Since Freud, we know that each dream is a mine of information about our deepest desires. Hence our frustration when we do not remember. Why are so many dreamers stricken with amnesia as soon as they wake up? And how to find this memory?
The majority dream every night
“My friends often tell each other their dreams,” says Magali, 29. Me, I don’t remember anything, or almost. No image, no interesting impression. It’s a shame: I would so much like to be able to keep them in mind to decode them. According to psychoanalyst Nicole Fabre, this very frequent disappointment is due to the fact that forgetting one’s dreams generates “the feeling of missing out on a key element in understanding oneself – but also of lacking creativity, inner richness , out of curiosity.
In some cases, this lack of memories can be explained by an absence of dreams: “Neurological alterations due to illness, accident or trauma can lead to their disappearance, explains Michel Billiard, neurologist and sleep specialist. A psychological condition causing great difficulty in expressing emotion, or having more frequent but very short episodes of REM sleep can have the same result. But these situations are rare, and the vast majority of us dream every night.
A lack of attention
For the neurologist, our amnesia is mainly due to our lack of interest in the dream world: “For lack of attention and concentration, dreams escape, and the same goes for all mental activities. On the other hand, when we are interested in our thoughts and our inner world, our memory is more alert. Michel Billiard observed that “women, who are generally more introspective than men, are more attentive to their dreams and therefore remember them better. The same applies to those who engage in work on themselves”.
The lack of interest in one’s dreams can also be linked to a lack of interest in the dream itself. “Two times out of three, our dreams are made up of banal events that took place the day before, since we prolong, in our sleep, our activities or our experiences of the day in order to ‘regulate’ them”, affirms Michel Billiard. Because they are of no major importance, we forget these facts so as not to clutter up our memory.
The origins of the dream… by Nicole Fabré
The psychoanalyst shows how the dream is used in therapy to allow the evolution of the patient (L’Esprit du temps).
The sleep guide by Michel Billiard
To know everything about sleep and its disorders (Odile Jacob).
The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud
The must-have book! (PUF).
“There is in each of us […] terrible, wild, wild desires, and that’s evidenced by dreams. These words are not from Freud, but from Plato (The Republic – LGF)! If the idea comes from Antiquity, it is the father of psychoanalysis who made it popular, thus delivering another explanation to our memory lapses: “In sleep, our unconscious expresses what we do not know or what we don’t dare to say: our desires, our troubles, our anxieties…”, emphasizes Nicole Fabre.
Why don’t we receive these messages that he sends us? “Because we repress them,” replies the psychoanalyst. The dream camouflages the information it carries within itself behind banal or, on the contrary, extraordinary images, in order to protect us from the crudeness of our impulses. But if our need for control takes over, then we unconsciously refuse to be surprised by these revelations that could frighten us. »
Advice from therapists
Nicole Fabre, psychoanalyst
“When you wake up, let your mind wander, daydream… Pay attention to the images that come to you. During the day, allow yourself moments of daydreaming, in order to stimulate your imagination, and train yourself to let go of your thoughts. If you sense that your nights are the scene of painful events, but the repression prevents you from “seeing” them, perhaps you should consider seeking the help of an analyst. »
Michel Billiard, neurologist
“If you really want to remember your dreams, try to wake you up around 3 a.m. or 4 a.m., in the middle of REM sleep, during which you dream for about twenty minutes. You can also ask your spouse to check if you are dreaming. He can look at your eyelids and the ends of your limbs: if they make small movements, it’s because you’re dreaming. »
Testimonials to dream
Melanie, 34 years old
“I practice the Coué method! Every night, before going to sleep, I tell myself loud and clear that I will remember my dreams. The next morning, I write down everything, even the details like the colors, the sounds… Then, I work by association of ideas: I think about what these details evoke in me to try to decode the message. Keeping this journal excites me: it makes me see aspects of myself that I don’t control. »
Agatha, 40 years old
“It was ten years ago and I was not well. I undertook a psychoanalysis. While I was not dreaming, terrible nightmares appeared, from which I kept nothing except unpleasant feelings. My psychoanalyst used the waking dream technique. I relaxed and let the images come. This is how a family secret was revealed: the one I thought was my father was not. Then, the work of acceptance could begin. »