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Have so many interpretations. Psychiatrists interpret them one way, local folklore another, and each individual interprets them very subjectively. There are some very common nightmares that we have all had. The “falling” nightmare, which is usually interpreted as resulting from your arm slipping downwards if resting on your body, or if one leg falls off the other if sleeping on your side. This is very common, but still a nightmare while happening. Another common one is going in public naked, or in appropriately dressed. This has many interpretations, and are mostly rather embarrassing, but again are very personal.
As per Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, any dream expresses either a desire or a fear. So accordingly we dream of whatever we are afraid of and that is why it is considered as a nightmare. Those afraid of the dark usually tend to dream of that when having a nightmare. Claustrophobic people have nightmares of being confined in tight places. These horrific dreams are usually so vivid and real as have a very deeply disturbing effect on the dreamer. In some rare cases heart attacks were brought on by such nightmares. But more commonly a person wakes up with an accelerated heartbeat and shortness of breath indicative of great distress.
Most of the reasons given for having nightmares are usually psychological, but sometimes a physical reason is given. Some say that eating a very heavy, indigestible meal then going to sleep could easily induce a nightmare. These are very interesting reasons, but how do they apply in the case of animals?
Have you ever watched a dog asleep? More often than not they dream, and more often than not they have nightmares. Their arms and legs flutter, their ears twitch, and they usually either whimper or actually bark. You would certainly conclude that this dog is having a nightmare. If you wake them up suddenly, they usually jump up and run a few steps before realizing that they were dreaming.
A couple of days ago, Pixie, one of my kittens was curled up fast asleep next to my knee. Pixie is completely deaf, therefore whenever he meows it is usually pretty loud. Around four in the morning he gave one long meow which woke me up, rather dazed, I was not quite sure that it was a loud meow that woke me up. When a few seconds later he gave another one I knew that there was something wrong. He sounded so distressed, I thought he felt disoriented and lost, and wanting to reassure him I stretched my hand and gave him a tender stroke on the back. With a bloodcurdling scream he turned round, savagely scratched my hand and half way up my arm, jumped off the bed and flew to the end of the room hitting the balcony windows with a thud. The scratch was deep and painful and was bleeding a bit more than was comfortable so had to get up, put my hand and arm under cold water to try to stem the flow, then finally put on some antiseptic and held some cotton pads to where the cut was deepest.
Getting back to my room I tried to find Pixie but he had disappeared. I realized that the poor thing was probably having a nightmare and out of the blue a huge “thing” pounced on his back and his reaction was pure self defense. I really wonder what his nightmare was about. I know it was intense, as his reaction was just as intense. All day following that incident he was very jumpy and it was over 24 hours before he came back to his normal naughty self.
Nightmares could be very traumatic. They do not differentiate between man or beast, and their effects are quite strong. Whatever psychiatrist say, nightmares are a pretty uncomfortable way to spend part of your night, which is supposed to be a time of rest.