“Nightmare in a Mirror” by Terry Marks, Source (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

You have a recurring nightmare.  Perhaps you are being chased by something enormous and faceless, something terrifying.  Perhaps the sight of something innocuous in a dream causes you unexplained anguish or despair.

You wake in a cold sweat (or with tears on your pillow), sure there must be something wrong with you.

Symbolic Imagery and PTSD

The language of our dreams can be puzzling.  Images can be confusing, and are often symbolic.

For abuse survivors, nightmares are a frequent symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) [1].  An estimated 71% – 96% of those with PTSD have nightmares.

Short-Term v. Long-Term Memory

Scientists agree that dreams involve the mind’s transfer of short-term memories to long-term storage.

Interpreting Dreams

Dreams can and do have multiple meanings.  Only the dreamer can know the true meaning of his/her dreams.  The resonance we experience when we realize the significance of a dream is a feature of memory.  In effect, we recognize what our unconscious mind was attempting to convey to our conscious selves.

Repressed Memories

Repression (banishing painful memories to the subconscious) can protect a traumatized child.  This coping mechanism may, however, become a problem in adulthood.

“…when the formerly abused child has…matured to a point where he or she can ‘face the facts’ without being crippled or overwhelmed, the dreams, in the service of health and wholeness, will always begin to offer increasingly dramatic and emotionally compelling metaphors of the repressed material” [2].

The repressed material will, in other words, begin to surface in our dreams.

Dreams in the Bible

The psychiatric pioneer, Carl Jung, viewed dreams as having a spiritual dimension.

In the Bible, God often used dreams to communicate.  Examples of this in the Old Testament include Jacob’s ladder (Gen. 28: 10-16), Pharaoh’s cows and grain stalks (Gen. 41: 1-7), Nebuchadnezzar’s statue (Dan. 2: 27-45), and Daniel’s four beasts (Dan. 7: 1-28).

Examples in the New Testament include Joseph’s instruction to take Mary as his wife (Matt. 1: 20-21), the Magi’s warning not to return to Herod (Matt. 2: 12), Joseph’s warning to flee to Egypt (Matt. 2: 13), and the caution to Pontius Pilate from his wife regarding Christ’s innocence (Matt. 27: 19).

God’s Design

We may never receive encoded messages from God in our dreams.  But God did design our minds so that our dreams – even our nightmares – are always meant to move us in the direction of wellness.

[1]  US Dept. of Veterans Affairs, “Nightmares and PTSD”,

[2]  Jeremy Taylor, “Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill” (Warner Books, 1992).



Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

33 responses to “Nightmares

  1. karlien09

    Great post. Thanks for sharing.

    Much love and abundance. Take care.🤗💕

  2. I never thought of nightmares as instruction before. Something to ponder! Thinking of them can be almost as scary as going through them.

  3. Mine come when I am awake,, flashbacks. Either one is tuff and miserable.

  4. I am badly tortured by recurring dreams…. Nice post. You have presented the philosophers idea. Carl Gustav Jung was a analytical psychologist.

  5. Fantastic spin of healing you brought. Wonderfully done!

  6. I can certainly relate to this post, 3:34 a.m and I prefer not to sleep than sleep, If I sleep nightmares consume me. So I just go to the bottle.

    • My heart goes out to you, Charly. Perhaps a veterans’ group would be helpful to you.

      • Veterans here in Spain? Nothing, we are out of the equation, even amongst us

      • Oh, Charly. EMDR does help some w/ PTSD symptoms. Am not sure how much access you have to medical treatment there. The Mayo Clinic, also, recommends “image rehearsal thearapy” for nightmares. See, You consciously create a new ending (or a way “out”) of your nightmares while awake. Hopefully, your mind recalls that when the nightmares recur.

      • I don´t have access to any medical treatment, be it psychological or physical. I´m probably worst on the physical side, but that is that so lets move on. Although I do walk 50 meters and I´m done. Have to sit down literally, but I do find it funny, if I wouldn´t I probably commit suicide or some weird thing. I pay a shit room that is the size of your closet probable, I have a roof, some food, some cigarettes. I´m fine compared to others, and I have lived the life of those others. We´re good. Military things… I don´t think I have PTSD, I even blocked my own mother when I was literally in the hospital with her when she died, I was with her a month earlier taking care of her in her house, so I saw the whole evolution of her death until she did died. I woke up at 3:44 a.m and she was cold, my mind already seems it was prepared for that. And this is the woman that literally raised me by herself, we had this and that as a youngster so we stopped talking for 10 years around that, at age 30 I was in the ICU and we re-connected you might say, and again she was mommy, always had been but I did take a different path that what she wanted although I don´t regret the army days, she probably did, actually she just did hate that part of my life which I can understand. I´m talking to you as you where my psychologist or something, got it out of my system, and yet I have problems to cry about all this shit. I do cry once in a while but far while, I still don´t get why like the army days or anything in life really that it was quite extreme to say the least, I don´t get why I block it out, I might be a sociopath although I doubt that since I did save quite a lot of peoples lifes, literally. I´m just weird I guess. Good “kid” for sure, but I didn´t expect to not cry when my mother is dead nor the army thing, no tears which is more weird. I just block it.
        Sorry for this long, and weird comment. I did get something out of my system would be my guess.

      • I am honored that you would choose to open up here, Charly. If it helped to get this off your chest, I’m deeply gratified.

        You don’t seem at all weird to me, Charly. I certainly don’t think you’re a sociopath. Sociopaths don’t have the capacity to care for others, which you clearly do. If you don’t believe me, check out this article in Psychology Today:

        Grief exhibits in many different ways. Your grief over your mother’s death was evident in your writing. You loved and respected her. You stood by her in her darkest hour. That took enormous strength. It was the mark of a fine man.

        Your friend,


  7. Very informative and very important post, dear Anna.

  8. hi

    I’m doing mental health awareness re-blogs, can you suggest me a post by you that you would want me to share??

  9. Wow this is very interesting

  10. Very informative.. Thanks for sharing.. Keep up the good work..🌻🌻

  11. Pingback: Nightmares – NarrowPathMinistries

  12. Thanks for your comment and likes on my blog too!

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