- Violent dreams are vivid dreams that disturb sleep.
- Violent dreams are the main symbol of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, which affects more men.
- A number of patients REM sleep behavior disorder later develop neurological disorders.
- Violent dreams can even stem from watching violent media, pent up anger or helplessness or internal conflict.
- Some violent dreams represent our own need to change.
Violent dreams represent the inner chaos of our minds. They are born out of the negative energy we face in our real lives. This includes the violent forms of media we consume as well.
Violent dreams are also indicative of future neurological conditions. It points to neurodegenerative disorders, existing sleep disorders, as well as current violent situations in your life.
It is difficult to identify the exact reason and meaning of violent dreams. The best interpretation is based on your real life context and how you feel about these dreams.
Violent Dreams Meaning – General Interpretation
Violent dreams symbolize sleep disorders, possibility of neurological conditions, as well as the after effects of watching violent content. This dream represents our internal anger, feeling helpless and our need for change.
Violent dreams are very common in the world. Most people see or experience violence in their lives. Some people have experienced violence; most people experience it through watching something violent.
Often, watching or hearing something violent can trigger violent dreams. This does not mean that you are a violent person.
The violent content you consumed is just a way for your subconscious to imagine you in a violent act.
Other times, violent dreams are born out of a negative personal energy within you. Violent dreams are a way for you to experience violent thoughts without having to feel guilty.
For example, injuring someone in your dreams does not mean you will actually do so.
Thus, violent dreams symbolize the following.
1. REM Sleep behavior disorder
Violent dreams do not automatically mean a person is struggling with the disorder. It is highly common in people with the sleeping disorder to have violent dreams.
REM means Rapid Eye Movement. The deepest sleep we have, which is for a few hours during our night sleep, is REM sleep. REM sleep behavior disorder is when a person shows violent actions during sleep.
This means that they may actively do what they are dreaming about. They act out violent situations and sounds, often by throwing arms and legs, while sleeping.
This is a sleep behavioral disorder and has prescribed treatment.
People who suffer from REM sleep disorder report that they experience violent dreams. It is almost as if the two go hand in hand.
Their dreams even lead them to get physically violent at night, throwing punches in their sleep.
More men than women suffer from REM sleep behavior disorder, and the after effects of it can even injure the person sharing their bed.
2. Neurological conditions
Violent dreams also often indicate the possibility of neurodegenerative conditions in the future. According to an article in Wired, about 80% of people who experienced such dreams later developed a neurodegenerative disease.
These are neurological diseases including Parkinson’s disease, Lewy Body Dementia as well as multiple system atrophy.
This article suggests that having violent dreams or suffering from REM sleep behavior disorder is not a known cause of these conditions yet.
However, 80 to 100 percent of people with the violent dreams, or REM sleep disorder, did later get diagnosed with the neurological disorders.
Hence, it is advisable to be careful and aware of your violent dreams and speak to professionals when required.
3. Watching violent content
Violent movies, shows, news, etc. are a part of our life. We watch violent movies as a form of entertainment.
We often even come across violent headlines in the news. These all have an effect on our mind and mental health.
It does not mean we will actually commit a crime; just like a dream of murder does not mean we will actually kill someone.
It mainly is a channel for our subconscious mind to act out the anger we may feel towards someone.
Dreams about violence are thus a reflection of the violent content we consume. The dream interpretation is sometimes as simple as that; we watch a violent movie, we have a violent dream.
4. Feelings of anger
Dreams about violence often represent the anger you feel towards certain people in your waking life. This anger is not bad enough for you to actually lose control. Your brain, however, does need some outlet.
Hence, the subconscious mind brings up dreams about violence towards that person. It reduces or avoids any guilt you may feel and still gives you the satisfaction of expressing your anger.
Sometimes, the anger is even inwards. This means that you may be upset at an aspect of your own life.
Certain areas of our life constantly need our work. We may be getting angry at those areas, which we need to kill, so that we can become better.
5. Feeling helpless
Violent dreams are also a symbol of helplessness. Violent attacks, facing violent challenges, fighting on a battlefield, etc. are examples of dreams that make you feel helpless.
