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I'm trying to fill in the gap in a sentence like this:

John's true skills were stagnating, even regressing, and in his ___, he increasingly indulged in fanciful daydreams where he would save the day, instead of facing his difficulties head-on.

I'm thinking of the word "decadence", but I feel like there's a word I'm not remembering that's a better fit.

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  • I think a bit more context is necessary. What sort of decadence - material, moral? Why is this guy dreaming of saving the day? What were his true skills?
    – user13141
    Oct 9 '11 at 19:01
  • This is purely material - he just is losing his touch at his profession, and he's avoiding dealing with it or trying to correct it by retreating into fantasy.
    – logarithm
    Oct 9 '11 at 19:04
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Decline was the first word that came to me, too.

If you're looking for a word to describe his funk itself, though, what about something like indifference or lassitude? Even malaise might fit.

These aren't synonyms of decadence, of course, but when I read your sentence, decadence isn't the word that jumps out at me.

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  • No problem. I think @kylben's downward spiral would do well, too.
    – user13141
    Oct 10 '11 at 8:11
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As alternatives, my ‘Collins Thesaurus’ gives degeneration, decline, corruption, fall, decay, deterioration, dissolution, perversion, dissipation, debasement and retrogression. But then again, perhaps you don’t mean decadence at all.

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  • perversion and debasement have a moral connotation that I'm not looking for - deterioration and decay are along the right lines. I suppose I might say John is just "in a funk", but I'm looking a word to describe being in that state.
    – logarithm
    Oct 9 '11 at 19:31
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The word I'd put into that sentence is "decline". "Downward spiral" could work, or if you want to express more of a mood, "funk" or "rut" might work. "Decay" hints at "decadence" without the moralistic overtones.

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If you wish to attribute John's decline in skills to age, you might use words like dotage, senescence, and wane or waning years.

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  • Was going to suggest dotage. Best fit for that place in the sentence anyway. Dec 26 '17 at 1:47
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How about "and as his X dulled", where X is a a metonymy for activity John had been skilled in?

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