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While it might sound counter-intuitive, dreams in which violence ensue are often positive in nature. When violent topics are manifested in dreams, they need to be taken seriously because they may be pointing to a need for change or to an imminent period of transformation.
What Do Violence in Dreams Mean?
Just because you dreamt about something violent or being violent doesn’t mean that something bad is about to happen or that you will be committing a crime. Research indicates that up to 65% of our dreams are made up of what happens over the course of a day. As psychologist Christ Cortman explained in this article, dreams are created from the material in your head. This means that your dream about violence could very well be inspired by an action movie you watched just before you fell asleep, or by a conversation you had during the day.
However, dreams about violence can also have symbolic interpretations. If you have experienced violence or have unresolved issues pertaining to violence in your waking life, then these can manifest in your dreams. Dreams about violence can also be about changes and transformation that you may be going through or about to go through.
Violent Dreams and Your Health
There is also some debate that vivid, violent dreams are early warning signs of impending brain disorders. According to this article by Laura Sanders in ABC News, “People with a mysterious sleep disturbance called REM sleep behavior disorder, or RBD, experience a sudden change in the nature of dreams. Dreams increasingly become more violent and frequently involve episodes in which an attacker must be fought off”.
If you are having increasingly violent dreams, and you find that you’re acting out these dreams, there is the likelihood that RBD could be the issue. However, there’s no need to panic. People who have this disorder are no more violent in real life than those without it and have even found to be less violent. With the right treatment, this condition can be handled effectively.
Types of Violence Dreams
There are many types of violence dreams, but the list below outlines the most common violence scenarios that people tend to dream about.
Traditionally, fighting is the way archetypal males solve problems. Women (at least from an archetype point of view) tend to talk about them. Usually, the latter is the most efficient way to deal with troubling issues. Carl Jung proposed that we should always balance the masculine and the feminine sides of our souls.
Fighting in dreams usually stresses that one of these principles is much more developed than the other. The masculine meets problems head-on with equal force but needs to learn to pick his battles. This is why it is important to pay attention to our dreams. Violence and fighting call for balance in our souls.
The act of stabbing creates a narrow, deep wound. It can do a great amount of damage by acting on a very limited amount of flesh. If we dream about stabbing, there may be something that our conscious minds disregard as ‘small’ but is making a deep and penetrating impact on ourselves.
A betrayal of some kind, or a harsh or sharp comment toward us, are examples of such issues. We tend to overlook these affronts, especially when the traitor is a loved one. We may even tell ourselves that it is no big deal, and we will forget it soon.
But the stabbing in our dreams reminds us that we are deeply hurt by something, and the wound will not heal by itself. The smallest of hurts can have devastating effects when one is under certain states of mind.
If you dream of blood that ensues from the stabbing, this can have added meaning. The symbolism of blood is very powerful, and it connects to a deeper sense of life force within you and an expression of passion for living. Stabbing can symbolize the yearning for a good, balanced, meaningful life.
War is different from battles in that it involves a whole period of time, and not just a particular skirmish. War in dreams indicates enormous upheaval, usually caused by shifting boundaries.
The change that dreams about wars herald is performed on such a large scale, that it needs major force in order to be accomplished.
War in dreams may also have a romantic meaning. After all, The Trojan War, the most famous military confrontation in history, was provoked by a love affair.
When the change is sudden and violent, the unconscious may use a dream of war to express the enormity of the internal shift that is occurring.
War implies a continuing state of flux, while individual battles represent change. It involves a small increment of upheaval and change as part of an ongoing period of transformation.
When battles appear in dreams, it can be helpful to ask ourselves where we have set our defenses in life. A much-needed process of change may meet our high defenses and fail to be completed, but it may also overtake us if our defenses are too low.
Another thing to have in mind when analyzing battle dreams is that while some battles may happen in our outside world, most of them happen within ourselves. The dream could be alerting you to internal conflict that you’re experiencing during your waking hours.
One of the most common dreams of violence, being chased is usually a fear-based response to threats. This threat may be real or imagined, but in either case it has a deep effect in ourselves. Fear is an emotion deeply engraved in our minds since the dawn of our species when fight-or-flight responses were crucial for day-to-day survival.
More recently, and especially now that we do not need to worry about predators ambushing us and jumping down on us from a tree, the dream enemy we tend to run from is an enemy within. We run from ourselves when we should embrace our shadow, as Jung suggests. If we never let our shadow catch up to us, we will never be complete, and we will have to be forever running away, which is tiring.
In other chase dreams, the assailant is a known entity, a person, or a concept that we can pinpoint and name. Again, many times letting them catch us can offer more, instead of simply running away. The symbolic transformation that comes with being caught or killed in the dream is a painful, although necessary, step towards bringing fulfillment to our lives. But that also requires that we have the courage to stop running and turn around.
Sacrifice is a powerful concept in human history. According to philosopher René Girard, it consists of purification, through the killing of a scapegoat, whether human, animal, or effigy.
Dreaming of an execution usually indicates a need to sacrifice a way of being or thinking that no longer serves the dreamer. The sacrifice is then a crucial milestone in the process of transformation and evolution of one’s character. Something needs to be killed for another thing to be born.
In the case of an execution, the scapegoat can be named or unnamed, according to our own consciousness of what is wrong in our character. It is important to point out that the character being executed is simply no longer necessary for our well-being. It does not necessarily entail a traumatic process.
However, in other sacrificial dreams, the person executed may be ourselves. When this is the case, the whole sense of identity is being confronted with drastic change.
It may also be that the dreamer is the one performing the execution. In which case, the ego is ripe for self-scrutiny and eventually changes may be needed.
When a bomb appears in a dream, it may signal drastic, quick change. A bomb unleashes an enormous amount of energy in an instant, so explosions are a powerful symbol of great change. In this case, the changes that are taking place are bound to be creating a great deal of chaos.
A bomb that has not exploded point to changes that may or may not happen. The results of a bomb blast symbolize the havoc that is wreaked in our minds when great changes take place. It takes a second to happen, but a long time to get used to things changing.
The essence of an explosion is combustion, which means change and transformation. It is a chemical process that happens almost instantly, and one that has been greatly discussed in alchemical treaties. If you dreamt of a violent explosion, this can be interpreted as impending change.
Through fire and explosions, things change states and are transformed in a very short time, and the old is consumed to leave space for the new. Such process is caustic and violent, but it has positive meanings in dreams.
It points to a swift transition in the dreamer’s life that is happening abruptly and may cause fear. Change can be frightening, and it is only human to fear change. However, change is also inevitable, and the best approach is to embrace it.
Seeing violence in your dreams can be a frightening experience, and most people often report feeling panicked, stressed, and afraid. However, in dreams, virtually every violent event symbolizes a demand for change or the imminence of change. In any case, violence in dreams stresses a situation that should not be overlooked but should be addressed in our waking lives.