Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale

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    What is maladaptive daydreaming?

    Maladaptive daydreaming (MD) is extensive fantasy activity that replaces human interaction and/or interferes with academic, interpersonal, or vocational functioning. - Eli Somer (2002)
    Maladaptive Daydreaming (MD) is a proposed mental health condition involving compulsive or excessive daydreaming that interferes with everyday life.[2]

    Maladaptive daydreamers
    "spend hours completely absorbed in highly structured and very fanciful daydreams, often often accompanied by stereotypical movements, hindering functioning and participation in everyday life".[2], [4]
    Maladaptive daydreaming may occur when listening to music, or when pacing, rocking, or making certain hand movements. Ross et al. (2020) states that maladaptive daydreaming is not a variation of normal daydreaming or normal absorption due to:
    • obsessive-compulsive aspects, which are not explained by absorption
    • the clinically significant levels of distress it causes
    • the significant impairment it causes [9]
    Maladaptive daydreaming was originally considered a dissociative disorder involving absorption by Somer (2002),[1] but Somer has also suggested alternative concepts including behavioral addiction, disturbance of attention (attention deficits) and the obsessive-compulsive spectrum.[7], [11]

    The 16 item Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale

    Maladaptive daydreaming scale. Find your score!
    The Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS-16) is a simple self-assessment questionnaire that was developed in 2016 to help determine if someone is likely to be experiencing maladaptive daydreaming, and their level of symptoms, although as a self-assessment tool it cannot provide a medical diagnosis.[4] It is suitable for adolescents and adults (ages 13+).
    The maladaptive daydreaming scale has been translated into multiple different languages.[2], [3]

    This page is an electronic version of the English MDS-16 self-assessment questionnaire.
    This self-assessment tool is not a substitute for clinical diagnosis and should not be considered advice. By using the tool you agree to accept that the website's owner and contributors are not responsible or liable for the outcome of the tool, the accuracy of the calculations, or any decisions or events which result from using it. You can use the feedback form to report any mistake. This website does not provide medical advice.
    Your results are not collected by this website, or sent anywhere. Privacy policy.

    The 16 item Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale

     By (2016).

    There are 16 questions. These questions have been designed to assess levels of maladaptive daydreaming in adolescents or adults.

    Instructions: In answering the following questions, please refer to your daydreaming activities in the last month, if not otherwise specified. Choose the option that best fits your experience.
    For example: Some people get so caught up in their daydreaming that they forget where they are. How often do you forget where you are when you daydream?

    In this example, 20% is chosen.

    (0% Never, 100% Extremely frequent)
    The 16 item Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale 1. Some people notice that certain music can trigger their daydreaming. To what extent does music activate your daydreaming?
    (0% Never, 100% Very often)
    2. Some people feel a need to continue a daydream that was interrupted by a real world event at a later point. When a real world event has interrupted one of your daydreams, how strong was your need or urge to return to that daydream as soon as possible?
    (0% No urge at all, 100% Extreme urge)
    3. How often are your current daydreams accompanied by vocal noises or facial expressions (e.g. laughing, talking or mouthing the words)?
    (0% Never, 100% Extremely frequent)
    4. If you go through a period of time when you are not able to daydream as much as usual due to real world obligations, how distressed are you by your inability to find time to daydream?
    (0% No distress at all, 100% Extreme distress)
    5. Some people have the experience of their daydreaming interfering with their daily chores or tasks. How much does your daydreaming interfere with your ability to get basic chores accomplished?
    (0% No interference at all, 100% Extreme interference)
    6. Some people feel distressed or concerned about the amount of time they spend daydreaming. How distressed do you currently feel about the amount of time you spend daydreaming?
    (0% No distress at all, 100% Extreme distress)
    7. When you know you have had something important or challenging to pay attention to or finish, how difficult was it for you to stay on task and complete the goal without daydreaming?
    (0% No difficulty at all, 100% Extreme difficulty)
    8. Some people have the experience of their daydreaming hindering the things that are most important to them. How much do you feel that your daydreaming activities interfere with achieving your overall life goals?
    (0% No interference at all, 100% Extreme interference)
    9. Some people experience difficulties in controlling or limiting their daydreaming. How difficult has it been for you to keep your daydreaming under control?
    (0% No difficulty at all, 100% Extreme difficulty)
    10. Some people feel annoyed when a real world event interrupts one of their daydreams. When the real world interrupts one of your daydreams, on average how annoyed do you feel?
    (0% No annoyance at all, 100% Extreme annoyance)
    11. Some people have the experience of their daydreaming interfering with their academic/occupational success or personal achievements. How much does your daydreaming interfere with your academic/occupational success?
    (0% No interference at all, 100% Extreme interference)
    12. Some people would rather daydream than do most other things. To what extent would you rather daydream than engage with other people or participate in social activities or hobbies?
    (0% Not at all, 100% To the fullest extent)
    13. When you first wake up in the morning, how strong has your urge been to immediately start daydreaming?
    (0% No urge at all, 100% Extreme urge)
    14. How often are your current daydreams accompanied by physical activity such as pacing, swinging or shaking your hands?
    (0% Never, 100% Very often)
    15. Some people love to daydream. While you are daydreaming, to what extent do you find it comforting and/or enjoyable?
    (0% Not comforting/enjoyable at all, 100% Very comforting/enjoyable)
    16. Some people find it hard to maintain their daydreaming when they are not listening to music. To what extent is your daydreaming dependent on continued listening to music?
    (0% Not dependent, 100% Totally dependent)
    Based on a tally quiz generated by
    D.K. Jordan's quiz maker

