Its not merely threat rehearsal in my opinion, its, benefit maximization rehearsal.
I have a very quiet life, and I'm also a lucid dreamer when frightened, so my number of nightmares has dropped sharply in the past 5-10 years, on the order of one every 6 months about or less.
But, instead I seem to have dreams of opportunity with choices. Difficult ones. many times theft and profit are themes which develop, like I'll have a choice between turning in the envelope full of cash so to speak. Sometimes turning it in becomes wildly inappropriate, like its a blank envelope in the middle of the desert, other times its blatantly obvious like you just saw the old homeless mother, drop it.
Sometimes its sexual situations, and before you think fantasy allow me to explain a bit. It will be someone's girlfriend, or someone drunk. Some times they are seducing me, and sometimes i just 'know' in the way one only can in dreams, that they would be responsive if I merely asked. Sometimes the situation is normal, but there is an interruption, and its always important so that I'll have to pick between personal immediate physical pleasure or the more lasting and less tempting egotistical pleasure I get from helping.
Sometimes it's food, I'll be presented with what amounts to a buffet and a time limit.
Only twice have I dreamt of sexual fantasy. And one of the times was on the night of valentines day, a day charged with sexual imagery especially if you have television as I did at the time. Perhaps that was an opportunity test in and of itself. As if my brain was testing, “Well how would we handle it if you got exactly what you claim and think you want sexually?” I did learn about myself via that dream. And I never had one like it since.
I have a point I'm getting to thats relevant to you, just give it a second heheh.
Effectively I have great dreams but there is ALWAYS a catch. In a nightmare the catch is gigantic and the choice is between evils, but, I'm going to guess that there is ALWAYS a choice, and that choice is the whole point of dreams. To train us to make it or choices like it quickly when the time comes, either to avoid threat, or to maximize benefit. In short dreams force us to consider so we can say with honesty “All things considered, I made the right choice.”
Previously, I thought that catch said something about my general insecurity, as you all know I have my hangups, but seen in the context of behavior rehearsal I feel a lot better. My dreams may actually be reflective of the future of dreaming assuming our future is a good one.
My dreams are not characterized by fear or negative emotions of any kind really. Perhaps because my psychology is a bit more evolved (before you go all frothy at my impudence, this does not necessarily mean better) to fit a threat-less situation emotionally. Example, I don't get jealous, I don't lose control with rage, my only fears are social and are about making people happy and loss of happiness, as opposed to fear of pain or harm or loss, I'm extremely tolerant (irl), but not so much so that I become a drone.
Knowing the nature of dreams is a test, then perhaps the way to improve them is to out wit your wit, and focus on decisions you'd like to make, rather than decisions you have to make. Like assume your problems were solved, what sort of decisions would you be likely to make?
“Do I fly to Paris today or just stay home and ride the dune buggy outback in my private 10 mile square sand box?”
...Or I could just be a nutjob. Your call.