Once I had a patient of whom I was told that he screamed during his sleep and awoke with incredible confusion and fear in his eyes.
As the person in charge of him that day, I asked him if he had a nightmare. And he replied with genuine surprise:''What is a nightmare?''
I was shocked. But more importantly, I suddenly had this uncomfortable feeling in my gut. I felt envy.
I envied the man because I thought that this was a man unburdened by the knowledge of what a nightmare is and what it feels like.
As I tried to explain that nightmare is a unpleasant and often scary dream, he interrupted me.
''Oh that, yes I recognize that.'' he said slowly and with much sadness in his eyes. And that is when I felt silly and realized. This man knows very well what a nightmare feels like or what a nightmare is.
Because when I asked him what he dreamt of. He made it very clear to me that it was an utmost unpleasant dream.