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Dream Within a Dream

Such a dream presents us with emotions or information we may be avoiding while awake. Usually a dream within a dream is a ploy one uses to explain away the impact of the feelings met – which is all the more reason to understand the dream.

The following example makes this very clear.

In the dream-within-a-dream, I had just gone to bed with my husband, in a house in which lots of other people lived as well. But I wasn’t asleep yet. In the darkness, I saw a woman trying to escape from the house. Even though she wasn’t an intruder trying to get in, I sat up in bed and just screamed at the top of my lungs. I felt furious. I think really I felt jealous that she was trying to get out. I wanted to alert everyone she was attempting to escape. (In real life, I’m a very quiet person who seldom gets angry or jealous.)

Then I ‘woke up’ from that dream within a dream and into the next dream, which was a similar scene. I was again in bed with my husband, but I had now woken up from this dream – and of course was still dreaming – and was worried that I had actually screamed in my sleep and woken people up. But my husband was still soundly asleep, and so I realized with relief (but also a little disappointment) that it had all just been a dream and I hadn’t disturbed anyone.

Then I woke up from that dream, and was puzzled. Having read the entry in Dream Dictionary, I was intrigued to see that it said, “Usually a dream within a dream is a ploy one uses to explain away the impact of the feelings met–which is all the more reason to understand the dream.”

I realized it was true that I had pushed certain feelings very far away. At a very deep level, I wanted escape but was furious at myself for wanting escape. Also, at a deep level, I was screaming out for attention, wanting help with my own internal conflict, but felt that no one was noticing. My ‘waking up’ within the dream and being relieved that I had not actually screamed and disturbed anyone shows how at the next level of consciousness I was still trying very hard to keep all of this suppressed. Yet I was also, at this level, a little disappointed at how good I was at keeping my true feelings hidden. Suzanne.

All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.

Edgar Allan Poe

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