Thursday, October 6

Çağla Altıntaş on the Turkish community Özgür Düş and Maladaptive Daydreaming

In this video Turkish psychologist Çağla Altıntaş explains a bit about Maladaptive Daydreaming and her hopes for the Turkish community. English subtitles are available in the video and there is a transcription below

Özlem: Hello! Could you please tell us about yourself and about this Platform?

Altıntaş: Sure. My name is Çağla Altıntaş, I am a psychologist. I’ve created Özgür Düş Platform in order to convey information specifically about Maladaptive Daydreaming, to evaluate the accuracy of information scattered around the web and make it accessible to people that need it, and to make the scientifically accurate information more understandable.

Even though we are concentrating on maladaptive daydreaming content we create will also be interesting for people interested in psychology and self improvement.

Because, whether one has MD or not everyone needs to understand a bit of how our minds work in order to reach a level of mental comfort and a healthy mind.

And in accordance with this understanding they need to correctly pinpoint their needs and learn realistic ways to amend those needs.

Özlem: You mentioned Maladaptive Daydreaming, could you summarize what that is?

Altıntaş: Maladaptive daydreaming, or in short “MD”, is a complex psychopathology that develops around the behavioural addiction of fantasising. People experiencing distress with MD are usually people with strong imagination since childhood, and also they have a strength in a trait we call absorption.

Absorption is the trait- which everyone has, it is our capacity to focus on the book we read, the movie we watch. How easily and deeply a person is focused defines the strength of this trait. And with the people with strong imagination, this ability to focus also reflects on fantasising activity and they can focus very deeply on the fantasy they create. And this lets them almost experience their vivid imaginations.

Therefore, fantasising becomes a very rewarding experience for them. Because in a way, you are capable of going anywhere you want, at any time you want. And such a rewarding experience, naturally, is discovered around childhood in order to perhaps to entertain one’s self, or as a defensive mechanism to the environment, to cope with trauma, or to cope with stress. Fantasising becomes an often used mechanism of the mind, and after a certain amount of time, at some age, the person realizes they can’t stop this; they can’t stop fantasising.

This means fantasising has become a behavioural addiction at this point. It means it has become an unstoppable urge. And in time, this leads the person to sparing perhaps four, five hours a day, each day, to fantasise, as a separate activity from other activities.

And since it is an extremely rewarding and pleasurable activity, they start neglecting their real life needs and responsibilities, the activities they need in order to take care of themselves. Usually unaware of (the level of neglect). This, in the long run, causes their (mental and physical) health to decline. It causes depression. One of the additional reasons for depression is while the person fantasises this intensely and often, because we aren’t talking about simple, short imaginations here, it is creating new worlds, making imaginary characters live on, for years, keeping the same themes and perhaps the same storyline going, stories going on with time and emotional investment- which is not all but most cases. (Most cases) are themes that include the person with alternative existences.

Therefore, the person creates a standard for themselves -and reality- that can never be achieved. I mean, they can imagine such a perfect thing a perfect construct -in their opinion-, a desired construct that it makes the reality unable to satisfy them. These people never mistake imaginary and real, the distinction is very clear between the world they imagine and the real world.

And knowing that, that they can never make this reality reach and they themselves can’t reach the perfection in their imaginations, fills them with a very deep hopelessness. This creates the feeling of being trapped (in this reality) exactly for this reason, the discord between reality and daydream causes them a great [deal of] distress.

Özlem: Why Özgür Düş? Why did you want to specialize in MD?

Altıntaş: Because I, too, in my childhood, almost until the end of my early adulthood, I struggled with maladaptive daydreaming. Back then, there was no way for me to get help, because maladaptive daydreaming didn’t even have a name.

In 2002, for the first time, Eli Somer coined it and made the first remark in the literature. At the time I was looking for help, no one was even aware of the existence of such a thing. Therefore, when I asked for help, to get psychological counselling, even professionals couldn’t answer my needs.

They couldn’t understand the severity of the situation, or they couldn’t understand the importance (of my daydreams) for me. And no one alone could figure out the complexity of the problem anyway, that is why… Actually this is one of the reasons why I studied psychology.

To step in the profession myself, to go through the literature first hand, to figure out what is going on with my mind. But at the time, there was still nothing in the literature about this. Even my teachers and professors were uninformed about this. They still are uninformed to be honest, because the research is still at its infancy, though there [has been] considerable progress.

In the meantime, when I was in university, studying psychology, thinking this was a unique problem of mine, I found my own personal way out of this. Especially with the help of studying psychology and the tools this provided, I developed methods to cope with MD. Of course these solutions were all personally fitted to me.

In the last few months, I stumbled upon mentions of the name. Under the name of Maladaptive Daydreaming people had started to find each other. Because only if there is a common name for it one can say “Ah! This is the thing I have!” I was one of those people, I realized this is not unique to me.

When I joined those groups, what I saw was people were asking the same questions I was asking when I was in university, questions I was desperate to find answers to, and had no one to help finding them. And, this created in me a very strong sense of responsibility.

Even though I am not sure to whom and how much I can help but I feel the urge to do something. Because this is, in a way, a way to make amends for the lonely struggle in my past. Or to give it a meaning, in some way.

Özlem: And of course, now that you are a psychologist you possess a variety of professional tools, and offering these tools to people through the focus of MD could be easier for you.

Altıntaş: Yes.

Özlem: Then, what else are we offering to people, along with this Youtube channel? I mean, what do we do in Özgür Düş? Can you tell us about the variety? Especially with the Turkish online community?

Altıntaş: Gündüz Düşçüleri is the name they work under- as volunteers. We organise Discord meetings, every week. Every saturday at 8 pm, we gather, sometimes as Question and Answer sessions, sometimes we choose a topic beforehand and talk around that topic, this way, it becomes possible to have questions ready before the meeting. Sometimes we make presentations, for example, we made a presentation about emotions a few days back. Presentations about how such mechanisms work. All those meetings are already recorded. In time, in pieces, we plan to share those in this channel as podcasts. Same goes for the representation. In the future, there will most likely be other presentations on other subjects. 

And, beside all these, I offer personal counselling. This is not a long-termed, recovery oriented therapy; but instead it is an evaluation of the individual’s situation, a tool to pinpoint what they specifically need. You can contact me about this through our website, and other social platforms.

I hope (this initiative) helps people.