Maladaptive Daydreaming: Epidemiological Data on a Newly Identified Syndrome

Nirit Soffer-Dudek, Nitzan Theodor-Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Maladaptive Daydreaming (MD) is a recently identified psychological disorder, characterized by excessively and addictively engaging in vivid, narrative, intensely emotional fantasy activity, at times with the aid of music and/or repetitive movements, causing distress and functional impairment. Over 100,000 self-diagnosed individuals are active online and thousands of them have been researched; yet there are no studies using clinical interviews on large, systematic general (non-MD) samples, to assess the estimated prevalence of this suggested disorder, and establish norms for its main psychometric tool. Methods: Four independent Israeli samples (three student samples, and one sample representing the general Jewish-Israeli population; total N = 1,023) self-reported MD. In two samples, those exceeding the cutoff score for suspected MD were invited for a structured clinical interview. Results: The skewness of most items of the 16-item Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS-16) supports the notion of MD as a binary construct rather than a normally distributed trait. In the community sample, 4.2% exceeded the cutoff for suspected MD. Rates were higher when focusing on the young adult age group or student samples (5.5–8.5%), suggesting a likely age effect. Following clinical interviews, only 60% of interviewed respondents met criteria for diagnosis, suggesting a true point-prevalence of 2.5% in the Israeli-Jewish population. Conclusions: This is the first systematic clinical evaluation of the prevalence of MD. In an Israeli sample, a point-prevalence of 2.5% was found, like several other internalizing psychiatric syndromes. This result, along with the Non-normal nature of item distribution, both support the validity of MD as a psychological disorder, which should be considered as a potential addition to future psychiatric diagnostic manuals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number871041
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
StatePublished - 27 Apr 2022


  • Maladaptive Daydreaming
  • absorption
  • daydreaming
  • epidemiology
  • fantasy
  • norms
  • prevalence
  • psychopathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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