Maladaptive Daydreaming: Can Childhood Trauma Cause Maladaptive Daydreaming?

Maladaptive Daydreaming: Can Childhood Trauma Cause Maladaptive Daydreaming? maladaptive daydreaming: can childhood trauma cause maladaptive daydreaming?

The question often arises: can childhood trauma cause Maladaptive Daydreaming (MDD)? To answer this, we must first understand the relationship between trauma and MDD. It’s important to clarify that trauma itself doesn’t directly cause MDD. Instead, it’s the emotions and negative experiences associated with trauma that play a significant role.

Trauma, in essence, consists of emotions or experiences that one cannot process fully when they occur. These unresolved emotions become stored, like unwanted baggage, in the depths of your psyche. Rather than addressing and discarding these emotions, they accumulate over time and evolve into traumatic memories. This is where the connection between trauma and Maladaptive Daydreaming comes into play.


One of the fundamental links between trauma and MDD is escapism. Maladaptive daydreaming provides a refuge from the negative emotions and traumatic memories that one should ideally process. The mind recognizes that these emotions can be overwhelming, so it seeks solace in the imaginary world where it believes you can find temporary comfort and relief. It’s as though your mind is saying, “Here is a place where you can avoid confronting those painful emotions for a while.”

Emotional Regulation

Traumatic memories often resurface as triggers in real-life situations. These triggers bring forth a mixture of current and past emotions, creating a sense of being overwhelmed. In response, your mind seeks emotional regulation through Maladaptive Daydreaming. By escaping into your imaginative world, you can manage these intense emotions, even if it’s only temporarily. Your mind has learned that this coping mechanism offers a respite from the emotional turmoil.

Sense of Control

Trauma can leave individuals feeling powerless, especially during childhood when they may have had little control over their circumstances. This sense of powerlessness can become deeply ingrained. Rather than regaining control in their real lives, you may consciously or unconsciously turn to Maladaptive Daydreaming, where you feel a sense of control over the imaginative world they create. It provides a comforting illusion of mastery over your life, making you less inclined to address the real-life issues stemming from their traumatic experiences.


Avoidance is a common response to dealing with trauma. Facing and processing traumatic emotions can be daunting, and many individuals seek ways to avoid it. For Maladaptive Daydreamers, this avoidance often takes the form of retreating into their imaginative world. Instead of addressing and working through their unprocessed emotions, they choose to avoid them by indulging in daydreams.


While daydreaming, individuals often experience dissociation, a detachment from reality. This detachment shields them from experiencing the real-life emotions associated with their past traumas. By not feeling these emotions, they can temporarily escape the pain. As a result, their unresolved emotions remain buried, leading to further reliance on daydreaming as a means of avoidance and emotional numbing.

In summary, the connection between childhood trauma and Maladaptive Daydreaming lies in how MDD serves as a coping mechanism for dealing with unresolved emotions and traumatic memories. While daydreaming provides temporary relief, it does not facilitate the processing and healing of these emotions. To truly overcome the grip of trauma, individuals may need to explore therapeutic avenues that allow them to confront and process their past experiences. Healing is possible, and it begins with a willingness to face the pain and engage in constructive ways of dealing with it.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with overcoming and managing maladaptive daydreaming without spending years in therapy, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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