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Depressed by Masochistic Recurring Dreams Since Childhood

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My girlfriend has sexually masochistic dreams where she is engaged with another individual or multiple men. She is mostly in a helpless state being tied down or held down and molested in these dreams receiving physical abuse and pain. She has a history of childhood sexual abuse and these dreams have been there since childhood. Most of these dreams start by recalling the memory of the said child abuse where she goes back to being a helpless little kid. She has a self-blaming and self-victimizing attitude when depressed. I recently took her to a therapist and she is dealing with the issues and feeling much better in coping with it. I would like to have a second opinion on this issue.

Even though the therapy is working, any depression in her day to day life can trigger these dreams again. Prior to dating me, she was comfortable with these dreams and liked them as they have always been there from her childhood. However, ever since she became committed to me, she is having trouble letting go of her modesty and morality in her dreams and constantly fights back and thus turns it into a nightmare. This results in more lack of sleep and depression. She is primarily worried that she would not be able to resist to such forceful advances by another person and will like being abused in real life if she let go of her control in the dreams. She also has experienced hypo-arousal (freeze/shutting down) in one of those encounters in the past. Any exposure to such incidents usually puts her into a state of self-hatred and worthless and makes her feel like a whore. I am not there in person with her to support her as we are currently in a long distance relationship.

Since I have heard dreams are mind’s way of healing and relieving stress, I would like to know if letting the dream take its course and not fighting back (which she don’t mind if it wasn’t for me) is good for her. Will that affect her choices and sexual urges in day-to-day life?

Also, in bed, she wants me to do anything that is painful to her. She says that’s the only way she can truly feel and let go. She prefers to try some of the mild BDSM practices and I am okay to that. I would like to know if it is healthy to pursue such practices since she enjoys it.

Depressed by Masochistic Recurring Dreams Since Childhood

Answered by on -


She cannot control her dreams. No one can. Dreams happen to us. They are the product of the unconscious mind and therefore not something with which we, the conscious mind, can control.

You asked about her interest in BDSM. It may stem from her abusive childhood and if so, she may want to avoid practicing BDSM until she is no longer negatively impacted by the trauma of her abuse. She should be discussing these issues with her therapist. A sex therapist might also be helpful.

It’s good that she’s in therapy. Major improvements tend to happen slowly and if she is being helped, that’s progress. Therapy takes as long as it takes. It’s important to be patient and supportive.

I know that the two of you are in a long-distance relationship but if possible, you and she might try couples therapy. The advent of the internet allows for many unconventional types of psychotherapy. Couples therapy might help you to understand her trauma and to know how to best support her during this difficult time. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Depressed by Masochistic Recurring Dreams Since Childhood

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Depressed by Masochistic Recurring Dreams Since Childhood. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 6, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 26 Jun 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.