Quite often, when I or other people share nightmares, we laugh at and ridicule the horror we felt during our bad dreams. Obviously, when fully conscious and in broad daylight, it’s easy to see our bad dreams as temporary sojourns into a realm of deepest fears.
On that note, I wish to say that the main reason we feel terrified when we have nightmares is not solely because of the content of our nightmares, but because when we dream, by definition, we are completely and utterly alone (same as with dying).
To me, the worst dreams I have are dreams in which I am helpless or out of control, or dreams in which something is completely beyond my comprehension (which is a bit of a subset of the former condition). Dreams about monsters per se are not nightmares for me, because as long as I understand and/or control their modus operandi, I have no fear, and to me, it’s just a fascinating journey into my own imagination.
For example, yesterday, I had a simply terrifying nightmare that would probably seem ludicrous to many: I dreamt that whether I’m typing something on my computer, or even when I’m walking or raising my hand, I seem to have an uncontrollable inclination to move sideways. When I type, the cursor moves to the left without my control, and when I try to stop pressing the arrow keys, I can’t. When I left the computer, I had to press my body hard to the other side so that I will stop bumping next to the wall, and I noticed that when I raise my hand, it uncontrollably shifts to one side.
I remember that the ending of the dream was when I ran infront of my bathroom mirror and looked at my own face (it’s very weird looking at my own face when I know that it’s all in my head, especially since in this dream, like many others, I’m fully aware that I’m dreaming) – I remember looking at my head, and uncontrollably turning it to the left, pushing it hard to the right to keep it steady.
This dream is just another instance of my mind-freezing dread of losing control, which is the flip-side of my enormous need, or perhaps even compulsion, to be in control – I’m being driven by an excessive primal fear of not being in control and am compensating it with excessive control.