Types of nightmares
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Types of nightmares

Most people have nightmares about being chased; for children, the pursuer is usually an animal or a fantasy figure such as a monster. For adults, the pursuer is usually an unknown male figure. Nightmares also feature a king of replay of real-life traumatic events, and are often brought on by these events. Drugs, illness, and stress all seem to contribute to the likelihood that a dreamer will have a nightmare. But even without these factors in place, just about everyone has had a nightmare at some point in life. Nightmares are actually considered a normal part of child development, occurring frequently in children under age ten, who are still learning the basics of negotiating their fears and conflicts. Grown-ups have them too, however. In fact, studies suggest that as many as one in ten adults has nightmares at least once a month, with women reporting three times as many as men do. (Both children and adults can benefit a great deal from candid discussion of the monsters in their minds; for this reason, we believe there are no "bad dreams," though some are scary or disturbing.) Dream researcher Ernest Hartmann has discovered that, unlike people who suffer from night terrors, people who have frequent nightmares have a distinct personality profile. Hartmann reports that most nightmare sufferers were as sensitive as children, remember their childhoods clearly, have family histories of psychiatric disturbance, have had some bad drug experience, have contemplated suicide, have stormy relationships, and tend to have "fluid" sexual identities and "thin boundaries."

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