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Dreams in obsessive-compulsive disorder: an analysis of semantic and emotional content compared to controls.

Sauteraud A, et al. J Psychosom Res. 2001.


OBJECTIVE: We sought to investigate the content of the dreams of obsessive-compulsive outpatients in the light of the following postulate: if dreams play a role in the processing of information and mental storage of events of the day, the dream recollections of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) patients should present evidence of diurnal obsessive or ritual themes.

METHOD: On seven successive mornings, immediately after awakening in their home environment, 10 nondepressed OCD patients and 11 controls recorded their recollections of the night's dreams on an audiotape. After randomization of dreams, two judges were asked to carry out a blind evaluation of the emotional characteristics perceptible in these dreams and the presence of obsessive or ritual themes.

RESULTS: 47 dreams were collected in the OCD group and 55 in the control group. No differences were found between the two groups regarding anxiety, sadness, the theme of failure, or the presence of obsessive or ritual themes. About 60% of OCD patients and 73% of the control group recounted dreams expressing anxiety, sadness, or failure. Most surprisingly, in the control group as well as in the OCD group, about one-third of subjects presented obsessive or ritual themes in their dreams.

CONCLUSION: These data suggest that there is no evident link between diurnal mental activity and the morning recollection of nocturnal dreams regarding anxiety, failure, sadness, and obsessive-compulsive themes.


11516768 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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