Once in a great while, I have a very emotionally intense dream. At least one of my friends has told me that he occasionally experiences this as well. However, in my (rare) conversations with others about the topic, I’ve been tempted to conclude that this is not a very common phenomenon.
My dreams are often vivid and interesting, but I’m talking about a kind of emotional intensity that is much rarer but extremely memorable. Let me give you a few examples.
I’ve met a woman in a dream and fell madly in love. I’ve awakened and lain there feeling totally heartbroken, wanting to go back, to see her, to be with her. She was no one I knew, just some angelic phantasm I’d encountered in the misty hills of my psyche. But even awake, there is a real sense of loss and longing – the heartbreak lingers.
I’ve had a haunting dream that I knew where someone was buried – someone who had met a horrible, violent, untimely end. In the dream it’s never clear if I am the perpetrator or if I just know who the perpetrator is. But, I am heavy with the guilt of knowing where they are – and terribly afraid of being found out. As I wake up, it actually takes me a while to realize that no, in fact, I did not kill anyone nor do I know where anyone is buried (dudes, I swear!) and in my “awakeness,” that dark sense of fear and guilt fade slowly.
I’ve dreamed of wandering along a desolate gravel road at night, a dim starlit sky above. I’m wracked with panicked confusion, devoid of any idea how I got there, where I am, or who I am. A total mental disconnect, lost and wandering – severed from any sense of who, where, why. My only mental anchor is the vaguest sense of having been with people recently. In that scrambled context-of-no-context, though, recently could mean minutes, days, or years. I wander, grasping for any figment of psychological foundation, but it does not come. A sense of dread and emptiness builds as I struggle in vain for any sense of internal history. As I awaken, the mental blackness quickly evaporates but the emotional electricity crackles for a while.
Doing a bit of homework on the issue, I found that scientists call these “superdreams” and they generally occur when you one is in the process of waking up. I also discovered that last month, Rebecca Cathcart wrote a pretty good piece on the subject in the New York Times.
I’m planning a future post on dreamscapes in general. How we dream, what we dream, and why. See you on the other side.