All dreams come in the service of health and wholeness. The generic message of every remembered dream is: "There is a potentially positive, creative, transformative role for the dreamer's waking mind to play in the further unfoldment of whatever is being given symbolic shape in this dream." In other words, no remembered dream ever came to say to the dreamer, "Nyeah, nyeah, nyeah - you have these problems and there's nothing you can do about them...!" If the dream is remembered at all, than it means that the dreamer has the inherent ability to deal creatively and effectively with all the problems and "issues" that the dream raises in symbolic form; if this were not true, the dream would simply not have been remembered.
When a dream experience is not remembered, then the health & wholeness promoting quality of the dream must be sought somewhere other than the expansion and development of the dreamer's own waking consciousness. In the case of sleep-walking and sleep-talking, and the special case of "night terrors", (about which more below),the dreamer is most often very difficult to awaken, and if/when it is accomplished, most often does not remember what was going on "inside" that was the occasion for the strange "acting out". Sleep-walking and sleep-talking are most frequent in childhood and usually, (although not always), dissipate and eventually disappear as the dreamer reaches adulthood.
I believe that the generic meaning of sleep-walking and sleep-talking, can be summed up in the idea "involuntary theater", put on not so much for the dreamer him/herself, but for the benefit of the others who are awake and observe it.
Basically, my experience points to night terrors being a "cry of anguish" occasioned by a "spiritual vacuum" in the center of the family (usually, but not always, the family of origin), and an unconscious (and thus involuntary) request that the people who are awake to see and respond to the theater of profound terror and distress will "get it" what a terrible situation the lack of spoken clarity about deepest (religious/spiritual) believes, suspicions and experiences is for the dreamer. Usually this is something the dreamer is not even fully conscious of when awake.
I realize this is an unusual and radical idea, but I have made the suggestion to many parents that they talk about spiritual/religious issues in the family both with each other and with the child having night terrors, and when they have done so, many report the night terrors are greatly lessened, if not completely gone. Nothing scientifically provable, but I'm certainly accumulating quite a bit of anecdotal evidence.
© Jeremy Taylor, 2007