The Stigma Surrounding Lucid Dream Therapy In PTSD
In our society, dreams are often thought of as "meaningless biology" (LaBerge ). The stigma that has accompanied dreams into our century can be thought of as quite unfortunate. This stigma accompanies all types of dreams, including lucid dreams, the conscious awareness in a dream. In the small body of research that indicates the possible therapeutic uses of lucid dreaming, one can see how hard it would be for society to accept this kind of therapy if viewing the key element, dreaming, as "meaningless biology" (LaBerge ). Society needs to change the attitudes around dreaming due to the possible benefits that dream therapy could have on problems such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The benefits that lucid dream therapy could have for these treatments show why society needs to embrace all types of dreaming as important and useful human resources.
As defined by Stephen LaBerge, "Lucidity, allowing as it does flexibility and creative response, presents a means of resolving dream conflicts and hence fosters a return to effective self-regulation. This is the basis of approach to healing through lucid dreaming: to facilitate the person's self-healing mechanisms by means of intentional imagery on the mental level" (Healing through Lucid Dreaming ). Those who have had a lucid dream but are unfamiliar with the terminology could easily recognize their dream as "lucid". Almost all dream researchers agree to these two basic principles of lucid dreams and lucid dreamers: a) that lucid dreamers will frequently awaken from REM sleep once dream consciousness is achieved and b) that lucidity will be easiest to induce at times in the night when the body is likely to be changing from REM to waking. This makes lucid dreaming sound quite disruptive to sleep. It is perhaps a relief that lucid dreaming is normally rare unless one has trained him/herself for lucidity.
Proposing that lucid dreaming has a connection to the treatment of PTSD, an outline is needed. Appendix A and B outline various aspects of PTSD. The first is taken from Warning Signs of Trauma Related Stress (taken from Tanenbaum, DeWolfe and Albano) and the other from DSM-III-R (PTSD ). There is mention of nightmares being a symptom of PTSD. This obviously means that dreams of the trauma and that these dreams are of a disturbing nature. LaBerge defines nightmare as "…the result of unhealthy reactions" (Healing Through Lucid Dreaming ).
Even though disturbing dreams are said to be a symptom of PTSD, the treatment is non-dream oriented. This is logical because physical problems can be treated in non-physical ways and vice-versa. What is illogical is that dream oriented treatment is not considered. This could be simply an oversight, but could also be an indicator of the aforementioned stigma surrounding dreams. Dream therapy is not a new phenomenon, but it seems...