Column: Following Metaphors Over
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
There are 34 of the 100 linked Water dreams.
25 out of 100
30 out of 100
31 out of 100
22 out of 100
24 out of 100
32 out of 100
38 out of 100
"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
dream set "Rivers":
a total of 38 out of 1000 linked dreams.
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".
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
# of dreams % # of dreams
All Dreams "All
Members 629 9%
Brother 35 48% 3
Brother 14 19 4
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
Members 45 7
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
People 666 10
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
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.)
Friend 216 32
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
Profssnl 36 5
I'd definitely check this one out. What happened in 1998 that they
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.
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.
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
are now able to:
Enter your dreams into the Website database.
Search dreams based on words or phrases and examine that dream set.
Hook metaphors and themes to your dreams.
Call up a metaphor or theme set of dreams and examine them.
Write and read comments on dreams, metaphors and themes.
Write poetry or rewrite your dream and hook the work to your dream.
Use the DreamSpinner Bulletin board to connect and discuss any dreams
Articles of interest on various Dream Topics. You are encouraged to
submit articles of your own.
And of course, download a free 30 day trial demo of 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.
you next month.