PDA

View Full Version : How Common Are These Dream Phenomena?


Stanislav
02-27-2004, 10:50 PM
Over the years, I have noted several recurring phenomena and "ground rules" of a sort in my dreams. I wonder how common these are to the dreaming experience?

(1) In my dreams, I am almost always unable to speak, yell, or make any sort of verbal comment. On occasion, I can manage a very whispery croak, but normally nothing. (And yet, as a former trumpet player, I sometimes play trumpet in my dreams and invariably produce perfectly normal sounding music...)

(2) I am frequently able to awaken from a dream by deliberately shaking my head vigorously in the dream (which then translates to shaking my head in reality in my bed). This is usually in reaction to some impending disaster; say, in a car about to crash. And this is without any previous recognition of the dream state (lucidity) -- somehow, at the moment of crisis and impending doom, I am able to quickly realize that I can avoid my fate by shaking my head.

(3) Except for the people with whom I have been closest in my life (primarily immediate family and ex-wife), people who appear in my dreams are almost always either an "amalgam" of two people (as if you morphed them together in some kind of DNA souffle) or, alternately, continually and constantly change identity.

(4) Often, if I have awaken from a dream, upon falling back asleep the dream resumes at the exact point it broke, as if I had stopped a VCR tape and then resumed playing from that point. This can even happen with more than a momentary arousing -- for instance, I might even get out of bed to pee or get a drink of water or the like, crawl back into bed, and the dream resumes. (Which makes me wonder if I was really "awake" to begin with!)

(5) Finally, I frequently have the experience of seemingly waking up from a dream, only to shortly realize that I have not actually awakened and am still dreaming -- a "dream within a dream," as it were.

Just curious as to whether these are common, or a sign that I'm a little unhinged. Actually, I love dreaming -- the stuff that happens there -- whether blissful, terrifying, or perplexing -- is almost always more exciting than my pathetic real life......

Lobsang
02-27-2004, 10:58 PM
As a frequenter (in the past) of a busy dream newsgroup I can say that all your phenomena are quite normal.

In my dreams I am often unable to control my movements. I can not stop myself from walking or driving in a particular direction.

I can 'force' myself awake, but only when I am stuck in sleep paralysis, and only when I realize I am dreaming (which deeply annoys me. I always force myself out of what will undoubtedly become a very interesting experience)

I occasionally 'wake up' into a new dream.

Oregon sunshine
02-27-2004, 11:13 PM
Dude, you are weird.

No, seriously, I have the "no voice" phenomenon a lot, particularly when I have nightmares. I'm scared, or I need to warn someone else about something really terrifying, and all my attempts at loud screaming come out as whispery exhalations. It makes everything hyper-scary.

And the "dream within a dream" thing also happens with successive nightmares. Never just once, always a bunch of wake-ups into more horrifying situations.

When I was pregnant, I had incredibly vivid dreams, a lot of them "lucid", where I absolutely knew I was dreaming and was totally conscious. When I would "wake up" in the dream, I would immediately jump up and fly, because I knew it was the only situation in which I could do it. The settings were always amazing, huge elaborate mansions or incredible forests, populated with people I've always wanted to meet, and beautiful mythical creatures like unicorns. Thanks, little ggurl!

Trigonal Planar
02-27-2004, 11:18 PM
Lobsang, if you are a frequent reader of a busy dream newsgroup, then you should know the power realizing you're dreaming (lucid dreaming). Perhaps you should read more into lucid dreaming - how anyone can be annoyed by this fascinating state of mind I find very puzzling.

As for the OP, all of those things are quite common. I have dreams-within-dreams fairly frequently. Sometimes even with multiple levels of recursion. Interestingly, regarding #3, I have quite the opposite experience. My dream characters are always precise renderings of various people I know.

Lobsang
02-27-2004, 11:23 PM
Lobsang, if you are a frequent reader of a busy dream newsgroup, then you should know the power realizing you're dreaming (lucid dreaming). Perhaps you should read more into lucid dreaming - how anyone can be annoyed by this fascinating state of mind I find very puzzling.


You misunderstand me. My annoyance is at my own tendency to force myself out of it. As soon as the lucidity hits me I just start trying to wake up out of habit. I don't want to wake up. but I always do. It feels like some kind of safety instinct is kicking in - My brain detects that something is wrong and forces me awake.

The dream newsgroup was actually alt.fan.lucid-dreaming.

Trigonal Planar
02-28-2004, 12:03 AM
You misunderstand me. My annoyance is at my own tendency to force myself out of it. As soon as the lucidity hits me I just start trying to wake up out of habit. I don't want to wake up. but I always do. It feels like some kind of safety instinct is kicking in - My brain detects that something is wrong and forces me awake.

Ah, yes, then I did indeed misunderstand you. I tend to just get too excited which causes me to wake up. There are some techniques that can be used to help maintain the dream enviroment - have you tried any?

The dream newsgroup was actually alt.fan.lucid-dreaming.

