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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Experiencing emotions in dreams

 babzinno - Thu May 15, 2008 4:47 pm


If both dreaming and emotional response take place in the subconscious mind, how is it that we can be surprised or scared (experiencing emotion) while dreaming since the subconscious mind would have created the dream and then also responded to it on an emotional level. Just like writing a novel, an author can't be surprised by its ending!

I would really appreciate your thoughts on this.

Thank you!
 Dr. E. Seigle - Sun May 18, 2008 9:36 pm

Hi babzinno,

That's an interesting and profound question that you've asked. To use your metaphor of an author, it is my understanding thaat while the author creates his/her work, he often doesn't know how his characters will act and react until he is right in the moment of writing it. In addition, an author can also have a profound emotional response to his work of fiction, and be upset, overjoyed, enraged, saddened, and frightened by his creation. It is as if the author, led by the pre-conscious or unconscious, is inspired by a force that is outside of his conscious control.

In the same way, your dreams, created by those deeper emotional layers of our brain-minds which are not under conscious control, can evoke emotional reactions in you. So, don't be too surprised, for our "selves" really are composed of a system of brain functions, known as the mind, which, while we feel usually like a single, unitary self, is a whole array of parts which are interconnected and sending signals back and forth and around in complex patterns. Not fully or even generally aware of this, we just call ourselves an "I".

Does this address your question? if not, say more! -Eliot Seigle MD

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