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Dreaming. 2007 Jun;17(2):113-126.

Representation of the Self in REM and NREM Dreams.

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  • 1Boston University School of Medicine.


The authors hypothesized that representations of the Self (or the dreamer) in dreams would change systematically, from a prereflective form of Self to more complex forms, as a function of both age and sleep state (REM vs. non-REM). These hypotheses were partially confirmed. While the authors found that all the self-concept-related dream content indexes derived from the Hall/Van de Castle dream content scoring system did not differ significantly between the dreams of children and adults, adult Selves were more likely to engage in "successful" social interactions. The Self never acted as aggressor in NREM dream states and was almost always the befriender in friendly interactions in NREM dreams. Conversely, the REM-related dream Self preferred aggressive encounters. Our results suggests that while prereflective forms of Self are the norm in children's dreams, two highly complex forms of Self emerge in REM and NREM dreams.

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