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nomtastic's avatar

Why do we have recurring dreams?

Asked by nomtastic (974points) December 20th, 2006
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14 Answers

gailcalled's avatar
I can't answer the question but years ago, Harvard Magazine did a short article on the anxiety dream relating to taking a test unprepared, showing up for the exam naked, not being able to find the exam room, etc..there were letters on this subject sent to the editor for months until, finally, the'zine staff said "Enough." Apparently, everyone has them, in various versions, over and over..I have the train one ...missing it, getting off at the wrong stop, forgetting where I am going.
nomtastic's avatar
this is not an anxiety dream, but it keeps coming up.
gailcalled's avatar
Are there various versions? Is the theme happy or pleasant or consistent?
gailcalled's avatar
There is also the interesting play-on-words that can show up in dreams.. One wants to go sailing, for example, and dreams about a sale in dept. store. I had that one once, and thought about it for a while.
gailcalled's avatar
A smart therapist I saw for a while said that dreams were wish-fullfilment, but I think that that is only part of the answer. Can you remember yours? Do you dream in color. I have no answers but find it a fascinating subject, more so than several broken appliances I am now dealing with.
nomtastic's avatar
i dreamed repeatedly (though i can't recall if it was over many days, or just repeating in one night) that i was taking breaks at work, and going to take naps in a stranger's apartment which i got to by climbing up a fire escape.
gailcalled's avatar
What was the emotion you felt when you woke up? That is also a giveaway, perhaps more than the subject matter per se. Do you feel the need to escape from work, perhap? Breaks, naps, strangers, fire escapes? Is there a theme here or am I stretching things. And I prob. shouldn't be practicing w/o a licence :-)
mdlukas's avatar
Nomtastic--My step father, who is a therapist, always says, "Any recurring dream is a nightmare." Meaning, I think, that if you have a dream more than once you're really trying to work something out.
finkelitis's avatar
The answer in general is that no one knows exactly what dreams do or mean, but a lot of people have theories about them, and they seem to be important. And I agree with mdlukas--a recurring dream usually is a sign that you're working through something.
finkelitis's avatar
You can try picking up one of the various books on dream analysis, starting with Freud and ending with the very contemporary, and see if they can help.
finkelitis's avatar
Often, writing down the dream and looking at the details can reveal a lot. Freud says that dreams are about wish fulfillment--your body gives you during the night what you can't get during the day. In this light, a superficial read of your dream might say that the wish that is being fulfilled is the wish for a break--since you actually take a break in the dream, and the pun on the word "escape," (Freud was very big on looking at word choice).
finkelitis's avatar
But probably there's a lot more to it than that. I would suggest writing down all the details you can remember, and possibly sharing it with someone who has a little experience thinking about dreams. Fundamentally though, I think it's most useful to use dreams as arrows pointing towards things you haven't noticed about yourself and your life rather than assume it's possible to perfectly decode them.
hossman's avatar
Are your dreams simply recurring, or recurring AND sequential. For about three months I was trapped in a very strange, recurring dream, where each night the dream picked up where it left off. The chain was finally broken when I spent a night more passed out than asleep, but I was really starting to get worried.
skfinkel's avatar

There's also the Gestalt approach in which you analyze the dream by thinking of yourself in all the parts--you are the fire escape, you are the stranger's apartment, etc. Kind of a fun way to think about it, since it is yours and for you to analyze.

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