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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Why would I act out a dream or nightmare?

    Recently, I had a very vivid dream in which I was defending myself from being injured. I grabbed the person's arms and had an overwhelming sensation of trying to break free. All of a sudden, I was awake and my partner was frightened for her life. She told me I had grabbed her arms and was wrestling with her. This has only occured once, but it frightens me that it may happen again. Fortunately, she was not injured and had managed to restrain me. I would like to know if this could be a one time situation or maybe the sign of something bigger.
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  • Grant McKell


    Grant McKell is a counselling psychologist working in Sydney's inner west with over ten years' experience. He founded HeadsUp Psychology in August, 2011. Having worked in … View Profile

    Do not be alarmed at a one off dream. If you don't have a history of acting such dreams out, then you should think of it as a one off. Occasionally, our bodies do the things in real life that we do in our dreams, but it shouldn't be a cause for alarm for you or your partner as such.
    If you are concerned, give your partner a key word that they can say that will alert you in your dream to what is going on. The word should be a bit odd and out of context, such as “butter” or “carnival” or something else equally absurd. This may break the dream for you.
    If it does recur or if you are still concerned, I'd recommend you go and speak to your GP for a referral to a specialist who can help. The chance of it recurring is slim, but I can understand your concern as it would have been a frightening experience for you both.
    I'm not a dream expert as such, so it would be good to see what some of my colleagues think about your issue and what I have said.

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