Dr. Charles R. Freeman’s Lucid Dreams

Art and the underlying themes in artwork, whether they are expressions of happiness and passion or nightmarish are generated by the unconscious. Vivid volatile emotions from the unconscious as reflected by dreams are often expressed by the artist in the manifestation of their piece. It’s not unusual to see art that reflects dream sequences.

The act of creating art may act as a catharsis for the artist going through negative emotions (e.g., anxiety, irritability, fear, stress, etc.) and blissful for those expressing joyful, ecstatic creation. Insomnia or disrupted sleep can lead to decreased well being. Implementing the use of non-drug therapies for sleep disorders, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), encourages holistic wellness. (Featured detail, Mark Todd)

Not to assume that all artists have sleeping issues, but many famous and tortured artists have had well documented angst and cognitive issues which in turn created magnificent works of art. Unfortunately, a large amount of the same stress that produces art can also cause serious health issues. Untreated insomnia and nightmares have a devastating impact on the economy. Stress caused by lack of sleep contributes to increased alcohol, drug abuse and prescription abuse. Those with insomnia have twice as many visits to medical providers than those who sleep restfully and absenteeism results in a great loss of productivity nationwide. (Featured details, Irene Hardwicke Olivieri)

In the last 23 years of practicing CBT with Insomnia patients, I have observed a strong relationship between a client’s dreams and their mood during the following day. Nightmares and dreams often represent aspects of strengths, fears and anxieties in day-to-day reality. In fact, the dreams and sleep quality have a huge impact on daily mood fluctuations. Sleep deprivation affects concentration, productivity and energy regulation throughout the day. (Featured details, Kevin Paulsen)

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder among those that have issues with nighttime rest. 33% of American adults have difficulty with sleep. Of those, 50% of consider it serious. Many sleep physicians prescribe sedative hypnotics in order to treat insomnia. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has equivalent effectiveness to sedative hypnotics, and has sustained benefits over longer periods of time. (Featured details, Joel Nakamura)

In the instance when nightmares cause feelings of helplessness, victimization or loss of control, Positive Imagery Rehearsal is a strategy in which the therapist empowers the person to rehearse positive outcomes to counteract a nightmare so that it ends with the person feeling protected, safe and empowered. Cognitive restructuring is used to address Insomnia by changing irrational beliefs (assuming other’s intentions, magnifying mole hills into mountains, inflexible thinking, etc.) associated with negative emotions into rational thoughts. Through these strategies, anxiety is decreased along with irritability and depression. (Featured details, Bonnie Marie Smith)

Luckily, art can act as a therapy for many people in working through depression, anxiety or anger that is caused by non-restful sleep. Next time you see a disturbing piece of art, be thankful that the artist is working through their unconscious stress. If you don’t have a cathartic method such as art to help you work through an issue, Cognitive Behavioral Treatment of sleep may be beneficial rather than turning to prescription medication. (Featured details, Jorge Catoni)

about the author

Dr. Charles R. Freeman recently relocated from Minneapolis to San Diego and is a well-established Holistic Behavioral Medicine Psychologist. You can reach him at 619 405-7663.

All featured artwork are details featured in the exhibit “Lucid Dreams.” Related articles—Doug Tanoury Poetry (1/2/3) and Dialectic, PR, Open, Featured Artwork.

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