12 votes

What do you dream about in your sleep? How vividly do you dream it/them? Can you control it/them?

I have aphantasia, so I only dream when I'm actually trying to make my brain dream something, so I usually only dream to indulge in NSFW fantasies to jack off and despite this barely anything makes it into my mind. (I swear someone has said something like this before, I think they said they 'did it to embrace their kinks to improve mental health', which is quite unique and pretty cool.)

12 comments

  1. tomf
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    A few years ago I was trying to get into lucid dreaming. I could control a little of the dream, but I was fully aware of everything going on. Sounds cool, right? It was until dream-tomf got a job...

    A few years ago I was trying to get into lucid dreaming. I could control a little of the dream, but I was fully aware of everything going on. Sounds cool, right? It was until dream-tomf got a job in risk management and spent the entire dream preparing for presentations.

    I woke up one morning in an unbelievable panic because I hadn't completed some slide deck --- then quickly realized how both real and pathetic these dreams were.

    I wish I were joking. I also wish I were lucid enough to quit and get a better in-dream job. In total, I had about a dozen or so of this same dream...

    For what it's worth, my dream-tomf was using full-screen PDFs instead of PowerPoint, so I was pretty happy with that.

    8 votes
  2. Akir
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    I've probably told this story before, but when I was younger I tried to experience a lucid dream. I was eventually successful but ran into the same problem you did. I knew that I was dreaming but...

    I've probably told this story before, but when I was younger I tried to experience a lucid dream. I was eventually successful but ran into the same problem you did. I knew that I was dreaming but really didn't have enough creativity to do anything with them, so I always ended up just going with whatever plot was going on before I gained lucidity.

    A slightly more interesting story than this is that while I was training up my memory so I wouldn't forget about my dreams, I started dreaming about taking very long steps - basically like I was gliding. And I would dream about taking my normal walk between home and whatever school I was going to at the time. I had them so frequently and thought about them so much I ended up somehow reversing which was the reality and which was the dream. I didn't catch on until weeks later when I consciously thought about it during one of those trips and wondered why I wasn't glide-walking at that moment. It was the only time I have ever confused fantasy for reality.

    5 votes
  3. [3]
    patience_limited
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    Also, just curious about the experience of aphantasia - is it a kind of interior blindness? Do you voluntarily replay visual experience at all? I'm having difficulty even thinking about what life...

    Also, just curious about the experience of aphantasia - is it a kind of interior blindness? Do you voluntarily replay visual experience at all?

    I'm having difficulty even thinking about what life would be like absent inner visualization, since that's an integral part of how I apprehend the world. I don't have literal photographic memory, but I have very good spatial memory from practicing memory palace and other mental mapping techniques related to the method of loci. I couldn't do higher mathematics without automatically visualizing the graphs, vectors, surfaces, or volumes described.

    I suspect this relates to why the dream worlds I experience seem so detailed.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      vivaria
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Small chime in -- I have aphantasia, but I dream vividly, so I'm not sure of the connection. I found out when I went on a date with someone! They gave the example, "close your eyes and imagine a...

      Small chime in -- I have aphantasia, but I dream vividly, so I'm not sure of the connection.

      I found out when I went on a date with someone! They gave the example, "close your eyes and imagine a red balloon." Then we talked about what we "saw" so to speak. She seemed to describe being able to see/feel the redness, the shape of the balloon, the string. When I try, all I get is the sensation of looking at the back of my eyelids. This sort of blackness, with flickering static, almost flashes of light. I can't seem to get pictures or colours or anything to appear. No matter what I try to imagine (a balloon, a car, a tree, etc.), what I "see" is always the same, visually.

      My imagination typically takes the form of words from my internal narrator. When I try to imagine a balloon, I start describing it. "Squeaky" and "rubbery" and "tension" and "inflated" and "round" and "pinched at the bottom in a knot" and then I just, get the feeling of a balloon. But, again, it's all the same darkness and static while I'm doing this.

      It seems a bit strange considering my specialization is computer vision! But, I've compensated by using other techniques, e.g. mnemonics and spaced repetition for memorization. Visualizing things is a big part of how I make sense of the world, though. I learn and communicate through external means, i.e. pulling out a sheet of paper and sketching away with a sharpie. Only once it's clearly in front of me does it click. I couldn't possibly replicate those images internally. Maybe that's why I'm so drawn to computer vision? With such an emphasis on external visualization, it might be a source of satisfaction and joy for me, because it fills a void in experiences I don't naturally get.

