The Problem of Nightmares

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Dreaming is an important part of our lives. According to E. Hartmann (1998, p. 1.), we spend 5-15% of our lives dreaming. That’s approximately 10 years of a human life! Dreams can be pleasant and they are important for biological processes in our body. However, sometimes dreaming is not so enjoyable. Of all the adults, 2-8% has one or more nightmares per month (L. Chanin, 2011, Nightmares in Adults). Unfortunately, I am one of them. In general, nightmares are not regarded as serious issues but I think they should be because they can cause serious physical and psychological problems.

According to H. Kellerman (1987, p. 217), the word nightmare derives from the Old English word “mare”, which was a mythological demon who brought frightening dreams to people. The belief in the Mare goes back to the 13th century, maybe even further. Throughout history, nightmares have played a role in peoples’ lives. Evidence of that can be found in many different media. In Ancient Greek plays, nightmares are often a symbolic representation of a fact, like in Aeschylus's Oresteia, where Clytemnestra dreams of giving birth to a snake and later gets murdered by her son, Orestes. Other examples can be found in Shakespeare and a lot of horror movies.

Nightmares are common; everyone has them once in a while. You wake up, feel relieved, and move on or go back to sleep. L. Chanin (2011, Nightmares in Adults) states that usually, nightmares occurring at an adult age are related to stress or fever. Children are more likely to have nightmares because they have a strong imagination and fears start to develop. It is not yet proven what kind of function dreams have, therefore it is unknown why people experience nightmares, and if they might have a function (E. Hartmann, 1998). Freud’s opinion on dreams is that “Every dream is the fulfilment of a wish”, but if that were true for nightmares we would have a lot of masochists in the world. Although we don’t know why we experience nightmares, we...
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