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Bull Menninger Clin. 1991 Fall;55(4):470-90.

The transformation of affect in posttraumatic nightmares.

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


The author questions the classical psychoanalytic assumptions that anxiety in posttraumatic nightmares arises from the same conflict represented in the manifest content of the nightmare, that such nightmares have no latent content, and that the day residue is insignificant. Such assumptions obscure the function of these nightmares, in which the dreamwork transforms shame into fear. Case material from two patients highlights the instigating role of posttraumatic dissociative states and shame in the day residue of posttraumatic nightmare sufferers. The author also emphasizes that conflict in the latent dream thoughts differs from that represented in the manifest content.

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