-disorders/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">dissociative disorders</a>, attention deficit disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. And the researchers of Peter's case study noticed a striking similarity between his condition and those with <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3164585/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">behavioral addition response</a>—including analogous responses with preoccupation, mood modification, tolerance, and withdrawal. It may be that maladaptive daydreaming is an expression of these, or other, disorders.</p><p>It's worth noting that similar empirical hurdles exist for other well-known, though not formalized, disorders. Orthorexia, sex addiction, misophonia, internet addiction, and parental alienation syndrome are all <a href="https://www.verywellmind.com/whats-missing-from-the-dsm-4145344#:~:text=This%20diagnosis%20covered%20patients%20who,%22%20or%20%22unspecified%20disorder.%22" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">likewise absent from the DSM-5</a>. For maladaptive daydreaming and these other conditions, it's simply a case of more evidence and research needed before a determination can be made.</p>
A growing understanding of maladaptive daydreaming<p>The question of labeling is a tricky one—not only from a medical point-of-view but also a prosocial one. Some people find having a recognized condition validating; they feel it promotes social acceptance and makes seeking treatment easier. Others find such labels stigmatizing and restricting.</p><p>But the question of how to label something is an academic one. It isn't to say that the experience doesn't exist. It does, and whether maladaptive daydreaming ultimately enters the DSM-5 or not, awareness is growing. <a href="https://daydreamresearch.wixsite.com/md-research/links" target="_blank">Online communities</a> now exist to give support and spread awareness. And regardless of a condition's presence in the medical literature, if symptoms disrupt work, school, or social lives, help should be sought.</p><p>Thanks to the efforts of psychologists and the community, maladaptive daydreaming, unlike Thurber's literary creation, is no longer "inscrutable to the last." And those who suffer it are no longer relegated to a firing-squad of their own mind but can find they help the need.</p>
Workaholism is perhaps the most socially accepted addiction, but a new paper shines light on the serious health risks that accompany it along with which occupations are most at risk.
- Work addiction is a growing public health risk in industrialized nations, with some research showing that 5–10% of the United States population meet the criteria.
- Workaholism comes with a variety of serious mental and physical health concerns such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, lowered immunity, substance abuse, or even chronic fatigue.
- Employees at the highest risk for stress-related disorders are those in what researchers call the "tense" group category where job demand is high but job control is low, such as healthcare workers.
Who are 'workaholics'?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTUwOTEwNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2NTcxMjY5M30.co95ejt7ASPynFNcdlE2fcswuSGDo2GXWiAikYckAec/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C524%2C0%2C524&height=700" id="cfa87" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb50d89ae92c35858327efaf5b125d51" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
Credit: AdobeStock<p>Workaholism is a behavioral disorder in which someone who typically works seven or more hours extra than others per week. Financial instability, marital problems, or pressure from a company or supervisor could all be reasons for working more hours than average. The difference is that workaholics are excessively involved in work when their employer doesn't require or expect as much time as the individual is putting into the job. </p><p><strong>Symptoms of work addiction include:</strong> </p><ul><li>Putting in long hours at work, even when not needed</li><li>Losing sleep to engage in work projects or finish tasks</li><li>Obsessiveness with work-related success</li><li>Feelings of intense fear of failure at work</li><li>Sacrificing personal relationships because of work or using work as a way of avoiding relationships </li><li>Working to cope with feelings of guilt, depression, or shame </li><li>Working to avoid dealing with personal crises like death, divorce, or financial trouble. </li></ul>
Four types of work environments<p>The researchers wanted to demonstrate the extent to which risk of workaholism is associated with the perception of work, i.e. job demands and job control, and mental health in four job categories frameworked in the <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1999-01436-001" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Job Demand-Control-Support model (JDCS)</a>. </p> <p>This model assumes four work environments broken into four quadrants in which employees likely experience different levels of job demands and job control, control being the extent to which an employee feels agency and control over their work. They are: </p> <ul><li>Passive (low job control, low job demand) </li><li>Low-strain (high job control, low job demand) </li><li>Active (high job demands, high job control) </li><li>Tense or Job Strain (high job demands, low job control) </li></ul> <p>People with "passive" jobs may find satisfaction as long as the worker reaches a set of goals. Those in the "low strain" job group are not at high risk for mental health problems as the category typically corresponds to creative or imaginative jobs such as researchers. "Active" are usually highly skilled professionals with a high amount of responsibilities, such as directors of companies. Though they have demanding tasks, they usually have high levels of decision making to solve problems. Employees at the highest risk for stress-related disorders are those in the final "tense" group where demand is high but control is low. Examples include healthcare workers from emergency departments who cannot control the huge workload or flux.</p>
