Cover image for The universal dream key : the twelve most common dream themes around the world
The universal dream key : the twelve most common dream themes around the world
Garfield, Patricia L.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Cliff Street Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
xxi, 356 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BF1078 .G176 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BF1078 .G176 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Every night, all over the world, sleepers are dreaming variations of the same twelve dreams. The details differ, of course, but the same themes recur in every culture, as they have throughout recorded history. In The Universal Dream Key, internationally renowned authority Dr. Patricia Garfield shows us how to understand our dreams -- and much about ourselves.

Garfield has spent years researching the dreamworld, leading to her discovery of these twelve archetypes. Even those of us who don't usually remember our dreams remember some of these:

being chased appearing naked in public not knowing the answers to a test driving a car without brakes falling

Garfield moves from a general motifs to the many recognizable variations, illustrating her account with actual examples. Most important, she offers readers a detailed analysis of the possible meanings, creating a skeleton key to the twelve doors of the subconscious.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Drawing upon the works of psychologist Carl Jung, structuralist Claude L‚vi-Strauss and folklorist Vladimir Propp, Garfield (Creative Dreaming), who cofounded the Association for the Study of Dreams, believes that all dreams despite significant differences in dreamers and their cultures fall into 12 archetypes. Most are common, easily recognizable narratives ("Being Chased or Attacked," "Falling or Drowning" and "Being Lost or Trapped"), though a few may be less familiar to Western readers ("Being Menaced by a Spirit"). Each "negative" dream has a corresponding positive or healing version, such as "Being Well Dressed" instead of "Being Naked in Public or Inappropriately Dressed" or "Fine Performance" rather than "Poor Test or Other Poor Performance." While it may seem reductive to limit dreams to 12 categories, Garfield acknowledges the biological and cultural influences on dream symbolism while taking pains to reiterate how every dream has a personal dimension specific to the dreamer. Most of her insights are commonsensical and unsurprising ("Making love in your dream = Wish to connect with waking person or quality of that person"), though readers who are willing to undertake the dozens of dream exercises Garfield offers will undoubtedly wrest new insights from their subconscious minds. (Mar.) Forecast: Though Garfield's workmanlike style may strip dreams of their magic for some readers, she knows how to reach her core audience (her last book sold 250,000 copies). A 25-city radio tour will help ensure that word spreads about Ms. Sandman's bag of tricks for deciphering dreams. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Everyone has nightmares of being chased, of missing an exam, or of being naked in public. Many have enjoyed the opposite dreams of flying, performing flawlessly, or wearing special and beautiful clothing. Garfield, cofounder of the Association for the Study of Dreams and the author of Creative Dreaming, here examines these reveries and others, having decided that they are the most "universal" according to responses to an Internet-based survey. While this claim is suspect the respondents are all computer-literate and hence well educated in Western technology the dreams are nonetheless surely common for the English-speaking public. While Garfield offers some interpretive rules, they are very broad and allow for idiosyncratic meaning (e.g., "Evil stranger chasing or attacking you in dream=Waking feeling of threat"). Readers are instructed in a general method of dream interpretation that stresses individual experience and the specific cultural meaning of dream motifs. If your public library is well stocked with titles by this author, Gayle Delaney, and Robert Bosnak and money is tight, this book is optional. On the other hand, books on dreams seem to be perennially popular, so mid-size and large public libraries should consider adding. Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The Universal Dream Key The 12 Most Common Dream Themes Around the World Chapter One Being Chased or Attacked Versus Being Embraced or Loved "Help! Something's after me!" Around the world, alarming dreams of being pursued and threatened with death are the most common universal nightmares. People from Estonia to New Zealand flee down the corridors of their dreams, pursued by something ghastly. Children are often victims of Chase or Attack dreams, but even competent adults sometimes suffer these frightening nightmares. You've surely had them. We all have. The Universal Nightmare Asleep under eiderdown or lying on straw pallets, beneath handstitched quilts or under ragged blankets, in hammocks at sea or in cradles at home, the pattern is the same. In every bed in every land, we dream that we see or hear or sense the dread aggressor, we run or try to escape, we hide and it finds us; it comes after us, gains on us, until at