from the cyber-dream Library, topics area.
There are a wide range of events during sleep
and wake that are often referred to as "nightmares" and it is wise to
learn to distinguish between them. Most of what we call nightmares are simply
extreme reactions and fear that accompany uncomfortable dreams that occur from
time to time in most everyone, usually towards the end of the sleep cycle. Often
we are awakened by a nightmare and there can be strong feelings of sadness,
anger or guilt, but usually fear and anxiety. Often we are being chased, and its
not unlikely for children to be chased by animals and fantasy figures, while
adults are often chased by male adults.
Night terrors usually occur during the first hour or two of sleep.
Screaming and thrashing about are common. The sleeper is hard to awaken and
usually remembers no more than an overwhelming feeling or a single scene, if
anything. Children who have night terrors also may have a tendency to sleepwalk
and/or urinate in bed. The causes of night terrors are not well understood,
though it appears that night terrors are from a distinctly different stage of
sleep. Children usually stop having them by puberty. They may be associated with
stress in adults. A consultation with a physician may be useful if the night
terrors are frequent or especially disturbing.
Why do we have nightmares?
Nightmares may have several causes, including drugs, medication, illness, trauma
or they may have no related cause and be spontaneous. Often they occur when
there is stress in one's waking life, and when major life changes are occurring.
What can be done about nightmares?
The Association for the Study of Dreams notes that "It really depends on
the source of the nightmare. To rule out drugs, medications or illness as a
cause, discussion with a physician is recommended. It is useful to encourage
young children to discuss their nightmares with their parents or other adults,
but they generally do not need treatment. If a child is suffering from recurrent
or very disturbing nightmares, the aid of a therapist may be required. The
therapist may have the child draw the nightmare, talk with the frightening
characters, or fantasize changes in the nightmare, in order help the child feel
safer and less frightened ."
Nightmares also offer the same opportunity that other dreams do, to
investigate the symbols and imagery for life enhancement. The challenge in the
last few decades for the dreamwork movement has been to teach a variety of
methods that replace the old phase "It was just a dream." In American
schools, people like Jill Gregory and Ann Wiseman teach children coping
mechanisms that allow the child to come into relationship with the dream
monsters and fears in a novel and related manner. Ernest Hartmann and other
researchers are finding that those who have "thin" personalities, or
sensitive, receptive individuals, are more likely to have nightmares than
"thick" personalities. Pioneers like Linda Magallon, Stephen Laberge
and Jayne Gackenbach are teaching people to take control of their dreams and
have the outcomes they wish rather than becoming the dream's victim.
The Association for the Study of Dreams offers some advice and books on
nightmares and you will find among its members the top researchers in the field.
NIGHTMARE BOOKS RECOMMENDED BY ASD
Wiseman, Ann Sayre (1986, 1989). Nightmare help. A guide for adults and
children. Ten Speed Press.
Krakow, Barry, and Neidhardt, Joseph (1992). Conquering bad dreams and
nightmares. Berkeley Books.
Hartmann, Ernest (1984).The Nightmare: The Psychology and Biology of
Terrifying Dreams. Basic books.
MORE ON NIGHTMARES
Cushway, Delia, and Sewell, Robyn (1992) Counseling with dreams and
Kellerman, Henry (Ed.) (1987). The Nightmare: Psychological and Biological
Foundations. Columbia University Press.
Lazar, Moshe (Ed) (1983). The Anxious Subject: Nightmares and Daymares in
Literature and Film.Undena.
Downing, J., and Marmorstein, E. (Eds.) Dreams and Nightmares: A Book of
Gestalt Therapy Sessions. New York: Harper and Row, 1973.
Do you have some favorites? Send them to me! Richard Wilkerson firstname.lastname@example.org