Thursday, September 3, 2009

I had a dream!

by Ashley Lister

I dream. But I don’t remember my dreams.

Actually, that’s not true. That’s just the official stance I take on the subject when someone asks me about my dreams. Nowadays, I always say, “I dream, but I don’t remember my dreams.” In truth, I have to hold my hand up and admit that I don’t dream. But please, don’t worry about me. I’m OK.

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about their dreams. They sound interesting. Whenever they ask me about my dreams, and I’ve said I don’t dream, they tell me, “No. It’s not that you don’t dream. It’s just you don’t remember your dreams.”

This is, of course, bollocks. Just because I don’t remember something, doesn’t mean that it happened and I’ve forgotten it. This is like saying I have three arms, but I’ve never noticed the third one because it’s on my back in a place where I can’t see it.

I don’t remember being on the NYT bestseller list. Is this because I’ve never been on the NYT bestseller list, or because I don’t remember being on there? I don’t remember having gratuitous and orgiastic sex with the entire cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Is this because it never happened, or because I don’t remember it happening?

I can’t accept that ‘I’ve forgotten’ something, every morning, for the last forty years of my life. It’s more credible to simply accept the most likely explanation: I don’t dream. Yet some people believe, if I claim not to dream, that I’m either lying or I’m showing the typical symptoms of someone with a mental illness.

Honestly. I’m OK about not dreaming. I don’t feel as though I’m missing anything. In fact, I’m probably enjoying a better night’s rest than the dreamers of this world because I’m getting a full three hours sleep every night, uninterrupted by a surreal movie show from the unhinged depths of my own twisted imagination.

I take exception to the suggestion that I’m a psychopath because I don’t dream. The ‘experts’ who nod sagely, and tell me that it’s only psychopaths who don’t dream, are (again) talking bollocks. Psychopaths (I’m talking here about the criminally insane who star in slasher flicks) are renowned (in the movies) for wielding chainsaws and machetes and making short work of their victims. There are few films about psychopaths where potential victims are warned, “Beware of that man: he doesn’t dream!”

If it’s true that all psychopaths don’t dream, and I’m not sure that is true, then I still think this is merely an incidental detail. It’s suggestive of flawed logic to diagnose psychopathic tendencies simply because a person doesn’t dream. Just because all herring are fish, doesn’t mean all fish are herring.

My wife dreams. She dreams quite vividly and actively. There have been many nights when I’ve been woken by a punch to my arm (or other vulnerable areas) because she’s been battling an adversary in her dreams.

One morning she awoke, leaned over me, and then yanked so hard on my beard I actually squealed. She explained, in her dream, there had been a robot who looked just like me. She was pulling my beard to make sure I wasn’t a robot. I mention this just to illustrate that, in a situation where she wrenches half my face off to prove I’m not a robot: outside observers to the situation would say I’m the one with potential mental issues because I DON’T dream.

To help with my wife’s dreaming issues, I’ve since shaved and lost the beard. To help with my own dreaming issues, I now smile and simply say: Yes, I dream. But I don’t remember my dreams.

It makes life easier.


  1. hahah! great blog, Ashley. I rarely remember my dreams when I do happen to dream. Which isn't much. But I have been known to kick, punch, laugh, ride an invisible bike (quite vigorously), yell "Not irises!", cry and elbow when I do. So you are probably better off.

    I do not remember having orgiastic sex with the entire cast of Buffy, either. But I'm sure it happened. Let's just say it did and we can all be happy! :)


  2. Hi, Ash,

    I guess this is one of those "if a tree falls in the forest" issues. If you don't have any conscious knowledge of your dreams, does that mean that they don't exist? You certainly could make that argument.

    I strongly suspect that if you were hooked up to the necessary monitoring equipment, you'd find that you did spend some of your sleep time in a REM (Rapid Eye Movement) state which is associated with dreams. Research has shown that people apparently need some REM sleep every night. If they are deprived of REM periods, they become just as tired and irritable as though they hadn't slept at all.

    However, perhaps REM doesn't automatically equal "dreams". If dreams are the subjective experience of another reality, other images and stories, and you can't claim to have that experience, it might be reasonable to claim that you "don't dream".


  3. Hi Lisabet,

    I've heard about REM and its relationship to a good night's sleep and I do generally wake feeling rested. Therefore, if it's true that REM = dreams, then despite what I remember, I suppose it must be proof that I dream.

    It's a shame that science hasn't reached the stage where someone could stick a USB lead in my head, connect the cable to a monitor, and prove one way or the other whether I dream :-)

    Thanks for reading and responding,


  4. Hi Ash,

    I do dream, but I don't dream every night by any stretch of the imagination. I don't know if others do, I don't ask. I have had horrible dreams and awakened sure my poor husband is out to kill me or has had some illicit affair. I've come VERY close to dropping heavy objects on him, forcefully. *G* But, so far have managed to control myself. He's very grateful.

    I do agree with you that not everyone has to dream to be thought of as sane. REM, in my opinion, doesn't necessarily equate dreaming. If one had to dream every night to prove we're not psychotic, I'm sure there'd be one heck of a lot of us classed as phychos.

    You do bring an interesting twist to the topic. Oh, and when you disremembered being on the NYT Bestseller list, did your bank account look any better?


  5. Hi Jude,

    As I say, I marvel at the way so many people have vivid dreams and can use them to inspire their fiction. It's just not something that seems to be happening to me.

    And no, I certainly haven't seen an NYT Bestseller list type money.

    And, for me as an outsider looking into other people's dreams this week, it really is providing a fascinating insight.

    Thanks for reading and responding.


  6. So you get a full three hours sleep a night, eh? Lucky bugger.

    Wow, now we've turned it into a Dr. Phil episode, about 'dreaming issues'...LOL

    Too bad about the beard. I like a nice beard to yank occasionally.

    Take care!


  7. Smut Girl,

    If we're having orgiastic sex with the entire cast of Buffy, please note that I have first call on Faith.

    Thanks for reading and responding,


  8. Jenna,

    I was glad to lose the beard. I looked a bit like satan with the damned thing :->

    And yes, 3 hours a night - whether I need them or not!

    Thanks for reading and responding,


  9. You looked like Satan? :O

    Ooh, stop! Now you've really got me going.

    hee hee hee


  10. J & J,

    You two are insatiable. Thank you both for making me smile ;-)


  11. I also find it hard to believe that you don;t dream. I think there's a short story in there somewhere. I can't imagine not having dreams.

    As long as you sleep okay.

    I've also been reading about people, especially women, who have vivid dreams about sex and pile onto their husbands while they're still sleeping. Better than having your beard yanked.


  12. Hi Garce,

    You're right. There are much better things to have tugged than your beard :-)

    And if I ever do have a dream (or, at least, if I ever remember one of the dreams I might currently be having) then I'll let all you guys know first.

    Thanks for reading & responding,


  13. If and when you do have a dream you remember, I bet it's X-rated. LOL


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