This episode is great for showing the power of the mind. If something disturbing is held onto that is believed to be real, it will fill our awareness and cut us off from true perception.
Starfleet's Miles O'Brien has been convicted of a crime by another species and his punishment is to be inserted with 20 years of memories of being imprisoned. Even though this procedure only lasts a matter of minutes, O'Brien is convinced that he has indeed lived out these 20 years in prison and he has all the dark memories as "proof" this all really happened.
While O'Brien's friends on the ship try to convince him that none of his prison memories are real. O'Brien clings to the belief that his memories are true. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit has a plan to help free the mind from the nightmares believed to be real. The only way out of the dream is through total forgiveness. The solution will not come through analyzing what happened in the dream, what went wrong, what could have been done differently, or by trying to figure out how to fix it. Such attempts will only keep one trapped. Following the Holy Spirit's gentle, loving guidance is the only way out.
It is profound when one thinks of all of O'Brien's experiences in terms of mind. He made up the whole thing: the incarceration, storing food, being starved, killing his friend, and now, being back on the ship. The dream is all being generated from beliefs in the mind. Doubt thoughts are projected about oneself or others from guilt in the mind. The projections are experienced as real events which witness to the one's thoughts and beliefs. O'Brien efforts to push things out of awareness surface as anger in his waking dream as he struggles to protect what he is hiding. He does not want to face the guilty memories. The strain from trying to live in the split mind is tremendous. He can't hide it from himself or anyone else. Everyone can see what is going on. It is not a secret. He is trying to keep private thoughts hidden in his own mind for as long as he can and his suffering is obvious to all.
Just like O'Brien we can get hooked on past mistakes as if they are real and have reality in themselves; the memories that have come from guilt in the mind. Forgiveness is the only answer. Simply being told this world is not real does not help; the Holy Spirit has to loosen our minds and help us face the beliefs underlying the dream. We must be willing to go through the darkness to the light and really see things with the Spirit to be free.