Compulsive fantasy: proposed evidence of an under-reported syndrome through a systematic study of 90 self-identified non-normative fantasizers

Conscious Cogn. 2011 Dec;20(4):1634-48. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2011.08.013. Epub 2011 Sep 29.


The experiences of 90 individuals who self-identify as "excessive" or "maladaptive" fantasizers are summarized in this report. Our sample consisted of 75 female and 15 male participants, ranging in age from 18 to 63 who responded to online announcements. Participants completed a 14-question emailed survey requesting descriptions of their fantasy habits and causes of potential distress regarding fantasy. Results demonstrated that participants shared a number of remarkably specific behaviors and concerns regarding their engagement in extensive periods of highly-structured, immersive imaginative experiences, including the use of kinesthetic activity which accompanies the fantasies of 79% of participants. Participants reported distress stemming from three factors: difficulty in controlling the need or desire to engage in fantasizing; concern that the quantity of fantasizing interfered with actual relationships and endeavors; and intense shame and exhaustive efforts to keep this behavior hidden from others. It is hoped that this report will encourage interest in this elusive syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Compulsive Behavior / psychology*
  • Fantasy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Psychological Tests
  • Social Isolation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Syndrome
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult