Nightmares

dream

dream, mental activity associated with the rapid-eye-movement (REM) period of sleep. It is commonly made up of a number of visual images, scenes or thoughts expressed in terms of seeing rather than in those of the other senses or in words. Electroencephalograph studies, measuring the electrical activity of the brain during REM sleep, have shown that young adults dream for 11/2 to 2 hours of every 8-hour period of sleep. Infants spend an average of 50% of their sleep in the REM phase (they are believed to dream more often than adults) a figure which decreases steadily with age. During dreams, blood pressure and heart rate increase, and breathing is quickened, but the body is otherwise immobile. Studies have shown that sleepers deprived of dream-sleep are likely to become irritable and lose coordination skills. Unusually frightening dreams are called nightmares, and daydreams are constructed fantasies that occur while the individual is awake. Studies have demonstrated the existence of lucid dreaming, where the individual is aware that he is dreaming and has a degree of control over his dream.

Sigmund Freud, in his pioneering work The Interpretation of Dreams (1900, tr. 1913), was one of the first to emphasize dreams as keys to the unconscious. He distinguished the manifest content of dreams—the dream as it is recalled by the individual—from the latent content or the meaning of the dream, which Freud saw in terms of wish fulfillment. C. G. Jung held that dreams function to reveal the unconscious mind, anticipate future events, and give expression to neglected areas of the dreamer's personality. Another theory, which PET scan studies appear to support, suggests that dreams are a result of electrical energy that stimulates memories located in various regions of the brain.

See J. A. Hobson, The Dreaming Brain (1988); M.-L. von Franz, Dreams (1991).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Dreams and Nightmares: The Origin and Meaning of Dreams
Ernest Hartmann.
Perseus Publishing, 2001
An Introduction to the Psychology of Dreaming
Kelly Bulkeley.
Praeger, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Ernest Hartmann on Nightmares and the Boundaries of the Mind" begins on p. 79
The Terror That Comes in the Night: An Experience-centered Study of Supernatural Assault Traditions
David J. Hufford.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982
Librarian’s tip: "Night Terrors" begins on p. 122
Sleep and Its Secrets: The River of Crystal Light
Michael S.; Aronoff.
Plenum Press, 1991
Librarian’s tip: "Nightmares" begins on p. 164
Advances and New Directions
Silvano Arieti; H. Keith H. Brodie.
Basic Books, 1981 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: "Nightmares" begins on p. 439
The Neuropsychology of Dreams: A Clinico-Anatomical Study
Mark Solms.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Recurring Nightmares" begins on p. 64
Sleep-Talking: Psychology and Psychophysiology
Arthur M. Arkin.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1981
Librarian’s tip: "The Night-Terror and Sleep-Utterance" begins on p. 365
The Nightmare Experience, Sleep Paralysis, and Witchcraft Accusations
Davies, Owen.
Folklore, Vol. 114, No. 2, August 2003
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Strange Encounters: Dreams and Nightmares of High School Students in Papua New Guinea
Epstein, A. L.
Oceania, Vol. 68, No. 3, March 1998
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Erotic Dreams and Nightmares from Antiquity to the Present *
Stewart, Charles.
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 8, No. 2, June 2002
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
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