Self Help

Why Do People Want To Live In Their Dreams?

Humans endure a lot of challenges in everyday life, to escape from the stressors generated from the challenges, they dream. Dreams are the human mental creativity that allows us to see certain scenarios in a realistic and vivid way. One can see dreams with closed eyes as well as being in a conscious mind, and the dreams one sees in daylight and with a conscious presence of mind are known as daydreaming. These dreams often occur without conscious efforts or intention as they pop into the mind unexpectedly. It has a wide range of content from reliving past experiences to imagining future scenarios, problem-solving and fantasy scenarios.

Daydreams fulfil various psychological needs of a person. It has been shown that about 96 per cent of adults daydream every day, making it about half of the average person’s thoughts. And people spend about 50 per cent of their work hours daydreaming. It occurs when there is a lack of external stimulus to the brain and the attention is shifted towards the internal thoughts and feelings. Psychologists believe that daydreaming is a normal and necessary human activity. It is not a mental illness, but rather a cognitive escapism with many psychological benefits. However, excessive daydreaming which hinders normal functioning can be harmful.

Types of Daydreaming

Jerome Singer was the first psychologist who explored daydreaming deeply and classified it into three types: Positive-Constructive Daydreaming, Guilty-Dysphoric Daydreaming, and Poor Attentional Control:

Positive Constructive Daydreaming:

This type of imagination is light-hearted and one does not go deep into the thoughts and emotions. In fact, the positive Constructive type of daydreaming allows us to think creatively and out of the box. For example, any idea related to drawings or paintings can be classified under this type as it requires ideas which are unique in one way or another. It is often positively future-oriented and provides different benefits. Positive and constructive daydreaming may help someone become more creative, manage stress and anxiety, control their emotions and mood, and solve problems more effectively.

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Guilty- dysphoric Daydreaming:

In contradiction with positive–constructive daydreaming is Guilty –Dysphoric Daydreaming as in these the negative and unpleasant emotions are in the power of your thoughts. It produces negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, guilt, shame etc. One should take care of this type of daydreaming as it may lead to several psychopathological disorders such as depression, and anxiety. It can lead to obsessive and hostile behaviour which might turn harmful in the long also disrupts the normal functioning of an individual as the person is overly obsessed with their own negative thoughts and emotions and starts to harm themselves. it also includes intrusive thoughts mainly that are negative. This type of daydream occurs when an individual is rejected over and over with time, getting embarrassed in front of people, and failing to reach their desired target.

Also Read: How Dreams Promote Creativity? Researcher

Poor Attentional Control:

This type of daydreaming includes both the types of positive and negative thoughts related to daydreaming but with poor attentional control of the wakeful reality. This type of dreaming occurs when the individual is not able to concentrate on one thing and their mind get hindered by various thoughts and emotions at the same time. This ability to not concentrate properly leads to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). An example of poor attentional control is when u are doing one task say, cleaning your room and suddenly u see a pile of old pictures and start thinking of all the good memories. It can hinder the working of one task over another.

Is daydreaming good or bad?

On one hand, daydreaming provides a helpful means for escaping from the banal existence. People usually daydream to kill boredom at work and this daydream also alleviates emotional stress, conflict and physical pain. According to the psychologists Singer and Antrobus (1972), people who daydream on a regular basis are less psychologically reactant to stressful events

In the medical world, the daydreaming habit of people reduces the need for painkillers and visiting hospitals as their habit of daydreaming helps them to come up with medical pain. Daydreaming is also associated with the positive quality of promoting happiness. But on the other hand, it can be a symptom of excessive dissatisfaction in one’s life. Daydreaming and fantasising are seen by many professional psychologists as the primary indicators of mental disorder. Uncontrollable imaginations and daydreams may also be distressing in severe situations.

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Various psychopathological disorders related to daydreaming

As we know, daydreaming is not a mental condition, but excess of anything is bad and when one gets overly obsessed with their thoughts while daydreaming it leads to various psychopathological disorders such as dissociation, Obsessive – Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Attention – Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression. As already discussed above daydreaming has three types and all the types are related to the development of different disorders.


Dissociation is a disorder characterized by getting detached from the real world. It is often closely linked with daydreaming as it also involves getting detached from the real world in their world of fantasies, thoughts and emotions. The intensity of dissociation and daydreaming differ a bit as dissociation makes one more highly disconnected from the real world but if the person is highly obsessed with their dreams the intensity might be somewhat similar.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD):

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized as excessive thoughts that lead to repetitive behaviour. When one suffers from maladaptive daydreaming, they become obsessed with their own thoughts and emotions. They get triggered by the real world and often prefer to live in imagined world with fantasies and dreams. They overly repeat the behaviour and get attached to it. OCD eventually turns into daydreaming as people use it as a coping mechanism to retreat from anxiety and fear.


Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – when there is poor attentional control over one’s own thoughts and emotions it leads to poor concentration and focus. Which leads to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD. The concentration is not limited to one object, but it diffuses in many areas of our thinking and working.

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People struggling with negative thoughts and emotions often become overly obsessed with daydreaming, and this is also linked with the most known disorder, depression. Which eventually can lead to feelings of loneliness, and hopefulness and one might feel low confidence about everything.

With various positive effects come negative ones too. One should be aware of the positive and negative effects of daydreaming and indulge oneself in certain activities and hobbies to shift their thinking from an imagined to a realistic one.

You can read these books to learn more about Daydreaming:
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