Offender-Nightmares: Two Pilot Studies

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Being the victim of an aggressor in nightmares is quite common for most persons, but there are also nightmares where the dream-self can become the offender. Two studies were conducted in two nonclinical samples of participants with frequent nightmares to investigate the so-called offender-nightmares. Study 1 served to assess the frequency of offender-nightmares in persons with frequent nightmares and the motives and actions in these dreams during a 28-day interval, whereas in Study 2, correlations to personality variables were investigated. The results indicate that the occurrence of offender-nightmares is not negligible; about 18% to 28% of the reported nightmares were classified as offender-nightmares. Most of the aggressive acts in these dreams were intentional, and killing a person was the most prominent offender’s act, with self-defense being the most common motive. Persons with offender-nightmares were also found to have been more violent in the past than persons without offender-nightmares and persons without nightmares. In addition, they scored higher in neuroticism and aggression, reported more creative achievements than persons without nightmares, and had more creative achievements than persons without offender-nightmares. The results suggest that offender-nightmares are rather common in people who frequently have nightmares and that these dreams are related to aggressiveness, creativity, and previous violent experiences.

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