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Maladaptive daydreaming (compulsive fantasy) is a term first proposed by Eli Somer, to describe a condition in which an individual excessively daydreams or fantasizes, sometimes as a psychological response to prior trauma or abuse. This title has become popularly generalized[clarification needed] to incorporate a recently described syndrome of immersive or excessive daydreaming which is specifically characterized by attendant distress or functional impairment, whether or not it is contingent upon a history of trauma or abuse.
Excessive daydreaming may begin as an outlet for creativity, or as a method of escaping trauma or abuse. The daydreamer experiences very vivid and intricate fantasies and may become emotionally attached to the characters in their fantasies or express emotions they are feeling through vocal utterances or changing facial expressions, although most keep such behavior hidden from others. Maladaptive daydreamers know the difference between reality and fantasy; they realize that everything they are dreaming about is a fantasy. Some also exhibit symptoms similar to Asperger's Syndrome, ADHD or OCD[clarification needed].[quantify]Social anxiety and depression are often suffered by maladaptive daydreamers. A large number[clarification needed] also find their social lives are negatively impacted by this disorder.[medical citation needed] 79% of those self-identified as having excessive daydreams had a kinesthetic repetitive movement accompany their daydreaming, such as pacing, rocking, tapping, or shaking an object. Many others also move their hands around and make facial expressions: laughing, crying, whispering, and gesturing. Listening to music while daydreaming is common and hearing music may trigger a desire to daydream. A repetitive movement may be articulated to music while daydreaming. Watching a movie or reading a book can also trigger these desires.
Many people have novel or movie type fantasies. They create their own world, with characters, settings, plots, heroes, villains, and friends. They may also imagine storylines using the characters or settings from already existing works of fiction.
Some people have reported dizziness, headaches and other physical symptoms after daydreaming.