- Daydreams are an inner world where we can rehearse the future and imagine new adventures without risk. Allowing the mind to roam freely can aid creativity—but only if we pay attention to the content of our daydreams.
- Neuroscientists have identified the “default network”—a web of brain regions that become active when we mentally drift away from the task at hand into our own reveries.
- When daydreaming turns addictive and compulsive, it can overwhelm normal functioning, impeding relationships and work.
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When Rachel Stein (not her real name) was a small child, she would pace around in a circle shaking a string for hours at a time, mentally spinning intricate alternative plots for her favorite television shows. Usually she was the star—the imaginary seventh child in The Brady Bunch, for example. “Around the age of eight or nine, my older brother said, ‘You’re doing this on the front lawn, and the neighbors are looking at you. You just can’t do it anymore,’ ” Stein recalls. So
she retreated to her bedroom, reveling in her elaborate reveries alone. As she grew older, the television shows changed—first General Hospital, then The West Wing—but her intense need to immerse herself in her imaginary world did not.
This article was originally published with the title Living in a Dream World.