Why We Dream

Nature’s reset button.

Key points:

  • Many people are concerned by peculiar or scary dreams, wondering what they mean.
  • In fact dreams are nature’s clever means of lowering emotional arousal left over from the day.
  • Emotional arousal persists when we don’t act on feelings that arise or we ruminate and worry.
  • Dreams allow us safely to discharge it and start afresh next day.

Suzanne was thinking of not going on holiday with her friend after all. They had agreed to have a week in Corfu and Suzanne had offered to find a good deal and book it for them. But now she was hesitant.

“Every night for the last three nights, I have dreamed that I am being attacked on the beach by a man – twice it was rape, once it was violent assault. Do you believe in precognitive dreams? I think I’m getting a strong message that I shouldn’t go on this holiday.”

The man seemed different each time – on one occasion he had a shaved head, on another long dark greasy hair – but she was convinced she was being warned. Suzanne believed in astrology and had once or twice visited a psychic, so this wasn’t an outlandish conclusion for her to arrive at. Fortunately, I was able to give Suzanne a much more down-to-earth explanation for her frightening dreams.

I had seen Suzanne only twice before. She had consulted me because she was anxious about an important exam she was due to take; we did some work on building her confidence and rehearsed, in guided imagery, her staying calm and motivated on the day, keen to demonstrate the fruits of all her hard work. The exam had gone well and the week in Corfu was her intended reward to herself.


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