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Natural Awakenings

Go Ahead, Daydream: Turns out it's an essential, beneficial human activity.

Sep 02, 2010 04:02PM

Scientific interest in daydreaming was kicked off a decade ago, when Marcus Raichle, a neurologist and professor with Washington University in St. Louis, discovered that several parts of the brain become unusually active metabolically when the brain was thought to be idling. His findings further showed that daydreaming is the mind’s default mode... and that’s not a bad thing.

Today, researchers know that daydream content pretty much maps onto people’s everyday goals, aspirations and apprehensions, rather than being exotic meanderings. For the average person, daydreaming typically represents a kind of mental rehearsal, maintaining the brain in a state of readiness to respond. As pioneering psychologist Jerome Singer pointed out, “You can engage in trial action without any consequences. Such fantasies may fulfill a psychic need.”

In Psychology Today, author Josie Glausiusz reports that daydreaming seems to be an essential human activity. Daydreams help us generate our sense of self, hone social skills and serve as a font of creativity for those who pay attention to them, all of which make us feel vibrant, aware and engaged with life.


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