Electric Dreams

The DreamSpinner Column: 

Working Dreams With The Power Of Computers #6: 

6th Column: Following Metaphors Over Time

Bjo Ashwill

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  Ashwill, Bjo (2001 Jan). The DreamSpinner Column: Working Dreams With The Power Of Computers.  6th Column: Following Metaphors Over Time. Electric Dreams 8(1). Retrieved December 30, 2001 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams

6th Column:  Following Metaphors Over Time

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.


The first step to examining Dream Sets over time is to run a quick count of how many dreams per year (or any set of dates you choose) that contain the metaphor word or words you are searching for. This gives a quick over view of whether or not a continuing psychological interest in a particular metaphor exists. In addition it shows how much the intensity is over time.


It is possible to look at specific dates, for example all dreams that happened on my birthday or Christmas, or important death anniversary. It is possible to look at dreams per day or week, as well as per year.


Using my own dream series, I will give you a few examples. I chose the 8 different years which have the same amount of linked dreams in them.

In 1000 linked dreams, All Water dreams (dreams with any of more than 100 words linked to the Water category) were 293. (29.3% of all dreams linked.)


In 1998, There are 34 of the 100 linked Water dreams.

1996  25 out of 100

1995  30 out of 100

1994  31 out of 100

1989  22 out of 100

1988  24 out of 100

1985  32 out of 100

1984  38 out of 100


Since the "All Water" dream set is nearly 1/3 of the total linked dreams, it would make sense that it would be a fairly consistent number of dreams per year. It is not, however evenly consistent. Dreams containing any form of water was highest in the year 1984. And lowest in 1989 Does that tell us anything? Only that Water, as a metaphor is more important in 1984 and less important in 1989. That points me in a direction. I would probably focus my research first on those two years.


In the dream set "Rivers":

There was a total of 38 out of 1000 linked dreams.

1998  4    

1996  2

1995  5

1994  4

1989  4

1988  5

1985  4

1984  6


I would have expected there to be more rivers in 1984 because there were more "All Water" dreams I would also have expected 1989 to have the lowest "River" count.  In fact, I would have been half right. 1984 did have the highest count. However, 1996, not 1989 had the lowest count. So, it seems the subsets of dreams do not follow the main pattern of the general dream set it came from. Again, I now have a directed idea of where to go look for specific changes in dream sets as they are compared to the base set of "All Dreams".


To get to the more specific details of what patterns are higher or lower in those dream sets, we go to the word frequency counts of the dream set, and compare how the patterns shift by year.


It is beyond the scope of this article to show all the patterns that change over time, because there are over one thousand categories and 15,000 individual words to be examined. So I shall choose a few examples and show how they changed over time.


Dream Set      Daughter "D"      Daughter "J"            Daughter "M"

Total 1202  36                32               64

1998  100           1               0                   6

1996  100           0               1                   4

1995  100           1               0                   7

1994  100           6               4                   8

1989  100           0               0                   7

1988  100           2               4                   8

1985  100           6               4                   6

1984  100           8               5                   6


There are obvious changes in patterns from year to year. In general, Daughter "M" figures in the dreams twice as often as the other two daughters.  However, year by year indicates a shift of frequency for each daughter. 1984 was a big "daughter" year, daughter "D" in particular. 1996 was the lowest amount of daughter dreams. Again, this information would prompt me to look at those two years and create dream sets for each daughter. When I look at the frequency counts for daughter "M" for example, in 1984, I will find other patterns which will help me understand better what my issues with daughter "M" are and how her character might be representing what part of myself.


Here is a small excerpt from the category list in DreamSpinner in the character identity section. This excerpt is from the All Dreams in 1998 dream set. The number of dreams refers to how many dreams that contain the search criteria are in the dream sets.


