Both non-rapid eye movements and rapid eye movements sleep facilitate the strengthening of newly encoded memory traces, and dream content reflects this process. Numerous studies evaluated the impact of diseases on dream content, with particular reference to cancer, and reported the presence of issues related to death, negative emotions, pain and illness. This study investigates death and illness experiences in 13 consecutive patients with sarcoma compared to paired controls, early after diagnosis, evaluating dream contents, fear of death, mood and anxiety, distress, and severity of disease perception (perceived and communicated). Ten patients and 10 controls completed the study. Dream contents were significantly different between patients and normative data (DreamSat) and patients and controls (higher presence of negative emotions, low familiar settings and characters and no success involving the dreamer). Illness and death were present in 57% of patients’ dreams (0% among controls), but no differences emerged between patients and controls in regard to anxiety and depression, distress and fear of death, even if the severity of illness was correctly perceived. The appearance of emotional elements in dreams and the absence of conscious verbalization of distress and/or depressive or anxious symptoms by patients could be ascribed to the time required for mnestic elaboration (construction/elaboration phase) during sleep.

End-of-life in oncologic patients’ dream content

Cicolin A.
First
;
Boffano M.;Beccuti G.;Piana R.
Co-last
;
Giordano A.
Co-last
2020

Abstract

Both non-rapid eye movements and rapid eye movements sleep facilitate the strengthening of newly encoded memory traces, and dream content reflects this process. Numerous studies evaluated the impact of diseases on dream content, with particular reference to cancer, and reported the presence of issues related to death, negative emotions, pain and illness. This study investigates death and illness experiences in 13 consecutive patients with sarcoma compared to paired controls, early after diagnosis, evaluating dream contents, fear of death, mood and anxiety, distress, and severity of disease perception (perceived and communicated). Ten patients and 10 controls completed the study. Dream contents were significantly different between patients and normative data (DreamSat) and patients and controls (higher presence of negative emotions, low familiar settings and characters and no success involving the dreamer). Illness and death were present in 57% of patients’ dreams (0% among controls), but no differences emerged between patients and controls in regard to anxiety and depression, distress and fear of death, even if the severity of illness was correctly perceived. The appearance of emotional elements in dreams and the absence of conscious verbalization of distress and/or depressive or anxious symptoms by patients could be ascribed to the time required for mnestic elaboration (construction/elaboration phase) during sleep.
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Dream content; End of life; Health communication; Memory; Memory consolidation; Oncology; Sleep
Cicolin A.; Boffano M.; Beccuti G.; Piana R.; Giordano A.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/1763071
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