Graduate Program

Clinical Psychology

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Russell E. Gruber


Nightmares are frightening dreams that cause the dreamer to wake, with the events that occur within the nightmare well remembered after awakening. There are those who experience nightmares frequently (at least one nightmare a week). While studying nightmares, Hartmann (1989, 1991) theorized a distinct personality trait he referred to as boundaries of the mind, and conceptualized a boundary continuum ranging from thin boundaries to thick boundaries. Those with thin boundaries were hypothesized to express permeability between cognitive processes, whereas those with thick boundaries are thought to better separate cognitive processes. Those who experience frequent nightmares are typically shown to report thinner boundaries than those who do not experience frequent nightmares. Those who frequently lucid dream — which has been defined as the ability for a dreamer to recognize that he or she is asleep while in a dream and then manipulate the content of the dream, or observe the dream passively — have also been reported to have thin boundaries. Among other things, people may engage in lucid dreaming in order to cope with nightmares. The current study sought to explore shared personality traits of those who experience frequent nightmares and frequent lucid dreams. Results and potential benefits of the research findings are discussed.