Dreams that work: The relation of dream incorporation to adaptation to stressful events

Dreaming (Impact Factor: 0.84). 02/1991; 1(1):3-9. DOI: 10.1037/h0094312


Conducted sleep studies of 49 Ss going through divorce, 23 women and 26 men, at the time of the initial break-up and 1 yr later. 31 of these were diagnosed as depressed on a combined criterion of meeting the Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDC) and a Beck Depression score above 14, and 18 met neither criterion. The depressed and nondepressed Ss did not differ in Dream-like Fantasy, but did in Affect Strength and type. Depressed Ss who incorporated the ex-spouse into their dreams at the time of the break-up were significantly less depressed and significantly better adjusted to their new life at the follow-up point than Ss who did not. These dreams were rated as having stronger affect. Persons who are depressed during a stressful time in their lives, who dream with strong feelings, and who incorporate the stressor directly into their dreams appear to "work through" their depression more successfully than those who do not. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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    • "Such studies investigate the association between a dream characteristic and a subsequent waking life variable, neither of which is controlled by the experimenter. This means that such studies cannot give evidence for dream content having an effect, in that it may be that those who will recover from their divorce also dream of their spouse (Cartwright, 1991), and those who initially have poor performance on a maze learning task, and later have the greater improvement in performance, also dream of the task (Wamsley et al., 2010). These authors, and many other authors, of course, recognise and address this aspect of their experimental designs. "
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    ABSTRACT: This commentary argues firstly that we are so far from an account of what causes dream content that we should be cautious in linking that partial knowledge to a quest for function. Secondly, that it may be that all current data on the causes of dream content allow for the null hypothesis of dream function, that is, dreams do not have a function and dreaming has not been selected for during evolution. Thirdly, that the difficulty in investigating dream function is that the experimental designs currently used are of necessity correlational rather than a random assignment to dream content conditions. And, fourthly, that the continuity/discontinuity continuum needs to be augmented by an insight dimension.
    Preview · Article · Oct 2011 · International Journal of Dream Research
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    • "Levin and Nielsen (2007a) proposed that AL is primarily responsible for upsurges in DD generation, but that in the absence of accompanying AD, these incidents should be short-lived and unencumbered by concomitant increases in psychopathology. This contention is supported by research establishing a strong relation between stress and NMs (Cartwright, 1991; Picchioni et al., 2002; Wood, Bootzin, Rosenhan, Nolen-Hoeksema, & Jourden, 1992). Similarly, milder everyday events have been associated with temporary upsurges in DD (Duke & Davidson, 2002; Kroth, Thompson, Jackson, Pascali, & Ferreira, 2002). "
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    ABSTRACT: This is the first study to empirically investigate the heuristic model of dysphoric dreaming proposed by Levin and Nielsen (2007)34. Levin , R. and Nielsen , T. A. 2007. Disturbed dreaming, posttraumatic stress disorder, and affect distress: A review and neurocognitive model. Psychological Bulletin, 133: 482–528. [CrossRef], [PubMed], [Web of Science ®]View all references. Participants indicated their incidence of nightmares (NMs) and bad dreams (BDs) over 21 days, and rated their subsequent distress in daily dream logs. Results support the contention that the 2 constructs identified in the model, affect load (AL) and affect distress (AD), underlie NM production and are active in both the waking and sleeping states. As predicted, AL accounted for more unique variance to the prediction of incidences of disturbed dreaming (DD), whereas AD accounted for more unique variance to the prediction of distress over NMs and BDs. Taken together, these findings are consistent with Levin and Nielsen's (2007)34. Levin , R. and Nielsen , T. A. 2007. Disturbed dreaming, posttraumatic stress disorder, and affect distress: A review and neurocognitive model. Psychological Bulletin, 133: 482–528. [CrossRef], [PubMed], [Web of Science ®]View all references model and bolster earlier findings that suggest that distress about DD remains a crucial component in the relation between DD frequency and waking psychopathology.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · Behavioral Sleep Medicine
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    • "High- EA valence subjects tended to rate their negative dream emotions as less intense overall and to rate dream sadness, in particular, as less intense than did low-EA valence subjects, even though the groupsÕ dream emotions did not differ in other respects. These findings nevertheless implicate dreamed emotions in crossnight mood improvements as has been shown in several studies (Cartwright, 1991, 2005; Kramer and Roth, 1973, 1980). The latter effects were largely attributable to the presence of dreamed characters (Nielsen and Lara-Carrasco, 2007) and the mood changes were either in unhappiness or depression more generally. "
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    ABSTRACT: Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and dreaming may be implicated in cross-night adaptation to emotionally negative events. To evaluate the impact of REM sleep deprivation (REMD) and the presence of dream emotions on a possible emotional adaptation (EA) function, 35 healthy subjects randomly assigned to REMD (n = 17; mean age 26.4 +/- 4.3 years) and control (n = 18; mean age 23.7 +/- 4.4 years) groups underwent a partial REMD and control nights in the laboratory, respectively. In the evening preceding and morning following REMD, subjects rated neutral and negative pictures on scales of valence and arousal and EA scores were calculated. Subjects also rated dream emotions using the same scales and a 10-item emotions list. REMD was relatively successful in decreasing REM% on the experimental night, although a mean split procedure was applied to better differentiate subjects high and low in REM%. High and low groups differed - but in a direction contrary to expectations. Subjects high in REMD% showed greater adaptation to negative pictures on arousal ratings than did those low in REMD% (P < 0.05), even after statistically controlling sleep efficiency and awakening times. Subjects above the median on EA(valence) had less intense overall dream negativity (P < 0.005) and dream sadness (P < 0.004) than subjects below the median. A correlation between the emotional intensities of the morning dream and the morning picture ratings supports a possible emotional carry-over effect. REM sleep may enhance morning reactivity to negative emotional stimuli. Further, REM sleep and dreaming may be implicated in different dimensions of cross-night adaptation to negative emotions.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2009 · Journal of Sleep Research
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