Dreams Feel Real

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I have Autism and I am in a relationship and have two children with this man. I had a bad dream about sexual abuse between my partner and my child and I know it was not real but I have this awful realistic feeling about it. I had this same thought when my first child was born. He is now 3, she is 5 months. I know he would never hurt his children or me and he is a very dedicated provider and my best friend. However, the dream is making things hard on me and its like I cannot tell whats’ real and what’s not right now. I keep ignoring the thoughts but they explode back up and I accused him accidentally today and I dont know how to undo it. How do I make this go away and is it common for people like me to find realness in their dreams? I was sexually abused as a child, could this have something to do with it?

A. Dreams are complex. Dreams can use symbolism to represent hidden meanings that are specifically relevant to the dreamer.

Because dreams are largely symbolic, it’s rare to have a dream whose meaning is literal or means what it says. In Freudian terminology, that would be its manifest content. In other words, most of the symbols in dreams represent something very different than their literal interpretation.

Many dreams, can be categorized as fear dreams. Fear dreams are often highly emotional. These types of dreams allow us to express our unconscious fears in a safe environment. Your fear may be linked to your history of being sexually abused.

It’s difficult to interpret your dream because you have only provided a summary of what happened as opposed to providing the exact details of the dream. I would need a highly detailed account of the dream and know much more about you before it’s meaning could be determined. I would also need to gather additional information about your relationship, your partner, etc.

You asked about how to “undo” your accusation of sexual abuse. Did you confront your partner or did you mention it in passing? How did he take the accusation? Did he think you were serious? You may not be able to “undo” your accusation but how you ultimately attempt to mend the relationship is dependent upon on many things including: his reaction, how hurt he was (or still is), how serious he thought you were, among many other things.

I would recommend that you consult a psychotherapist who can assist you in repairing the damage that your accusation may have caused the relationship. It’s a serious matter that in my opinion requires the assistance of a professional. A therapist could also assist you in analyzing your dreams and helping you to know what is real and what is not real. A therapist could also address your abuse history, which is especially important to deal with if it is the underlying fear that led to you accusing your partner of sexual abuse. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Mar 2014

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2014). Dreams Feel Real. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 29, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/03/24/dreams-feel-real/