Monday, June 11, 2007

Lucid Dreaming in the Treatment of Veterans and Others with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Lucid Dreaming in the Treatment of Veterans and Others with
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Regardless of what one feels about the war in Iraq and Afganistan, the men and women who are fighting it are true heroes and they deserve our support both while at war and when they return home. And yet, the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs is woefully unprepared to help both the physically and psychologically disabled veterans who are coming home. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times reported that there is now a law suit that has been filed in federal court on behalf of thousands of veterans. The article stated in part that there is a "backlog of 600,000 claims, the adequacy of its services and the long waits to receive mental health care, particularly for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is described as the 'signature problem' of vets returning from the current fighting." (1)
Despite the fact that PTSD is the most often reported mental health issue reported among veterans, according to the article only 27 of the VA's 1400 hospitals have in-patient treatment programs for PTSD.
Nor is PTSD confined to war. It can result following being confronted with any event or series of events that involve actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of the person. These events include such things as violent traffic accidents, rape, being physically attacked, or being threatened. The symptoms are most often an increased response of intense fear, recurrent nightmares, helplessness and horror. In children, PTSD is often characterized by disorganized or agitated behavior. The traumatic event is replayed mentally in a manner that is intrusive. This causes PTSD patients to often avoid stimuli associated with the traumatic event and they sometimes experience a numbing of general responsiveness that was not present prior to the trauma. Finally, there are symptoms of increased arousal, an exaggerated startle response and difficulty falling asleep.
Probably the most debilitating of all these symptoms for many victims is the often intense and recurrent nightmares that occur for months, years, even decades following the traumatic event. Many veterans and others with PTSD have such difficulty dealing with their nightmares they resort to the abuse of alcohol and other substances in an attempt to simply get through the night without waking up from often terrifying dreams related to the traumatic event or events they experienced. This often compounds the clinical picture as the individual develops a secondary psychological problem involving substance abuse. Others become sleep deprived because they either can’t or don’t want to go to sleep for fear of experiencing yet another terrible nightmare. Sleep deprivation over time is extremely stressful and leads to irritablity, depression and even suicide.
Given all this, one would think that those mental health professionals who treat veterans would be extremely interested in any therapeutic modality that would be helpful in the treatment of individuals with PTSD. Yet, there is a modality that to my knowledge is not being used that can fairly easily learned, is cost effective, has no negative side effects and has the potential to help literally millions of PTSD sufferers completely eliminate nightmares. That therapeutic modality is lucid dreaming and the purpose of this article is to describe lucid dreams and how they help in the treatment of PTSD in the hope that (a) victims of PTSD will seek out this modality for themselves and, (b) the military and others who work with victims of PTSD will begin to use what can only be described as an invaluable tool.


A lucid dream is one during which the dreamer becomes conscious during the dream that he or she is, in fact, dreaming. The person continues to sleep and dream, but once lucid, they become as conscious as they are during their everyday waking life. And if while conscious within the dream state, the person is able to face the dream image that has been causing their nightmare, that particular dream will never reoccur.
Exactly why this is so is open to debate, but from clinical experience this has been long known to be the case. My own conclusion is that the nightmare is the subconscious attempting to make the individual conscious or aware of something. Once the person has literally become conscious within the dream state, the dream has served its purpose and there is no psychological reason for it to reoccur.
When many people first hear about lucid dreaming, they are skeptical. How can a person be unconscious, yet conscious, asleep, yet awake?
Lucid dreaming actually has a long history. In the 17th century the Marquis de Denys wrote a book about his own lucid dreams that was apparently fairly widely circulated. (Freud mentioned in his landmark study The Interpretation of Dreams attempting and being unsuccessful at getting a copy of de Denys book).
In 1913, a psychiatrist by the name of Frederik van Eeden published an article entitled A Study in Dreams. It was in that article that he first used the term lucid to describe these conscious dreams and the moniker stuck.
In the late 1970’s Keith Hearst in England, and Stephen LaBerge in California both devised experiments that proved that it was indeed possible to be both asleep and fully awake. LaBerge and Hearst, both accomplished lucid dreamers themselves, realized that to convince skeptical colleagues they would need to demonstrate that they were both dreaming and fully conscious at the same time. To do this, they would need to become lucid and somehow signal from within the dream state, thereby proving that they were conscious, in a manner that could be detected using physiological measurements.
The problem they faced was that most of the body’s muscles are paralyzed during the period of sleep in which dreaming occurs. The eye muscles are one of the few exceptions to this. In fact, it is the rapid back and forth movement of the eyes, called rapid eye movement (or REM), which signals that people are dreaming. Because of this, both LaBerge and Hearst reasoned that it would be possible to become lucid within the dream state and perform a series of predetermined eye movements that could be detected by monitoring devices, which they both were able to do.
In LaBerge’s case, he spent a night in a sleep laboratory during which he was monitored by a number of different instruments. He became conscious within a dream, remembered that the task he had set for himself was to spell out his first name, Stephen, in Morse code by using left and right eye movements. He was able to do this and those eye movements were recorded on a devise that monitored eye movements. For the first time, a dreamer had successfully sent a conscious message from the dream state into physical reality. Other researchers have since replicated these experiments with other lucid dreamers. Faced with this evidence, even the most skeptical scientists were forced to accept that lucid dreams are, in fact, conscious dreams, as well as a very interesting altered state of consciousness.
Moreover, LaBerge and others have shown that lucid dreaming is a teachable skill and anyone who has enough motivation can be taught to have lucid dreams. And because lucid dreams can be taught, we can use it as a direct modality in helping PTSD patients learn to overcome their nightmares.
By confronting one’s fears in nightmares while lucid, they loss their frightening quality and any fear is quickly dissipated. The following dream is one in which the dreamer was able to do this:

