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The Science of Recurring Dreams: Naked, Toothless and Lost

By HERWriter
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Science of Recurring Dreams: Naked, Toothless and Lost IRYNA HRAMAVATAYA/PhotoSpin

Your mouth fills up with loose and crumbling teeth. Suddenly you’re standing on the campus of a high school, unable to find your way to class. The plane is crashing — AGAIN!

Researchers define recurring dreams as dreams that reappear over time, containing both the same theme and the same content. Between 65 -75 percent of adults have recurring dreams which are predominately unpleasant, as confirmed by an informal poll on my Facebook page yesterday.

Naked in a crowd, the PTSD-fueled nightmares of a former paramedic, the inability to move or to scream, and the discovery of a secret room in the house, made for one of the creepier Facebook threads.

A study cited by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) reported dreamers plagued by recurrent dreams show higher levels of neuroticism, anxiety, depression, sleep problems and stress. (Sorry, everybody.)

It doesn’t take a peer-reviewed study — but they did one — to know that “repetitive dreams during adulthood may be reliable indicators of unresolved difficulties in the dreamer’s life.” (NCBI)

The dreams, which theorists posit contain “scripts,” called “complexes” by Freud, arise and retreat according our level of stress.

Our recurring dreams are the stage where our subconscious plays out the conflict of our waking lives. According to Psychology Today, the circumstances may change, but our dreams harken back to these angst-ridden “scripts” to sort out the emotions.

Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Ernest Hartmann called it a Central Image, an image within the dream that contextualizes a specific negative emotion. His example was the tidal wave dream, in which a massive wave is threatening to overtake the dreamer. People frequently report this dream after experiencing emotional trauma.

Recurring dreams typically contain themes of powerlessness, voicelessness, panic, loss or fear. Changes in relationships, living situations and grief and can bring them on. Common recurring dreams are losing teeth, being chased, finding a secret room, falling, and anxious school situations.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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