Hay Festival 2024: Authors Signified DayDreaming Important for Cognitive Development 

Hay Festival 2024: Authors Signified DayDreaming Important for Cognitive Development 


Hay Festival 2024 is around the corner with authors around the world collectively gathering for emphasis on reading and thinking. Lauren Child, one of the authors describes how daydreaming helps with anxious feelings.

DayDreaming is a word we have heard casually to lose one in a dream even without sleeping. We all have daydreamed at some point in our lives when our minds are wandering without any direction.

Sigmund Freud on DayDreaming

His controversial article “Creative Writing and Daydreaming”, signified the need for play in childhood and how this is expressed in the form of writing when they grow up. He focused on this nostalgic feeling as a part of daydreaming. In his other structural theory, daydreaming was identified as a crucial element of a medium for maintaining a balance between Id and superego.

To imagine oneself doing something that one desires instead of conducting in reality for a moral dilemma, daydreaming acts as a platform where one can do what one wants without thinking of its consequences and implications. Freud described daydreaming as a coping getaway with our unfulfilled wants so that smooth maintenance of consistent satisfaction is achieved. For him, it is an aspect that helps one to live the best for himself, even if it is for a few moments.

Daydreaming as a Developmental Milestone

In each stage of cognitive development, It acts as a crucial element. In the early years from ages 3 to 6 years, imaginative play has a major contributing role in developing thinking skills. Creating hypothetical scenarios in mind helps in better problem-solving. In the period of middle childhood, daydreaming manifests itself in further complexities, catering to the growing needs of linguistic as well as socio-cultural needs.

It has been proven to be an integral factor in emotional regulation where a child learns to develop the comprehension and response behaviour for experiencing diversified sets of emotions.

Along with this, problem-solving does not come in handy immediately, it takes a lot of hypothetical scenarios in children’s own world to develop the cognitive network required to perform the task of critical thinking and problem-solving as and when required in real life.

Role of Daydreaming in Creativity

Creativity is one of the essential character traits to transform the assimilated information into knowledge with real-world applications. Thinking out of the box, that is having an innovative and creative approach comes when a certain piece of information gets associated with a different part in our neural network giving us a combination of new inventive solutions that did not exist earlier or were not in our awareness.

It provides a platform that is not limited by external factors or consequences and judgment. Other people’s perceptions and judgments might directly hamper how a person thinks. Fear of judgment acts as a barrier to creativity. Here is the freedom to think openly, often giving the result of new productive outcomes, followed by a better self-image about one’s metacognition.

Read More: 15 Interesting Ways to Be Productive In Life

Social Comprehension

An individual might not experience everything in a social setup, but resonating with other fellow human beings is one of the foundational parts of human psycho-social culture. The virtues of empathy and sympathy are not possible without it. When we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, we daydream about a hypothetical situation where we put ourselves in. Along with this, people tend to have a mental makeup about social gatherings when they carry out hypothetical situations, not consciously before the event but while relaxing and thinking about a conversation that has a possibility of being carried out in the circumstances.

Maladaptive DayDreaming

It is beneficial but when it gets excessive, it can hamper healthy daily functioning in almost all aspects of life. What causes maladaptive daydreaming? It is often a coping mechanism developed by people who have been suffering from anxiety, depression, dissociated personality and other disorders. Schizophrenia is different from symptoms of hallucinations where differences between reality and imagination are hard to make. Maladaptive daydreaming can be impulsive in nature. Professional intervention can be utilised as therapeutic support. Reaching the cause of the impulsive habit of maladaptive daydreaming helps in developing customised strategic management

References +
  • Owen, L. (2024, May 31). Hay Festival: Lauren Child says daydreaming helps child anxiety. https://www.bbc.com/news/articles/cl77qkpg8wro
  • What daydreaming does to your mind. (n.d.). Greater Good. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_daydreaming_does_to_your_mind
  • Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.). Maladaptive daydreaming. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/23336-maladaptive-daydreaming
  • Gazetteterrymurphy, & Gazetteterrymurphy. (2024, January 11). What happens in the brain while daydreaming? Harvard Gazette. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2023/12/researchers-one-step-closer-to-understanding-daydreams/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8764487/

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