I’m preparing for my upcoming lecture on lucid nightmares, coming up in three weeks in Chicago at the annual conference for the International Association for the Study of Dreams.
So if you want to be part of my data pool for this rendition of the talk, submit your scary lucid dream to me now.
Here are the main prerequisites:
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 (either on purpose or by sheer terror). Otherwise, the dream is not technically a nightmare by today’s definition.
Collecting these dreams has been harder than I thought it would be. In today’s lucid dreaming culture, unfortunately, the prevailing attitude about lucid nightmares is one of shame and guilt. Many dreamers keep these dreams to themselves because they fear social ostracization for not “being in control.”
In fact, some dream workers have even suggested that lucid dreams that you are not in control are “lower” in quality in a psycho-spiritual sense. I have a feeling something else is going on than a lack of know-how or an unclean spirit. But I need more dream reports to find the common traits and experiences.
Thanks – just go to my dream survey and fill out the required questions plus the lucid nightmare blank. It’s anonymous. Or, even quicker, add the dream report in my contact form.
Ares Vista says
I had my first lucid? dream the other night. I was trying to wake myself up, but couldn’t. It was the first time I was totally aware I was dreaming in my dream. It was actually pretty cool…
Great topic! Hope you eventually post your lucid nightmare lecture.
Ryan Hurd says
Thanks John for the comment and the link! My plan is to post my lecture via podcast. I know I’ve promised such things in the past, but this time I’m for real!
I have reoccuring lucid nightmares of zombie attacks. It’s always different and I’m aware it’s a dream. I generally wake up when I die, but on a couple notable occasions I got to wander around as a zombie till I was killed by the living.
I generally enjoy them after I wake up, but during I’m terrified.
Ryan Hurd says
ha – I have had zombie attacks during lucid dreams too. Sometimes they are simply undead people who walk past me without harming me. I do protect myself with a prayer or an affirmation just to make sure. but maybe sometimes they just want to be seen?
Mary Weed says
I had a dream last night, that I was looking in a mirror, and, I appeared with blonde hair, but I suddenly remembered that, no, I had just dyed my hair black the night before. And the moment I remembered that, I was awake in the dream, I looked in the mirror and something in my mind told me that I should say “This is a dream.” and as soon as I muttered those words, my face changed into some kinda of evil monster, I am having difficulty describing in words what the face looked like, the mouth was too long filled with teeth that were decaying and sharp, the normally ice blue eyes I have were pitch black, no blue no white. and I looked severely angry. Like I was going to murder myself. It was scary I’m actually getting chills and tearing up writing this. I blacked out, and opened my eyes in the dream, my body was wet with sweat and my face wet with tears and there was black makeup all over my face. I then went into my sisters room in the dream and said I had a nightmare. I laid down in her bed and fell asleep in the dream. I woke up…and cried.
Ryan Hurd says
wow – creepy dream. thanks for sharing… I don’t know if you’re looking for commentary, but it reminds me of my own hair dreams after I radically change my look. there’s something elemental about how we dress our hair – one social psychologist has said that our hair-do is 75% of our self-image. dying hair from blond to black has some serious significance – “a dark phase”, and the mirror self could be playing out the correlations, which remind me of horror film imagery. the black makeup all over the face may be another symbol of that feeling/fear of the provocation that this new identity is stirring up. these are my projections, anyways.
I had my first and only lucid dream when I was 11, I think. The dream started that tons of kids and I were like in a warehouse and we were being forced to do things like slaves. Later I saw a kid laughing so I said, “Why are you laughing!? We’re never gonna see our parents again!” Then he said, “Don’t worry its just your dream!” Then I was somewhere else suddenly and I gave myself different super powers and I could control myself. Then my cell phone rang so I amswered it and I heard an alarm and I knew it was an alarm clock so I pinched my arm in my dream (it felt numb) and I woke up.
Ryan Hurd says
cool first lucid dream! I especially like how it is another dream figure who tells you that this is a dream…. who is the lucid one here? thanks for sharing Brandon.
