In your dreams

21st September 2001 at 01:00
Barbara Preston teaches at Cheadle primary school

I have three recurring dreams. In the first, I have to go to the loo in an environment which is far too public for my liking - although the dream is not caused by a physical need to urinate. This is sometimes replaced by a dream in which I appear in public with only the upper part of my body clothed.

In the second, I cry frequently (but not actually) throughout what seems to be a very long dream. I am trying to complete something, meet a deadline or arrive on time. Minor obstacles prevent me from achieving the objective.

The third dream comes into the nightmare category and is not as frequent as the other two. I wake from a deep sleep with an awareness that a stranger is in the room. My eyes remain closed, all is dark and I neither hear nor see anything. Next, I feel the weight of a person pressing down on top of me. I try to cry but am unable at first to make audible sounds. Eventually I scream loudly, at which point the "weight" disappears.

I think my dreams are all about pressure, although I have a good sense of humour and am not highly strung. I am 55 and these dreams have been with me for years.

Petruska Clarkson writes: Physiologically, recurrent dreams may be just a kind of record in the brain which is stuck in a groove, so to speak. There is also a recurrent "feeling" tone to the dreams. If it's one with which you are familiar, it's more likely to be a continuation of your day, which you are digesting psychologically.

If it's not an everyday emotion, it might be "repressed" and represent some unfinished psychological business. In such cases, professional help can be useful.

Unpleasant recurring dreams can change dramatically or even disappear in people who come for psychotherapy - when the conflicting life issues behind them are resolved. On the other hand, they may be like a "theme tune" of your life, giving you information about how you're getting on.

Barbara's "pressure" is of three kinds: internal physiological pressure (going to the loo or feeling partly undressed), emotional pressure (crying out) and external physiological and emotional pressure (feeling a stranger physically pressing down on top of her).

These sound to me like life's theme tune dreams. They all have to do with "relieving" oneself - a type of physiological and emotional catharsis.

Barbara Preston and Petruska Clarkson were talking to Harvey McGavin.

Petruska Clarkson says anyone wanting to understand their dreams more fully should contact a recognised psychologist

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