You are walking down a dark street that you realize is unfamiliar to you. Out of the silence you hear steps behind you. As panic sets in, your pace quickens. The footsteps behind you also increase their tempo, keeping up with you. You start to run, your fear giving unusual speed to your gait. Yet the menacing presence begins to gain ground. By now you are at a full-out sprint, only to realize that, whatever or whoever it is, is right behind you, close enough to grab you. The next thing you know, you are in the safety of your bed, a cold sweat covers your body and your breathing is shallow and labored.
Nightmares in which the dreamer is pursued by a menacing figure are one of the most common types of dreams. While they occur most frequently among children, they are also common for adults. This is particularly true after one experiences a traumatic incident or is involved in other kinds of stressful situations, though they are often more poignant when caused by a trauma. Chase dreams are often associated with the contextualization of emotions resulting in unexpected dream imagery. The most common emotions that are capable of invoking these particular “picture metaphors” are fear, vulnerability, and guilt.