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Why Your Brain Creates Monsters in Nightmares

Do monsters roam in your nightmares, ghosts float in your dreamscape or terrifying creatures loom in the shadows of your sleep? If so, you are not alone, as monstrous beings appearing in bad dreams are not uncommon. These monsters may look like they would harm you, but could the truth be that they are really trying to tell you something?

If you have ever suffered from nightmares, you may wonder why they contain monsters and frightening animals or ghouls. After-all, if they represent your fears, why are the images you see in bad dreams not realistic and accurate. Perhaps if you have recently watched a horror movie you can at least imagine that the creatures or nasty beings in your dreams stem from this rather than arriving out of your imagination. However, if you have not been in contact with anything that could have triggered a nightmare being, what could be the cause?

It is thought that the part of your brain that registers fear, the amygdala, is also where your primitive thoughts dwell. When you have a nightmare it could be that your fear also connects with primitive feelings and images during a bad dream. The two hook-up as they come from the same place.

It is also true that your brain will naturally produce a fearful image to represent your feelings of horror and anxiety rather than something like a flower, as otherwise your nightmare would not be authentic and link with your true feelings and experience. However, the monster or creature your mind produces during a terrifying dream may not be entirely random. The following case study can help explain.

Susan began having regular nightmares right at the time her husband started suffering from stress. During the day, he was fearful and anxious, and angry. Susan found it hard to cope with his emotional outbursts, and did her best to avoid him when he seemed extra troubled and demonstrative.

Despite the fact that she was going through a difficult time in her waking life, it took some time before Susan recognized that her nightmares were linked to her own fears relating to her husbands behavior,

Her bad dreams consisted of her calling her husband into a room to witness a scary paranormal event where furniture was being moved by unseen forces. It took a while for her husband to answer to her call in the nightmare, but when he did rush into the room where the ghostly goings on were occurring, he morphed into a large fox with huge teeth and lunged at Susan. She spent the rest of the dream attempting to fend him off and hold him back from her face as he gnashed his teeth.

After working through her dream and linking it to real experiences she was having, she recognized that the fox represented her husband’s mood swings and pain. In waking life, he was demonstrating his anguish by becoming angry and afraid, but as Susan had a problem with anger and could not face it, she was backing away from it all the time. This resulted in her husband becoming more and more demonstrative in order to provoke a reaction from her and gain her attention and help.

A fox represented her husband because in her daily life Susan often visited an old hunting Inn where a foxes head was mounted on the wall. The poor creature was old and battered, and a taxidermist had forced its face into an unnaturally frightening pose. Without realizing it, Susan had registered the fox with both sympathy and fear, just as she did her husband.

The paranormal episode in her dream she was attempting to show her husband may have stemmed from her wish to help him see sense and recognize that his behavior was not illustrative of his normal behavior, and demanded attention.

Sometimes the monsters we create in our minds serve a purpose, and do not stem from watching scary movies or reading horror novels. Instead of being there to frighten us, their intention is to tell us a story about our own lives, perhaps one we are not ready to view in a more straightforward manner, about a crisis situation we need to deal with but are trying to avoid.

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Comments (3)

I always have nightmares after watching a scary movie.  I don't watch scary movies anymore.

A well documented example within the article Bridget.

This article is awesome! I actually started a clothing line completely based off of monsters and creatures from my dreams. Go check it out at www.sleepterrorclothing.com Just a fun way to turn my nightmares into something fun and creative. 

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