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Observations placeholder

Arnold-Forster, Mary - Lucid dreaming used to vanquish fear



Type of Spiritual Experience


Mrs Arnold-Forster kept a detailed record of her dreams and produced quite an in depth book on what she had observed.

Her intention was to help herself and other people – particularly children – stop nightmares and other terrifying dreams, but in fact this may be counterproductive in the long term as the dream may be there to help us to recognise that some pattern of behaviour is harmful to us and needs to be changed – or in the case of children that there is a pattern of behaviour being inflicted on the child which is harmful to them.

The technique she offers, however, is one useful way of trying to make a dream lucid and thus recognise the behavioural pattern [whether inflicted on us or not]. If we carry on in a lucid fashion, the dream itself can be used to vanquish the fear, if you simply wake up you can examine the symbolism and try to deduce what it is that is causing the nightmares.

In the example she provides we don't know the symbolism but she succeeds in vanquishing the fear

A description of the experience

Mrs H. O. Arnold Forster – Studies in Dreams

On various occasions long ago, when a dream of grief or terror was becoming intolerably acute, the thought flashed into my sleeping mind,
“This is only a dream; if you wake, it will be over, and all will be well again"
If only we could ensure the realisation of this fact directly bad dreams appeared, they would cease to have any terrors for us, for a way of escape would always be open.

Therefore I tried repeating this formula to myself from time to time, during the day and on going to bed, always in the same words “Remember this is a dream. You are to dream no longer'' — until, I suppose, the suggestion that I wanted to imprint upon the dream mind became more definite and more powerful than the impression of any dream; so that when a dream of distress begins to trouble me, the oft-repeated formula is automatically suggested, and I say at once :

“You know this is a dream; you shall dream no longer — you are to wake.''

For a time after this secret had been fully learned, this would always awaken me at once ; nowadays, the formula having been said, I do not have to wake, though I may do so, but the original fear dream always ceases. It is simply ‘switched off’ and a continuation of the dream, but without the disturbing element, takes its place and goes forward without a break.

 Mrs H. O. Arnold Forster – Studies in Dreams

During the course of a long dream I had succeeded in tracing the existence of a complicated and dangerous plot against our country. The conspirators had turned upon me on discovering how much I knew. I was so closely followed, and my personal danger became so great, that the formula for breaking off a dream flashed into my mind and automatically gave me back confidence; I remembered that I could make myself safe; but with the feeling of safety I also realised that if I were to wake my valuable knowledge of the dangerous conspiracy would be lost, for I realised that this was ‘dream knowledge’.
It was a dreadful dilemma — safety called me one way, but the conviction that my duty was to stay and frustrate the traitors was very strong. I feared that I should give way, and I knelt and prayed that I might have courage not to seek safety by awakening, but to go on until I had done what was needed. I therefore did not wake; the dream continued. The arch-conspirator, a white-faced man in a bowler hat, had tracked me down to the building where I was concealed, and which by this time was surrounded; but all fear had departed, the comfortable feeling of great heroism, only fully enjoyed by those who feel themselves to be safe, was mine. It became a delightful dream of adventure, since the element of fear had gone from it.

 Mrs H. O. Arnold Forster – Studies in Dreams

A dream which probably haunted and broke the rest of numberless women during the years between 1914 and 1919 was one in which ill news came to us by telegram of husband or of sons at the front. Like other mothers, I suffered anguish from such a dream, until I learnt how to master it by this formula. It would be difficult to express how great was the relief when I knew that I could lie down to sleep free from this particular dread.

The source of the experience

Arnold-Forster, Mary

Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Dreaming and lucid dreaming
Night terrors


Lucid dreaming