We may feel helpless over many situations in life. These situations bring a sense of unease to us, because we lose our sense of control.
Our subconscious minds do not know how to deal with this loss of control.
Since we cannot explain certain emotions such as helplessness, in the dream world, they are symbolized through dreams of violence.
Why Are My Dreams So Violent
Violents dreams do not just occur without any reason. Even if they are born out of watching violent content, that becomes a cause in itself. This section explores the causes of violent dreams.
1. Fear of violence
People who have certain fears that are prominent in their mind, they are likely to have developed a fear of violence. This means that the object they fear most haunts their dreams as well.
A person afraid of scissors may keep seeing violent dreams with scissors in them. This shows that they truly fear being injured by that object. The object may even get magnified in the dream.
2. Being surrounded by violence
Dreams come from our own subconscious minds. This is why, even if we know someone else really well, our dreams will always be centered around our life, not theirs.
Now, if a person is exposed to a lot of violence in waking life, they may also have such dreams.
We all know certain movies or shows that can trigger dreams about violence. However, it is also possible to have triggers from real life. For example, seeing a fight late evening may result in dreaming about a violent interaction.
Here, even if the people fighting in real life were strangers to you, your dream mind may replace it with people you know.
3. New medications
The medications prescribed for treating depression, called antidepressants, can lead to violent dreams as well. The main reason for this is that antidepressants alter the biochemistry inside our brains.
These changes, which are expected with new medications, can lead to violent dreams. We may have no such urges in reality, but the internal changes in our brain can cause violent dreams.
4. Past trauma
Another cause for dreams about killing or violence is the past trauma a person may be dealing with. The memories we store as children or the violent events we see in front of us often trouble us in our sleep.
It is not easy to let go of violent images and memories. Especially if we see it or have seen it a lot in our immediate environment, we may have violent dreams for a long time, even into our adulthood.
5. Internal conflict
Lastly, suffering from internal conflict also causes violent dreams. We may be going through a tough time in our life, either due to stress or due to our own personality traits.
When we are going through internal turmoil to find a way out, we may have such dreams.
This internal conflict causes, or represents, violent dreams. Our internal conflict often points to our need to change an aspect of our life, or to resolve an existing stressor.
To truly move on to a new chapter, we need to resolve an old wound.
Violent Dreams – 30 Violent Scenarios and Interpretations
Violent dreams are negative, unpleasant and scary dreams. They are vivid dreams which can disturb a person even moments after waking up. Following are various types of violent dreams a person may experience.
1. Dreams About Being Violently Killed
Violent dreams do not always mean we are expressing violence. We may even have dreams where we are being violently killed. This type of dream about violence is based on clues from our waking life.
Being violently killed in your own dreams may be an unpleasant situation to wake up to, but it does not mean violence in your real life.
It means that you will undergo a change. If you are being violently killed, it implies that you were initially resistant to the change.
Change is a part of life. To start a new chapter, we have to put an end to the old one. This means, if we want to reform ourselves, we have to kill an older version of us.
A dream where someone violently kills us indicates that it is high time for such a change.
Other than change, this dream of violence subjected towards us, means that we are afraid. We could be scared that someone we hurt may be trying to get revenge.
If we have particularly upset someone, this fear of retaliation could lead to dreams of being killed.
2. Dream of being a victim to violence
Dreams where you are a victim to someone else’s violence represents powerlessness. This means that you may be feeling powerless or helpless in front of someone else.
This could be a partner, an authority figure or even a superior at work.
This does not mean that they will actually try to harm you. No matter how vivid your dreams are, this dream does not represent actual threats. It merely means that you feel powerless in front of this person.
Sometimes, when we hurt others or feel guilty about something we have done, we believe we deserve the punishment. Our guilt needs an outlet, even if the person we hurt is not trying to make us pay.
In cases of guilt, we may have dreams about being a victim. This justifies the punishment we see fit for ourselves in our minds.
