Adaptive nightmares of Holocaust survivors: The Auschwitz camp in the former inmates’ dreams.

This study, based on the testimonies submitted by former Auschwitz concentration camp prisoners to Polish psychiatrists in 1973, is focused on examining the most traumatic dreams of the former inmates—the dreams about the camp, dreamt in the postwar period. These dreams were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. For quantitative analyses, Hall and Van de Castle’s (1966) coding system was applied. The main goal of this study was to test the hypothesis—based mainly on Hartmann’s (2001a, 2001b, 2011) theory—that even such terrifying nightmares can have adaptive and healing potential. This hypothesis has been confirmed: The dreams about the camp have therapeutic potential, as they weave in new material into the dreamers’ traumatic memories, and especially the so-called “comeback dreams” (those in which the dreamers are aware that they come back to the camp for at least the second time) seem to have adaptive effects, mainly because of their near-lucid character. Therefore, Lavie and Kaminer’s (1991, 2001; Kaminer & Lavie, 1991) suggestion that repressive mechanisms serve best the process of coping with Holocaust trauma has been called into question. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)