The study<p>The study was conducted in France, an industrial country with a growing number of occupations. The scientists collected data from 187 out of 1580 French employees who volunteered to participate in a cross-sectional study, which was conducted using the online platform WittyFit software. Participants were self-administered four questionnaires: the Job Content Questionnaire by Karasek, the Work Addiction Risk Test, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale, and socio-demographics. The researchers in the study divided all the participants on the basis of their occupational quadrants to investigate the relationship between work addiction risk and mental and physical health. </p><p>"One of the novelties of this research was to introduce vulnerable occupational groups to organizations or job holders. For example, if we find that work addiction risk can be found more in some occupations and may result in negative outcomes for the health situation then we can give this information to decision makers in this organization or, for example, to the ministry of health. And they could intervene to prevent this problem," explained Morteza Charkhabi, associate professor at the Institute of Education at the HSE University, in a press release.</p>
Results: Who is at risk?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="30f796cab87a35cf9af35ea1999e8b11"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/sXy_iSUd5SE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The research results found that jobs with high demands are the most strongly associated with work addiction risk, however the level of job control doesn't play as influential of a role.</p><p>Individuals in active and high strain job categories are more likely to be at risk for work addiction than the other job groups. These workers appeared to be more vulnerable and, thus, suffer more, from the negative results of work addiction risk such as depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and other health issues such as a weakened immune system and increased risk of disease.</p>"We found that job demands could be the most important factor that can develop work addiction risk," <a href="https://www.hse.ru/en/org/persons/211299142" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Charkhabi</a> pointed out. "So this factor should be controlled or should be investigated by the organization's manager, for example, HR staff, psychologists. Also another conclusion could be the job climate like job demands of each job category can influence the rate of work addiction risk. Thus in this study we actually focused on external factors like job demands not internal factors like the personal characteristics."
Side-effects of work addiction<p>The scientists found that those with higher work addiction risk have twice the risk of developing depression as compared to people with low work addiction risk. Additionally, sleep quality was lower in workers with high risk of work addiction compared to workers with low risk of work addiction. Interestingly, women had almost twice the work addiction risk than men.</p><p>Work addiction can be difficult to treat in a culture that accepts and rewards workaholic behaviors. The most common approach for treating work addiction typically involves outpatient treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or Motivational Interviewing (MI). <a href="https://www.projectknow.com/behavioral-addictions/work-addiction/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">You can learn more here.</a></p>
We look back at a year ravaged by a global pandemic, economic downturn, political turmoil and the ever-worsening climate crisis.
Billions are at risk of missing out on the digital leap forward, as growing disparities challenge the social fabric.
Image: Global Risks Report 2021<h3>Widespread effects</h3><p>"The immediate human and economic costs of COVID-19 are severe," the report says. "They threaten to scale back years of progress on reducing global poverty and inequality and further damage social cohesion and global cooperation."</p><p>For those reasons, the pandemic demonstrates why infectious diseases hits the top of the impact list. Not only has COVID-19 led to widespread loss of life, it is holding back economic development in some of the poorest parts of the world, while amplifying wealth inequalities across the globe.</p><p>At the same time, there are concerns the fight against the pandemic is taking resources away from other critical health challenges - including a <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/09/charts-covid19-malnutrition-educaion-mental-health-children-world/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">disruption to measles vaccination programmes</a>.</p>
Scientists regenerate damaged spinal cord nerve fibers with designer protein, helping paralyzed mice walk again.
- Researchers from Germany use a designer protein to treat spinal cord damage in mice.
- The procedure employs gene therapy to regenerate damaged nerve fibers that carry signals to and from the brain.
- The scientists aim to eventually apply the technique to humans.
What is a spinal cord injury?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="88b8d4e44e46b7d5fe49d1f3bca56078"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/dKtBC2Sg_Bg?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Cold hands and feet? Maybe it's your anxiety.
- When we feel anxious, the brain's fight or flight instinct kicks in, and the blood flow is redirected from your extremities towards the torso and vital organs.
- According to the CDC, 7.1% of children between the ages of 3-17 (approximately 4.4 million) have an anxiety diagnosis.
- Anxiety disorders will impact 31% of Americans at some point in their lives.