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February 17, 2010 on 6:39 pm | In Dream Research, Nightmares | No Comments
The Nightmare

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Children are especially likely to have nightmares. In fact, nightmares are common in children. Nightmares typically start at around age 3 years old and continue till about age 7 or 8.

People with anxiety disorder might also experience what experts call night terrors. These are actually panic attacks that occur in sleep. It is especially difficult to remember these types of dreams since they conjure up terrifying images that we would just as soon forget.

In poetic myth, the Night Mare is a “small nettlesome mare, not more than thirteen hands high, of the breed familiar with the Elgin marbles: cream-colored, clean-limbed, with a long head, bluish eye, flowing mane and tail.”

Mares’ nests, “when one comes across them in dreams, lodged in rock-clefts or the branches of enormous hollow yews, are built of carefully chosen twigs lined with white horse-hair and the plumage of prophetic birds and littered with the jaw-bones and entrails of poets.” Thus, in a pagan world of myth and blood sacrifice, the Nightmare was a cruel, fearful creature.

Our modern word nightmare derives from the Middle English nihtmare (from niht, night, and mare, demon), an evil spirit believed to haunt and suffocate sleeping people. And so, in today’s world, when we speak of a nightmare we mean a frightening dream accompanied by a sensation of oppression and helplessness.

The blood-thirsty aspect of the mythic Nightmare, provides a clue about nightmares in general. In psychodynamic terms nightmares are graphic portrayals of raw, primitive emotions such as aggression and rage that have not been incorporated into the conscious psyche. Thus we tend to encounter these “ugly” aspects of our unconscious lives as terrifying dream images in whose presence we feel completely helpless. Continue reading Nightmares…

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