In Inception, the extraction team uses dream PASIV devices to go deeper. See my explanation here.
This is a linear progression. The “top” level is reality, the “bottom” level is limbo, and dreams-within-dreams operate in-between.
I think that it would be possible for a team like the one in Inception to design a dream that’s the reverse of a “dream-within-a-dream.”
In the “dream-within-a-dream” the dreamers dream they’re using a PASIV device, and thus go to a “deeper” layer of the dream.
I think it would be possible for someone to design a dream where you dream that you’re receiving a kick, but you’re actually not.
If you were to design something like this, though, you’d have to switch your directional thinking. Right now, you go “up” and “down,” where “down” is deeper in the dream state towards limbo and “up” is out of the dream state towards reality.
In the idea of going “up” a level, you’d have a “level 0” that’s the first dream.
Following the Inception of Fischer, you’d go like this:
The reality of the plane would be simply “reality.” The van would be dream level 0, the hotel dream level x1, the snow fortress dream level x2, etc. Eventually, as Cobb says happened to him and Mal, you go down so far you end up in Limbo.
Now, if you introduce the idea of a false kick in a dream, things get interesting.
Same scenario, plane is reality, van is dream level zero. They initiate a “false kick” and you end up in dream level y1. It’s not reality, it’s still a layer of dream. A *real* kick in this level y1 would bring the person back to the van level. A *false* kick would send them to level y2. Just like using the PASIV device in a dream, each false kick would send you closer to limbo.
Here’s where it gets interesting. If you go into level 0 and do a false kick, you’d go to level y1. However, if you used a dream PASIV device in this level, you wouldn’t go to level x1, you’d go to level y1x1.
Introducing this concept means that you could get a dream extractor lost in a series of dreams within dreams fairly quickly, because they’d have to get back to level 0 and receive a *real* kick in reality to get out.
This is never addressed by Nolan in the film, just an extrapolation that I think would work.