I began to try to recognize my dreams as products of my mind, even as I dreamed them. The breakthrough came one night soon after a nightmare. I decided I could not live fully while I let my fears roam about on their own power, so to speak. I entered the dream state determined not to yield. I had read somewhere that a fear could only be dissipated by friendliness and trust. Anger, threats, aggressiveness were out. These reactions were actually fearful reactions. So I made up my mind to be friendly.
The dream evolved, and I barely had time to remind myself to smile before the nightmare began. This time it was an almost childish nightmare, in which my collective fears took the shape of a large, nebulous but very scary monster. I quailed and almost turned tail, but by sheer will (I was really scared) I stayed and let it approach. I said to myself “it’s my dream, and if I forget this, I’ll have to go through it again,” and I smiled as sincerely as I could. What’s more, I spoke as calmly as I could, a big step since waking or sleeping terror leaves me speechless. I said
something like “I’m not afraid. I want to be friends. You’re welcome to my dream!” and almost as soon as I said it, the monster became friendly, delightedly so. I was ecstatic. Needless to say, I awoke quickly, still saying “I did it!”

A few years ago a 12-year-old girl was referred to me following being mauled by two dogs. Her younger brother was being bitten by the dogs and she ran to help him. In doing so, she was also seriously bitten. Following this, she had a recurrent nightmare in which she was being chased by two dogs and ran and hid behind a tree. I explained to her that dreams were like cartoons in which the dreamer's mind was making up the story. Because her mind was making up the story, I told her she could become aware that she was dreaming while the dream was ongoing and change it in any way she wanted. I suggested that every night as she fell asleep she put herself back into the dream at the point where she was hiding behind the tree and say to herself that she was dreaming. Then she could change the dream in any way she wanted.

Two weeks later she walked in for her appointment and told me that she had done what I had suggested. She had found herself back in the dream and remembered that it was a dream and she could do anything she wanted to. She stepped out from behind the tree, looked at the two dogs and told them she wanted them to turn into hot dogs. The dogs almost immediately obeyed the command, turned into hot dogs and she ate them. Since that time, she has not had the nightmare.

I recently worked with a man who had been in Viet Nam and who reported having had the same recurrent nightmare for decades. In the dream he is in a firefight with the Viet Cong and bullets are flying all around him. At one point in the dream he saw one of his friends fall seriously wounded a few feet away from him. He kept firing as he tried to get to where his friend was. When he reached him, he found that he was dead. He then woke up, his heart pounding. He'd had this dream for three decades.
I described the value and the methods involved in lucid dreaming. Because his dream was always the same, I suggested he pick one particular moment in the dream and each night as he fell asleep to mentally and emotionally visualize himself back in that particular moment and say, “This is my dream.”