I’ve been feeling increasingly balanced throughout the past six months. Life in the day seems positive and uplifting. Yet more and more my dreams are worsening and beginning to take over my daytime emotions.I’ve always had more nightmares than dreams, and even if I do have a ‘pleasant’ dream, it’s very gloomy, vivid, and uncomfortable. The more comfortable my reality gets, the more vivid and terrifying my dreams become. Two nights ago I had a dream which has me continuously grinding my teeth to even this moment. It disturbed me so much that I had to drink heavily last night to fall asleep. The alcohol also numbed the intensity of my dreams last night. Anyway, two nights ago I had a string of very lucid nightmares which I don’t remember entirely too well. I know I was forced by a group of people at one point to enter a haunted house while I was protesting “please don’t make me do it, it seems trivial but I swear I have far too many nightmares about houses that look just like that.” once in the house I was aware it was a dream so I endured it until my body shook and I sat on the ground forcing myself to try to wake up. I woke in a cold sweat, begged my mind to stop having such difficult images, fell back asleep. I could feel myself this time be sucked directly into a dream. It was like I fell from reality into a box which became a room in a small house where I was operating a large video camera. At the same time I was the lense, meaning if I were to close my eyes I would continue to see the image. It was a man sitting in a chair with his wife on his right knee. Across their lap was their dog. The man, a sort of Billy-Bob Thorton type with a trucker hat and down vest, had deep gaping gashes all across his stomach and chest. He was very serious. The wife was excited and giggling and her face was partially skinned and her body was soaked head to toe in blood. The dog was skinned from head to toe, and very exhausted. The wife plunged her fingers into one of her husband’s gashes and a material like yellow cake batter came pouring out of each of his wounds. As the camerman I heaved and spun around, angry with myself for seeing it. As the lense I stayed and watched her play with the cake batter which was supposed to be some kind of excrement, I don;t know. It was disturbing. It was clear that this couple spends leisure time getting themselves closer and closer to death through extreme self mutilation in a very indulgent ritualistic matter. The gravity of the image was extremely heavy and I begged myself to wake up from the dream but I was commissioned as the cameraman and lense to stay put. The man threw his wife off of him and grabbed the dog and got up. The wife was hysterical with excitement. The man walked close towards me and opened the door to a fenced off part of the room which was filled with tools and instruments, all covered in dried blood. He grabbed a chainsaw and examined it and looked at the dog then me then said “get the F* out of here!” and the woman writhed with excitement some more. They were clearly about to kill the dog in a highly excessive manner. I moved to their living room where their three pristine daughters sat and cried. “They’re at it again aren’t they?” I woke up hyperventilating, sweating head to toe, massive headache, and very angry. couldn’t fall back asleep for some time. I had another nightmare right after, but when I woke from that one I simply ran to the shower and washed away as much memory as I could. I’m really struggling with it, as it’s invading my daytime sanity. I don’t plan on drinking heavily every night so I would really like a technique to sooth whatever internal crap is causing these nightmares.
Ryan Hurd says
Frankie – for starters – wow. the dream has a quality of B horror movie plus David Lynch plus the Virgin Suicides.
yes, I agree that ceasing with the alcohol ASAP is a good idea. Alcohol diminishes REM sleep at first, but if you sleep more than 6 hours REM will rebound, which can lead to even more disturbing dreams and nightmares. Alcohol also can aggravate insomnia in the long term.
For nightmare techniques, check out this post. It’s geared towards lucid nightmares (dreams you know you’re dreaming) but it still applies.
One other recommendation: cut out TV before bed and also ix-nay on the orror-hay movies for a while. To cleanse the mind its important to control for incoming stimuli.
BTW, the one detail that really sticks out more than anything is the “yellow cake batter.” That’s a clue to something. I don’t know what, but you may. Follow it. Feel free to contact me later to follow up…
usually i come down with the flu on a yearly basis, usually with a terrible fever that lasts about a week. Whenever I take Nyquil and attempt to sleep the fever off, i always have a terrible nightmare. The only way i can describe it is abstract horror, like unfathomable darkness with the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and anguish. I always wake from this dream in a cold sweat, trembling, and hyperventilating. I usually cry for a few minutes and need to walk around for a minute before i can go back to sleep (which usually comes relatively soon and easy and is relaxing). although it is usually indicative of overcoming the sickness, it is a fairly traumatizing/disturbing. does anyone have any perspective on this, or know what these types of dreams are called? i am interested in researching this
Ryan Hurd says
hey Shawn, thanks for coming by. . the “abstract horror” is something I know from my own nightmares — it’s possible you’re having awareness during deep sleep or in between sleep stages, which gets muddled during sicknesses and also by sleep aid drugs (especially those that contain pseudoephedrine). Psychologists call this sort of nightmare a “titanic” dream, which are characterized by elemental forces, deep emotional response, and a sort of timeless/overwhelming nature. In my opinion, these dreams are true moments of “existential reckoning.” They can display something we don’t like to see, and sometimes they are followed up by dreams that show the way out. maybe you’ll have a part II?
