Sleep-Talking: Psychology and Psychophysiology

By Arthur M. Arkin | Go to book overview

9
Psychological Content of Somniloquy

CLINICAL AND ANECDOTAL LITERATURE

What sorts of things are said during sleep-talking episodes? Judging from the nonlaboratory literature under review, once again there is at least as much variability here as during wakeful speech.

In the most elaborate older paper on sleep-talking available, Andriani ( 1892) stated that:

The content of sleep-speech is often emotional, and reveals a desire, an unsatisfied wish, an awaited pleasure, a regret, or more often a state of fear, anxiety, anguish or terror. The terrifying ideas of ghosts, goblins and ogres in children, persecution ideas of the demented, the unconscious reproduction of dreadful events, a terrible remorse manifesting itself in an hypnagogic hallucination [sic], scenes of imminent peril or tenderness, the unconscious memory of many moral and physical sufferings, the thousand struggles of the mind, varied, intertwined and exaggerated by a dream -- these are the common subjects of sleep-talking [p. 305].

Among the specimens quoted by Andriani ( 1892) were those of two 13-yearold boys. One was given to experiencing terrifying dreams about the devil during which the sleeper took two parts. On the one hand, the sleeper cried out "We caught you, we caught you. "Concomitantly, he could smell the odor of sulphur and tar and shouted, "It is not I; it is not I; I didn't do anything!" The other boy was overhead to say, "Again! Again! I'm afraid! I don't want to!" [p. 307-308].

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