3. Dream of experiencing violence on a battlefield
If you see yourself being violently attacked on a battlefield, it means that you may have enemies who will fight you hard. They will not try to soften the blow, and neither will you have a chance to slow down.
However, this dream is also a sign that you are a warrior. It means you won’t give up or back down, and with consistent efforts, will win against your rivals.
4. Dream of being faced with a firing squad
Dreams where you are faced with a whole firing squad are terrifying. This shows that you are in a situation where you are bound to lose, at the hands of many other people.
These people have a strong power over you, both because of their number and weapons.
This dream represents your inner feelings of being a victim. You may feel like you have been at the receiving end of harsh punishment, judgment or violence.
This self victimization is becoming a part of your subconscious mind as well.
Committing Violence In Dreams
Sometimes we have dreams where we are committing violence towards others. We are the ones who are violent in this dream scenario.
This does not mean we are particularly violent people. Read on to understand further.
5. Dream of violence towards others
Expressing violence towards others indicates the presence of negative energy in and around your life. We stress out over many things in life.
Sometimes, these things keep piling up, leading to extreme stress and emotional frustration.
When we dream of expressing violence towards others, it is a sign from our subconscious mind. It suggests that our emotional frustration is brimming over and we need an outlet.
In other cases, your dream of violence towards others represents your nature in your current life. You could be actively denying something, like an emotion. It is also known as repressing the emotions you are feeling.
For example, you could be denying the extreme anger or hatred you feel towards a person in your life. The frustration in you builds up to a point that you need to take action.
In reality, you cannot do anything, hence, in the dream world, you express the violence.
6. Dream of violence towards strangers
When you dream that you are showing violence to strangers, it means that you are experiencing internal conflict.
In reality, we do not have any reason to be violent towards strangers, as they can not do us any harm.
This violence in our dream comes from having an internal conflict ourselves. We often have to choose between two important things, or we struggle to understand our own inner feelings.
This conflict can bring up the same emotions as violence in the dream world.
7. Dream of violence towards myself
Dreaming of being violent towards one’s own self is unpleasant. It is an emotionally damaging image, even if we see it in our dreams. This dream represents feeling guilty about something.
We often believe that if we do something wrong, we must be punished. This holds true even if there is nobody there to actually punish us.
Through our dreams of being violent towards ourselves, we fulfill our desire to punish ourselves.
8. Dream of someone we know harming us
We all have people we feel safe with and people who make us feel anxious. It is because when we are around them, we feel internal tension. This tension is also a kind of unease that this person brings out in us.
When we see them harming us or being violent towards us in our dreams, it means our sense of unease around them is growing.
It could also mean we may have spent some time in their company and that has an effect on our subconscious mind.
9. Dream about animal violence
Dreams where you harm an animal, or behave violently towards the animal, are bad signs. These dreams suggest that you may be suppressing your aggression in real life.
This is a sign that if you don’t resolve your inner feelings soon, they may harm an innocent soul.
Animals are innocent creatures that have not harmed you in any way. Showing them aggression, even in your dreams, is a clear sign of trouble.
To experience inner peace, it is necessary to take care of our internal anger and negative feelings towards others.
10. Dream about killing someone in a fight
Dream of killing someone in a fight sounds a lot worse than its actual dream interpretation.
It means that you may finally overcome an aspect of your life or personality that you were trying to get rid of. This is a good sign, because it shows your victory over negativity.
It is difficult to fight a part of oneself. It takes courage to accept what is wrong with us and then put in efforts to make it better.
This dream is a sign that you have gone through the process successfully.
Dreams About Violence And Death
Dreams about violence and death include dreams where we see violence happening around us in the dream.
This includes seeing others in violent acts and fights, images of violent death and witnessing murders.
11. Dreams about violence
People who have experienced violence in their lives often have dreams about it much later in life as well.
This means that the violence from their early life does not leave them in their adulthood. These include random dreams of violence that cannot be explained otherwise.
12. Dream of witnessing a murder
Dreams where you see someone murdering another person is a bad dream; because it is a warning sign. It means there is some negative energy coming from this person that you really wish to avoid.
