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Nightmares as an Abnormal Behavior

This paper will discuss nightmares as an abnormal behavior, using the guidelines provided in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental Disorders, third edition, revised (DSM-III-R). According to the classifications in DSM-III-R, there are three categories of "parasomnias," or abnormal behaviors during sleep. These are sleepwalking, sleep terror, and dream anxiety disorder (recurring nightmares). In dream anxiety disorder, the patient has frequent nightmares which generally present "threats to survival, security, or self-esteem" (APA, 1987, p. 308). These nightmares usually occur toward the end of the sleep cycle, when the patient is engaged in rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep (APA, 1987, p. 308). An important feature of dream anxiety disorder is the fact that the patient usually becomes quickly oriented upon awakening and has a vivid memory of the nightmare which has just taken place (APA, 1987, p. 308). The DSM-III-R notes that nightmare disorder is more common among women than men. Studies conducted by independent researchers have supported this fact. For example, Evans (1983) has noted that approximately 9 percent of women experience nightmares often and 13 percent of women experience them never, whereas approximately 4 percent of men experience nightmares often and 22 percent of men experience them never (p. 178).

It is indicated in the DSM-III-R that dream anxiety disorder is more common in younger people than it is in older people. In this regard, over half of the reported cases of the disorder are found in children under the age of ten and about two-thirds of the cases are to be found in persons under the age of twenty (APA, 1987, p. 309). When recurrent nightmares occur in childhood, they are "often related to maturational factors and to specific developmental phases" (Vela-Bueno, Soldatos, & Julius, 1987, p. 467). For this reason, young patients suffering from the disorder ...

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Nightmares as an Abnormal Behavior. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:13, April 21, 2019, from