the most terror-stricken moment, we awaken. This is the Universal Dream of being chased or attacked. Your dreams about being chased or attacked are bound to have elements of this universal pattern. More than 80 percent of the first five hundred people from around the world who visited my website said they had experienced dreams about being chased or attacked. These dreams are very common, so don't be surprised if you have one now and then. This chapter will help you understand and cope with them. If the pattern of your Chase or Attack dreams is universal, the variations are local. In this global dream theme, the "thing" in pursuit differs. We run away from a vast range of frightening beasts and monsters in our dreams. A roll call of creatures from the zoo chase dreamers. The evil stranger, the supernatural horror, and the vague menace inhabit our nightmares. 1.0 Being Chased or Attacked Description:You dream of being pursued or attacked by a wild animal, evil person, monster, "thing," or some other threat. The villain may catch, harm, eat, or kill you.Frequency:This nightmare is the most common among all people. It is a natural response to life stress.Usual Meaning:"I feel threatened," either by some person in your environment or by some strong emotion within you. "I'm scared," "I feel attacked," "I feel hounded," "I'm in danger." Occasionally this dream is a replay of an actual event you have experienced. We will see how each of these dreadful dream enemies has something to tell us. We can learn from our encounters with dream villains and turn the tables on these predators, making their powers beneficent rather than destructive. They can help us rather than harm us. Before we examine how this transformation can be accomplished, let's look at the components of our dreams. We'll see who the horrific figures of your Chase or Attack dreams are, and how adult fears emerge from childish ones. The Basic Components of Dreams: Themes, Variations, Motifs Universal patterns are all around us in the natural world, yet each is affected by the local environment. Trees branch in a consistent way, leaves take their genetic form, rivers carve a sinuous route, snowflakes fall in their basic hexameter shape. However, a tree on the coast, exposed to a constant wind from the sea, bends away from the blast. Leaves turn to the direction that provides the best local light, so they may flourish. Rivers break their banks under seasonal downpours and carve new paths. Each snowflake -- a variation of the six points -- is nonetheless unique. So, too, are your dreams. The Universal Dream patterns are bent and molded by local forces in your life. Your every dream is influenced by four broad sources of influence: Your biological heritage Your general cultural heritage Your local subculture Your personal experience As we explore Universal Dream themes, you need to be aware of all four levels that shape your variation of the universal and its features -- the motifs -- your dream theme contains. Influences on Your Dreams about being Chased or Attacked 1. Biological Nightmares about being chased or attacked by wild animals or violent people doubtless originated in primitive times when the threat of being pursued and attacked by a wild beast or an enemy was a part of daily life. The "fight or flight" response people around the world share as human beings is triggered during this Universal Dream, and we awake, shaken, with a pounding heart. For eons our ancestors fought with predatory beasts to protect themselves and their families, as well as to provide food. From an evolutionary point of view, humankind has had to compete with wild animals and hostile tribes for survival. Our intelligence and ability to communicate allowed us to develop weapons, cultivate food plants, and cooperate with the members of our society, so as to dominate our environment. Yet, the ancient memories of combat with wild animals and human adversaries are retained in our brains. The monsters, beasts, and other foes we clash with in dreams replay the age-old fight for life. We are genetically programmed to find food, to establish territories, to mate, and to reproduce. Our baffle with the beasts of the night is, in part, our reconquest of that primitive world. Most of us no longer need to fight animals or other human beings for our basic needs of food, water, and shelter, although we still compete for territories and mates. The foes and monsters that assault us in dreams are monsters of the mind -- fear, anxiety, anger, hatred, envy. These emotional monsters may be reactions to people in our environment or strange goblins In our own thoughts. The impulse to flee these foes or fight to the death is inborn. 2, 3. Cultural and Subcultura The Bogeyman Creeps into Childhood Dreams Whatever you were taught and experienced as a child is likely to persist in your dream fears. The bogeyman, or bugbear, of English tales is a monster used to frighten children into obedience. Most cultures have evolved scary figures to curb childish behavior... The Universal Dream Key The 12 Most Common Dream Themes Around the World . Copyright © by Patricia Garfield. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from The Universal Dream Key: The 12 Most Common Dream Themes Around the World by Patricia Garfield All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.