Nightmares — one possible solution

Published May 30, 2018 by Nan Mykel

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.

10 comments on “Nightmares — one possible solution

  • 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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    • 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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  • 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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  • 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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