Analyzing Your Dreams by Looking at the Most Common

Once, before I was married, I had a dream that I had met the man I was going to marry. I was so excited until my family ate him. Turns out he was a chocolate brownie.

Have you ever had that dream? Probably not, though I once heard that Louie Anderson had a dream he was embalmed in butter. I’m the 9th of 9 kids and he’s the 10th of 11. Coincidence? I think not.

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But what about the more common dreams we all share? Why do people seem to have

such similar dreams when our sleep, experiences and our brain states are different? According to studies, there are 55 common themes that all people, across gender, country, and culture have. I was going to list the first 10, but 55 isn’t that many, so I decided to list them all. I grouped some of the similar ones together, so the list is a little shorter than 55:

  • school, teachers, and studying, failing an examination
  • being chased or pursued
  • sexual experiences
  • falling, being on the verge of falling
  • arriving too late
  • a living person being dead, a person now dead being alive
  • flying or soaring through the air
  • being frozen with fright
  • being physically attacked
  • being nude, being inappropriately dressed
  • eating delicious food
  • swimming
  • being locked up
  • insects or spiders, snakes
  • being killed
  • losing teeth
  • being tied up, restrained, or unable to move
  • being a child again
  • trying to complete a task successfully
  • being unable to find toilet, or embarrassment about losing one
  • discovering a new room at home
  • having superior knowledge or mental ability
  • losing control of a vehicle
  • fire, floods or tidal waves, earthquakes, tornadoes or strong winds
  • wild, violent beasts
  • seeing a face very close to you
  • having magical powers
  • vividly sensing, but not necessarily seeing or hearing, a presence in the room
  • finding money
  • killing someone
  • seeing yourself as dead
  • being half-awake and paralyzed in bed
  • people behaving in a menacing way
  • seeing yourself in a mirror
  • being a member of the opposite sex
  • being smothered, unable to breathe
  • encountering God in some form
  • seeing a flying object crash
  • seeing an angel
  • being an animal
  • seeing a UFO, traveling to another planet, someone having an abortion
  • being an object
  • part animal, part human creatures
  • being at the movie

I would guess I’ve probably had half of these. How about you? I’m surprised about some of the ones on the list, and some that aren’t. I regularly have the dream where I discover extra rooms in my house even though my house is not extremely small.

It’s fun to think of all the ways we are all mixing and matching these common dream themes in a million different ways. It’s also good to look at the list and see that that one dream you thought was pretty weird, probably is pretty normal.

I don’t think we need a handbook to analyze our dreams. Usually, I just ask myself what I think it means and I can figure it out.

As for that dream about my imaginary fiancé, I suppose it meant I was hungry when I went to bed and was wondering if I would ever find my own pan of brownies.

Originally published at on November 10, 2018.

Narrative nonfiction and memoir. Querying my memoir about my family, told through the lens of brain tumor and father’s stroke.

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