Maladaptive Daydreaming About Celebrities
One of the most common forms of maladaptive daydreaming involves celebrities or otherwise famous people being integrated into one's daydreams.
Of course, this is not always the case. For some their maladaptive daydreams involve a set of unique people perhaps entirely foreign to their real world (like in Amy's story).
For some their maladaptive daydreams loosely revolve around celebrities - whether athletes, movie stars, musicians, or generally famous people - being integrated in some way into their daydreams (like in Nick's story).
Why Celebrities Appear in Maladaptive Daydreams
Why celebrities so commonly occur in maladaptive daydreams is all quite logical.
One of the core attributes of maladaptive daydreaming is that you want to get lost in a fantasy world that doesn't overlap much with your own world.
This is part of what makes these types of daydreams maladaptive. Normal daydreams are adaptive because they often revolve around you "trying on different hats".
In other words, normal daydreams involve imagining what life would be like if went down some new - but conceivable - path in life. For example, if you're studying biology in college perhaps you could daydream about what life would be like if you switched your studies to accounting. Your daydreams would be adaptive because you could daydream about what the school work would be like, what the career prospects would be like, whether you'd enjoy being in an office environment, etc.
Our imagination - which is the engine that drives our daydreams - is an incredible tool in the tool box that helps us imagine what life would be like if we take a different path without actually having to go down that path to see for ourself.
Where maladaptive daydreams diverge from normal, adaptive daydreams is that they provide no real "value" to our existing lives. They are purely a distraction, a time sink, a diversion from the real issues we must confront.
While everyone needs a break from their real life every now and then, if you are maladaptive daydreaming for hours every day then eventually you're going to notice negative effects in your real life.
One of the easiest ways to construct a false world to get lost in - that has no overlap with your real world - is to use celebrities as a kind of starting point.
Instead of having to construct entirely artificial people from scratch in your mind, you can use what you know about celebrities (either in their real life, or in the characters they play) as that starting point for your maladaptive daydreams.
Using Celebrities is Often a Form of Aspirational Maladaptive Daydreaming
After having heard the stories of hundreds of maladaptive daydreams - from all over the world - as a result of the Maladaptive Daydreaming Test I think you can categorize maladaptive daydreaming into a number of types.
One of those types is what I call "aspirational" maladaptive daydreaming.
Aspirational maladaptive daydreaming is not necessarily healthy, but it is better than some other forms of maladaptive daydreaming.
This is because I find those who integrate celebrities into their daydreams tend to integrate what they imagine are the best attributes of those celebrities.
They imagine a life involving them in some way as being more joyful, interesting, or intriguing than what they believe is every possible in their own life.
Now it should go without saying that one of the most damaging aspects of maladaptive daydreaming is that it sets up false ideals; it imagines a life that is impractical.
Celebrities are notorious for their mental health struggles and being detached from reality in their own way. You should not imagine that their lives - despite what they may portray on social media - are so superior to anything that your life could become if you focused on your life.
A quick exercise you can engage in is thinking about what attributes of celebrities in your maladaptive daydreams are so enticing to you. Are they superficial (like their appearance) or are they more personal (their confidence, their intelligence, etc.)? What attributes are you superimposing on these celebrities that you recognize you lack in your own life?
Why Using Celebrities in Maladaptive Daydreams Causes Distress
For some, using celebrities in their maladaptive daydreams can cause quite a bit of distress.
This is because if you were to every tell a family member or friend that you spend hours a day immersed in maladaptive daydreams about a celebrity they would be, well, maybe slightly disturbed.
This causes distress because deep down the maladaptive daydreamer knows that this is all unhealthy. It's an unrealistic fantasy that does nothing for the "real" you.
Further, maladaptive daydreamers all realize - deep down - that the attributes they are superimposing on these celebrities are all constructs of your own mind.
If you were to ever really meet them you would find the way they act, what they talk about, what their interested in, etc. are all detached from what you have constructed in your mind.
Overcoming Maladaptive Daydreams Involving Celebrities
One of the easiest types of maladaptive daydreaming to overcome involve celebrities, which is great news if you have these types of maladaptive daydreams!
Before engaging in tactics to get rid of your maladaptive daydreams, you should first take a moment to ask yourself what your maladaptive daydreams are trying to tell you.
One of the few benefits of maladaptive daydreams is that they almost invariably involve your subconscious trying to tell you something.
With maladaptive daydreams of this type, it is usually quite easy to figure out what this is. Simply ask yourself some of the following:
- What attributes of the celebrity do I emphasize most?
- Are those attributes things I lack in my real life (for example, confidence)?
- What is it about the life I'm imagining - with the celebrity involved in some way - that I admire?
- What is it about these maladaptive daydreams that I find aspirational?
One of the quickest ways to overcome maladaptive daydreams is to simply take a long time to write down everything about your maladaptive daydreams.
This is one of the ironies of maladaptive daydreamers: they spend countless hours locked away in their own mind, but never actually write down what their daydreams involve.
In How to Stop Maladaptive Daydreaming, I provide the MD Survey, which is a series of questions and answers meant to get you to really explain your maladaptive daydreams.
You don't need to send this to anyone or ever show it to anyone. The simple act of writing down everything about your maladaptive daydreams and really thinking about why you're having them can have the effect of breaking the spell these daydreams have over you.
You begin to recognize the absurdity of having maladaptive daydreams. One thing everyone who has engaged in maladaptive daydreaming in the past has in common is how they now laugh at their past maladaptive daydreams.
They are almost all silly in how complex they are and how they often revolve around such absurd topics. Your maladaptive daydreams seem serious now. You hold them close to your chest. However, once you get them out on paper you'll begin the transformation to realizing how odd it was that you ever engaged in them.
The second, more powerful mechanism, is the trick I call "poisoning the well". I go over this in the book, but it essentially all boils down to making the characters in your daydreams have attributes, or take actions, that ruin the entire script. The whole idea is to turn your daydreams into something that you don't enjoy; to pierce the bubble of perfection that your daydreams are.
Maladaptive daydreaming about celebrities in some fashion is incredibly common. For many this is the first kind of maladaptive daydreaming that they have.
As I've explained, this is entirely logical. There's a lot of information about celebrities out there - such as interviews - so you can easily create a daydream around them. In other words, you have a lot of material to work with and don't have to start from scratch by creating a person who doesn't exist to play a role in your daydreams.
However, these maladaptive daydreams are like any other maladaptive daydreams in how dangerous they can be to your real life. They can suck hours of your waking life away every day and cause your real life to suffer.
Solving these maladaptive daydreams is easier than many other types. The process of overcoming them involves, as is the case for all types, with writing down what your daydreams are why you think they really occur.
You should be ruthlessly honest here. Trust me, it'll be more difficult than you can imagine. However, remember that you don't need to show anyone your results. They are purely for yourself to see the reality of your daydreams. You can tear it all up after you're done.
The next thing you want to do is engage in some of my tricks for solving MD - or the full seven-step process - with the best one probably being to poison the well.
Remember that the daydreams you've constructed are not based on reality. You're superimposing the way you wish someone were onto someone who in reality will not have all those attributes (no matter how much you may think they do).
By infusing your daydreams with the celebrity having attributes you don't like, that you find repulsive even - you will quickly soil the daydream. It'll no longer be that safe space you can retreat to, but instead lose all of its shine.
I'll leave you with a quote from Don Miguel Ruiz, from The Four Agreements.
All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.
As always, best of luck!