Nightmares and trauma: a comparison of nightmares after combat with lifelong nightmares in veterans

Am J Psychiatry. 1984 Feb;141(2):187-90. doi: 10.1176/ajp.141.2.187.


In this study the chronic traumatic nightmares of men who had been in combat were found to differ from the lifelong nightmares of veterans with no combat experience in that they tended to occur earlier in the sleep cycle, were more likely to be replicas of actual events, and were more commonly accompanied by gross body movements. Traumatic nightmares may arise out of varying stages of sleep and are not confined to REM sleep alone. The group with lifelong nightmares showed evidence of thought disorder on the Rorschach. The men with posttraumatic stress disorder had failed to psychologically integrate their traumatic experiences and used dissociation as a way of dealing with strong affects.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Combat Disorders / psychology*
  • Dissociative Disorders / psychology
  • Dreams*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement
  • Personality
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Rorschach Test
  • Sleep Stages
  • Sleep, REM
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*