The majority of subjects reported that their orgasms in sleep were ordinarily accompanied by sexual dreams. In die light of recent research on sleeping and dreaming, it is likely that all orgasms in sleep are accompanied by dreams, but that some individuals are unable to recall them upon awakening. At any rate, among the various groups from 4 to 20 per cent reported never having dreamed during orgasm in sleep. The peepers dreamed least of all and the heterosexual aggressors and homosexual offenders most.
More important than this distinction between dreamers and professed nondreamers is the dream content. We did not investigate this with any psychoanalytical bent; we simply asked the individual what he dreamed when he had orgasm in sleep. Almost invariably he reported either an openly sexual dream or no dream at all. It is our impression that while many females and some extremely inhibited males may experience only disguised sexual dreams, the vast majority of males dream of explicitly sexual activities although the partner or partners in the dream may in some cases be vague or symbolically disguised.
Heterosexual dreams are, of course, the most common, and were reported by 97 to 100 per cent of all groups except the homosexual offenders. The homosexual offenders have percentages of from 63 to 88.
The reverse is true of homosexual dreams: here die three homosexual-offender groups rank by far the highest (51 to 82 per cent). In fourth rank, with 22 per cent (a figure more than twice that of the control group), is the prison group. This is the same sequence that we saw in homosexual masturbatory fantasy. The three aggressor groups clump together just below the prison group in the rank-order. Note that in each of the homosexual-offender groups more men had heterosexual dreams than the members of any heterosexual sex-offender group had homosexual dreams. The heterosexual and incest offenders vs. minors and adults were least apt to have homosexual dreams (2 to 8 per cent), which parallels their small amount of overt homosexual behavior.
Dreams of sexual activity with animals were uncommon, never involving more than 5 per cent of any group. The only item of interest is that despite the strongly rural background of the incest offender vs. adults, and the fact that 6 per cent fantasied this activity during masturbation, not one dreamed of this behavior. In general, rurality does not seem to correlate with zooerotic dreams.
Sadomasochistic dreams are rarer still. The only thing noteworthy in the tabulation is that the heterosexual aggressors vs. adults, appropriately, rank highest in this respect. It is likely that many sadomasochistic dreams were not reported because the interviewer did not routinely ask specifically about them. In the category of “other” dreams, the exhibitionists lead with 11 per cent, thanks to their penchant for dreaming of exposing themselves. In the lower ranks are the four groups whose sociosexual activity is with willing (or at least acquiescent) females beyond the age of puberty: the control group, the prison group, and the heterosexual offenders vs. minors and adults. It would seem that men whose sexual behavior is within or closest to the social norms are not apt to have dreams of bizarre or unusual content.
One would expect some correspondence between dream content and the fantasy accompanying masturbation despite the involuntary nature of the former. There is, however, only a partial positive correlation. In both homosexual dreams and masturbatory fantasy the leading groups are the homosexual offenders vs. adults, minors, and children, and the prison group—in that order. In sadomasochistic content the heterosexual aggressors vs. adults rank first in dreams and second in fantasy. In the residual category “other,” consisting of dreams or fantasy of a specialized or bizarre nature, die exhibitionists rank first and the heterosexual offenders vs. children second in dreams and third in fantasy. No particular correspondence is to be seen in terms of heterosexual or zoophilic content.
Unfortunately, we have not asked questions that would permit us to determine whether dreams of a certain type of behavior precede or follow the actual behavior. Thus we can say nothing of dreams as premonitory symptoms, nor can we test the possibility that dreams may serve as effective substitutes for overt behavior.