Nightmares — one possible solution

Long ago I worked at a mental health center and a therapist there shared a technique for dealing with nightmares that had worked for some of his clients.  He reported one instance of a victim of a tractor rolling over him resulting in recurring nightmares of the experience.  In another instance a woman had recurring nightmares of learning two of her friends had been shot to death. My friend said that it was possible to change a nightmare while you were dreaming it.  The secret was to make the initial change very small and of little significance.  I subsequently attempted this procedure with a man who complained of a recurring nightmare.  Several sessions later I inquired how his nightmares were and he said he had just done what I suggested and they quit.

About Nan Mykel

I used to think I would be a child prodigy, but then I got old. Formerly I had fantasies of rubbing elbows with cultural and academic leaders but that did not come to pass because I did not become a cultural or academic leader or any other kind of leader, for that matter. I am not even an "Alpha Dog," a term learned from a friend who had to become "Alpha Dog" in order to influence her own pet. (When gazes lock, she never looks away.) For years I expected to become a published author, but in passing I could not avoid the fact that I had little to contribute to the world's bulging dumpsters. I'm embarrassed to report that I also considered my primary process artistic productions powerful, rather than mildly neurotic. Which is not to say that I disrespect myself, only that I am beginning to doubt my potential for making a mark on the world. If I focus on strict self discipline I may be able to keep my garbage removed on a weekly basis, to keep the kitty box changed, the clothes cleaned, the dog watered, fed and walked, but that just catches me up to the starting mark again. When writing I physically grapple with words, wrestling them from their indifference into attempted chunks of awareness. I sit heavily on my chair; I breathe in artificially cooled air; my ear drums note the tap tap of the keyboard and the steady uninterrupted sound of the air conditioner, What is that sound? The roar of the ocean from 30 yards away...Inside, my thoughts are are balls in an electronic game machine, bouncing hither and yon from lever to lever. I am a little grim and intent until I recall a dream related by a black man in the prison where I once worked. He said that when he was a small boy, back home, he dreamed he was standing on his front porch pissing, and that he suddenly found himself pissing stars...
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10 Responses to Nightmares — one possible solution

  1. Interesting! I think I did that spontaneously the other night and felt rather good!

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  2. bethanyk says:

    This would mean that a person could control what they were dreaming right? While you are dreaming you change one thing. Something like lucid dreaming? Or is this something you think about before you even fall asleep and plan out a small change that will happen later while you are asleep? I have never been able to control any part of my dreams. So i am very interested in this

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    • Nan Mykel says:

      Since you know what your nightmare will be like, you choose something in the nightmare ahead of time and decide how you will change it. how you would change it. Some people who are comfortable with imaging can re-imagine the entire nightmare and add a new ending to it (all while awake).

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  3. Thanks for posting this. I remember I intuitively did this once years ago with a nightmare from which I’d wake up only to return to it when I fell back asleep. I rewound the nightmare to the beginning, introduced a new element and the nightmare ceased. I will try to remember to do this for all future nightmares.

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  4. Nan Mykel says:

    Usually you don’t know what you’re going to dream about, but if you have recurring nightmares you do. So, for instance, you could plan to glance down at your hands when you have the dream and then realize you have some control. I believe it’s easier than lucid dreaming.

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