Ask Dr. Orloff

Please explain why I'm being haunted with vivid nightmares.

Question: I’ve been having recurring vivid night terrors where I’m physically fighting with some sort of ghost or spirit. It seems so real that I almost think that I’m being haunted, not just having nightmares. When it happens, I’m physically paralyzed, and I try desperately to wake up, or even move or scream (because I swear I’m awake!) but I’m helpless. Can you explain this?

Answer: I understand how frightening this must be to you when it's happening. But also know that nightmares are a form of wisdom that are trying to wake us up to a part of ourselves that needs to be healed. Intuitively it doesn't feel to me that you are being haunted by an outer entity. To work with this dream you'll need to see the face of who's pursuing you. You might want to have a gentle meditation in a safe place where you ask to see who it is. Do some deep breathing, and calm down. Be open to any visuals, gut feelings, or be aware of who this horrible creature reminds you of. Family members typically pop up--perhaps someone who didn't care for you correctly in childhood. You might also be fighting with a part of yourself. Be open to it all. Then begin to heal. Built up anger or terror about a past experience can show themselves in this way. Sometimes a good psychotherapist is a blessing. Jungians are experts at dream interpretation and healing. Be gentle to yourself in the process.

Good luck!

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