Children, especially, are prone to nightmares.
Nightmares are common in children, typically beginning at
around age 3 and occurring up to age 7-8.
People with anxiety disorder might also experience
what experts term “night terrors”. These are actually panic
attacks that occur in sleep.
It is especially difficult to remember these types of
dreams since they conjure up terrifying images that we
would just as soon forget.
In poetic myth, the Nightmare is actually a “small
nettlesome mare, not more than thirteen hands high, of the
breed familiar with the Elgin marbles: cream-colored, clean-
limbed, with a long head, bluish eye, flowing mane and
tail.” Her nests, called mares’ nests, “when one comes
across them in dreams, lodged in rock-clefs or the branches
of enormous hollow yews, are built of carefully chosen twigs
lined with white horse-hair and the plumage of prophetic
birds and littered with the jaw-bones and entrails of poets.”
Thus, in a pagan world of myth and blood sacrifice, the
Nightmare was a cruel, fearful creature. Our modern word
derives from the Middle English
, night, and
, demon), an evil spirit believed to
haunt and suffocate sleeping people. And so, in today’s
world, when we speak of a nightmare we mean a frightening
dream accompanied by a sensation of oppression and
The blood-thirsty aspect of the mythic Nightmare,
however, can give a good clue about nightmares in general,
for in psychodynamic terms nightmares are graphic
depictions of raw, primitive emotions such as aggression and
rage that have not been incorporated into the conscious
psyche. Thus we tend to encounter these “ugly” aspects of