Dream content associated with the development of PTSD

  • Wilfred Pigeon (Author)
  • Michelle Carr (Author)
  • Thomas Mellman (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


Forty-seven participants with trauma-related injuries from life-threatening events recorded their dreams for two week periods during the two months following their injuries. At the conclusion of the two-month monitoring interval subjects were assessed for Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The dream content of all participants was analyzed using the Hall and Van de Castle system. The sample was compared to a normative dream sample and found to differ in several thematic areas. In addition, those patients who went on to develop PTSD had dreams that were significantly more negative in affective tone and content than that of their counterparts who did not develop PTSD. These findings are consistent with several theories regarding how dreaming may serve an adaptive function in relation to mood regulation. The findings from the present study also suggest that attention to dream content may provide a window on to which individuals are at risk for PTSD and as such may represent an opportunity for early intervention in recent trauma survivors.


Contributor or sponsoring agency
NIMH Grant MH-54006
Posttraumatic stress disorder, PTSD, trauma, dreams, dream content
How to Cite
Pigeon, W., Carr, M., & Mellman, T. (2021). Dream content associated with the development of PTSD. International Journal of Dream Research, 14(1), 136–140. https://doi.org/10.11588/ijodr.2021.1.75883