Flirting with Fantasy

May 05, 2023

Flirting with Fantasy

Fantasy can be an enjoyable escape from stress, but what happens when the coping mechanism once used to distract from worries becomes an addiction that perpetuates the very issues that prompted withdrawal in the first place? You make a choice to wake up and quit daydreaming! In this blog post we will discuss the dangers of tuning out reality to engage in excessive daydreaming.

Dangers of Addictive Daydreaming

fantasy books

When I was younger, my number one goal in life was to be famous...literally. As a kid, I loved to sing and dance and I would do so obnoxiously to the annoyance of all my friends and family. We even shared an inside joke where if one of them attempted to tell me off for my random outbursts, I would scoff in fake offense, before telling them they would regret blowing me off after I got famous. The irony of all of this is even though we all laughed about it in the moment; I didn't even realize that somewhere deep inside of me I was dead serious.

For a while, living in this dream world I created helped to distract me from my real-world problems. And whenever I found myself bored, or sad with my everyday circumstances, I would slip into the comfort of my subconscious and dream up an elaborate celebrity-filled life.

But after some time, I realized in order to get the euphoric feeling I was striving for, I had to completely submerge myself in my fantasy world. This meant I constantly went over every intricate detail of the same thoughts for hours every day, just to ensure my "daydreams" were accurate and held some type of semblance to the public figures they were inspired by.

fantasy movies

Maladaptive Daydreaming

If you are a chronic daydreamer like I was and got to the point where you were desperate to get your head out of the clouds, you may have stumbled across these words in your quest searching for solutions. Still, if you are not familiar with the term, but have experienced difficulty tuning into reality when life got tough, it may very well be the name of the thing fueling your incessant daydreaming and absentmindedness. 

Basically, maladaptive daydreaming is a condition where a person spends more than half of their waking life immersed in a story they have created in their heads. The term was coined by Israeli professor Eli Somer, who defined the disorder as “extensive fantasy activity that replaces human interaction and or interferes with academic, interpersonal, or vocational functioning.”

Mental health experts note the condition is characterized by the following symptoms:

1. Vivid daydreams with  characters and settings 
2. Fantasizing that is triggered by real-life events
3. Trouble completing everyday tasks
4. Difficulty falling and staying asleep at night
5. An impulsive urge to disassociate with reality 
6. Performing repetitive movements while daydreaming
7. Making facial expressions while daydreaming
8. Whispering and talking while daydreaming
9. Daydreaming for a long period of time 

fantasy video games

Escaping Reality

Now if you’re anything like me, your mind may be running at a million miles per hour if you have experienced any of the symptoms above. Still, I want to assure you that regardless of how you may feel:

1. You are not crazy  
2. There are millions of people that are just like you

In fact, the difference between you actually slipping into insanity and nipping an unhealthy mental habit in the bud really depends on whether you choose to acknowledge that excessive daydreaming is a problem and whether or not you are willing to wake up, open your eyes and change the way you think. After all, the most accepted definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.

fantasy escape

God's view on Disassociation

While God gives us dreams and vivid imaginations, he did not design us to live in our heads for hours on end –and that's exactly what maladaptive daydreaming is.

So what does his word say?

Romans 12:2 NIV: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Proverbs 12:11 NIV: “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.”

1 Peter 1:13 NIV: “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.”

Isaiah 26:3 ESV: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

The Takeaway

Let’s set the record straight. Daydreaming is completely normal, but excessive fantasizing is a symptom of a much larger problem. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, there are millions of people all around the world who are dragging through a less than satisfactory life and living out their desired reality through a fantasy they have cultivated in their heads.

While this kind of behavior is expected and even tolerated in children up to a certain age, by the time a person grows out of their adolescence, they are expected to put off play-pretend and deal with whatever circumstance life brings their way.

The elephant in the room is that a lot of grown adults struggle to do this, and just like some people turn to external substances like drugs and alcohol to fill the voids in their lives, others retract inwardly and use their minds to imagine a world abundant with the things their real life lacks. Both types of coping mechanisms are equally damaging and addictive. 

fantasy wonder