I have a reoccuring lucid dream, sometimes it’s a nightmare. I seem to be following someone that I know and I know its not real but can’t make myself wake up. I sometimes here odd noises and I am in a large older modeled england environment like a town, following some guy. I have never caught up to the guy and I have never been to the place where he is going. I have tried to tell people but they don’t understand. The only time its a nightmare is when its raining outside and I am trying to follow him and I notice that her hears me, lightning strikes very near and I wake up without hesitation.
was looking on the internet just had a lucid nightmare and this is the first site i came across. its really bugging me because i read about lucid dreams a while ago and was actually trying to have one and out of no where i have a lucid nightmare. im awake now at 1:35 trying to figure out what it ment. im driving down a road at night with 3 other people in the car none of which are known to me and we stop at a street and are looking out in to the woods all of a sudden a girl comes out of know where with a bandaged up hand and starts aimlessly walking in the woods, so i got out to find out if she was alright and she wont talk to me. all of a sudden she turns around and rips the bandage off her hand and theres nothing but flesh hanging off of her hand and she starts chasing me around by this time the other 3 are out of the car standing around watching me get chased and not doing anything. 2 of the people (guy and girl) suddenly take off to a chuch that appeared out of no where and they start running towards it and the other person (female) is no being chassed by the girl with the bandaged hand screaming for help by this time her face had changed to something horrific that i couldnt make out but it did not look like the same girl. it was at this time i relized was i dreaming but i wanted to continue on to find out what was going on. the crazy girl focused on me as i ran back to the car and floored it into reverse and drove around the block to pick up the other female passenger as i got back around the crazy girl was no where insight and the female was running back to the car but jumped on the truck, all of a sudden the crazy girl comes out of no where and i hit her with the car and both of them fly off into the street. i subconsiously said to my self at that time i dont feel like having a nightmare right now gotta wake up and instanly woke up.
I don’t have any nightmares anymore except for this one:
I’m laying in my bed eyes open staring at the ceiling when this intense scream runs up and down my spine while an underlying high pitch squeal darts from one ear to the other. All the while, my body is paralyzed from my control, but the terror running through my body is making my jaw go crazy grinding my teeth furiously while i am fighting something that isn’t me, but it is. When i finally can’t take anymore and give in to the controlling force the lower half of my face turns rubber like and flails around so fast its just a blur, then i have the chance to regain control and wake up screaming. and my teeth hurt like hell afterward.
I had my first lucid dream as a young child. When I was maybe six or seven I had a natural lucid dream, that is I didn’t induce it like I’ve heard some people do. When I realized that I was dreaming but aware of it, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to wake myself up and when I tried telling myself to wake up I got caught in a series of false-awakenings. Some were fine but others were terible it verried from waking up and walking to my bedroom door, only to wake up again to waking up completely paralized and finally waking up to a gun in my face before I finally woke up for real
I don’t know if you can help me, but I just had a very disturbing lucid nightmare, and it gives me chills to think about. Basically my dreams were fine up to this point, where every room was dark, but I was proud I was not scared anymore. I read some articles of conquering your lucid nightmares last week and conquering your fears, but then something happened that shook me to my bone. I was trying to flick a light switch on the wall to figure out how to turn this lucid dream more bright and positive, it didn’t work, I came out of my dream a bit, but could feel only what I can describe as a deep lazy feeling pulling me back into the dream world. The next thing that happened, I could not conquer, I was trying to bring something that happened in my dream back with me, but felt it wasn’t allowed or was not possible, then the scary part happened, I could hear muffled a voice say “of course we will look at your situation and if you tried you best” then I tried to stay as positive as I could, I felt like I was in surgery getting my gallbladder removed, like a flashback or something, it was muffled an I felt a touch on my arm and the man say “you are doing good” then I had this feeling like I was gravitating towards some sort of awakening, but what scared me was that I was going to be leaving my real sleeping body behind, or that feeling that I didn’t know what reality to expect ahead. So I screamed for someone to wake me up, I knew I was sleeping, and knew someone important was next to me. I was terrified, and I would have no idea how to conquer something like this without facing the possibility of death itself. These nightmares are finding new ways to adapt and scare me to my soul. I don’t know if you have dealt with anyone with a lucid nightmare of this type, but I do have chronic pain in my back, an had a gallbladder surgery. I’m only 28, but sometimes I wonder what is wrong with me and if God is trying to have me go through this. I don’t want to leave this world, I like it hear, but I can’t stand the nightmares I get every 4 days. I am typing this on an iPhone and I think I mistyped a lot above. I’m not able to scroll up, but Im not sure if i mentioned above that it was a man that was “working on me” and I definitely felt like there was something bigger than me going on, and that the only way to conquer this was to go through that tunnel, but there was no light in sight that I could see., at the same time that deep fear that I would leave everything here. Please let me know what your thoughts are on conquering these nightmares that are on an almost religious level, dealing with life and death. I read the only way to conquer lucid nightmares is to realize the dream can’t hurt you, I honestly feel it can though, I’m almost in doubt about the reality going on now because of this dream, is there someone really trying to “help” me right now, and they are trying to revive the real me, in some greater reality than this. This is the thought going through my head, how do I conquer something this terrifying?
