Creature from the Deep – A Nightmare

Creature from the Deep is an exploration of a nightmare which helps to illustrate how dream therapy can move us from the initial fear and terror of nightmare to something more profound.

The dream takes place in the depths of the ocean. I am standing on the seabed floor and look up to see a monstrous prawn in distress, flailing in a large metal cage. Its body and appendages are writhing desperately in attempt to free itself. The dream closes in on the creature’s head, the eyes in a panic – the whole scene is horrific. I can hear a shrieking sound and not sure if it’s coming from the crayfish or whether it’s an internal shriek I’m experiencing. I wake up horrified and the image of the giant prawn stays with me for days, each flashback bringing a fresh wave of horror.

I could draw on some parallels from the symbology of the dream to my waking life, however exploring this dream with colleagues in group dream therapy led to something quite unexpected. Once fully embodied in the presence of the prawn, I was able to shift from fear and terror to sense into its pure frustration and desperation to escape its confinement. Then journeying into the experience of the prawn deeper still, I noticed a sensation of movement in the tail of the prawn. The creature was moulting!

This was a profound moment as I realised it was the shell of the tail that was stuck in the cage and the crayfish would be able to free itself upon completion of the moulting process. This nightmare had shifted from a dream of horror and entrapment to one of growth.

By embodying the prawn I had also entered an abaton, what the Greeks call an inaccessible place. Had I explored the dream one dimensionally through analysis and symbology, I never would have accessed the spirit of the prawn and the revelation of moulting. To quote Dutch psychotherapist Robbie Bosnak, dreaming makes the inaccessible accessible.

Research supports this type of dreamwork with studies showing engagement with nightmares, whether through retelling, recording or seeking therapy for nightmares, significantly reduces the intensity and frequency of nightmares.

If you have a nightmare you would like to share, please comment below or post to my online dream platform Dreamcubator

Book a dream therapy session with dream therapist Martina Kocian…

To find out more about dream therapy/embodied imagination therapy visit the Australian Institute of Embodied Imagination

Explored by dream therapist Martina Kocian

Animated by Cheng-Hsu Chung