Inner Ghosts: Encounters With Threatening Dream Characters in Lucid Dreams

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Abstract

Lucid dreamers may encounter not only friendly but also threatening dream figures in their lucid dreams. The present study of German-speaking lucid dreamers explored the frequency of threatening dream figures in lucid dreams and how lucid dreamers responded to them. An online questionnaire was completed by 528 respondents, of whom 386 had lucid dream experience. According to their reports, about half of the dream characters encountered in lucid dreams are friendly, but about a fifth of them are threatening. Threatening dream figures are encountered more by women and more frequent nightmare sufferers, but less by more frequent lucid dreamers. When dealing with threatening dream characters, lucid dreamers most often defend themselves by fighting, with flying away and working toward resolution as the next most likely responses. More frequent nightmare sufferers showed more avoidance behavior, whereas more frequent lucid dreamers worked toward resolution of the conflict. The findings lend some support to the idea that encounters with threatening dream characters may represent the interpsychic or psychosocial conflicts of the dreamer. Thus, when encountering a threatening dream figure, lucid dreamers could perhaps be advised not to avoid it, but rather to confront the figure and seek resolution.

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