You do not want to associate yourself with this person. You are unsure of the role they play in your life, but you are feeling sure that you do not want it anymore.
Murder dream thus represents your inner urge to distance yourself from a person.
13. Dream of someone else being killed
Just like it is difficult to picture yourself being murdered, seeing someone else in the same scenario is also scary. It also does not mean that the person you see is actually under any such threat.
It simply means that you may feel anger and hostility towards this person. Whether it is a rude boss or someone who makes your life difficult, it is natural to feel anger towards them.
Seeing them being murdered in our dreams gives us nothing to feel guilty about.
Secondly, sometimes the person we see in the dream represents our own personality trait. Their murder means we need to let that part of pur personality go as well.
For example, if the person being killed in your dream is always late, it represents your own unpunctuality.
This means it is time to end that cycle, and get better at time management yourself. The fact that this warning comes through a violent dream indicates the urgency of the situation.
It is important for you to change that habit or part of your personality.
14. Dream of watching someone kill themselves
Dreams where you witness another person take their own life are scary. The image itself brings up negative emotions. The dream interpretation however suggests that it is a dream of transformation.
When you dream of someone killing themselves, it means you are witnessing a huge transformation. This is because their death is a symbol of one thing ending for another to begin.
However, because it is a violent dream, it means that the transformation may not feel welcome initially.
Even if you have a hard time accepting it, it is important to remember that change is good. Change is also an important part of life.
15. Dream of seeing a violent fight
We may all have seen a fight at some or the other point in our life. Even if we have not, there are plenty of examples in the media of fights between two people, or more.
In the dream world, seeing a fight is actually considered a good sign.
It means that we have the skill or ability to help the people involved. Observing or seeing the fight means we may soon be of use to people in conflict.
16. Dream of happily seeing a fight
Dreams where you are happy to observe a fight have two kinds of interpretations. The first is actually a good sign.
This indicates that you feel internally prepared to face a conflict or challenge. This means that you are not scared of what life will throw at you.
Another interpretation of this dream is that you may even gain some sadistic pleasure out of other people’s pain and fights. This shows an aggressive side of your own nature.
17. Dream of losing a violent fight
Dreams of losing a violent fight reflect your inner weaknesses. This means that in spite of giving your best, you may feel defeated by a life situation.
This could also stem from your own negative energy, thoughts or habits.
18. Dream of winning a violent fight
On the other hand, if you win a violent conflict in your dream, it is a good sign. It means that you may successfully overcome your weaknesses.
If you struggle with negative thoughts and habits, this dream is a sign that you will get past this.
This dream is a good sign for people struggling to overcome bad habits like smoking or biting nails.
These negatively affect us, yet it is difficult to overcome them. Gaining victory over them is a good sign in the dream and real world.
19. Dream about assault
Dreams where you have been assaulted reflect a negative energy or headspace you are currently in. It is possible that someone in your life violated your personal space. You may feel unsafe in this particular situation.
However, it can also mean that you are actively dealing with repressed feelings.
People who have gone through abuse or bullying often repress how they felt when the incident happened. Dreams of assault mean you are ready to face the emotional turmoil.
20. Violent dreams about family member
When you experience violent dreams, where your own family member is harmed, represents your worry. This means you are scared of what will happen to them in such situations.
Often, we watch content that is violent and graphic. It is difficult to not imagine our own loved ones in a similar situation. Sometimes, our worry becomes so prominent that our subconscious mind feels it, too.
It does not represent any real danger to your family. Rather, it reflects your concern for their well being.
It is even possible to have such dreams if your family member has experienced violence in the past and you are still worried for them.
21. Dream about violent attack on child
For parents, or people who are very fond of a child, dreams of that child experiencing violence are very terrifying. It may even disturb your waking life to imagine your child in such a situation.
The point of this dream is to highlight situations in your life that you have no control over. This loss of control worries you, as you may want to sincerely protect this child from everything.
It may take time for you to accept this situation.
Even if you do not have children, this dream is a sign to accept that some situations are out of your control. Even if it is unfair, you cannot change certain things in life.