    Scores Explained

    Scroll down after pressing the Calculate button to see your result. The score is the mean average of all the answers, so the minimum score is 0 and the maximum score is 100.[2]
    The result of this questionnaire may vary from the pen and paper version. The typical and expected score ranges in non-English speakers may differ when using the English version, and expected scores in certain populations or groups of people may differ, because research is still ongoing.

    Press the Clear button to remove the results from your screen after using the tool.

    Interpreting scores
    0 to 39Normal range, maladaptive daydreaming is unlikely
    36.4Average score for in-patients with DID in a trauma unit (33 patients, included some maladaptive daydreamers) [9]
    40 or aboveProbable maladaptive daydreaming [10]
    66.91average score for probable maladaptive daydreamers in a study of over 500 [20]
    These scores are for adolescents and adults aged 13 or over.[3], [10] Children may have higher or lower score ranges. A clinical assessment is needed for diagnosis.[3], [4]

    About Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale scores
    This page is for information only and does not provide medical advice. If you score in the high range then a clinical assessment from a trained clinician would still be needed to make a diagnosis; although Maladaptive Daydreaming is not a generally accepted diagnosis, proposed diagnostic criteria have been published.[4]

    DID and Maladaptive Daydreaming

    Similarities and differences between Maladaptive Daydreaming and Dissociative Identity Disorder
    Similarities and differences between Maladaptive Daydreaming and Dissociative Identity Disorder. ©Ross, Ridgway & George (2020). Psych Res Clin Pract. 2020; 2:53–61. CC BY-NC.


    Maladaptive Daydreaming may, in some people, be incorrectly self-diagnosed as — symptoms similar to Dissociative Identity Disorder but without amnesia —sometimes known as OSDD-1b [13] or
    (DID) due to overlapping features which may include:
    • a private inner world in which alter personalities (in DID/OSDD) or inner characters (in maladaptive daydreaming) can interact with each other
    • a minority of people with DID have "fantastic landscapes" in an inner world, and "inner characters" who do not participate in therapy
    • mental detachment in the form of absorption, where there is a lack of awareness of events in the environment because attention is focused inwards
    • persistent dissociation that is not limited to absorption, e.g. involving depersonalization and other types of dissociation, and
    • a history of childhood emotional abuse is common in both maladaptive daydreaming and DID/OSDD
    • a sense of presence of the inner characters in maladaptive daydreaming, which could be confused with an awareness of some of the actions or thoughts of alters in DID (known as co-consciousness or co-presence).[3], [6], [8], [9], [13]
    Although some people with DID or OSDD have a sense of an "internal world", and are aware of alter personalities that interact with each other (including in an internal world), these are not universal features of DID or OSDD, and are not mentioned in the diagnostic criteria. [14], [15], [16]

    Polyfragmented DID and Maladaptive Daydreaming

    A significant minority of people with DID have over 100 alter identities, which is known as polyfragmented DID. Maladaptive daydreamers may also have a large number of inner characters, sometimes hundreds or thousands.[9]
    Despite the clear differences between the two disorders, some cases of dissociative identity disorder with large numbers of identity states, the complexity and elaboration of the inner characters, and their interactions can resemble those in maladaptive daydreaming —Ross, C.A., Ridgway, J., & George, N. (2020)

