Electric Dreams

The DreamSpinner Column: 

Working Dreams With The Power Of Computers #5

Bjo Ashwill

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  Ashwill, Bjo (2000 Oct). The DreamSpinner Column: Working Dreams With The Power Of Computers. 5th Column: Finding Metaphors Not Mentioned In Narrative of Dream. Electric Dreams 7(10). Retrieved December 31, 2001 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams

5th Column:
Finding Metaphors Not Mentioned In Narrative of Dream.

Hi, Electric Dreamers. I am Bjo Ashwill and am writing a monthly column on my experiences of creating a computer software program that does very detailed analysis of dream narratives. You are welcome to visit my web site and check out DreamSpinner, the software program I will be describing. http://www.spinner-soft.com. The site was recently revised and is full of exciting interactive things you can do. Check us out!

In this column I shall describe, over time, how to use the computer's power to store, group, analyze and retrieve information from our dreams. DreamSpinner's greatest power is working with long "over time" dream series, although it can work with individual dreams as well. How do metaphor patterns change over time? That is the question that began my journey toward creating DreamSpinner.

Last Month, we looked at how the raw data of a dream is generated in DreamSpinner. I promised to look at a dream set over time. BUT! My computer crashed and it took several weeks to fix. So this month I will look at various ways DreamSpinner can search for metaphors. Especially the methods used to find metaphors not actually mentioned in the dream narrative. NEXT month, we will look at a dream set over time!

We will discuss four different ways you can search DreamSpinner for metaphor patterns in your dreams.
1. The first obvious way is to choose a symbol such as "Rivers" or "House." Create a dream set (all dreams containing that symbol) and run the word frequency counts from the DreamLinking process. This will give you the patterns of the categories in those dreams. Next, you compare the word frequency counts of that dream set with the norming word frequency counts of all your dreams. Certain categories will elevate or drop in frequency. That, of course, indicates what categories are more or less important in the dream set. Last month, I showed you what that looked like with "River" dreams.

2. A more complex search can be done with more than one metaphor or condition using built in Boolean search logic. Example: You can call up all dreams with "Rivers" AND the category "Deep". The word frequency counts will change, showing specific patterns related to only "Rivers" and the descriptive term "Deep". Perhaps the category "Positive Emotions", "Calm" will be elevated. Perhaps "Family Characters" category, "Mother" is elevated. Perhaps, Social Interactions of any kind, (Aggression, Friendly, or Sexual) are nearly non existent. Perhaps, "Thinking, specifically "Psychological" is elevated. Perhaps "Spirituality" is elevated. Without ever reading the dreams themselves, you are getting an accurate picture of what "Deep Rivers" represents to you. Naturally, then, after looking at that information, I would want to go into the individual dreams and examine how those patterns interrelate with each other. Other "Boolean" search options are available too. You can find dreams that have one metaphor OR another. Example: Either "Mother" OR "Father" are in the dreams selected, not "Mother" AND "Father". Or you can search for dreams that do NOT have a metaphor in them. Example: All "Mother" dreams, but NOT "Rivers".

3. Another search method is to look for indirect evidence of a metaphor. Archetypes are a good example of that. I rarely, if ever, write in my dream narrative that the archetype "Shadow" is there. I must infer its presence. DreamSpinner can do this easily. You decide what criteria would define that archetype and do multiple searches for only those dreams that include those criteria. For the archetype 'Shadow", I will use the following searches:

a. A female stranger (Category: "Characters," "Stranger", "Woman/Stranger")
b. Emotions of aggression (Assuming we are looking for the negative Dark Side of the "Shadow".)
c. Incongruities.
d. Dark Haired female.
e. Animals (perhaps specifically coyotes, wolves, ravens, or whatever trickster animals you consider a "Shadow" element.)
f. Negative social roles (female.)
One can come up with other criteria, depending on what your sense of the 'Shadow" is in your dreams. You would run this series of searches until the dream set contains only dreams with these criteria. Then you would examine the word frequency counts for any elevated or lower patterns.

4. DreamSpinner has a feature called 'Find Related". Which helps you find patterns you don't even know about. You activate a dream which has been DreamLinked. You click on "Find Related" in the Tools Menu bar. DreamSpinner then examines each dream that has been DreamLinked and matches similar words. It generates a list of dreams where the matches are counted in descending order of most frequent to least frequent. You can choose how many of the matched dreams you want to use to create a dream set and then run a word frequency count on them. The options for how to examine your dreams are endless. Each time you run a dream set through the Word Frequency counts, you gain new insights on your personal metaphors and what they mean to you.

I am happy to announce that the DreamSpinner Website (www.spinner-soft.com) is now up and running with new and exciting interactive fun for you.

You are now able to:

1. Enter your dreams into the Website database.
2. Search dreams based on words or phrases and examine that dream set.
3. Hook metaphors and themes to your dreams.
4. Call up a metaphor or theme set of dreams and examine them.
5. Write and read comments on dreams, metaphors and themes.
6. Write poetry or rewrite your dream and hook the work to your dream.
7. Use the DreamSpinner Bulletin board to connect and discuss any dreams issues.
8. Articles of interest on various Dream Topics. You are encouraged to submit articles of your own.
9. And of course, download a free 30 day trial demo of DreamSpinner.

DreamSpinner has been revised so it works with all versions of Microsoft Word. You still need a PC, but, you are no longer held to the restriction of only using Word 95.

Come on by and check us out! See you next month.