What are the most frequently reported themes in recurrent dreams?

Themes in which the dreamer is in danger (e.g., threatened with injury, death, or chased) have been found to characterize approximately 40% of recurrent dreams from adulthood and between 65% and 90% of recurrent dreams recalled by adults from their childhood. Using the same broad content category, we showed that almost 80% of children’s recurrent dreams contain themes in which the dreamer was in danger. In a majority of these cases, the dreamer is often fleeing, attempting to hide, or helplessly watching events unfold.

Whereas threatening agents in adult recurrent dreams are typically human characters, children’s recurrent dreams are much more likely to contain monsters, wild animals, witches, zombies and other types of ghoulish creatures.

Several thematic content categories reported by adult are noticeably absent from children’s recurrent dreams. These included themes involving problems with house maintenance (e.g., the dreamer becomes overwhelmed by an inordinate number of household chores or discovers that the house is falling apart or in ruins), loosing one’s teeth, and being unable to find a private toilet.

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