I know :)

Lobsang
02-28-2004, 12:12 AM
Ah, yes, then I did indeed misunderstand you. I tend to just get too excited which causes me to wake up. There are some techniques that can be used to help maintain the dream enviroment - have you tried any?



The problem is, my dreaming self seems to be stupid. Things like that don't occur to me. (for example - I can watch giant pink gerbils walk down the street reciting shakespear, and still not realize I might just be dreaming). In the early days, when I discovered lucid dreaming (largely thanks to that newsgroup) I had a few LDs that I managed to stay in. Including one or two that I managed to use (for example) the looking at the hands technique. Then I had years of not bothering (and thus not having lucid dreams at all).

A few months ago I stopped drinking, and as a result I am remembering more of my dreams. The instinct to wake up grabs me before I can even begin to think about staying in the dream. I think I might start patronizing (attending) that Newsgroup again.

Fish
02-28-2004, 02:55 AM
I can't remember whether or not I speak in my dreamsóI certainly can't remember any dreams where I tried to shout and failed to do so.

The weird thing, though, is that in my dreams I can't read. It always feels very unusual, but I see words and printing posted and I just can't parse them. It doesn't look like a foreign language, it looks like English has been ciphered: I don't know it, but I know I should know it. Does that make sense?

Actually, about three nights ago I had a dream that my old high school commons had been turned into a retro video arcade, and I happened across three games in a line that had Sanguine Spider's name in the credits. I think that was the first time I can remember reading something within a dream. (I only played one of the games. It was kinda weird: basically you play a crow and you're fighting another crow for a spot on a telephone line. You write weird games, SS. :D )

Richard Pearse
02-28-2004, 05:48 AM
You're either normal or I'm as weird as you are :).

I have all of the phenomena or "rules" that you experience. Along with not being able to run very fast and not being able to read.

I have never really had a lucid dream as such, where I'm able to control the dream. My dreams are normally like watching a movie. I know it's not real, but I have no control over what happens or where it goes. I can normally watch with a certain detached interest too. E.g. I'm falling thousands of feet, I think "whoooaa, this is exilerating! I wonder if I'm going to hit the ground or just morph into doing something else".

Thirty-Nine
02-28-2004, 08:32 AM
I experience all of your phenomena except for (1) and (2). For (3) my people will often be experienced as nothing more than a general Ďfriendí, though not really a mix of specific people. Their voice and appearance will continually shift between possible friends. (4) will happen occasionally for me, but itís extremely rare and not the norm. As for reading, running and speaking in dreams, Iíve managed them all at some stage.

Sometimes Iíll experience a marked phenomenon in my dreams that has not been mentioned here: For whatever reason, my eyes in my dream are mimicking the state of my Ďrealí eyes. In other words, they are either closed or I am only able to look out of a slither beneath my eyelid. I am aware of it and find it immensely frustrating in dreams, and sometimes it causes me to realise Iím dreaming. Unfortunately, any attempt to open my eyes results in me opening my Ďrealí eyes, so I wake up.

Bill Door
02-28-2004, 10:19 AM
Rather than an amalgam of people, or a specific friend of mine, the people in my dreams are usually actors. Sometimes it's a little distracting, because I find myself thinking, "Who would cast this actor in this role?". Although I'm a big fan of classic movies, Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, John Huston etc. the actors in my dreams are almost always still alive. It's as if the guy who directs the movies in my head has to work from currently available actors. I sometimes find myself thinking that it's too bad Peter Lorre or Jimmy Stewart couldn't play a role. Not the same one of course.

Mister Rik
02-28-2004, 12:22 PM
I keep having lucid dreams, but only when I'm napping in the morning or afternoon. Never at night. And in my lucid dreams, I'm always having a heart attack and I can't breathe. The setting is always different, but it's still a heart attack dream. And I know I'm dreaming, and I wake myself by violently shaking my leg.

Trigonal Planar
02-28-2004, 12:31 PM
The weird thing, though, is that in my dreams I can't read. It always feels very unusual, but I see words and printing posted and I just can't parse them. It doesn't look like a foreign language, it looks like English has been ciphered: I don't know it, but I know I should know it. Does that make sense?

This is extremely common. So common in fact that it forms the basis for a very effective "reality test" to initiate lucidity.

Sometimes Iíll experience a marked phenomenon in my dreams that has not been mentioned here: For whatever reason, my eyes in my dream are mimicking the state of my Ďrealí eyes. In other words, they are either closed or I am only able to look out of a slither beneath my eyelid. I am aware of it and find it immensely frustrating in dreams, and sometimes it causes me to realise Iím dreaming. Unfortunately, any attempt to open my eyes results in me opening my Ďrealí eyes, so I wake up.

