They were after me! Dressed in army fatigues, helmeted and holding rifles with sharp bayonets extended before them, they were running up the stairs, getting closer and closer. They were barking, "Achtung! Achtung!" I was terrified.

I call this dream and its variations my "Nazi dreams." They occurred frequently when I was younger, then tapered off gradually and resurface every once in awhile.

My mother, in her 90's and suffering from Alzheimer's, is a Holocaust survivor. Most of her family - my grandparents and other aunts and uncles - was decimated. Two of her surviving sisters were in concentration camps while a brother was in the underground. Terror, death and destruction were part of my childhood landscape.

Then there are the funeral dreams. I dreamt that I was at my mother's funeral, with its attendant feelings of sadness and regret. Years before she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I dreamt that I had already lost her. My dreams conveyed information of which I was consciously unaware.

My dreams, I conclude, use material from my subconscious memory to elucidate my current feelings and concerns. I have learned to hold onto a dream when I awaken to review it and reexperience its attendant feelings. The psychological information that I glean from this work tells me much about my feelings and needs.

I don't explore my nocturnal world every day; only when the intensity of its emotional storms stay with me past the transition between sleep and wakefulness.

My dreams are a window into a self that's hidden from view. I've developed tremendous respect for the messages that it - through the language of dreams - sends my way. It has become my most trusted and reliable friend.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Mona Spiegel is an experienced Psychologist and Life Coach. Women turn to her after hearing her lead a workshop, read an article she’s written, or - most often - through the recommendations of friends who have experienced the value of her coaching. Dr. Spiegel helps women resolve their problems and, furthermore, tap their inner strengths to realize their goals and dreams. Dr. Spiegel is a member of the American Psychological Association and the International Coach Federation. Learn more about her at