"You're dreaming." "In your dreams." "Stop daydreaming..." "Dream on." "Dreamy eyed.." "What a dreamboat." "He's a dreamer." "I'll see you in my dreams."
"Dreams seem to help us process emotions by encoding and constructing memories of them. What we see and experience in our dreams might not necessarily be real, but the emotions attached to these experiences certainly are. Our dream stories essentially try to strip the emotion out of a certain experience by creating a memory of it. This way, the emotion itself is no longer active. This mechanism fulfils an important role because when we don’t process our emotions, especially negative ones, this increases personal worry and anxiety. In fact, severe REM sleep-deprivation is increasingly correlated to the development of mental disorders. In short, dreams help regulate traffic on that fragile bridge which connects our experiences with our emotions and memories. The saying implies that the eyes are the window to the soul. In a similar way, dreams are the mirror to the mind." Sander van der Linden, Ph.D, researcher in social experimental psychology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-science-behind-dreaming/
When recovering from porn, we should expect a change in our dreams and in deed private research has shown this to be the case. Initially pornographic dreams occur, much to the discouragement of the one who is recovering, but as healing takes place in the mind, dreams of nudity and sexual interaction with strangers are replaced with dreams that align with non-pornified thinking. Recovered persons appear to go on a journey of healing that is mirrored by their dreams.
Many times these 'porn' dreams greatly trouble and stress the recovered person and the partner, who think they must be 'busting' or relapsing but this is not necessarily the case at all. As the person alters their thinking every day and continually blocks their eyes and thoughts from pornification, real changes occur in the wiring of the brain. It takes time for the brain to re-wire itself. In dreams it seems that messages are sent out to 'check' if the neuronal 'wiring' along the old porn pathways, should be 'pulled up' (the connection severed) or if the connection should be maintained for later use. As the person continues to reject the old thinking, the pathways to pornified thinking (and dreaming) will not be maintained. Hypersexualised thoughts no longer demand the building of neuronal pathways to process the many hypersexualised thoughts that poison the mind throughout the day.
There are also triggers that connect anchors formed in porn use which will cause pornified dreams to occur. For example, revenge/pay back thoughts in response to perceived injuries can trigger pornified dreams. The pornified dreams pay back the partner for emotionally injuring the recovered person. In these cases, some recovering porn addicts use the porn dreams that their subconscious mind creates to 'escape' from their partner's reach and pay back the partner in a way that the partner has no control over. The partner has been paid back, by her spouse indulging in 'escape' porn in his mind, safe from discovery by his partner. Just like masturbating in the bathroom to porn takes place in private, away from the partner's gaze or knowledge, so too the recovering sex addict seeking revenge, creates a private place in his mind where the partner cannot prevent him from doing what he wants to do in order to get revenge on her. If the recovering sex addict tells his partner about the dream, he shrugs it off as saying, "It's not real" and "I can't help what I dream." That is no true of course. He creates the dream in the conscious mind and holds the grudge that is sure to surface in a porn dream to pay-back his wife. He can continue to do porn and not be held accountable. This is not acceptable and the thinking processes that cause the recovering sex addict to feel entitled to continue doing porn in his sub-conscious brain must be challenged. In some dreams, the partner will be introduced at the beginning and then be sent away by the recovering sex addict who then gives himself over to unbridled lust with another naked body.
The healing journey can take a similar path to these dream stages:
Dreaming of sexual actions with unknown, naked strangers such as were encountered during porn experiences;
Dreaming of being sexually involved with 'taboo' people - often linked to injuries suffered in childhood;
Dreaming of being invited to interact sexually, but that the body parts necessary for masturbation aren't working properly.
Revenge/pay back dreams often occurring after an upset in real life where the recovered person dreams they are searching for an image to use for masturbation purposes, but they can't find any images to do so. The experience is that the 'door is closed' to porn in the mind. This is challenging for partner who might consider such a dream to be yet another betrayal. However, it is important to understand that 'revenge dreams' occur when the recovered person believes he/she is 'hard done by' 'rejected,' neglected,' abused etc. This belief triggers the 'escape' button in the recovered person. Previous conflict or abuse in earlier, formative experiences, triggered the 'escape' response to go to porn for relief of the stress. This neural pathway was built by the continued effort to escape feeling the emotional pain caused by rejections, abandonment, abuse etc. The wounded person quickly realises that porn actors/actresses don't reject you. They are always ready for 'business.' The porn actors/actresses don't verbally insult, disempower, shame and criticise their partners. They are always accepting, desiring 'sex' and never, ever rejecting. They are emotionally 'safe.' Of course, that's not true, but it is the thought pattern of many wounded people who have turned to porn to medicate their pain. The dopamine levels drives the 'injured' person to seek out the 'comforting reward' and opiate hit of orgasm. The bonding chemicals explode at orgasm and the wounded person feels a bonding sensation at first with the all-accepting, submissive and comforting porn actor/actresses. When the recovered person understands that they have not been rejected or abused by their partner, or that they have alternative methods to cope with rejection, they can challenge those fear-based thoughts and change their victim-escape behaviours. When this change occurs in the mind, it is also reflected in the person's dreams.
Dreaming of incidents where invitations are offered by sexually enticing actors/actresses/strangers to engage in sexual activity, but strongly refusing the invitation.
Dreaming of being sexually active with their loving partner.