Nightmares: The Science and Solution of Those Frightening Visions during Sleep

Overview

We've nearly all been there at least once - awakened with a pounding heart and the memory of frightening scenes that seemed so real, but were conjured up and existed only in the sleeping mind. Nightmares affect people across countries and cultures, with some 10 percent of the world's population reporting recurrent nightmares. Parents have reported, and science has recorded, nightmares in children as young as 18 months old. Up to 40 percent of children aged 2 to 12 experience nightmares, as do some 35 percent of ...

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Nightmares: The Science and Solution of Those Frightening Visions During Sleep

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Overview

We've nearly all been there at least once - awakened with a pounding heart and the memory of frightening scenes that seemed so real, but were conjured up and existed only in the sleeping mind. Nightmares affect people across countries and cultures, with some 10 percent of the world's population reporting recurrent nightmares. Parents have reported, and science has recorded, nightmares in children as young as 18 months old. Up to 40 percent of children aged 2 to 12 experience nightmares, as do some 35 percent of veterans and 50 percent of adults with chronic illness. With this book, a psychologist widely known in his field shows how nightmares evolved and were useful to ancestral populations, and why nightmares may carry beneficial functional effects even today for people who suffer from the pulse-pumping dreams. McNamara brings us up to date on the biology of nightmares and what, specifically, happens in the brain during the event. He also explains the history and development of nightmares and likely causes, including traumatic events, psychological and physical disorders, and commonly consumed medications.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"…the author illustrates findings in clear tables and graphs and includes an extensive list of references…Well written and including a wealth of information…Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals."

-

Choice

"In the tradition of dream studies, McNamara breaks new ground for future theories about the nightmare. The nightmare resembles any other adaptive system, in its functional design and the problem it addressed for ancestral populations. For readers, fascinated with the origin of nightmares, the brain's physiology and current trends in neuroscience, McNamara's book offers a concrete and perhaps less bleak look at nightmares."

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Examiner.com

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313345128
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/30/2008
  • Series: Brain, Behavior, and Evolution Series
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

PATRICK MCNAMARA is Director of the Evolutionary Neurobehavior Laboratory at VA New England Health Care System and Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology at Boston University School of Medicine. He is also Series Editor for the Praeger series Brain, Behavior, and Evolution. McNamara is trained in Neurocognitive Science. He is a member of the Sleep Research Society and the Association for the Study of Dreams. He is currently researching problems of the evolution and phylogeny of REM and NREM sleep states.

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Table of Contents

Tables and Figures

Ch. 1 Approach to the Study of Nightmares 1

Shortcomings of the Standard "Take" on Nightmares 1

Nightmares Can Be Functional 2

Definition and Diagnostic Criteria for Recurrent Nightmares 5

Syndrome of Recurring Nightmares 7

The Sharing of Nightmares with Others 8

Ch. 2 Why Do Nightmares Occur in Children? 13

Sleep in Childhood 13

Dreaming in Childhood 18

Evolution of Childhood 20

Cognitive and Psychological Growth of the Child 21

Development of the Sense of Self in Children 22

Impact of Developmental Milestones on Nightmare Propensity in Children 24

Ch. 3 Content of Nightmares 27

Comparing Nightmare Content to Ordinary Dreams 27

Nightmare Content Scoring 28

Word Count Analyses of Barb Sanders' Nightmares 39

Nightmares as Compelling: The Case of "Precognitive Nightmares" 47

People Who Experience Extraordinary Dreams Must Be Extraordinary People 51

Ch. 4 Nightmares in Premodern Societies 53

Nightmares as Evidence of Extraordinary Powers in Ancestral Populations 53

Dreams in Premodern Societies 54

Cultural Context of Dreaming in Premodern Societies 55

Nightmare Sharing in Premodern Groups 60

Ch. 5 Biology of Nightmares 63

Normal Human Sleep Architecture 63

Sleep Rebound Effects and REM-NREM Imbalances in Production of Nightmares 64

Special Link between Nightmares and REM Sleep 65

Summary of REM Properties and Nightmares 72

Key Role of the Amygdala 72

Selected Neuropharmacological Agents Can Induce Nightmares 73

Neuroanatomy and Physiology of a Nightmare 73

Ch. 6 Personality and Psychopathological Correlates of Nightmares 75

Nightmares Are Not Reliably Associated with Loss of Function 75

DisordersInvolving Nightmares 76

Nightmares and Psychopathology 82

Ch. 7 Phenomenology of the Nightmare 83

Basic Visual Features 83

Emotional Atmosphere 83

Automaticity 84

Cognitive Content Elicits the Emotional Content 84

Creativity 84

"Compellingness" 85

Narrative Form 85

Self-Identity 85

Lack of Metaphor 86

Self-Reflectiveness 86

Mind Reading 86

Summary of Formal Features of Nightmares 87

Ch. 8 Theoretical Accounts of the Nightmare 89

Facts That Must Serve as the Basis for Nightmare Theory 89

Proposed Functional Theory of Nightmares 92

Costly Signaling Theory (CST) 101

Freud's View of Nightmares 106

Fisher's View of Nightmares 106

Kramer's View of Nightmares 106

Hartmann's View of Nightmares 107

Nielsen and Levin's View of Nightmares 107

Theory and Treatment Strategies 108

Ch. 9 Nightmares and Popular Culture 111

Movies, Nightmares, and Spirit Possession 111

Nightmare-Related Spirit Possession Is a Universal Phenomenon 112

Alien Abduction 116

Books, Nightmares, and Spirit Possession 117

Ch. 10 Interpretation of the Possession Theme in Nightmares 119

Selection of Nightmares with Spirit Possession Themes 120

Caveats in the Interpretation of Nightmares and Standard Explanations of the Possession Theme 120

Recurring Patterns in the Spirit-Possession Theme 122

Ch. 11 Conflict Theory and the Nightmare 135

Mind Is Not a Unity 135

Paradox of Mind Reading in Dreams: The Role of the "Stranger" 136

Male Strangers and Aggression in Dreams 138

REM-NREM Dissociations in the Dreaming Mind 138

Dreaming and Consciousness 140

Dream Agents/Characters Can Represent Genomes within the Individual 141

Effects of Imprinted Genes on Physiologic Systems Implicated in Growth 141

Effects of Imprinted Genes on Functional Brain Systems Implicated in Sleep Processes 142

Genomic Imprinting and Sleep-State Biology 143

Genetic Conflict and Dream Phenomenology 146

Concluding Remarks 148

App Additional Resources 151

References 153

Index 171

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