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Trauma, dreaming, and psychological distress among Kurdish children.

by Raija-Leena Punamäki, Karzan Jelal Ali, Kamaran Hassan Ismahil, Johanna Nuutinen
Dreaming ()

Abstract

The authors examined (a) how traumatic events are associated with children’s dream structure and content and (b) which dream characteristics might moderate the negative impact of traumatic events on mental health. Partici- pants were 122 Kurdish children (9–17 years old, M = 13.02, SD = 1.66). Their dreams were collected during 1 week using a semistructured dream diary and scored according to the dream atmosphere, the role of the dreamer, bizarreness, narrative quality, fragmentation and resolution, and content such as themes of death, persecution and rejection, hostility, and anxiety. The results substantiated the hypothesis that children exposed to a high level of traumatic events would report dreams characterized by unpleasant atmo- sphere, fragmented flow, and low levels of bizarre narrative quality. Pleasant dreams containing complete narratives and happy endings moderated the negative impact of traumatic events on children’s mental health. The authors argue that dreaming allows cognitive–emotional processing of traumatic events and may thus enhance child well-being in war conditions.

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