Streams

Please Explain: Dreams and Nightmares

Friday, July 30, 2010

Deirdre Barrett, assistant clinical professor of psychology in Harvard Medical School’s Psychiatry Department, and Rosalind Cartwright, professor Emeritus in the Division of Neuroscience at Rush University Medical Center, discuss how dreams are studied, what they reveal about us, and what therapies can treat nightmares and other disorders. Dr. Barrett's latest book is Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose, and she's the editor of Trauma and Dreams, and the author of The Committee of Sleep, and Rosalind Cartwright is the author of The Twenty-four our Mind: The Role of Sleep and Dreaming in Our Emotional Lives.

Guests:

Deirdre Barrett and Rosalind Cartwright

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Comments [24]

I am an avid dreamer; I'm 82, sleep alone, even though I have a male partner. I must have pitch dark (am extreme about this--even cover the TV time with a wash cloth). We watch TV together most of the evening--then he goes down to his area, and I peacefully sleep alone. We generally watch MSNBC together (are very similar in political outlook), but after he leaves, I turn on an inane TV program that is non-stimulative--such as the House and Garden network. I follow the couples in choosing their house. These programs always follow the same format, which is induces sleep. I generally wake up at 3:00 (maybe several times before) to go to the bathroom! At 3, I turn off the TV and turn on my bedside radio, I must have sound during the night. I either listen to the BBC news or NYC (if I can get it wit my cheap radio). Yes, I finally fall asleep, and wake up at 8:30 or 9:00 AM, when my partner brings me a superb cup of coffee. I do an inordinate amount of dreaming, often rehashing symbolically mistakes I made in the past with my children (of course they're disguised, but definitely dreams of guilt. I was divorced when my four boys were 3, 9, 11 and 14; in retrospect feel I should have devoted all my time to them instead of going back to grad school, having boyfriends and not more thoroughly following them in their interests. They are all adults and considering everything, are magnificent humans. Still, I made a lot of mistakes. Often, mixed with these dreams of guilt are bathroom dreams, where I am in a strange place, trying to find a shower (to cleanse myself and use the toilet--all of these ambitions foiled somehow. These dreams are all variations on these themes and take place soon before I waken in the AM. The disturb me quite a bit. As Haim Ginott said, "To be a parent is to feel guilty."!!!! Whatever chinks they have, I feel responsible for, e.g., putting on too much weight; or not getting married (two of them) or not knowing how to finesse their way through their academic jobs (two are professors!)...I also sometime have "mini dreams" (brief daytime "dreams" that take a few seconds, but are very realistic. This is being looked into my my neurologist (I do have a benign meningioma which is being watched. I have perfectionistic qualities, irritatingly diminished by my advancing age; and that is very frustrating. Just don't know why my sleep habits are so poor except that I hate to turn off the day. Maybe I think I'm achieving more living that way. Thanks for listening!!!! Worthwhile project. I was out of town for a few days....

May. 22 2014 02:04 AM
cynyc from Manhattan

In my 20' I had telepathic or precognitive dreams. Over time I learned to recognize them to the point where I felt confident enough to tell my 'parapsychology' class that that an exam won't take place. It mas a major blackout in the 70's. I hadn't dreamed of a black out. I dreamed that when I showed up at class there was one of those "class in cancelled" notices on the door. Anyway, exam was cancelled due to the black out. Those types of dreams went away.

Also, I experienced a "shared" dream in my arly 20's. Any comment?

Jul. 31 2010 01:58 AM
cynyc from Manhattan

I sleep an inordinate amount of hours. Not really sleeping, but unwilling to get up because my dreams are sooooooo much groovier than my real life. How sad is that?

Recurrent dream themes, usually frustrated type: Big new apartment where I find unknown extra rooms and/or doors to the outside where I might set up a barbecue--a back yard in essence. Another hot one is finding a major throw out of someone's estate filled with collectibles, antiques, and historical items.

I can't sleep at all at night. Can you help me? :-)

Jul. 31 2010 01:44 AM
cynyc from Manhattan

I sleep an inordinate amount of hours. Not really sleeping, but unwilling to get up because my dreams are sooooooo much groovier than my real life. How sad is that?

Recurrent dream themes, usually frustrated type: Big new apartment where I find unknown extra rooms and/or doors to the outside where I might set up a barbecue--a back yard in essence. Another hot one is finding a major throw out of someone's estate filled with collectibles, antiques, and historical items.

