158. I enjoyed the intercourse in the dream and...
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Dear Dr. Smith,

I have been struggling with evil sexual dreams for almost a year. In my dreams I do the most disgusting things that I would never even attempt to do in real life. What I do not understand is that I enjoyed the intercourse in the dream and I woke up feeling an organism, after that I felt so disgusted and dirty. The attack takes place between midnight and 3 am.
I have been praying about it and I have set my alarm to wake me up in the midnight so that I can pray and read the bible and meditate.
 
I would like these dreams to stop completely, I dread going to bed now and I am tired of this ambush. It feels so real and it feels like I am being attacked by evil spirits. I have also noticed that my mind conceptualizes evil things before I go to sleep. I try to avoid thinking about these things by reading the bible until I fall asleep, however, I want this to come to an end completely. I have confessed all my sins and I do believe that God has forgiven me. Please HELP!!!
 
Yours Sincerely,
Distressed


Dear Distressed,

People dream because of the intense activity that is constantly going on in their subconscious minds. Sex and sexual fantasies are among the most powerful of all human drives. It is therefore, not surprising that so many dreams have a strong sexual content. Some people do not get upset over their sexual dreams, as a matter of fact, some actually enjoyed it. However, there are those like yourself who do get very depressed and stressed over sex dreams, primarily because of the subject matter and the part the dreamer is playing. Common disturbing subjects are; multiple partners, violence, rape, sex with the devil, sex with a married person, sex with an ex, sex with a famous person, sex with beast, incest, etc.

The fact that this keeps happening to you, is suggesting that there must be some psychological reason behind it. Erotic dreams are not a post-modern generation problem, as a matter of fact, among the things Greco-Roman doctors recommended to stave off erotic dreams are; sleeping on one’s side, excluding warm foods from one’s diet, having intercourse in the dark so as to avoid sexual imagery, etc. (Foucault 1986: 137ff). While there is no truism to such recommended Greco-Roman practice, erotic dreams are not just the stimulating emotions we know as fantasies. They are much more cognitive. They speak to our inner mental processing. The psychoanalytical conclusion about nightmares is that the causative sexual wish, so evident in most erotic dreams, is subject to an exceptional degree of repression (Jones 1974 [1932]: 113).

Behavioral factors to consider

1. Interpreting the dream. Do you find yourself trying to put meanings to these dreams? There are several existing interpretations for dreams, scores of books have been written on how to interpret dreams. There are several know meanings that people make for objects and subjects in dreams. While there are millions who will live and die by these meanings, there is really no way to know for sure what your dreams might be about. Except to say, dreams are your subconscious mind reviewing things that you have experienced, imagine, desired, heard of, seen, etc. If you keep trying to find meanings to your dreams, you are crating more cognitive space in your mind for these sexual images, thus advancing the chance for their repetitiveness.  

2. Analyze what it is you like about the experience. Get into your inner thoughts and scrutinize the pleasure principle. That is to say, the part of the dream that feels good. Is there any correlation between the dreams and your imagination? Is there any latent affect with these images?

3. What stimulates you when you are not dreaming? How frequent does this happen and why? Remember, there is a strong correlation between thinking, feeling and dreaming.
 
4. Are you dreams a symbol of your incomplete love life? How complacent are you with your romantic self. Are you wishing for what you don’t have or displeased with what you have?

5.  Anxiety disorders. Individuals who suffer from this disorder can become dreamers. They find themselves engulf in their distortion to the point that it plays out in dreams. Sometimes people are so anxious to get marries, to be in a committed relationship, to have intimacy or the need for companionship, that their anxiety becomes a disorder. Frequently these desires are replayed in dreams.

6. Cognitive distortions. Sometimes the distorted messages we send to our brains create nightmares. For example, if someone has the distortion that they are the person Prince Phillip should have married, then, that distortion might create sexual fantasy.  

What might you do?

Self-monitoring.  Self-monitoring can be done through the use of daily diary, the use of journals, calendar marking etc. Keep a record of your dreams. For each dream track the night, what happened prior to sleep, movies or television shows watched, thoughts, discussions, food eaten, how late, etc. Look for patterns, see if you can detect any correlation that might serve as triggers to your dreams.

Cognitive Restructuring.  This process calls for an analysis of your unhelpful and anxiety-provoking self-statements and expectations.  It is amazing how sometimes the very thoughts we want to suppress are the ones that frequent our minds the most. You have to consciously restructure your thoughts, replace the anxiety-producing thoughts with anxiety-reducing thoughts. Focus more on adaptive and appropriate self-statements and self-thoughts. Remember, every erotic dream is coming from your subconscious mind and can be cognitively restructured.

I am cognizant of the fact that all that I am suggesting call for a deeper processing and that you cannot do it all on your own. Your best remedy along with prayer and fasting is to consult a therapist, I would dear say, a Christian therapist. I pray that these dreams will go away and that whatever it cost to get the help, you will be willing to make the sacrifice, because, in the end, it will be worth it all.

God bless.

Dr. Smith
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