This is likely due to your waking up, or dreaming in the hypnogogic state. During these states its quite easy to become aware of what your real body is doing. When I'm lucid, I can actually "flip" back and forth between feeling my dream body and feeling my real body.

seaworthy
02-28-2004, 01:00 PM
I sometimes find that I can't speak or scream when I'm dreaming, but more often I feel threatened (or sometimes just angry) and I want to hit someone but either I can't move my arms, or it takes such an effort to move them it's like I'm punching in slow motion, or I hit them and they laugh at me and I can't hurt them at all.

And what are these tests to determine if you're having a lucid dream or not? I think I do it because sometimes I just know I'm dreaming, and I even have control over where I go and what I do to an extent.

I keep having these vivid zombie dreams where I always end up bashing their heads in with a blunt object. I can hear and feel their skulls cracking and blood and brains shoots everywhere. They're better than any horror movie I've ever seen because I'm experiencing it, not just watching it.

Eats_Crayons
02-28-2004, 01:48 PM
This is extremely common. So common in fact that it forms the basis for a very effective "reality test" to initiate lucidity. I've read in dreams. I'm a lucid dreamer, but the reading "reality test" doesn't work for me.

I sometimes find that I can't speak or scream when I'm dreaming, but more often I feel threatened (or sometimes just angry) and I want to hit someone but either I can't move my arms, or it takes such an effort to move them it's like I'm punching in slow motion, or I hit them and they laugh at me and I can't hurt them at all.When I was about 9, I came up with the theory that it was somehow related to becoming "aware" of sleep paralysis. At the time, I only had a foggy idea of what sleep paralysis was, but my theory was as follows:
I was throwing a punch in my dream, so I was trying to move in real life, but that process was being denied by the sleep paralysis, therefore in dreamland I felt like my movement was being impeded (because in real life it was).

That was my theory at the age of nine, and it still seems kind of reasonable today.

And what are these tests to determine if you're having a lucid dream or not? I think I do it because sometimes I just know I'm dreaming, and I even have control over where I go and what I do to an extent.Yes, that's lucid dreaming. The "tests" don't test whether you are lucid dreaming, they are more to help you realize you are dreaming.

For example, if you look at a book and it's gobbledegook, you'd then think "Hey! I must be dreaming!" and from that point on (if that knowledge doesn't wake you up), you are dreaming lucidly.

Some people who have a knack for lucid dreaming, try to train themselves to perform some kind of task that will help them realize they are dreaming so they can enjoy the full benefits of lucid dreaming. Reading is a common one because so many people can't read in dreamland. So they try to train themselves to "find a book" when they start dreaming so they can check and see if they are in dreamland.

Eats_Crayons
02-28-2004, 01:57 PM
Sometimes Iíll experience a marked phenomenon in my dreams that has not been mentioned here: For whatever reason, my eyes in my dream are mimicking the state of my Ďrealí eyes. In other words, they are either closed or I am only able to look out of a slither beneath my eyelid. I am aware of it and find it immensely frustrating in dreams, and sometimes it causes me to realise Iím dreaming. Unfortunately, any attempt to open my eyes results in me opening my Ďrealí eyes, so I wake up.Ba-ha-ha-ha! That reminds me of when I was a kid and had a nightmare. If there was a not-of-this-world monster, I would assume I was dreaming, but I no idea of how to wake myself up AND since it was so probable that I was dreaming, I didn't want to waste a perfectly good dream adventure by waking up.

So I would try to "peek".

In my dream my eyes were open, but I'd use my fingers to open my eyelids wider and wider (like the guy in Clockwork Orange), in real life, my eyes would open just a sliver, I'd see my room and think to myself "ha, I knew I was dreaming!", then I'd shut my eyes in real life (letting go of my eyelids in dreamland) and went back to my scary dream adventure (whcih would still be really scary, but also more thrilling, since I knew it was all fake.).

The thing that bothered me was that I felt so stupid in dreamland. Imagine being chased by a monster, and your main strategy is to stand still and make bug eyes.

The Great Zamboni
02-28-2004, 03:08 PM
When I have dreams in which I can't move, I tend to get very angry and want to punch someone in the face, usually my brother. I'm not sure why it's him I want to hit. When I realize I can't throw a punch, I get even more angry. This cycle continues until it wakes me up. During one dream, I awoke and sat up in bed and saw my bedroom that was in my parents' house, which I had moved out of about a month earlier. This hallucination lasted about two or three seconds, then I saw my own surroundings, and fell back asleep.

Trigonal Planar
02-28-2004, 05:12 PM
Re: reality tests.

Some people can read in their dreams; occasionally I've been able to read in my dreams (although I think its was more a case of knowing what the text meant, rather than actually reading anything). Anyway, the method I use for reality checking involves my watch. I wear a digital watch, and when awake, the seconds advance as normal. However, in a dream, the seconds (well, all the digits for that matter) tick away as gobbledegook. I've trained myself to look at my watch frequently, such that it carries over into dreamland. Ergo, when I check my watch and see that the time makes no sense, I say "a-ha! I'm dreaming!" at which point, *hopefully*, I'll be smart enough to realize the implication...

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.