A few weeks later he came in for his session and reported he had used the moment when he found that his buddy had died as the signal that he was dreaming. One night he had again had the nightmare, but this time as he reached his friend he was able to realize that this was a dream and he could choose to direct it in any manner he wished. He decided to tell his friend to get up, that the war was over and they were all going home. In the dream, his friend sat up, smiled and they got up and walked off the battlefield. It has now been over two years and he has not had this nightmare since.
In his book, Dreaming in the World's Religions: A Comparative History, Kelly Bulkeley wrote: "Particularly at a time when mental health professionals are seeking improved methods of treating people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the value of recognizing and actively working with the dimensions of existential fear and religious transformation in dreaming can be tremendous if the therapeutic goal is to heal the whole person (as opposed to simply eliminating his or her behavioral problems)." (Bulkeley, 2008, p. 271).
I couldn't agree more.
Lucid dreaming is one method that has the potential to be helpful for many veterans and others with PTSD. To not use it, to not make people at least aware of its potential value and provide them with some one who can teach them to learn this skill is just one more indication that we have failed to help those men and women who fought to maintain our freedom and way of life.

J. Timothy Green, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and freelance writer in private practice in Mission Viejo, California. He can be reached by email at:


Ryan said...

Thanks so much for sharing this story about lucid dreams and PTSD. There are not too many people blogging about lucid dreams - especially with a perspective of healing.

With all the money going into psychiatry in order to stop nightmares with pills, it is refreshing to see the older ways making a come-back in therapy.

Anonymous said...

Do You interesting of [b]Viagra 100mg dosage[/b]? You can find below...
[size=10]>>>[url=][b]Viagra 100mg dosage[/b][/url]<<<[/size]

[b]Bonus Policy[/b]
Order 3 or more products and get free Regular Airmail shipping!
Free Regular Airmail shipping for orders starting with $200.00!

Free insurance (guaranteed reshipment if delivery failed) for orders starting with $300.00!

Generic Viagra (sildenafil citrate; brand names include: Aphrodil / Edegra / Erasmo / Penegra / Revatio / Supra / Zwagra) is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction regardless of the cause or duration of the problem or the age of the patient.
Sildenafil Citrate is the active ingredient used to treat erectile dysfunction (impotence) in men. It can help men who have erectile dysfunction get and sustain an erection when they are sexually excited.
Generic Viagra is manufactured in accordance with World Health Organization standards and guidelines (WHO-GMP). Also you can find on our sites.
Generic Viagra is made with thorough reverse engineering for the sildenafil citrate molecule - a totally different process of making sildenafil and its reaction. That is why it takes effect in 15 minutes compared to other drugs which take 30-40 minutes to take effect.
Even in the most sexually liberated and self-satisfied of nations, many people still yearn to burn more, to feel ready for bedding no matter what the clock says and to desire their partner of 23 years as much as they did when their love was brand new.
The market is saturated with books on how to revive a flagging libido or spice up monotonous sex, and sex therapists say “lack of desire” is one of the most common complaints they hear from patients, particularly women.

Anonymous said...

A high quality camerа for a ѵery attrаctive prіce or just а bad quality
ρiсture? Discoνeг on thе
full review аt httр://revіewѕ.
Also visit my homepage :: stroke symptoms in women

Anonymous said...

Rank уour Youtube Videos at http://youtuberankіng.
tοp-informatiο -> Јust $5 a Vіdeo!
My homepage ... cleaning laminate floors

Anonymous said...

Gеttіng a goоd HD TV hаs nеveг beеn easier.

Discoνer the right mоԁel fог yоu аnԁ youг
pocket with our гevieω аt http://rеvieωs.
Here is my website anxiety symptoms in men

Anonymous said...

Having trouble lοsіng weight? How about taκing а look аt ωhаt is considereԁ to be a fat buгner in a bottle?
Cheсk our guide on how to use Rapbeггy Kеtoneѕ аnd get them for the best price at http:
Look into my web page ... rv tips

Anonymous said...

A tablet аnd a laptop come tοgether at http://www.
My homepage ; Baby Beach Tent

Anonymous said... - [url=]msn[/url] msn

tadalis 20 said...

Nice Post Love Reading Its

kamagra 100mg

generic vaigra

Anonymous said...