22. Dreaming about war violence
Dreaming of violence, especially war violence, has a significant meaning. It suggests that you are in a period of life changes.
This means that both big and small changes could be happening around you, and you are trying to get accustomed to them.
It is important to remember your own energy in these situations. If you look at them positively, they can positively change your life. Looking at only the negatives will stop you from feeling truly happy.
In another interpretation, dreams of violent wars suggest that you may be ignoring your own life responsibilities.
Constantly ignoring the responsibilities makes them come back, only stronger and more persistent.
23. Dreaming about a violent sport
While sports are played for entertainment and mainly for the love of the sport, some sports can become aggressive.
In our dreams, we can dream about violent sports as well. Violent sports indicate the presence of challenges in your life.
Sports are generally played by the dreamer themselves. This means that the dreamer is finally ready to face the challenges that have been bothering him.
Sports also require discipline and optimism, which is also a good way to deal with life’s challenges.
24. Dreaming of a violent mob
Violent mobs, or riots, are not a good sign in dreams. They represent the internal conflict you feel when you have too many negative influences around you.
Negative influences are often in our control, we just need to recognise them.
Witnessing a violent mob in your dream suggests that you may need to let go of some friends.
They are not bringing out the best in you, and if you don’t change your company, you may have to face long term consequences.
25. Dream of a violent car accident
Violent car accidents can have catastrophic consequences. Dream of seeing a violent car crash means that you may have to face an unpleasant event. Something significant may soon enter your life like a crash.
This dream can also denote your own internal aggression. Aggression, when hidden away for a while, can always threaten to come out unexpectedly.
To avoid this, it is better to be careful of what we store away in our minds.
26. Dream of a violent rape
People who have experienced sexual assault or rape may have recurring dreams about the same. It is their past trauma which continues to disturb them even when they are sleeping.
Dreams of violent rape also represent the helplessness you may feel. Someone you know could be exploiting another person or yourself. Your inability to help them may lead to dreams of violent rape.
27. Dream of two people violently fighting
Dreaming about two or more people fighting represents the strained relationships of your current life.
You may be in a state of argument with a person from your waking life. This person could stress you out a lot more than you show externally.
The stress you get from disagreeing or arguing with this person may soon reach its peak.
This results in dreams of violent fights, as these are the emotions you may feel in case a fight does happen.
28. Dream of two animals fighting
Two animals fighting violently in your dream is an indication of negative energy. Pent up negative energy always requires a physical outlet, until it is safely resolved.
This dream is a sign that soon someone in your life may have an unexpected outburst.
The two animals could also represent two people you know in your life who are not getting along. The violent fight represents the real life negative situation that you are witnessing in your life.
29. Dream of a violent earthquake
Dreams of a violent earthquake reflect the anxiety you feel in your waking life. The earthquake is a sign of the chaotic, nervous thoughts you have.
It is possible that your stable life may just go through a rough patch right now.
We all have a security blanket. A dream of a violent earthquake suggests that our life’s foundation may soon be about to shake up.
We may have to rely on our internal safety blanket, as we may be headed towards an insecure time period in our life.
30. Dreaming about death
Dreams of death are not a bad sign in the dream world. Dreams of death represent transformation.
Violent death as well points to transformation, or much needed change. Death of an old thing, like a bad habit, means the possibility of something new.
While it is true that transformation is good, a violent death in your dream indicates that perhaps you were not ready for the change.
Hence, take this as a warning sign to reflect on your self growth, to prepare yourself for upcoming change.
Violent Dreams And Neurodegenerative Disorders
We explored in the previous sections how people who have REM Sleep Behavior Disorder have later reported developing a neurodegenerative condition.
Let us look at the link between the two more closely in this section.
More men than women and children are at the risk of being diagnosed with REM sleep behavior disorder. The ratio is as high as 9:1, which means that for every one female, nine other males have the disorder.
John Peever, a neuroscientist from University of Toronto, even studied the neurological conditions associated with REM Sleep Behavior DIsorder in detail.
