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Hillside J Clin Psychiatry. 1989;11(2):169-83.

Post-traumatic nightmares and the family.

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  • 1Family Treatment Program, Brentwood Division, West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, CA.


The authors conducted a systematic investigation of nightmares in consecutive admissions to an inpatient unit at a Veteran Administration hospital for a six-month period. Fifteen of the 41 nightmare sufferers identified their nightmares as post-traumatic. Examination of the nightmares in the light of family histories revealed that familial dysfunction from many points in the nightmare sufferers' life histories found clear-cut representation in the nightmare scenario. In this sample, post-traumatic nightmares dealt not only with the identified trauma, but also with a lifelong continuum of family stresses for which the traumatic scene served as a screen.

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