    Differences from DID/OSDD

    Significant differences exist between maladaptive daydreaming and the complex dissociative disorders Dissociative Identity Disorder and Other Specified Dissociative Disorder type 1 [2], [5], [9] which go beyond the differences in the diagnostic criteria, and maladaptive daydreamers present differently to people with DID or OSDD in clinical practice. [13]
    Differences between maladaptive daydreaming and DID/OSDD-1 include:
    • Daydreaming and dissociative symptoms in DID and OSDD are not triggered, maintained or enhanced when the person makes stereotypical movements such as pacing, in DID and OSDD triggers typically cause flashbacks, identity alteration (switching) or dissociation other than daydreaming [5]
    • People without maladaptive daydreaming have no desire for evocative music to "enhance" their daydreaming or dissociation
    • People with DID or OSDD do not yearn to spend many hours a day daydreaming or find daydreaming extremely rewarding.[14], [15], [16]
    • in DID/OSDD, people have multiple dissociative parts to their personality, which may feel either like different sides or aspects of them (e.g., "me but a different me") or may feel totally different to them (e.g., "not me", like having "multiple personalities" that physically take control of their body), [21] but in maladaptive daydreaming the inner characters and their interactions are purely fantasy, e.g., intricate plots with characters who act out ongoing themes or stories, often with an idealized version of the self or feeling like the narrator [1], [9], [11]
    • Unlike DID and OSDD, in maladaptive daydreamers, the inner characters (which they may describe as "personalities" or "alters") never physically take executive control. In DID/OSDD alter personalities are not "inner" characters - they physically take control, alters can talk to other people or engage in self-destructive behaviors causing physical injury such as cutting the person's body.[1], [5], [9]
    • Co-morbid Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (especially the inattentive type) is extremely common in maladaptive daydreamers, affecting about 75%,[5] but is far less common in DID/OSDD. Co-morbid is uncommon in maladaptive daydreamers, [5] but is extremely common in DID/OSDD. [21]
    • A history of childhood is reported by 80-95% of people with DID/OSDD but is significantly less common in maladaptive daydreamers.[5], [9], [19] Maladaptive daydreamers have often experienced a range of adverse childhood experiences, including childhood emotional abuse, physical neglect, witnessing parental violence, and parental separation; only a subgroup are suvivors of childhood physical and sexual abuse.
    • Current social isolation is a one of two potential pathways linked to developing maladaptive daydreaming,[11] but is not linked to developing DID/OSDD.[5]
    • Co-morbid obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, particularly excoriation disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder affect over half maladaptive daydreamers, but far less common in people with DID/OSDD.[5], [21]
    DID or OSDD-1 can only be diagnosed when symptoms cannot be better explained by another psychiatric or medical condition (e.g. maladaptive daydreaming), but a subgroup of people have both maladaptive daydreaming in addition to DID or OSDD.[5], [9]
    The Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS-16) is the primary screening tool developed to assess for Maladaptive Daydreaming, it does not assess dissociative symptoms unrelated to daydreaming.[3], [11]

    Structured Clinical Interview for Maladaptive Daydreaming

    The Structured Clinical Interview for Maladaptive Daydreaming (SCIMD) was developed in 2017 to diagnose maladaptive daydreaming based on the proposed diagnostic criteria.[4]

    Further self-assessment measures

    The Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES) is a screening tool commonly used to assess if someone is likely to have Dissociative Identity Disorder or similar forms of Other Specified Dissociative Disorder/Partial Dissociative Identity Disorder.
    In a study of 100 in-patients at a trauma unit specializing in dissociative disorders, the thirty-three people with DID scored an average of 51.6 on the Dissociative Experiences Scale (and an average of 36.4 on the MDS-16), showing a very high level of dissociation.[9] The study found 49% of patients had maladaptive daydreaming disorder with 23% having unspecified maladaptive daydreaming (subthreshold symptoms), and 89% of the full group had DID or OSDD.[9] However, maladaptive daydreamers were more likely to have ADHD (especially the inattentive type), an anxiety disorder (especially social anxiety or generalized anxiety disorders), depression or an obsessive-compulsive related disorder (particularly excoriation/skin picking or OCD) than a co-morbid dissociative disorder.[5] A relatively small study of 39 maladaptive daydreamers found 12.8% had a co-morbid dissociative disorder (Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder, Dissociative Amnesia or Unspecified Dissociative Disorder), but none had DID or OSDD - however groups of less than 100 are unlikely to be large enough to definitely contain people with DID or OSDD.[5]

    Somer et al. 2016's study of 336 adult maladaptive daydreamers found they had an average DES score of 29.79, which is very similar to the DES cut-off score of 30 that indicating a possible dissociative disorder, and very close to the average DES score of 31 found in people with posttraumatic stress disorder - but much lower than is typical for DID. [2], [9], [17] People with Other Specified Dissociative Disorder score an average of 36 on the DES, and people with DID score much higher, averaging 48, although a clinical interview is needed to diagnose. [17]

    The Creative Experiences Questionnaire (CEQ by Merckelbach et al. 2001, which assesses fantasy-proneness during childhood has been found to show higher scores in maladaptive daydreamers than in people with DID/OSDD or the general population.[2] Maladaptive daydreamers scored an average of 13.75 on the CEQ,[2] but people with DID are no more fantasy-prone than the general population, with Nijenhuis & Reinders (2016) reporting an average CEQ score of 9.83 for people with DID.[14], [18]

    The Adverse Childhood Experiences scale (ACE) is a standardized way to measure potentially harmful childhood experiences, including abuse and neglect, which may be useful identifying levels of childhood abuse, maltreatment and adversity; ACE scores are higher in people with DID/OSDD-1 than in maladaptive daydreamers without co-morbid DID or OSDD-1.

    Cite this page . Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale. Retrieved from .

    The 16 item Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS-16) including questions, answers and scoring is copyrighted to (2016). It was published with the following copyright information:
    "The MDS-16 is an open access measure and is available for research and clinical use without charge. We request that any research paper and publication that will have used the MDS-16 be shared with the ICMDR team, regardless of the language of the manuscript, with the understanding that we might add it to our online repository of MD publications."
    The remaining information can be copied or modified for any purpose, including commercially, a link back would be appreciated. License: CC BY-SA 4.0
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