It was found that this sleep disorder was “one of the biggest predictors of the onset of Parkinson’s.”
In 2013, two separate studies found that out of 44 and 26 patients of REM SBD, 82 % and 80.8 % people also developed a neurological condition years later.
Parkinson’s disease, Lewy Body Dementia and Multiple system atrophy are among the most common neurological disorders found in patients of REM Sleep behavior disorder.
Major Concerns Related to Violent Dreams
As you can see from the information provided in the sections above, vivid dreams of violence are a sign to be careful.
This means that there are serious health concerns related to dreams of violence. You can note the following points.
- Violent dreams can cause distress to the partner of the person experiencing the dream
- REM sleep behavior disorder can cause the person to physically act out the violence they see in the dream; risking injury
- The people may avoid forming relationships out of fear of judgment; social isolation
- May lead to disturbed thoughts in waking life as well
What To Do When You Have Violent Dreams
It is clear that violent dreams can be a cause for concern. This means that there is a chance something is going on deeper than the surface in your mind.
It could be as simple as a reaction to a violent movie, but it could also be more complex.
Hence, a big question one may ask is what should they do about their violent dreams. First, it is important to ask yourself some questions. They are as follows.
- What was my dream?
- What was I doing in the dream?
- How often do I have these dreams?
- How do I feel after the dream?
- Did I witness a fight in real life?
- Have I watched something violent?
- Am I stressed about something?
- Do I have anger towards someone in my life right now?
- How vividly do I remember the dream?
- Do I make sounds or actions when I am sleeping?
After you have the answers to these questions, here are some things you can do yourself after the dream.
If you do have a sleeping disorder or extremely disturbed sleep, it would also be good to speak to a professional.
1. Pay attention to your feelings
If you have had a violent dream, you may wake up feeling disturbed. You may even experience other emotions, like guilt, hostility, anger, etc. It is important to pay attention to how you are feeling.
As we saw before, dreams of violence can also be warning signs. If you are feeling guilty, and you are currently trying to make a good change in your life, this dream is a good motivator.
It gives you a glimpse of what you will feel if you fail in making the change.
It can even give you a glimpse of the actual emotions you may feel if you hurt someone or don’t work on yourself. Your feelings in your dream can help motivate you in waking life.
2. Confront the people in your dream
We often associate certain traits with certain people in our dreams. If we dream of killing someone who is terrible at time management, it means we need to work on our own time management.
Hence, the people in your dream play a role in the dream interpretation.
Similarly, if you are really stressed about something, or overworked, you may have violent dreams concerning the person responsible. It is important to confront this person in your dream, in your real life as well.
Often, our minds give us a way to accept some parts of ourselves that we cannot accept in reality.
If we have violent dreams about someone, we may be seeing a dark side of our own personality in the dream. It is important to explore these aspects in reality as well.
3. Explore your own feelings of guilt
Often, dreams of violence towards self show our own moral codes. If we have broken it in some way, we may feel guilty. Our guilt that comes from our internal moral code may not always be punishable by others.
In these cases, our guilt still needs an outlet. Even if it is not required, we don’t feel justifiably treated till we have done something to punish ourselves.
While a real life physical punishment is not possible, our subconscious mind finds a way through dreams.
Hence, after you have a violent dream, it is good to explore any potential guilt you may have. This guilt may not always be healthy. Through exploring its cause and consequences, we may even find a way out of it.
Dreams of violence are a combination of internal feelings and existing conditions.
They can stem from temporary triggers like watching a violent movie as well. It is just important to identify the cause of the dream.
Remember, once we know what causes the violent dreams, coping with them is the simpler part.
Rashi Modi is a mental health counsellor by training (with a Masters in Psychology) and a reader by choice. She is a hopeful social entrepreneur, with experience in the social sector, multiple NGOs, and a philanthropic mindset. She likes to write about things that continue to fascinate her, even after eight years of studying psychology - our beautifully complex mind and all the relationships we find ourselves navigating every single day. She is sure that reading a good blog along with a nice cup of coffee is an act of self care; one that she wholeheartedly supports.