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Puppet Kaos - where Kelvin Kao plays with puppets and tell random stories

Suppression and Dreams

I recently read this article called “Eight Ironic Effects of Thought Suppression”. It was about how trying to suppress a thought would make it come back even stronger and linger even longer, and therefore people cannot not think of a white bear when asked to not think of a white bear.

The article also talked about how people are more likely to dream about subjects they are specifically trying to avoid. So if you are having nightmares, perhaps it’s a good idea to stop suppressing those thoughts during the day, so they don’t come to haunt you at night. I don’t have nightmares very often, though, so what have I been suppressing?

Many people have this nightmare of being late to a test. Well, being late to an exam is also a recurring dream of mine, but I wouldn’t call it a nightmare. In the dream I would usually go to the classroom and saw nobody there. And I would realized that the exam actually took place several hours ago. Instead of panic, I would say to myself, “you know what? I don’t really care.” and go walk around the campus and enjoy the scenery.

Now, what’s with this dream? Perhaps I was too responsible in being where I was supposed to be and suppressing that urge to say “eh, I don’t really care” during the day?

How about those wacky dreams? I sometimes have these dreams in which a bunch bizarre and somewhat amusing things happen. And a few times I actually woke up laughing because the dreams were so funny.

Now, what was I suppressing during the day? Perhaps I suppressed some wacky thoughts. Perhaps I was trying very hard to not say so many stupid things in my daily life. I still think of weird things and say many stupid things.

Or maybe that research just has to do with scary and annoying things that people are trying to avoid and has nothing to do with what I am talking about here. Did you actually read the research paper? Me either.


  1. October 6th, 2011 | 2:23 pm


    I have strange nightmares. It’s hard to figure out what exactly I’m suppressing without bring Freud back from the dead:~) I love the dreams where I wake up laughing. One time I dreamed a semblence of LA Story with the billboard, but the letters were all mixed up. When I woke up I couldn’t remember them and always wondered if I had dreamed an anagram for myself:~) Too bad, I suppressed it when I woke up. It might have changed my life!!!

    Actually, I read the article. It was pretty interesting. I like the part about the people playing footsie under the table. Who knew? I wonder how this fits with the people PLAN their dreams. Do they have to try to suppress what they actually want to dream? It’s kind of negative approach and can they fool their brain? Hmmmm. I need to sleep on this:~)

    Sara’s last blog post..The Doves

  2. October 7th, 2011 | 1:00 am

    That is interesting. For people that try to lucid dream or schedule what to dream about, it is usually recommended that they run through those scenarios before they fall asleep. They certainly don’t suppress those thoughts. I guess it’s a matter of thinking hard about a thought. Suppressing it is one way of doing that.

  3. jamie
    October 12th, 2011 | 10:21 am

    Thanks for very informative post. It’s really interesting, now it looks kinda obvious, but haven’t thought about that before, that trying to supress some thought might have opposite effect.

  4. October 15th, 2011 | 12:11 am

    Oh, the thoughts. They bounce back!

  5. October 29th, 2011 | 9:37 pm

    I’m familiar with nightmares on things I dont even think about during the day. I believe nightmares have meanings though and I usually write it down after nightmares because if I leave it unwritten I will forget about them. Always feel the need to google them :p

    ps. thanks for your comment on my blog, I thought everyone forgets about me. Haha I’ve had really long hiatus.

    andhari’s last blog post..+65!

  6. October 31st, 2011 | 12:50 am

    Many times I woke up from a dream thinking “that was a memorable one, perhaps I would actually remember it without writing it down this time”, but proceed to be totally unable to do so, even if I tried hard to recall.

    PS. Haha, nonsense! You are one memorable person. :-)

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