Monday, February 27, 2012

Analysis of a PTSD Nightmare

A young girl in her early twenties reported the following nightmare:

A man is feeding another man spaghetti with a fork and pushes the fork all the way up in to his throat causing  blood to come out. 

She added, "Isn't it stupid for a grown man to feed another man spaghetti and then hurt him like that. It was such a dreadful nightmare. I don't want to even think about it. It is part of my PTSD. I always get nightmares because of my PTSD. You know that I was sexually and physically abused as a child."

"How old were the men in the dream?"

"The man who was pushing the fork was older the younger one must be my age."

"Anything else you can tell me about them?"

"The man who was being made to eat the spaghetti had red shirt. He was sitting on a chair. Coming to think of it his hands were tied behind the chair. The man who was pushing the fork one could not see his face clearly. It was covered by a hat. I could just see the beard. It was a goatee with streaks of gray."

"Do you know anybody who sports a goatee with streaks of gray?"

"Yes, my aunt's boyfriend. The one who sexually abused me when I was 9. He had a goatee just like that. So I guess it is him who is pushing the fork. But that cannot be entirely correct. For that crack-head was thin and gaunt. The man in the dream had kind of fat face."

"Do you know anybody who had a fat face who behaved towards you like your aunt's boyfriend?

"Yes, my mother's first husband. He did not abuse me sexually but physically. So I guess, the two men who abused me have turned into this dream man. And yes both of them had black hair and so does the fork man."

"Why is the man wearing a hat?"

"The both wore cap to cover their black hair. In the dream I change it into a hat that is covering their face because I could not stand looking at their faces."

"Why is the other man wearing red shirt?"

"I don't know."

"Is it connected with the bleeding that the fork caused in the second man?"

"No. But once I got black eye which made me see red. When I was in foster care, a girl punched me in the eye and made me see red."

"Is the other man yourself?"

"I don't know. Could be. But why would I turn into a man in the dream? Though got to admit. Red is my favorite color. I like bright colors - red, blue, yellow and pink. The shirt was really bright red. So it could be me."

"Is the red taken from spaghetti sauce?"


"Why does the spaghetti come in to the dream?"

"I love spaghetti. It is my favorite. But why would I want to be a man in the dream? And why was my hands tied behind in the chair?"

"It is because while the sexual abuse was taking place you must be thinking, if only I was a man and not girl this kind of subjugation and abuse would not be taking place. So there was intense wish to be grown up, and a man who could not be subjected to abuse."

"But I don't think like that anymore. But yes when the abuse was taking place, I would think if I was an adult and a man I would have knocked these idiots out with a punch and put a stop to what they were doing. But I haven't thought like that in years."

"But you still do in your dreams/nightmares. The fantasy to get even has not left you.

"You think the penis has become the fork and it's poking into your throat is depiction of oral sex. Did the aunt's boyfriend subjected you to that?"

"I don't want to talk about it. But you can assume that it did happen. The red is also taken from the bleeding that occurred when the idiot pushed himself upon me when I was just 9. My body was not ready. I had not even started my period, my chest was flat. So I guess I was more a boy then than a girl then. And the pain must have given me the same red as when that girl walloped me in my eye. But I don't want to talk any more about it. It makes matters worse. I rather forget about it. How come you are not like other psychiatrists who don't want to listen but give me pills so I stop thinking about the abuse and stop dreaming about it at night? Give me medicine that will stop it, instead of analyzing it, which makes me tired."

"Why is your hands tied behind?"

"That does not make sense either. Nobody tied me. But they made me immobile by putting their weight upon me."

"Perhaps being tied means you had no choice over the matter. So whatever happened to you, you were not responsible."

"I don't think that way. But I am really really enraged with my mother who was so man crazy she just abandoned us to all these perverts. I punch holes in the wall when I think as to what she allowed to happen to us. Also when it happened he forced me to lie on a table. He did not tie me in a chair. Perhaps the chair represents my mother. As if it was happening not to me but to my mother. For she deserved it not me."

"We still have to resolve the issue of spaghetti. Why would he be feeding you spaghetti?"

The girl could not come up with any association to it except that that was her favorite food. But I wondered if it was not the wish fulfillment aspect of the dream. The dream was reversing the extremely unpleasant memory to a palatable one.


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