I have really disgusting dreams, do I have a problem?

In It’s not going roundMardi Noir, psychologist and psychoanalyst, returns each week to a psychological question or problem.

Have you ever dreamed of larvae crawling out of your pores, of disemboweled infants, of sleeping with your aunt or father? Like this Internet user who tells her dream in a post: her house was first covered in shit, then every room was literally filled with it, soaking the walls to the foundations. Liters by the thousands that threatened the stability of the building. After the relief of waking up, amazement, disgust and questioning invade the following day.

Our “selves” in danger

At the end of summer 2020, I am on vacation in Brittany, in a friend’s family home, surrounded by about fifteen friends. I feel safe and it’s probably the perfect place to have one of the worst dreams for me.

That night, I fall asleep peacefully. I find myself in a large room with my mother. She stares into space, sitting on a chair in the background. A sparrow flies around us. As I know my mother’s love for these little animals, which she feeds on her balcony every winter, I inform her of her presence with enthusiasm and wonder. It lands on a table that has just appeared. “Mom! Look how cute he is!” My mother gets up from her seat, walks over to the bird and crushes it with her fist. Heavy blows, until the body of the sparrow is mush and dismembered.

I still remember breakfast the next morning, in this good-natured atmosphere in which I struggled to participate as I was shocked by the strength of this dream. Yet surrounded by shrinks, I refused to tell them so much I was ashamed to have taken it out of my mind. My mother, whom I love with all my heart, who adores birds, who would do anything for me… What possessed me to produce such a screenplay? I thought I had settled all the anger and sadness relating to our mother-daughter bond and now a dream of pure hatred was emerging in this serene context.

Encouraged by my friends, I tell them the story. Speaking, it already sounds less strong than in my head. The images put into words gradually take on meaning and soften this spectacle worthy of a horror film. It’s an opportunity to talk a bit about my mother and our fusional relationship, our “me”s sewn tight to each other, my difficulty in considering her death and therefore my loss. Of my terror of this inevitable separation. The sparrow as the reverse of our “I”. And already, it’s better.

A singular interpretation

The etymology of “dreaming” refers to wandering and wandering. Thus, the dream carries with it a deviation from the all-troubled path, defying common sense. However, it responds to a logic of its own. It is, according to Freud, the “royal road to the unconscious”and there are many who would like to find a universal or at least cultural meaning in it, as the dream of losing teeth would predict an inflow of money (on this account, given the number of times I have had this dream , I should be a millionaire), and that of a house or water would symbolize motherhood.

In psychoanalysis, it is not the dream that interests us the most, but the dreamer. The interpretation of the dream is up to him. It is he who brings it back by telling it. No one else can access it. Putting it into words is already deforming it, betraying it and therefore interpreting it. The terms chosen in the story are not trivial. They certainly have a common meaning to which everyone can bring a universal definition, but they also have a specific meaning for the dreamer. Thus, the sparrow is a small bird which could be said to symbolize fragility and agility by its size and liveliness – indeed, there is something like that in my dream.

However, what is the difference with the dreams of Pierre or Karima? Perhaps Pierre hears these birds every day from his room, from which he never leaves, living the life of a monk there. Karima, she remembers that she fed them in secret when she was a child, which greatly displeased her parents. When they questioned her, she always replied: “Me? Nope.”

Disgusting dreams are dreams like any other

The image has this power of fascination and stupefaction. It prints and imposes its strength, it shuts us down. These dream scenes, as filthy as they are at times, all have a definition that we can give them. They were foreign and mysterious, but by speaking them, by linking them to a narrative that is unique to us, they become intimate and familiar. So less disgusting, perhaps even comforting.

This already supposes reporting them aloud and having fun with the words that escape us. Learn to hear what comes out of our mouths and allow ourselves to make connections. It’s a workout. You have to understand that the dream makes up and censors so that we can continue to sleep. In the case of the dream of the crushed sparrow, it is easy to conceive that if this one had taken place in a more raw way, it is I who would have been reduced to the state of broken bones and muscles and flesh. in lint.

The bad dream is therefore not a nightmare. The nightmare is not the guardian of sleep. It shows things as they are, with no deviation from reality. It plunges the sleeper into a state of intense stress, confronted with an unfiltered and brutal reality and fortunately, most of the time, it wakes him up.

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I have really disgusting dreams, do I have a problem?

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