wtf subconscious, three months in

It’s just over three months since I started keeping this blog; high time I made some visual aids to show some of the themes I’ve been noticing in my dreams.


A word cloud, created using the full text from all my blog posts. The Word It Out software removes ‘stop words’ such as it, the, and, or, but.  And, I’ve removed the words dream(s), and subconscious because I don’t think their inclusion would illustrate anything outside of the obvious!

wtf emotion cloud

This second word cloud consists of all of the feelings and emotions that I’ve identified in my dreams over the last three months.  These include the emotions that my dream-self has felt, and also any that have been directed at me by other people in dreams.  (Some of the emotions I’ve included here were not named directly in the original blog posts that they’re taken from.  I re-read each post and as I did so, thought about what emotional reactions I was indirectly – if not directly – describing.)

You’ll notice that most of these emotions or feelings are negative ones. I wanted to create a graph showing the ratio of ‘good’ to ‘bad’ dreams that I’ve had, but since many of my dreams contained mixed or ambigious feelings, it was hard to categorise them as either/or.

So, using the same word list as the cloud above, and the frequency with which each feeling occurred, the ratio of my ‘positive’ to ‘negative’ dream-emotions looks like this:


That’s more than 82% negative, which does not entirely tally with Freud’s idea that all dreams are a kind of wish-fulfilment.

How about you, folks? I’d love to hear what your most common dream-emotions are, so do comment and let me know!

I’ll make new, stylish graphs and clouds every three months (or monthly if I have enough data for it to be interesting).  And, of course you can let me know if you think there are any other themes or patterns that you think I should be representing in chart-form…


Dream a little dream of me? I’d rather you didn’t.

Happy valentine’s day, dream-lovers!

So, pop-culture would have us believe that to dream of one’s lover is the surest sign of true amour.  So obsessively should the loved one occupy our thoughts, that even sleep shouldn’t interrupt our devotion, right?

Well, maybe not.  About a hundred years ago, some dream researchers were pointing out that the more mental energy we devote to something – or someone – during our waking hours, the less likely our dreams are to reflect it.

Yves Delage small

Yves Delage (1854-1920) was a French zoologist who turned to the study of dreams after experiencing a bereavement. He was confused to find that, even at the height of his grief, he didn’t dream of the person he’d lost, and set out to discover whether this was typical.  Sure enough, in a study of newly-weds, he found that, “if they are very much in love, they have almost never dreamed of one another before the marriage or during the honeymoon; and if they have dreamed of love, it was to be unfaithful with someone unimportant or distasteful.”

Wow. Mama Cass didn’t know what she was wishing for when she implored her beau, “in your dreams whatever they be, dream a little dream of me.”

I’d slightly moderate what Delage suggested: I have had romantic or erotic dreams about people I’m attracted to, but only if they were secret, guilty or unrealistic crushes on people who there was no likelihood of me actually getting together with.  In the context of a happy, committed relationship, I don’t recall having ever dreamt about a partner.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), quoting Delage in his own book, The Interpretation of Dreams, put his own slant on this phenomonom by saying that dream material mainly consists of things we are not conscious of, and that whatever is least conscious makes the strongest impression in the subconscious.  Therefore: “we either do not dream at all of what occupies us intently during the day, or we begin to dream of it only after it is overshadowed by the other interests of the day.”

A friend of mine noticed something similar in her first few years of motherhood.  She felt almost every joule of mental energy was being transmitted into her son; and yet she didn’t recall ever dreaming about him.  Her interpretation was that by nightfall she simply had no more of that energy left, and had to psychically tune out for a few hours before she could give her attention again.

But what are your experiences?  Sling me a comment either way: do you dream of the same things that have occupied your wakeful mind, or do your daytime fixations vanish as soon as the light goes out? Do your dreams seem to protect you from material that is currently too raw or overwhelming – or do they rub your nose in it even more? Can you comfortably admit to your dream lusts, or have you, like Titania, ever thought yourself “enamour’d of an ass”? *

I’ll leave you with that thought, and another quote from the great romantic, Freud. “The virtuous man contents himself with dreaming that which the wicked man actually does in real life.” (The Interpretation of Dreams, 1899)

Freud small

* William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Nights’ Dream

the one about the yoghurt

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and this epic blog began with a dream about yoghurt.

It was set at my maternal grandmother’s home, in a part of the bungalow known as the… well, did anyone else’s grandma have a Back Passage? (I know, right?  So far as I could tell she never, in all her eighty six years, figured out why people were sniggering.)

There was a small fridge in there – barely bigger than the portable ones you might take camping – and I was trying to get a jumbo tub of Natural Greek-Style to fit on the bottom shelf, but no amount of manoeuvring could get the fridge door to close.  I had to leave the tub of yoghurt on the floor directly next to the fridge, but I wasn’t at all happy with this compromise.

wtf, subconscious?

Upon waking, I was so delighted with this dream that I told pretty much everyone I came into contact with for the next few days, and it was at this point that one of my housemates suggested I start a blog.


Another dream-interpretation site tells me that “to see or eat yogurt in your dream, suggests that you need to learn to behave appropriately for the different situations and circumstances you find yourself in.” Others suggest an improvement in health and finances; an attempt to live healthily; or an immature way of seeking spiritual nourishment.  (It seems dream dictionaries are kind of reluctant about reaching a common consensus.)

To put this dream in its mundane context, another member of my household recently did have a giant quantity of natural strained, extra-thick, Greek yoghurt in a blue and white pot so large it actually had a handle.

The less obvious background to the dream was that I’d recently started having group therapy through the NHS. I’d wanted one-to-one sessions and to share my therapy time with seven other people felt like an enormous compromise. I was a newcomer to an existing group, which struck me as being pretty set in its ways, and I’d waited a long time for therapy, during which there were a lot of reasons I could have done with the support.  A long-term relationship had ended and I’d moved house; work was stressful and disatisfying; a relative had died unexpectedly, so on and so forth, on top of longer term issues that I had hoped to address.

I felt there was so much in me that it was impossible – impossible – to store it.  It simply couldn’t fit into its constraints.  It was no good me putting my emotional yoghurt (if you will) to one side, because the longer it was left, the more rancid it would turn.

As for the setting, I often find my dream-self back at my parents’ house, or my grandma’s, despite her having vacated it over ten years ago.

Whether my subconscious was trying to say something witty about the back passage, I’ll have to keep pondering.

…no, on second thoughts I don’t want to know.