THE CREATIVE NIGHTMARE PROJECT
J. F. Pagel MS/MD
Rocky Mt. Sleep University of Colorado School of Medicine
The most common symptom of PTSD is nightmares. Most if not all treatment strategies for PTSD include the suppression of nightmares using either medication or behavioral therapies. Current treatments can lead to improvement in symptoms, but are associated with > 70% persistence and recurrence rates as well as higher rates of divorce, homelessness, and suicide. Fortunately while trauma too extreme to emotionally integrate does not always lead to PTSD, it leads many of us to have nightmares associated with the experience. Our work with successfully creative directors, screenwriters and actors at the Sundance Filmmaking labs has demonstrated that nightmares are common and often used creatively use in their work. There are suggestions from writers as diverse as Freud, Jung, Hemmingway, Stephen King and Tim O'Brien that the nightmares of war and trauma can be used in creative works. It is our hypothesis that at least for some, the creative expression of such nightmares could have therapeutic value for both the individual and society as a whole.
For this project we are looking for individuals that have used such nightmares in their creative work. Our approach for interviews would be along the line of that used by Oliver Sacks in his work: one or more nightmares described in detail; the associated creative production ideally including an example of writing or picture of the creation; the individual's perception of meaning of the nightmare and the work; a sketch of personal history as well as approaches used in attempting to treat, suppress or integrate the experience; and whether that process of creation could considered useful or helpful.
Postmodern Dreaming 12/20/2010