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Old 31st-December-2016, 07:34 PM   #1
zerkalo
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Default novel experiences/sensations in dreams

this has been bothering me for a long time
is it possible to experience novel sensations in dreams? i know i have
but how is that possible? what are dreams to begin with? what gives birth to dreams?
for example, is it possible for someone who has never seen a bear, someone who is completely oblivious to the existence of bears, to dream of a bear chasing them? i dont think so.

is it possible to experience a feeling you have never experienced before, in a dream? how can the mind structure a dream from data it is completely missing?

ive seen/read lots of horror flicks/books during my early teens, and i once saw a girl(rescued from a failed abduction attempt), shaking violently in aftermath-shock/fear. her face was so ghastly pale. and i remember thinking "wow this must be what fear looks like"

these are the only resources from which i think i could have conceived an idea of what acute fear feels like. but none of this comes even remotely close to what i experienced in the dream im talking about. i remember reading descriptions of characters paralyzed by fear, and i thought i had a vivid enough picture in my head. but imagining and experiencing fear in its full magnitude are two different things

in this dream, i experienced the sensation of being so paralyzed by fear, i was unable to flee from looming danger. and my heart pounding so hard i could hardly think or take in the situation i was in. all i could think of was that i had to run, but my body wouldn't budge, i then tried to focus all my concentration on moving my fingers, but all i was able to achieve was a pulse, and then nothing. the whole time, ive been trying to scream for help(setting was a congested neighborhood, next to the house my parents were staying in at the time). i knew if i called for help, someone was bound to listen and come to my aid, but i remember all i was able to produce was an inaudible whimper. i could hardly breathe. i remember being overwhelmed by the sheer novelty of the experience, the intensity of the fear i felt was so paramount. it was unmistakably real and novel. i know that i had never felt anything like this before. this was NOTHING like the pictures of fear i envisioned in my head while reading horror, in fact they couldnt be more different. many years later, i am still haunted by this experience.

so how is this possible? how can it be that the first time i ever felt violently intense fear was in a dream?
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Old 31st-December-2016, 08:36 PM   #2
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Default Re: novel experiences/sensations in dreams

thank you for sharing about this, zerkalo. dreams are fascinating things.. i have a lot of thoughts, but it'll take me a while to articulate them. i'll be back tho ~
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Old 1st-January-2017, 12:47 AM   #3
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Default Re: novel experiences/sensations in dreams

If it's something like fear, I'd imagine it's because fear is a primal and physical response all bodies are capable of producing, just like an erection is a physical response all men with functional penises are capable of producing whether or not there's erotic stimuli at the time. The physical response is not completely tied to what you might call psychological experience - hence panic attacks or the extreme emotions (euphoria, terror, religious ecstasy etc) experienced by some with temporal lobe epilepsy despite having no experiential precursors, etc. Sounds like your brain decided to kick your fear response to its maximum (maybe to test it's working), and then built a story up around it. Kinda like when you're asleep and an alarm is going off in the real world, your dreaming mind builds this story about some irritant you need to destroy, or when you need to pee and you dream about toilets, running water, etc. Your physical body is having a response and your mind builds a story around it.

Dream paralysis involving fear is pretty common too. One theory is that the body experiences its actual paralysis in the real world (our bodies are paralysed during some phases of sleep) and incorporates that into its dream which then heightens the fear experienced. I've had many dreams where I've desperately needed to run or say something and have terrifyingly not been able to. I experienced heightened religious ecastasy in a dream as a kid and have never experienced it in real life - looking back, it was an odd mixture of *physical* fear (which heightened the physical intensity of whatever I felt), joy and extreme calm. I've watched my dream mother die in my arms, blood spilling out of multiple gunshot wounds. The feelings of being slammed with horror, the extreme urgency and my desperation in pleading with her to stay alive felt as real as anything else I've felt, but I've never had that experience in real life either (with that one though, I might have RL correlates that could translate).

It's also possible that we've experienced extreme fear in infancy (when left alone for instance) and simply don't remember, or even just extreme adrenaline in other instances as an adult (like narrowly missing a car accident). The experience lasts only a short while but the physical imprint remains.

----

I've heard some extraordinary stories about people who've met a stranger in a dream. The dream is usually marked by urgency and a sense of loss as they realise they will lose this person once awake. Some hasty attempt to exchange contact details follows before the dream crumbles and upon waking they spend years searching for this person. I've seen a couple of people who actually did eventually find the person they dreamt of in the physical, both having had the same dream with the correct physical description, name, phone number, etc. Of course, bias, hazy thinking and poor memory are more likely to account for what happened than an actual dream meeting, but it's fun to think about.
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Old 1st-January-2017, 02:49 AM   #4
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Default Re: novel experiences/sensations in dreams

While external information forms the core of how our inner perception arises, that information can be operated on internally. What transpired is especially understandable given that fear is an internal state rather than an external idea. Through an altered state of consciousness, it's very possible to experience new takes on old things. While the magnitude of the fear was novel, it was a new take on an old idea.