Ryan Hurd says
Mark, in dreams, in my experience, it is safe to go through tunnels of light. These experiences resemble the classic death/rebirth narratives but it is not physical death at the end of the tunnel, but rather an opportunity for a egoic death. What is on the other side — I don’t know. It’s different for everyone. I have gone through hundreds of these myself, and it’s never the same, but always, always interesting and relevant. Your courage is commendable. This narrative reminds me of some alien abduction experiences — not that I’m suggesting you were abducted 🙂 but rather than experiences interpreted as alien abduction often happen in this state of consciousness too.
I myself have always had nightmares. I have always used lucid dreaming as way to get out of them.But lately my nightmeres have found a way to fight back I guess you can say. Every night for the past two months I dream that I am awaking in my bed. Something bad will happen where i am physically attacked in some way> i know that I am dreaming and fight hard to wake up. When i awake I am sweating and shaking. I have turned to sleeping medcine because of the lack of sleep that i am getting. My dreams do seem to be taking over.
I recently had a lucid nightmare,but I think it’d qualify more as a bad dream. I was for some reason with this girl who was a bully from when I was younger and she had a gun and was pointing it at me. I, on the other hand,I had a knife and for some reason was holding it to my throat. She laughed at me with a sick twisted grin saying “Go ahead,kill yourself! No one will care at all! You might as well kill yourself you suicidal b****!!! If not I’ll do it for you!!!”She said creepily. I actually had the urge to kill myself then,and she just continued to laugh, saying constantly “No one would care! Every hates you remember?”. I then cracked as her laughed got into an insanely higher pitch and well I stabbed the knife into my throat. I then felt like everything was being sucked out of me and I became a spirit or a “lost soul” as my friends put ghosts and spirits. I floated out of my body and the bully girl just kept laughing and left my body just laying there bleeding some odd substance which I’m positive wasn’t blood,it was dark,almost black (That really got to me because it was just so abnormal). The world then flashed to the next day and I was at my house. My siblings were talking about me and I followed my sister to school,which she goes to with me and my friends to were to talking about me. Instead of words of sadness they were talking only things like “I knew she’d do it one day…” or “Well she did hate the world,and her future was practically hopeless…” and I felt worse,like this was far worse then being alive. The next day,I was forgotten,I wasn’t even mentioned,my room had been cleaned our and my sister moved in it. It was horrible,everyone had forgotten about me,I thought to myself ‘She was right… they dont even care…’I sighed and was replaying my death in my mind. I then realized,I never felt the pain of death! I realized I was dreaming and then forced myself to wake up. The dream over all was weird,I would never every commit suicide,I’m just to afraid to but the weird thing is my bully lives in another state from where I was born and lived until I was about eleven. (I was kinda scared she moved where I currently am but thank God she didn’t. Anyways this was my first lucid nightmare/bad dream and was reading up on it after I had one.
Alright so it’s three o’clock in the morning right now and I just woke up from a terrible unbeliveable dream and thought I should share. So there is this show called castle and it’s about murder misterys and I love it but never watch it anywhere close to bed and didn’t watch it today but the main charecter Kate Becket was in it. Anyways I went to my old elementary school which is a catholic private school preschool-8th and we were all walking down the steps with Kate becket and then a car drove past us and shot her. Then the guy who shot her comes up and grabs a little kid and tells everyone that he is going to shoot him if they dnt let him back in school so they let everyone including him back in. I grab as many kids as I can and we all go to the back staircases and block the doors of with anything heavy we can find and now everyone is crying we hear hundreds of Gun shots and kids are banging on the door for us to let them in but we can’t because other wise we will all do and we hear him scream and then stop screaming and fall to the floor and then I woke myself up crying. I don’t have any PDS.