The Intricate Link Between Maladaptive Daydreaming and Overthinking

The Intricate Link Between Maladaptive Daydreaming and Overthinking the intricate link between maladaptive daydreaming and overthinking

Maladaptive daydreaming is a fascinating phenomenon where someone immerses themselves in vivid, imaginative worlds, often filled with positive vibes. However, what’s not immediately apparent is how this seemingly harmless activity can be a catalyst for intensifying your overthinking tendencies. In this article, I will explore the reasons behind this connection, shedding light on why maladaptive daydreaming can exacerbate your overthinking and how it forms a never-ending feedback loop.

The Contrast Effect

The first reason behind the connection between maladaptive daydreaming and overthinking is the contrast effect. When you’re deep in a daydream, you’re transported to an alternate reality with vibrant images and an idealized life. Once you snap out of it and return to your actual life, you might find yourself comparing the two. This comparison creates a template for overthinking, as you analyze the disparities between your daydreams and reality. Your mind starts overthinking about what’s happening in your real life compared to the vivid, imaginary one you’ve created.

The Analytical Aspect

Maladaptive daydreamers are not just passive participants in their reveries; they become active analysts. When you exit a daydream, you may find yourself dissecting the characters, events, and possibilities within it. This analytical aspect of daydreaming can spill over into your overthinking tendencies. You begin to invest excessive mental energy in the content of your daydreams rather than focusing on your real-life situations, thereby perpetuating the cycle of overthinking.


As you continue to compare your daydreams to your actual life due to the stark contrast, self-criticism can creep in. You start to berate yourself and belittle your own accomplishments, feeling inadequate because your real life doesn’t measure up to your daydreams. This self-criticism fuels your overthinking by generating thoughts of your perceived inadequacies and the shortcomings of your actual life.

The Feedback Loop

The most compelling reason behind the connection between maladaptive daydreaming and overthinking is the creation of a feedback loop. Overthinking often leads to stress and anxiety. When you find yourself overwhelmed with these emotions, your mind instinctively seeks refuge in your favorite coping mechanism — maladaptive daydreaming. However, once you emerge from your daydream, you often find yourself in the same state of anxiety and stress, thus perpetuating the cycle.

Analogy: Picture this feedback loop as a hamster running on a wheel. Overthinking sets the wheel in motion, causing stress and anxiety, which, in turn, propel you into your daydreams. When you finally step off the wheel, you find yourself back at the beginning, trapped in a never-ending loop of overthinking.


In summary, the connection between maladaptive daydreaming and overthinking is multifaceted. The contrast effect, analytical tendencies, self-criticism, and the creation of a feedback loop all contribute to the intertwining of these two phenomena. Recognizing these connections can be the first step in breaking free from the cycle of overthinking and achieving a more mindful, present state of being. By addressing the root causes of overthinking, you can learn to appreciate your life as it is, freeing yourself from the shackles of excessive daydreaming that may have held you back.

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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