Occasionally I have dreams during which I get extremely angry with people whom I feel no anger to in ‘real life’ – and wake up somewhat disturbed and embarrassed. It happened again last night (I was in a theatre in Venice pelting the collective Blather readership with Monster Munch, while shouting and laughing hysterically) [What were you doing there anyway, you contemptible scum?]. I decided to use the web to investigate the phenomenon of angry dreams.
A search for “angry dreams” first turned up a commercial website called Absolute Comfort, selling beds and mattresses etc. Their anger page revealed something that seemed to me very sensible indeed: “…what about angry dreams? It’s obvious that we go to bed tired at night. We wake up refreshed, rested and energized the next morning. The body using its built-in intelligence knows how to relieve itself of fatigue and accumulated stress and strain from the day’s activities.” Yes, I was completely exhausted when I hit the hay last night, and these angry dreams must have been the release of stress and strain.
The web search also brought me to a blog called Comfortable Disorientation that seemed to confirm this. A woman on holidays was having angry dreams in which she was “raging in a way I have never done in real life (or at least not since I was a toddler)… Each morning I woke up feeling replenished and renewed, yet amused and rather embarrassed about my hysterics…I’m assuming it was some kind of reaction against the last few weeks, which have been unusually hectic.”
It wasn’t clear to me whether the anger of these dreamers was directed against people or situations they genuinely felt angry about in ‘real life’. I would say that it doesn’t matter in the dream who the anger is directed against, it is just the body releasing strain. But an article on sleepandhealth.com, stating generally that “…angry dreams can produce appropriate emotional channels for releasing bad feelings and relieving stress” went on to specify that “Research by Dr. Rosalind Cartwright demonstrated that if divorced women had angry dreams about their ex-husbands, these women recover faster from post-divorce depression.” So maybe sometimes the anger is ‘real’.
Jungians on gesher.org are even more convinced about the reality of the anger. They say “you might see yourself acting angry in a dream. As you consider this, you understand that this is part of yourself that you already know about, your poor control over your temper.” This literal interpretation seems inevitable in Jungian theory, because anytime you *yourself* appear in a dream it’s the “part of yourself that you already know about.” This is part of Jungian shadow theory: “the idea that each of us have parts of our ego that we have rejected because of our upbringing environment, family, and parental influence…” and that we encounter these shadow parts in our dreams as unfamiliar people. But believing this would seem to commit me to ascribing a great deal of reality to everything *I* do in a dream.
The website called Dream Moods doesn’t impress me much either. Again, they are very literal: “Being angry in your dream may have been carried over from your waking life. In your dream, you may have a safe outlet to express such emotions.You may have some suppressed anger and aggression that you have not consciously acknowledged.” Hmm, am I not bad tempered enough, that I have suppressed anger too?
In the same paragraph there is another striking assumption – of prophetic abilities: “To dream that you are feeling much anger, forewarns that you will be involved in a terrible and tense situation. Your loved ones will let your down and disappoint you. It also forewarns that once solid ties will be broken.” Er, yeah, thanks, what a positive thing to say.
Strangely, I find myself most reassured by the capitalists who set up their website to sell pillows! I know that Blather readers might be inclined more to reading Jungians and ‘specialist’ dream sites but don’t bother unless you want to feel shit about yourselves.
Love to you all.