      EDIT: Reading this article, seems like this person used very similar descriptions: https://www.facebook.com/notes/blake-ross/aphantasia-how-it-feels-to-be-blind-in-your-mind/10156834777480504

      Although, he extends it to other senses, and I can't say I share his experiences. I... definitely feel like I can hear different sounds in my "mind's ear" while he can't? It's odd.

      5 votes
      1. patience_limited
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        It seems aphantasia is relatively common, as much as 2% of the population? It sounds like you and others with this condition encode some or all types of sensory experience symbolically rather than...

        It seems aphantasia is relatively common, as much as 2% of the population? It sounds like you and others with this condition encode some or all types of sensory experience symbolically rather than in detail.

        It seems like this would confer some advantages - faster, more efficient and precise manipulation of those symbols, fewer opportunities for detailed sensory recall to overwhelm present attention. Eidetic memory, the ability to capture and persist visualisations, is relatively common in children, but recedes with the acquisition of symbolic language and abstraction.

        My spouse seems to have some of these encoding differences as well; it's surprising to him that I can synthesize road directions visually, while he has to learn a pattern like "left, left, straight, right..."; he follows recipes, while I can recall the distinct flavors of seasonings and adjust to our tastes even if the seasoning isn't a listed ingredient. And yet he has the ability to dream in jokes, sometimes waking up laughing, which suggests a very effective symbolic imagination.

        It's fascinating to me because I had always assumed I suffered depression in part because recall of painful events is so immediate and freighted with sensory details, precisely as if I'm experiencing the event again. But you've commented previously on depression and anxiety, so it sounds like the recall of symbolized experience is as salient as the detailed sensory recollection.

        I suspect that I'm not a particularly clear communicator because I implicitly assume everyone has the same sensory recall responses that I do, as evidenced here. When I used "explanatory framework", I was visualizing a literal scaffolding where concepts and hierarchies of meaning existed in spatial relationships to one another.

        Even though mathematics came very easily to me, I chose not to pursue programming as a career because the slow, precise translation of operations into systems of symbols seemed so constraining compared to what I could visualize. You describe that you can, by dint of patient labor, translate those symbolic imaginings back into pictures, given pen and paper to externalize and persist the images.

        As usual, I've gone on too long, but this is fascinating and probably the basis for another topic... I'm really curious as to whether people who grew up with pictographic languages have the same incidence of aphantasia.

        4 votes
  4. ShilohMizook
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    I dream pretty much every night, but usually forget most of it before I start writing it down, which is a habit I've been working on over the last few weeks. I dream about uncomfortable scenarios...

    I dream pretty much every night, but usually forget most of it before I start writing it down, which is a habit I've been working on over the last few weeks. I dream about uncomfortable scenarios I have to get out of, like a prison riot or an awkward conversation with a prophetic grave-digger, to name two recent examples. Usually, the premise is pretty unrealistic, but the course of the dream itself has no fantasy elements.

    4 votes
  5. zara
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    I dream most nights, but what fascinates me is how I can remember strong feelings from that dream despite not remembering the dream itself. When I'm dreaming, everything around me feels so natural...

    I dream most nights, but what fascinates me is how I can remember strong feelings from that dream despite not remembering the dream itself. When I'm dreaming, everything around me feels so natural and smooth that it feels overwhelmingly real (don't worry, I'm capable of telling reality apart from fantasy when I wake up). Sometimes when I get up in the morning, I have the strongest urge to write down what I was dreaming, but then I realize that I probably DON'T want to remember, so I let the memory go.

    4 votes
  6. patience_limited
    (edited )
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    I don't have memorable dreams every night, but 99% of the time when I recall dreams, I have these fantastic, really entertaining dreams with full sensory effects and what seem like linear plots....

    I don't have memorable dreams every night, but 99% of the time when I recall dreams, I have these fantastic, really entertaining dreams with full sensory effects and what seem like linear plots. We're talking whole novels' worth of experience in a single night. Sometimes I have lucid control and can navigate these environments as my own viewpoint, but more usually, the viewpoint is voyeuristic, riding along with a character.