When I am in a near-sleep state, I sometimes develop an extreme capacity for the internal representation and manipulation of auditory information, far beyond what I am ordinarily capable of. It's like having a music program in my head, but without the limitations of an interface. I can use anyone's voice to say anything I want, and fluidly design songs as I 'listen' to them. This is very much a new ability to me, just like your new experience of fear, and it's certainly novel, but it's not a new idea completely, it's just a change in my mental makeup that alters what I'm able to do - which I assume is the same case for your fear.
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Old 1st-January-2017, 02:51 AM   #5
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Default Re: novel experiences/sensations in dreams

There's no reason for it to not be possible. Fear is produced by the mind. Many of the feelings associated with being in an actual dream are quite distinct from what would be felt in waking life.

It is nonetheless intriguing that you had such a powerful dream; I tend to wake myself up before things get too scary. My most recent scary dream was going down some kind of tube slide, but I only went a little way and then got stuck, with the tube pressing in on all sides (apparently what going down it was meant to do). I wasn't in there for long; the claustrophobic feelings quickly led to me waking.
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Old 1st-January-2017, 06:38 AM   #6
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Default Re: novel experiences/sensations in dreams

OP sounds like you just experienced sleep paralysis which is quite a binch On a purely biological standpoint, it is possible to experience novel experiences during such events since our bodies and brains have different settings while we are supposed to be asleep.
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Old 10th-January-2017, 10:45 AM   #7
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Default Re: novel experiences/sensations in dreams

I'd like to ask how does the brain know to re-arrange your experiences into even semi-coherent dreams that resemble waking life? There must be more to the brains executive role than just trying to mimic waking life because dreams are known to be sometimes prophetic, dealing with information one hasn't consciously known before. Fears become amplified, perspectives alternated.

Like others have said that sounds like a clear case of sleep paralysis. I think the brain has access to primordial emotions like the feeling of imminent danger and current uncertainty through genetic memory. A black bear can be just the representation of a dark and violent force of nature that threatens you; black fur because it's hidden, sharp claws and teeth capable of piercing and shredding the skin, and a large body like a hominid but bigger and faster.
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Old 10th-January-2017, 03:32 PM   #8
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Default Re: novel experiences/sensations in dreams

The mind/brain is like a puppet, with joints and so on. Physical reality is like strings attached to that puppet. Only the puppet knows how to bend a knee, how to smile, how to be afraid. All waking state reality does is pull some strings. The puppet does not need string pulling to know how to bend knee, because its knee joint IS that knowledge. In dreams the puppet is more flexible, like an astronaut on the moon seems lighter. The puppet is probably animated by charges of energy in memory and seems to process them more completely, due to its sensitivity. A memory of objective danger can scare you more, in dream life, than the objective danger could scare you in waking life, because in waking life the puppet was fixed by other strings, by the need to stand strong, to withstand reality. So in the dream your legs collapse from fear. This way you get to know the full potential of your 'joints'. By which i mean all of your cognitive functions.

Freezing is most likely an instinct, which means its like a joint, a function, a formula. We used to be all kinds of animals, hunted down by all kinds of other animals. Freezing works as a strategy when the predator detects movements, but can't really see well.

Of course i can't just know how instincts come out of sperm and egg. How evolution works. Which is what this question comes down to.

Dreams are not only animated by charges from memory. Just like waking life is not only animated from physical strings being pulled (light hitting eyeballs, etc). Most charge comes from the quantum vibrations of the universe which are the source of all live and are being translated into human creativity, via joint driven leg work or our knuckle brains. Once the joints become rusty, once all flexibility of organic matter is lost, the puppet dies, but live (quantum vibration) goes on.
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Old 11th-January-2017, 06:50 AM   #9
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Default Re: novel experiences/sensations in dreams

Yup, like others have said, sleep paralysis. It usually happens when you're under a lot of stress and/or you're in a new sleeping environment. If you're worried that that is what fear might feel like, no worries, it only happens when you're in that sleep state. (RDM or something, I've researched a ton about it but all is oblivious now )
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Old 11th-January-2017, 11:14 AM   #10
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Default Re: novel experiences/sensations in dreams

During some sleep paralyses my body stops breathing and I experience suffocating or drowning to death. After that I struggle in my bed and wake up holding my neck or hitting my chest as if I was trying to resist choking/asphyxiation. And in dreams where somebody is trying to kill me, I might start choking/asphyxiating and wake up.

What I observe from it is that my body tends to adjust to my dreamlike condition at that particular moment and vice versa. So when I stop breathing physically, in my dream it would be reflected as drowning or being in a dense smoke of fire.

It happens very rarely and it's a very intense and novel experience that has no parallel to the awake periods.
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