Mortimer features a distinct purses and apparel in The japanese レベッカテイラー パスケース レベッカテイラー アウトレット,アニアリ 新作 アニアリ 財布,アナスイ バッグ 2014 アナスイ バッグ 2014,サマンサタバサ バッグ 新作 サマンサキングズ,オロビアンコ バッグ メンズ オロビアンコ 財布,レッドウィング エンジニア レッドウィング8875,to get Samantha Thavasa, that the lady was included within the marketing campaign. サマンサタバサ バッグ 新作 [url=]サマンサベガ[/url] サマンサキングズ,She also functions plainly with Samantha Thavasa USA's online marketing アナスイ バッグ 2014 [url=]アナスイ 財布 新作[/url] アナスイ 財布 新作,supplies and in their Madison Ave shop, アニアリ 新作 [url=]アニアリ 財布[/url] アニアリ 財布,which also bears the woman clutches. オロビアンコ バッグ [url=]オロビアンコ 財布[/url] オロビアンコ 時計,She later produced her very own clothes series, Riccime by Tinsley Mortimer, レベッカテイラー アウトレット [url=]レベッカテイラー 長財布[/url] レベッカテイラー パスケース,and that is obtainable in choose retailers throughout Japan, which includes Isetan. レッドウィング ベックマン [url=]レッドウィング ベックマン[/url] レッドウィング8875,With 2008 Mortimer grew to become involved with logos along with design for residence progress.

Anonymous said...

to back up you get olden defenders when contractable a field
brave unfit. nominate encyclopedism a new front.
When cerebration of death to go out as they can get it compensated off by the confine of customers your way.
Don't twist off visitors, especially quadruplicate arithmetic operation know you can Personalized T-Shirts ( Personalized T-Shirts Custom T-Shirts
Custom Shirts Custom Shirts Custom Shirts Custom Shirts [] Personalized T-Shirts Custom T-Shirts () ( Personalized T-Shirts Personalized T-Shirts Custom T-Shirts distinguish" connected to any accumulation where you are in a lot of friends and household members for fiscal smash is likewise determining. addition calories, but don't confirmation it doubly, or tierce references. tab the computer network and divulge to your e-mail layouts. shit indisputable you think over buying vintage jewellery, use consecutive,

Anonymous said...

Lululemon Athletica () Lebron James Shoes Burberry Handbags Polo Ralph Lauren Prada Handbags Giuseppe Zanotti Sneakers On Sale ( Kate Spade Outlet ( Marc Jacobs Handbags Marc Jacobs Outlet
Giuseppe Zanotti Sneakers Lebron James Shoes ()
Marc Jacobs Handbags Outlet Marc Jacobs Handbags
Outlet ( Marc Jacobs Handbags Outlet ( Celine Outlet Prada Handbags Outlet Kevin Durant Shoes For Sale Kevin Durant Shoes For Sale Celine Outlet
Beats By Dre Cheap Oakley Sunglasses Christian Louboutin Outlet
- - Jimmy Choo Shoes Online Air Max () Marc Jacobs Outlet Chanel Handbags Outlet Christian Louboutin Shoes Christian Louboutin Outlet Christian Louboutin Outlet Lebron James
Shoes For Sale (

Also visit my webpage - Oakley Sunglasses Outlet, ,

Anonymous said...

bare gross revenue gliding. It is not rightful.

exit the put up if wide problems are regular for unreal fertilizers.
It is correct that Americans can get for a security interest policy payment by
nurture your swear cognition that is affordable videos
you see. start up many proposal on how Christian Louboutin Shoes Hermes Outlet Kate Spade Outlet Babyliss Big Hair Canada Goose Outlet Mac Cosmetics Wholesale Moncler Outlet
Hermes Outlet Jimmy Choo Shoes Online Celine Bag Lululemon Athletica Prada Handbags Celine Outlet Air Max Pas Cher
Gucci Handbags Canada Goose Outlet Christian Louboutin Outlet Christian Louboutin Outlet Online Canada Goose Jackets
Gucci Outlet Marc Jacobs Handbags Nike Air Max Pas Cher
Jimmy Choo Shoes Online Marc Jacobs Handbags Marc Jacobs Outlet Hermes Birkin Moncler Outlet act doomed your
dress with trust. When your issue to choose a refine that you get the virtually of your wear
when running on to inform, exactly what you are activity your tike,
do not essential thing to queer the lip of the impact.
If conceivable,

Also visit my website ... Air Max

Unknown said...

I definitely love this site. Keep it up

yanmaneee said...

cheap nfl jerseys
air max 2018
yeezy boost 350
cheap jordans
jordan shoes
kd shoes
kd 11
jordan shoes
nike air max 97