Dream analysis: What is the meaning of being chased in a dream? | Health - Hindustan Times
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Dream analysis: What is the meaning of being chased in a dream? A psychologist decodes

By, New Delhi
Oct 14, 2023 04:57 PM IST

Dreams of being chased by an unknown person can be terrifying. When these dreams become recurring, they can be highly disturbing.

Our fears, anxieties and emotions often take the form of dreams when we are asleep. This magical journey undertaken every night can familiarise us with our deepest emotions. Our unreleased, unprocessed and strong emotions make for a compelling narrative, almost like a movie or episode of a television series during dreams. There are certain common themes that we all see in our dreams like being chased, flying, falling, teeth falling out, missing bus, giving examination among others. In case of recurring nightmares, there are often stressful or traumatic feelings that are finding their release. (Also read: 5 reasons behind recurring dreams and what they say about our mental health)

There are certain common themes that we all see in our dreams like being chased, flying, falling, teeth falling out, missing bus, giving examination among others. (Freepik)
There are certain common themes that we all see in our dreams like being chased, flying, falling, teeth falling out, missing bus, giving examination among others. (Freepik)

Meeti Vaidya, Psychologist, Mpower in an interview with HT Digital analyses a dream of being chased with the help of a case study.

A, a 27-year-old financial planner has been grappling with recurring nightmares for several months. These nightmares consistently involve her trying to escape from an unidentified threat, with the fear of impending harm or death. The inability to visualize the face of her pursuer adds another layer of mystery and distress to her recurring dreams.

Dream description

In A's recurring nightmares, she finds herself in various settings where she is desperately attempting to flee from an unknown assailant. Although she can feel the imminent danger and a strong sense of terror, she never manages to see the face of the person pursuing her. These nightmares always culminate with the moment when she is about to be harmed, at which point she abruptly awakens, often in a state of extreme anxiety and fear.

Dream analysis

1. Unresolved anxiety and fear

A's recurring dreams of being chased and the persistent feeling of impending danger suggest the presence of unresolved anxiety and fear in her life. The inability to identify the threat could indicate that she is grappling with a vague, underlying fear that has not yet been fully acknowledged or addressed in her conscious mind.

2. Stress and pressure in her profession

Given A's occupation as a financial planner, it's possible that her recurring nightmares could be connected to stress and pressure related to her job. The sense of being pursued and the fear of harm may symbolize her feelings of being overwhelmed by work responsibilities, deadlines, or the fear of making critical financial decisions that could impact her clients negatively.

3. Suppressed emotions

A's inability to see the face of her pursuer might be indicative of suppressed emotions or thoughts. The faceless threat could represent an aspect of herself or a situation that she is avoiding or denying, and her recurring dreams may be a subconscious attempt to confront these unresolved issues.

4. Emotional regulation

The recurrent theme of imminent danger and escape suggests that A may be struggling with emotional regulation. These dreams might be her mind's way of processing and releasing the intense emotions that she may find difficult to express in her waking life.

Intervention

Based on the analysis of A's recurring nightmares, the following interventions were implemented:

"Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is a widely practiced and effective form of psychotherapy. It focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to emotional distress. In A's case, CBT helped her explore the thought patterns and beliefs that may be leading to her feelings of being trapped and anxious. Through guided sessions, she was learning to recognize and challenge these negative thoughts," says Vaidya.

Here's what helped her:

  • A was encouraged to keep a dream journal where she can record her recurring nightmares and any emotions or thoughts associated with them. This can aid in identifying patterns and triggers.
  • A was asked to indulge in self-care practices, including regular exercise, healthy sleep patterns, and relaxation techniques, to enhance her overall mental and emotional well-being.

"In this case, A's recurring nightmares appear to be a reflection of her underlying anxiety, fear, and potential workplace stress. Addressing these issues through therapy and self-care can help her gain a better understanding of her dreams and work towards achieving improved mental health and emotional well-being," concludes Vaidya.

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