Last night, after falling into a rabbit hole of communities that have decompiled video games, I stumbled across an old Pokémon glitch that sent me reeling. If I had encountered this back in the day, I probably would have freaked out, given the implications.
In the second generation of Pokémon games (Gold, Silver, Crystal) it’s possible to have a Pokémon fall asleep, be hit by the “Nightmare” move, wake up, and then continue to be hit by nightmares. While lucid.
Nightmare, veteran fans may know, is a ghost-type mechanic that can only be used against dozing enemies. For every turn that a nightmare is active, it will take one quarter of a Pokémon’s HP. That is, unless it wakes up. Then Nightmare stops working. Bulbapedia makes the meaning of the move explicit by stating that Nightmare gives Pokémon bad dreams.
But if your Nightmare target happens to heal the Pokémon’s condition with an item while it is asleep, it won’t work — not fully. Instead, the creature will continue to have a waking nightmare that will physically hurt it as it continues to battle, as shown in this demonstration by ChickasaurusGL.
It’s ... kind of horrifying to think about, but you gotta imagine that stuff genuinely goes wrong like this in the Pokémon world from time to time. If Pokémon can think and feel, then it follows that they probably are capable of suffering things like PTSD and such.
In the case of the waking nightmare, at least one player has happened to encounter this glitch in the wild, which is how ChickasaurusGL found out about it. Must have been unsettling!