Disturbed By Dreams of Deceit
"The problem that my husband, Jamie, and I are having right now is that he's dreaming that I am cheating," says Donna. The couple have been married for over 20 years.
"The dreams are always about her and a guy that she dated," Jamie admits.
"Jamie has dreams that I was in our living room with my ex, having sex on my sofa, and he walks in, and I act as if he's not there," Donna reveals.
"I woke up in the middle of the night, ready to push her out of the bed," Jamie says. "I was pretty steamed about it."
Jamie says that his recurring dreams cause him to doubt his wife's fidelity, but Donna maintains that she's innocent. "I reassured Jamie that everything is good, but he's not buying it. I think the dreams are winning," she says.
[AD]In his studio, Dr. Phil turns to Jamie. "You really wake up upset," he observes.
"She's not dreaming this. You're dreaming it. This is all about you," Dr. Phil reminds Jamie. "Why are you mad at her?"
"Because it's about her cheating on me," Jamie replies.
"But it's you doing it!" Dr. Phil exclaims. "She should be mad at you for dreaming bad things about her."
"Most married men, that's the worst thing they want, is to think another man is sharing the love of their life," Jamie tells Dr. Phil.
"But you stay mad all day," Dr. Phil points out. "Has somebody told you that your dreams are telling you what you may be suppressing while you're awake? That maybe this is a clue, a warning?"
"It's too real. I feel like I have the right to be mad. When I question her about it, of course, she gets frustrated about it."
Donna chimes in, "We'll be folding clothes, and he'll just stop and look at me and say, â€˜Do you want to tell me something?'"
She tells Dr. Phil that her last relationship ended over 20 years ago, but Jamie still feels that she never got closure with her ex.
"So, you don't think you're insecure?" Dr. Phil asks Jamie.
[AD]"I don't think so," Jamie replies. At his wife's prompting, he amends that to say, "Well, maybe a little bit."
Dr. Phil turns to Janet and Daniel, who say they have a similar problem.
"I actually lost a relationship because I'm dreaming of that ex," Janet tells Dr. Phil. "It's cost me relationships, so I'm sort of, like, traumatized because [Daniel] knows about it now. I'm afraid I'm going to wake up and blurt out the wrong name."
"That would be bad," Dr. Phil observes.
"I tell him about my dreams because I feel really guilty when I wake up," Janet says.
Dr. Phil introduces Cynthia Richmond, a behavioral therapist who has interpreted over 35,000 dreams for her Los Angeles Times column. She is also the author of Dream Power: How to Use Your Night Dreams to Change Your Life. Dr. Deirdre Barrett is a Harvard Psychologist who has co-written The Encyclopedia on Dreams.
"Even though you much prefer being with Daniel, is there anything from that past relationship that you're missing and wish you could bring into your current life?" Dr. Barrett asks Janet.
"I never saw it in that way," Janet admits.
[AD]Dr. Barrett suggests she try a technique known as dream incubation. "As you fall asleep, you ask your dreaming mind particular questions, or dream on a topic. You could tell yourself, â€˜If I have that dream about my ex tonight, I want to ask him, "Why am I still dreaming about you?"'"
"The point is that the ex-boyfriend is now symbolic for what you associate with him and the characteristics of that relationship," Cynthia adds.
Turning back to Jamie, Dr. Phil explains that people are highly suggestible right as they fall asleep. "So you can talk to yourself about what you want to introduce to the dream, about what you might like to ask [Donna] in the dream, or what you might like to ask of yourself in the dream," he says. "We're not totally passengers in our dream state."