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Free Content Impact of attachment styles on dream recall and dream content: a test of the attachment hypothesis of REM sleep

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We tested the hypothesis ( McNamara 1996; Zborowski and McNamara 1998) that dream recall and dream content would pattern with interpersonal attachment styles. In study I, college student volunteers were assessed on measures of attachment, dream recall, dream content and other psychologic measures. Results showed that participants who were classified as ‘high’ on an ‘insecure attachment’ scale were significantly more likely to (a) report a dream, (b) dream ‘frequently’, and (c) evidence more intense images that contextualize strong emotions in their dreams as compared with participants who scored low on the insecure attachment scale. In study II, 76 community dwelling elderly volunteers completed measures of attachment, and dream recall. Participants whose attachment style was classified as ‘preoccupied’ were significantly more likely to report a dream and to report dreams with higher mean number of words per dream as compared with participants classified as ‘securely’ attached or as ‘avoidant’ or as ‘dismissing.’ Dream recall was lowest for the avoidant subjects and highest for the preoccupied subjects. These data support the view that rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and/or dreaming function, in part, to promote attachment.

Keywords: attachment status; dream content; dream recall

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Division of Psychiatry and Department of Neurology (127), Boston University School of Medicine and VA New England Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA; 2: Graduate Program in Science, Philosophy and Religion, Boston University School of Theology, Boston, MA, USA; 3: MGH NMR Center; Boston University School of Medicine; VA New England Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA; 4: Department of Psychology, Sate University College at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA; 5: Boston University School of Graduate Studies, Boston, MA, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2001


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