This idea needs to be expanded a bit.
The term itself is invented by Dr Pierre Grimes, an excellent philosopher of the old. His main inspiration is the ancient Greek philosophy and most notably Socrates, through the dialogues of Plato.
So what are the triggers that generate a tendency to go off into tangents?
Say, you are focusing on a piece of work, you are completely immersed in the task, to the point where you lose awareness of yourself.
But then suddenly, your focus shifts, swiftly and unexpectedly, and you find yourself on a tangent daydream.
So, your attention is redirected into a secondary storyline, and you let it unfold for an incomprehensible amount of time.
Now, we each have our daydreams (hopefully), the most important aspect is to examine where does this daydream lead to, is it useful in any way? Is it only a way of distracting yourself from the task at hand? What is it based on? How does it start? Does it have a desirable conclusion? What is the story behind it? Why is it holding you back from unraveling your piece of work? Is it enjoyable?
Does it bring any physical, psychological, or even, soulful elation? Or quite the contrary? Do you feel like it is dragging you down?
Pay attention to the very moment it enters your mind. What are the triggers? Is there any emotion attached to it? Is there a false image that you have created of yourself that is fueling these tangents?
Are you dreaming about your future? Are you building details around those future, possible events?
Are these dreams useful or not? Find out. They could be.
See if there are any patterns playing out within these storylines.
Are there any scenes you wished would happen in reality? Is there a chance that these might lead up to the attainment of your goal, or not? Do they have a common conclusion?
Be sure to make a distinction between some daydreams that are useful (I like to think that some of them are) and some that are not.
After all, these are ways of breaking away from the present, in which you are focusing on the task that might some day lead up to the completion of a stage in the development of your vision. That vision that could be the basis for your daydreams.
Give you an example : for me, there was a case of forceful education. I remember spending some of the most beautiful days of summer locked in a room trying to solve a wretched math problem.
All I wanted was to play outside. So I kept looking out the window, my mind wandering around all the games I might be playing in the garden. I remember the feeling of the cold, shady room and the patches of ink combined with tears of grief, and sorrow.
Nearing the end of the holiday, finally finishing the last problems, and after all the equations and the calculations and what not, the final sum of the total was a big fat zero.
I couldn't have imagined a more ridiculous joke. Now as I look back, I think it's priceless.
But the repercussions of those days? Those days when I should've been enjoying my holiday? The inability to focus at school, or at university, not having any desire to do well, do get proper grades. It just wasn't worth the effort.
Even now, when I sit with a specific task I'm not particularly fond of, I tend to wander off into dreamland, and completely lose focus and motivation.
Or almost any task, for that matter, that requires hours of sittings at the desk and solving problems of any kind.
In this context, the key is to find the exact use for the time spent sitting. And to keep switching between tasks that require physical intervention, and psychological intervention.
This is my pathologos.