Continuity between waking life and dreams of psychiatric patients: A review and discussion of the implications for dream research
Despite positive results from the use of dreams in psychotherapy and for personal growth, research regarding the relationship between waking life and dreams of patients with mental disorders is relatively scarce. The present paper reviews the existing literature on dreams of psychiatric patients in order to identify the continuities and discontinuities between the dreams and the waking life psychopathology of these patients. The findings demonstrate that several aspects of the waking life psychopathology of the patients show both continuity and discontinuity in dreams. An example of continuity is eating disordered patients dreaming more of food than healthy controls. An example of discontinuity is less traumatic or depressive content in dream reports of depressed than non-depressed. The results indicate that a more specific and comprehensive definition of continuity is needed, and that more attention must be granted to the phenomenon of discontinuity. Furthermore, assessments of specific symptoms should compliment the patients’ diagnoses for comparisons with dreams to be meaningful.