Electric Dreams

The Nightmare: Getting Beyond the Climax

David Jenkins, PhD

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Jenkins, David, PhD (2006 October). DreamRePlay: The Nightmare: Getting Beyond the Climax.
Electric Dreams 13(10).

Almost everyone has them.

You know it was not ''real.'' It was ''only a dream.'' But nightmares are powerful experiences of our fears. Shaking them off can be tough.

During a nightmare, we lose our ability to think and act clearly. Courage abandons us and, instead, a sense of fear, often laced with guilt and shame, overpowers us. We are attacked, humiliated, betrayed, and emotionally tortured. In a nightmare, we have no weapons; friends become enemies; the world is unmanageable, revealing our vulnerabilities at every turn.

How do you get rid of nightmares?

If you compare your nightmare to a story or movie, you'll see that the dream stops at the climax the scene when the hero is in the most vulnerable situation, where the audience gasps in horror sure that the hero will die.

Your task is to transform that climax into a resolution, by finishing the scene and allowing your dreamer, the hero of your dream life, to triumph over adversity.

One of the easiest ways to "fix" a nightmare is to use the Movie Method:

Wanda's dream

Two men are chasing me. I know that they will kill me if they catch me. I manage to run away but then I'm trapped on a balcony. I look down to a courtyard but it's too far away I'm certain that the jump would kill me. I am helpless.

This nightmare had plagued Wanda since she was a teenager. Creating her own movie script, Wanda imagined Susan Sarandon playing her. Wanda decided that, at the climax, Tim Robbins would come in. He'd climb halfway up to the balcony and hold her hand so that she could jump without hurting herself.

It made her laugh to imagine herself being courted from a balcony. What began as a nightmare was already turning into a romantic comedy.

Her nightmare disappeared in a single session.

Jack's nightmare

I dream I am back at my old job. They have overwhelmed me with work. The cash register is broken and I am dropping things all over the floor in front of the customers.

Jack had worked as a checker in a very understaffed supermarket and this had happened to him more than once in waking life.

To fix this nightmare, the dreamer asserted himself in the situation. In his imagination, Jack went back into the dream situation and told his managers exactly what they were doing wrong. He told them what staff they needed on his shift. Then he went to each customer and explained that due to unusual circumstances he would not be able to serve them.

The key for Jack was to replay the dream to the climax and then continue it to a resolution.

This twenty year nightmare subsided in the next dream, was uneventful in the third dream and hasn't been seen since January 2006, five months ago.


The point, with nightmares, is make them stop. They ruin your sleep and they disturb your daytime abilities.

With Dream RePlay, you can expect dramatic improvements in your dream life: instead of foes and fears you can experience friends and fun. Your nightmares will decrease and even stop after one effort when you move the story of your dream beyond the climax.

Dream Analysis By Telephone

A phone consultation is a great way to begin your exploration of dream work. It is also perfect when you don't have the time to attend a regular class but want to discuss a particular dream.

David is available for dream consultations by phone. The current cost is $50 per hour. A typical dream analysis might consist of a 30-45 minute discussion of the dream and a follow up after the next dream.

David's hours for telephone consultations are Monday through Friday, 10 am to 7 pm, Pacific Time. To make an appointment, please email him with two or three times when you are available and your phone number. He will e-mail you back with an appointment time, payment information and request a confirmation. David's e-mail address is davidj@dreamreplay.com

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