I can't sleep at all at night. Can you help me? :-)

Jul. 31 2010 01:42 AM
Eugenia Renskoff from Brooklyn

Hi, I have had recurring dreams about the man I loved in the 80s. He was a priest, but in my dreams, he does not wear the hated white collar around his neck. This has always puzzled me. Eugenia Renskoff

Jul. 30 2010 02:22 PM
Mike C. from Tribeca

Visually my dreams resemble Fellini's wide screen films, like Roma and City of Women ), but aurally the dialogue is boring. That's been my only complaint. As for recalling them, I have no interest in doing that, since they usually repeat at a later time.

Jul. 30 2010 01:57 PM
Marcia Golub from NYC

I am a fiction writer. My dreams have changed over time to become more mundane, even boring. My writing has also, over time, become prosaic, less imaginative. Is there a relationship between the "waking dream" that is writing and nighttime dreaming? (Anything you can do about this?)

Jul. 30 2010 01:55 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Lewis Carroll used that "alarm clock" effect in "The Hunting of the Snark." The 6th Fit, "The Barrister's Dream," ends with the Snark bellowing in the courtroom:

"Thus the Barrister dreamed, while the bellowing seemed/To grow every moment more clear:/Till he woke to the knell of a furious bell,/Which the Bellman rang close at his ear."

Jul. 30 2010 01:55 PM
Sabrina French from manhattan

Noise machines - do they influence dreams?

Jul. 30 2010 01:48 PM
bob@bayridge

for years i had recurring dream that i didn't pass exams in my collage. horrible nightmares. then i mounted my diploma on the wall in a bedroom. nightmares gone.

heavy food right before sleep, creates nightmare, not always unpleasant, but vivid. at least with me.

Jul. 30 2010 01:48 PM
chem

can someone become addicted to lucid dreaming?

Jul. 30 2010 01:45 PM
Laura

Has anyone studied the dreams of adoptees, whose trauma of being separated from the biological mother occurred at a pre-linguistic stage, so there is a different element to the trauma than someone else whose trauma occurred at a later point in life?

Jul. 30 2010 01:44 PM
Jon from New York City

I'd also be curious to hear the speakers address lucid dreaming.

Jul. 30 2010 01:43 PM
bob@bayridge

how to remember nightmares/dreams, to work on them later? you wake up sweating and you don't remember why or you remember just little pieces.

Jul. 30 2010 01:42 PM
ian

I was mugged once when i was in undergrad in chicago and had to run away from my attacker few years later I started to have dreams where I was falling in a dark abyss and spinning out of control and would wake up drenched with sweat and heart pounding. The visceral reaction was unimaginable. Gladly it went away by itself.

Jul. 30 2010 01:41 PM
Allison from Gowanus

I have nightmares and bad dreams every night. I don't think I ever have/remember good dreams. It's making it very hard to sleep. They are also exhausting and even when I do sleep I don't feel rested with all the bad dreams.

I also have occasional night terrors waking up sweating and full of adrenaline.

They all have different subjects.

What do I do?

Jul. 30 2010 01:40 PM
Susy from Manhattan

My mom used to tell me that "Dreams are adventures in your head."

I have many, many dreams - several each night. But I never see them as nightmares.

Sometimes, they are disturbing dreams - but maybe I don't perceive them as nighmares?

Jul. 30 2010 01:40 PM
Jane from Manhattan

How does illness affect dreaming? I suffer from migraines and find that I often have strange and vivid dreams during migraine attacks. I rarely even remember whatever dreams I may have at other times.

Jul. 30 2010 01:39 PM
Jane from queens

I've had nightmares almost nightly my entire life. I'm 30 now. It's exhausting. My boyfriend thinks that's why I'm so tired all the time even though I sleep about 9 hours a night. Is it possible to be dreaming in REM sleep and still not getting good rest?
Thanks, Jane

Jul. 30 2010 01:39 PM
Susy from Manhattan

My mom used to tell me that "Dreams are adventures in your head."

I have many, many dreams - several each night. But I never see them as nightmares.

Sometimes, they are disturbing dreams - but maybe I don't perceive them as nighmares?

Jul. 30 2010 01:38 PM
Gabriel from NYC

Is it true that using marijuana regularly stops you from dreaming?

Jul. 30 2010 01:36 PM
J from nyc

Although I can't remember the details, I once had a dream with a very curious property: It had a kind of twist ending like in the movies. And in retrospect, it was obvious that certain events early in the dream had a relevance that only became clear later. It was as though my unconscious mind had created a secret scenario to test how my dream self reacted to it. I always thought from this that one purpose of dreaming must be as a kind of test run for real life.

Jul. 30 2010 01:36 PM
Jon from New York City

I used to dream as a child, but I am 35 now and I have not remembered a dream in about 15 years. I'm not even sure if I dream anymore. Is this normal?

Jul. 30 2010 01:31 PM
orran

I sleep with the radio on, and I often find that I will dream about whatever the topic or people being discussed.

Jul. 30 2010 01:31 PM

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