The percent refers to the percentage of those number of dreams in relation to how many total dreams were in the category label before it (The Parent category) For example:  The parent category for Immediate Family Members is Character's Identity. Then the "Immediate Family Members is the parent category of Brother, Daughter, Father and so on. "Brother" is the parent category of "Oldest Brother" and "General Brother".


The HP factor is a statistical computation of the differences between the percentages of the two dream sets, since percentages are weighted differently depending on where in the range it comes. For example: The small percentages at either end of the scale (0-7 or 93-100) are weighted more heavily and they have more  statistical relevance.


Category      # of dreams %    # of dreams      %      HP Factor

              All Dreams      "All dreams 1998"


Family Members  629   9%          47          7%          -0.073

Brother           73   12%         10          21%         0.245

Oldest Brother  35 48%         3           30          -0.372

General Brother 14  19          4           40          0.467


(This tells me that my oldest brother in 1998 was dreamt of much less than in the base set "All Dreams" However, the concept of brother was represented far more often in 1998 than in the base set. This tickles my curiosity. So, in this year, maybe I am working more on issues related to the concept of brotherly relationships. Now I'd want to create a dream set "General brother" and look for what patterns shift there. I'd then want to call up those dreams and examine them all for how that relationship is played out in

the dreams.)


Daughter          195      31          8           17          -0.331

D                 36      18          1           13          -0.138

J                 32      16          0           0           -0.823

M                 64      33          6           75          0.87

Family Members      45      7           8           17          0.314

Father            77      12          5           11          -0.031

Husband           82      13          4           9           -0.129

Mother                83      13          4           9           -0.129


(Notice how the numbers for Husband and Mother are very similar. Makes me wonder if the adage is right that we "marry our Mothers" in terms of similar issues and behaviors.)

Parents           22      3           4           9           0.261

Sister            33      5           3           6           0.044

Known People      666      10          54          8           -0.07

Acquaintance      83      12          1           2           -0.423


(I find this number very interesting. In All Dreams Set, Acquaintances were 12% of Known people. In the 1998 dream set, only 2%; a significant drop in

that year. (The negative sign on the HP factor indicates a drop in percentages for that category. Without the negative sign, the number is a positive, indicating an increase in activity for that category. Any number above 0.1 indicates a significant difference and therefore more prone to be relevant. The HP factor number for the category Known People only dropped 2% and is therefore relatively the same, not significantly relevant as a change.)


Client/Student    9      1           0           0           -0.2

Close Friend      216      32          27          50          0.368


(So, while the Acquaintances and Client/Student population lessened in the dreams in 1998, the category of Close Friend increased very significantly. I would be curious then to look to other years to see if this pattern is for this year only. Then I'd create the dream set "Close Friends" and examine those patterns. From there I'll find out which Close Friends are more significant and make dream sets for the one or ones that have a strong increase from the base set.)


Co Worker         133      20%         8           15%         -0.132

Friend            80      12          8           15          0.088

Known Profssnl 36      5           3           6           0.044

Romantic Intrs 85      13          2           4           -0.335


(Hummmmm. I'd definitely check this one out. What happened in 1998 that they  significantly disappeared?)


The category information goes on for pages. Perhaps you are all lucky that I send this article in text format, so it won't hold tables. I had to retabulate the format by hand. Hence, you do not see pages and pages of these patterns. I hope this has given you some idea of how to examine dreams over time in DreamSpinner.


I want to point out here that the finding of these numbers is only to get to the questions, and therefore the insights. Finding significant increases or decreases in what I dream about makes me wonder why. This leads me back to the making of smaller more specific dream sets which gives me more interesting patterns. I then take this all to the dreams themselves, now that I have some directions and ideas of what might be going on. Things I would not perhaps have asked myself about these dreams before observing the frequency patterns.


Be sure to visit the DreamSpinner Website  (www.spinner-soft.com). I'd sure appreciate people who are willing to leave their dreams in the database, leave comments for other dreamers on their dreams, and use the message board.


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.


See you next month.