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.
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
So far, we've learned about the category system in DreamSpinner. Now we will
take a look at the method DreamSpinner uses to gather the raw data. A great deal
of the work has already been done. The extensive dictionary and category links
are already made. Naturally, each dreamer will want to modify it to their
specific ways. That is very easy to do. You can add any words and definitions
you wish. You can create new categories, edit or delete them. You can change the
hierarchy structure to fit how you want the information gathered.
The important function that gathers the raw data for you is the DreamLinking
process. DreamSpinner will not recognize the meanings of the words in your dream
narrative until you tell it what dictionary definition belongs to that specific
word, and which categories to hook it to. Four text boxes open up in the
1st, you see the single word you are to link. Example: wall.
2nd, you see the line the word is in, so you have the context of the word.
Example: I am in a room, the walls are red.
3rd, a list of possible definitions for that word is presented.
1. Wall of building, one of the sides.
2. Wall of water.
3. "A wall between us", a communication barrier.
4th, you highlight the one that's right for this word in this dream.
I highlighted number one, "Wall of building, one of the sides." Each
definition is hooked to one or more categories.
1. Wall of building, one of the sides. (Category: Objects, (subcategory)
Architecture, (subcategory) Details.)
2. Wall of water. (Category: Nature, (subcategory) Water Related, (subcategory)
Waves. A second category: Characteristics, (subcategory) Intensity,
(subcategory) High Intensity.)
3. "A wall between us", a communication barrier. (Category: Mind,
(subcategory) Thinking, (subcategory) Psychological. A second category:
Evaluation, (subcategory) Difficult Situations)
If you like the categories it is hooked to, then click on the LINK button and
that connection of category, definition and which dream it is in is stored in
the word frequency counts tables. You will be going through the dream only once.
This raw data is stored in a series of linked tables underneath the DreamLinking
Window form. There are ID numbers for everything. The Dream ID, the word ID, the
category ID, the character position ID, the syntax ID and so on. Each time you
hit the LINK button, all those numbers are stored to be retrieved later in as
many different combinations as you care to look at. The word infinite comes to
Here is an example dream:
"I am in a room, the walls are red. My Father steps into the hall and a
lion speaks to him. Suddenly, the wall falls over and I see outside a waterfall,
where spirits fly around the water. I cry with joy."
Because every word is linked to categories, this dream will figure into many
different dream sets.
It's a "room" dream, a "wall" dream, a "red"
dream, a "Father" dream, a "waterfall" dream. And so on.
DreamSpinner reveals patterns. When you call up a dream set, for instance,
"All Waterfall Dreams", a form comes up. It displays in descending
order, the most frequent categories for that dream set. What emotions are most
common in "waterfall" dreams? You scroll to where the Category MIND
is, open it to the subcategory EMOTION, and see which emotions are most
frequent. Does it change over time? DreamSpinner is looking at these dreams over
time. In the year 1992, were " waterfall " dreams scary and in 1994
were " waterfall " dreams sad? This gives additional information about
yourself. It gives information and excites questions in areas you might not have
thought to look for insights.
One dreamer noticed a high frequency of anger in the dream set for a
particular character. Except for one year. The high frequency was sadness. That,
she realized later, was the year that dream character died (in waking life.) The
dreams increased in frequency in forgiveness activities almost 8 months before
There are many different kinds of information you will get out of each dream.
What emotions are most common in this dream set?
What social interactions are most frequent?
Who is most frequently found in "Anger" dreams?
When there is an animal in the dream, is there a higher frequency of
When there are more dangerous or scary events, are they frightening or
What kinds of problem solving techniques do I most often use in my dreams?
Why is fear such a high frequency in dreams that have attic trap doors?
Why is it that many "performance dreams" have a distance between the
performer and the audience?
Here's the information you receive from the example dream:
Most frequent category is Objects, Architecture, Rooms (hall and room) and
This tells me that the space itself is more important in this dream than say
Social Interaction or feelings, or any other category.
The second most frequent category is Object Relationships (Both room and hall
figure as containment objects. This means the dream is talking about containment
The third most frequent and therefore most important category is Movement.
(Falling wall and stepping.) Then Flowing (waterfall) and then Journey, Under
your own Power (flying). The opposite of obstruction. The flow is open.
Fourth: Animals/Creatures. Wild Lion and spirit.(Animals are more frequent
than people in this dream.) Hummm. Animals and spiritual metaphors seem to be
together in this dream. Is that so of all animal dreams?
Fifth: Characteristics. The Color, red and time measurement (sudden). Do
other red dreams have this kind of time movement?
Sixth: MIND, Emotional, State Of Mind Positive, (cry for joy). Good feelings
in this dream, no negative ones. Do my other dreams where flow is open reveal
these same emotions? Are there years or months when the flow is closed in
dreams? What are the feelings in those dreams?
Seventh: Nature. Natural bodies of Water, (waterfall).
Eighth: Body, Sensory, Visual (see)
Ninth: Character, Immediate Family Member, (Father).
Tenth: Evaluation, Negative, sudden.
Eleventh: Social Interaction, Communication, Verbal, (speak)
Twelfth: Spiritual (spirit).
The list of possible insights is endless. The straw (those boring left brain
word frequency counts) are transformed and woven into gold.
Next month we will look at a dream set over time. Which is where the power of
DreamSpinner really excels. (She said modestly.) See you next month.