, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 31–39 | Cite as

Personality and Dreaming: Boundary Structure and Dream Content

  • Ernest Hartmann
  • Rachel Rosen
  • William Rand


Prior studies indicate that a personality dimension reflecting thin versus thick boundaries is related to global ratings of dream vividness, amount of emotion, and amount of interaction. In the present study, these relationships were examined by relating scores from the Boundary Questionnaire ( Hartmann, 1991) to dream content among 80 patients seen at a sleep disorders center. Thinness of boundaries was significantly correlated with dream length, vividness, amount of detail, and amount of emotion, and showed a trend towards correlation with aggressive interaction and nightmare-likeness. When dream length was statistically controlled, the relationships between boundary structure and dream content were no longer statistically significant, although amount of emotion and amount of detail showed a trend in the original direction. A principal components analysis was used to identify three factors in the dream content data (eigenvalues > 1.0). The first factor involved dream length, vividness, detail, and emotion; the second involved love/tender interaction and sexual interaction; and the third involved aggressive interaction. Thinness of boundaries showed a significant correlation with only the first factor. We suggest that the trait continuum ranging from thick to thin boundaries is similar to the state continuum running from focused waking thought to dreaming, and that both continua refer to the same aspects of cortical activity.

personality thin and thick boundaries dream content 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ernest Hartmann
    • 1
  • Rachel Rosen
    • 1
  • William Rand
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryTufts University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Family Medicine and Community HealthTufts University School of MedicineBostonUSA

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