The article on which we have been asked to comment addresses many of the
most significant issues in the field of stress effects on dreaming. The
database is large and potentially quite informative. Yet like Dr. Lavie, I
am concerned that there may be some confusion between association and
causation; for example, it is almost certainly premature to argue from
correlational data that infrequent dream recall protects children from
developing depressive symptoms but makes them more susceptible to somatic
and anxiety symptoms.
Also, I would be interested in the authors' response to my view that a
necessary distinction between TRAUMATIC events and major life
changes/stressors has been obscured in the Introduction. While it is clear
that the authors are interested in the effects of TRAUMATIC stressors on
dream recall (and so use the Traumatic Events Checklist), they appear at
times to equate bereavement, or divorce for that matter, with trauma. This
would appear to be at some variance with the DSM-IV's sense of a traumatic
stressor. The essence of trauma may be missed by referring to a major life
change as a "less severe trauma." Inferences about the effects on dream
recall of TRAUMATIC stress, vs. other forms of stress, may become confused.
As an aside, Ross et al. would likely agree, but have never shown, that
traumatic experiences increase dream recall.
I look forward to further discussion by the authors and the group of
discussants of this interesting article.
Richard J. Ross, M.D., Ph.D.