    I don't have time to write everything down before the memory evaporates, but even the faintest traces are usually lovely, fantastical, luminous images. Things like rubbing a gold ring over my fingers so that nanomachines in my blood can turn my hand into an antenna; making love to a tree; or a sky full of airships tinted pink in sunrise. Nothing seemed to have been directly inspired by anything I'd read, seen, written, or thought about proximate to the night of these dreams.

    Then there are the rare occasions where I have equally vivid nightmares, like this. These are usually related conceptually to some concurrent experience of anxiety, pain, or illness.

    There've been a few bog-standard anxiety dreams, like showing up naked and unprepared for a physical chemistry exam, but the real bone-shakers are the apocalyptic ones.

    On one occasion, there were air-raid sirens and the smell of smoke, I was present as the viewpoint character in the dream, and spent subjective hours of terror running around a dim, red-lit city where everyone was hiding indoors. I had to find a suitcase before the nuclear bomb inside went off, but failed. Knowing everything was going to be erased in seconds, I just laid down on the ground... And woke up to discover that the apartment downstairs was on fire, the red lights and sirens were from the fire truck outside. That's the only occasion I'm aware of where outside reality knit itself into the fabric of the dream so literally.

    3 votes
  7. Diff
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    never been able to control my dreams. the few times I've become aware of the fact I'm dreaming either something immediately pulls my attention away from that fact, or I wake up. lately, if I dream...

    never been able to control my dreams. the few times I've become aware of the fact I'm dreaming either something immediately pulls my attention away from that fact, or I wake up. lately, if I dream at all it's only short vignettes that I quickly wake up from until I can sneak past them into real sleep. I realize I probably dream then, too, but I never remember anything but the super light dreams that just end up keeping me awake.

    2 votes
  8. mftrhu
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    I also believe I have aphantasia, as I have never experienced seeing something with my mind's eye. I struggle with sounds, too: I don't have an inner monologue as much as a journal, and I have...

    I also believe I have aphantasia, as I have never experienced seeing something with my mind's eye. I struggle with sounds, too: I don't have an inner monologue as much as a journal, and I have never considered memories more than the description of a description.

    It's like that in my dreams, too. Sometimes, people I know will be involved, but they are always faceless - I just somehow know who they are.

    The dreams themselves are always weird, and often very dark. I don't have nightmares, per se, but I relive bad memories from time to time. I tend to wake up in tears when that happens.

    The rest of the time? Once, I fled over a frozen ocean as iron-hard pasta rained behind me, trying to call an orbital strike on my position to clear it out. Another time I was making a zombie memorize the works of Shakespeare, to use the undead as mass storage, and then I was watching my relatives flee from giant wasps armed with particle cannons. I often end up exploring dark buildings - empty hospitals, apartment blocks - but I graduated to a zombie-filled library recently. For some reason, it was also littered with hospital beds, containing rotten bodies swaddled in cloth.

    2 votes
  9. xstresedg
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    Most of my dreams tend to be vivid dreams, but I've never had a lucid dream. I always have long detailed experiences in my dream but I never know I'm dreaming until I wake up. I wish I could lucid...

    Most of my dreams tend to be vivid dreams, but I've never had a lucid dream. I always have long detailed experiences in my dream but I never know I'm dreaming until I wake up. I wish I could lucid dream but I've never been successful.

    1 vote
  10. rogue_cricket
    (edited )
    Link
    I occasionally dream very vividly, usually in clusters of a few nights one after the other. Generally those dreams are tangentially related to my life but with a weird surreal twist involved. I am...

    I occasionally dream very vividly, usually in clusters of a few nights one after the other. Generally those dreams are tangentially related to my life but with a weird surreal twist involved. I am not sure I have ever really been able to control the dream in any meaningful sense, but I have definitely been aware that I've been dreaming, usually if the dream gets extra terrible or extra cool. Once I am aware I am dreaming I can either force myself to wake up, let it continue, or even actively fight against waking up for a couple extra minutes of a particularly interesting dream.

    It's almost like watching a movie of myself at that point, if I'm making the decision to not wake up yet. I'm still "me" in some sense, observing my dream-self's thoughts and actions. Honestly I get the same feeling on shrooms sometimes, the feeling of being an observer in and of my own body.

    1 vote