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Titel: Flying in Nightmares - A Neglected Phenomenon
Autor(en): Schönhammer, Rainer
Erscheinungsdatum: 2000
Zusammenfassung: It is widely supposed in the scientific and popular literature on dreams that flying in dreams is of mostly delightful character. Domhoff (1996) recently emphasised the highly positive feelings experienced in flying dreams although he mentions a turn to apprehension later in the dream ("crashing", "coming down"). In my research (an interview-sample of flying dreams) I met flying experiences in contexts of nightmares which are seldom mentioned and never thoroughly discussed in interdisciplinary dream research. Flying can be a means of escape when being chased. In such cases anxiety can melt into the joy of flying and even cover it. Not seldom the act of flying is accompanied by strong sensations of effort in these cases. On the other hand there are cases where the uncanny feeling of haunting presence arises during flying and floating without preceding chase. Even if seldom mentioned and rarely discussed theses findings parallel with reports scattered in the literature on dreams. As for the "escape" pattern, e. g., Mallon (1987) found that in women escape is a common trigger for flying in dreams; Arnold-Forster (1921) reports that her 'career' as a lifelong dream flyer started with escape; Hubbard (1971) reports several cases of recurring dreams of that kind (cf. also Schmëing, 1938). As for the "haunting presence" pattern Ellis (1910) quotes a case where levitation is accompanied by an "agonizing fear of evil presence" and simply states: "This seems to be an abnormal type of the dream of flight". On the other hand uncanny feelings of presence are, according to Hunt (1989), a common feature of flying dreams and altered states of consciousness. How to make sense about the interwoven patterns of flying dream and nightmare? - To nightmares can be attributed experientially a heightened feeling of "reality," i.e. an intensified awareness, and physiologically a kind of "hyperarousal" (cf. Bearden, 1994). The same seems to be the case in flying dreams (cf. Barret, 1991). Beyond this rather abstract parallel the following speculations, inspired by Barret (1991), Hunt (1989) and Kuiken (1995), could be a step to a better understanding of the mentioned patterns. Perhaps the escape-pattern makes sense as a further intensification of awareness/arousal causing at the same time vestibular stimulation and heightened attention for the physiological state of the body; the sense of effort could be interpreted as the intention to maintain this shift in dream-consciousness (of the body). The evil-presence-pattern could be understood as an auto-symbol of emerging wake consciousness haunting the sleeping mind; this shadowconsciousness (sometimes appearing as double) can be interpreted as a complementary phenomenon to OBEs (a pre-lucid split in dream single-mindedness looked at from the inside perspective). In both patterns, thus, dreammetaphors seem to be related to a specific state of dream-consciousness. The presentation will corroborate the plausibility of these speculations by phenomenological in-depth analysis of selected case reports as well as by triangulation with outlooks on a broader range of results of interdisciplinary inquiry of dreaming. (The suggestions concerning the ?evil presence pattern' in the submitted abstract had been revised by the presented paper; see below. The revised concept is further elaborated in Chapter eight of my book ?Fliegen, Fallen, Flüchten', published in 2004, and the paper ?Typical Dreams. Reflections of arousal', published May 2005 in the Journal of Consciousness studies.)
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