Want to participate in dream research” I”m now officially collecting dream reports for lucid nightmares, a type of lucid dreams that is often not discussed in the field of dream studies. I will present my findings next summer at the annual conference for the International Association for the Study of Dreams in Chicago.
This is the first post in a series in which I will explore nightmares and lucid nightmares in depth, so stay tuned.
What are lucid nightmares?
Lucid nightmares are dreams that you know you are dreaming, but are confronted with a dream scene or imagery that is disturbing or feels unsafe. You may feel out-of-control, or you may be calmly witnessing some horrible scene that is not the product of your conscious intention. A lucid nightmare often has a “confrontational” feel.
Prerequisites for Lucid Nightmares:
1. You are self-aware and know “this is a dream.”
2. You are not consciously directing the disturbing imagery – rather, the imagery is self-generating, surprising, or confrontational.
3. The dream ends by you waking up immediately. Otherwise, the dream is not technically a nightmare.
Why are lucid nightmares still not understood?
These kinds of dreams are not discussed in the lucid dreaming literature due to a number of factors. First, many lucid dream researchers in the past de-emphasized these experiences as they were trying to legitimize lucid dreaming as a verifiable state of consciousness that is safe and fun.
Secondly, these experiences are disturbing, and there is a cultural assumption that lucid dreaming means you are in control. So if you”re not in control, by this logic, then you are revealing your inability to lucid dream “correctly.”
Thirdly, in Western culture, disturbing dreams and grotesque imagery in general are the Black Sheep of our cognitive landscape. In religious and spiritual forums, these experiences are devalued and not talked about. In psychological circles, scary imagery is regarded as evidence of a disturbed psyche, and something to be eradicated. In fact, there is a movement in cognitive psychiatry to eliminate dreams that are disturbing with a “dream-killing” pill. Your tax dollars, at work.
Well, that’s just hogwash. Nightmares are normal and healthy, and so are lucid nightmares. They are nothing to be ashamed of. When I first started lucid dreaming, I was plagued by these disturbing dreams and they have turned out to be great allies in my quest for self-knowledge. By working with these experiences, we are offered a chance at greater understanding, as well as an opportunity to develop courage, compassion and forgiveness.
Submit your dream report
To submit a dream report, my contact info is on the About page. All dream reports will be strictly confidential, and I will not share your identity with anyone.
One more note: I am only discussing the nightmares of the “normally neurotic,” not people suffering from schizophrenia or disabling mood disorders. Do not participate in this study against the advice of a psychotherapist or psychiatrist.
The next article in this series discusses the Causes of Nightmares.