Instead, people who are daydreaming may be intensely ruminating on their future accomplishments, hopes, and goals. Research on daydreaming and other mind wandering has shown that this can help people generate innovative solutions to problems, an idea that the business world has started catching on to. But research is also showing that daydreaming can have a dark side.
The Science of Daydreams
But a recent article in Clinical Psychological Science , shows how the kind of spontaneous thoughts that just pop into our heads can sometimes have negative consequences. According to Igor Marchetti Ghent University and colleagues, individuals who struggle with negative emotions or who are under intense stress are particularly vulnerable to negative thoughts when their minds wander. When an at-risk individual is struggling to accomplish a goal, their spontaneous thoughts and daydreams may take a dark turn.
Marchetti and colleagues note that these repetitive, negative thoughts share many of the features of cognitive risk factors for depression. Some who experience MD want a way to stop it, while others find the prospect of life without their daydreams to be frightening.
The Science of Daydreams | The New Yorker
Still, while daydreaming might feel like an enjoyable, even productive way to pass the time, evidence suggests that it makes people less happy in the long run, particularly when used as a means to escape the present. Somer and his colleagues say more research is needed, and that treatment might be possible in the form of response-prevention technique similar to those used in treating OCD.
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