What’s your Jungian archetypal dream?

So lately the anxiety dreams I’ve been having have revolved around forgetting to wear a mask or being the only masked person around lots of unmasked people.  I assume this was not part of Jung’s collective unconscious categorization, and perhaps evidence (since I know I’m not the only person who has had this dream) that maybe folks having similar dreams isn’t that mystical.

But there are a lot of random bizarre dreams that people share.

My biggest one is where my teeth fall out.  Before the internet, I thought this was just a me thing.  But now I know I am not alone.  (See also:  a support page for people who hiccup when they eat carrots, which I also thought was just a weird me thing, though sadly it is no longer up.)

Another common anxiety dream is public nudity.  For me I always discover I’m in a trench coat or bathrobe with nothing underneath and I somehow have to make it back to safety without anyone realizing.

I don’t have the flying dream, though when I was a child I did– I used to jump off a piece of playground equipment and just fly and it would be like swimming.  As an adult I guess I’m just too heavy even in my dream world.

#2 put peeing here as one of hers.  Apparently it is a thing even though it’s not my thing and is thought to have something to do with physiological needs.

#2 also notes nightmares about teaching where she shows up and she’s not prepared or she has forgotten to bring the exam on exam day or she’s been signed up to teach a class but doesn’t figure it out until the last day.  Fortunately those seem to have stopped or at least slowed down since leaving academia.  Not sure if Jung had that on his list, but the reverse as a student is super common.

I know several people, including both of us, who have had a recurring nightmare that the phd was a mistake and we have to go back and redo graduate school.  Mine is even worse– I have to redo high school(!) in order to get my PhD back.

Those are our recurring dreams that we share with some subset of the human race (I notice now that with the exception of flying, and maybe peeing, they’re pretty much all anxiety dreams!)  What are yours?  Tell me I’m not alone in the teeth one.

49 Responses to “What’s your Jungian archetypal dream?”

  1. Leah Says:

    You are not alone. My teeth dreams started somewhat recently (maybe around the time of my first root canal?). I literally dream about my teeth crumbling. I’ll reach in my mouth and pull out slivers and chunks of teeth. It’s really disturbing.

  2. Chelsea Says:

    So many! Teeth falling out (for me it’s all of my teeth like a set of dentures), not wearing a mask in public, finding extra rooms in my house, being able to breathe underwater, having to go back to college and live in the dorms (but how am I going to take care of my children?), trying to find something, remembering that DH and I have accidentally bought an extra house and now we have to sell it, my DH not loving me (maybe we are divorced or I’m trying to get him to date me). I feel like 99% of my dreams are anxiety-driven and disturbing now.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      extra rooms in your house sounds like it could be fun or crreepy…

      I’ve had the dorms one before but it’s always been when we were in graduate school and resident advisors for undergrads. I didn’t know that was a thing!

      The extra house one is interesting… I hope I don’t start having it. : /

    • First Gen American Says:

      I also have a recurring secret extra rooms dream, and teeth falling out.

      I only have work nightmares when I am working too many hours or it’s a really stressful time (I had 3 work dreams last week…not good)

  3. Stacie Says:

    As a kid I would pee the bed during pee dreams. I always thought it was so unfair that I got in trouble for peeing the bed because I had a very clear dream being on the toilet. I was doing the right thing in my dream!

    I’ve also had the dream about my teeth turning to mush and falling out. I Googled it and it’s said to be related to feeling like you said something you maybe regret or aren’t sure about. In my case it was totally true! I had talked with a very toxic student and was too vulnerable with her. The dream was disturbing and stayed with me for months!

  4. CG Says:

    Ugh, the dream about having to teach a class (usually a math-related one) that I’m not prepared for. Also long, involved dreams about getting ready for some party/event/trip where there are elaborate preparations and tons of people involved and lots of things go wrong. I wake up exhausted from those dreams. And they’re so boring! I am happy to say I’ve never had a dream about teeth. That sounds horrifying.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Speaking of boring, I used to dream of washing dishes and then I’d wake up and there would still be dishes to wash. The *worst*. Thankfully now that I’m a grownup we have an actual dishwasher and it has been decades since I’ve had that dream.

  5. Nanani Says:

    I’ve heard of the teeth one but never had it.
    I do get pee dreams – mine involve searching for a bathroom and either not finding any or finding unusable ones (occupied, comically too small or large, etc) and I wake up needing the bathroom.
    Possibly related, I sometimes dream about a warm weight pushing me down and wake up under a cat.

    I sometimes get very on-the-nose dreams about getting lost in a place, like getting lost in an airport the night before a flight.
    Or getting lost in a mega-structure that combines schools I used to go to, places I used to live, malls and so on.

  6. Alice Says:

    I’ve had the teeth one maybe twice and wouldn’t have noticed it particularly if it weren’t for the fact that I was an English major and learned about dream interpretation at different points in history from a literary angle. Dream things weren’t a big academic focus, but of course, they were an element.

    I periodically– even now, years out of college– dream that I signed up for a class and somehow forgot about it until about a week before the final or the actual day of the final. In those dreams, I’m generally frantically trying to catch up on everything or taking a test I’m fully unprepared for. And feeling foolish, for having made such a mistake.

    My pandemic-related dreams mostly involve suddenly discovering that I’m in an environment in which nobody is masked, myself included. In those dreams, I don’t understand how I came to be there without a mask and am trying to get out and get a mask. Thinking about it now, I guess it’s the pandemic version of an unprepared for an unexpected final exam dream.

    My more usual dreams feature post-apocalyptic situations, and weird though it sounds, I mostly like them. Not a dream type I’ve ever read about and no relation to real life, but the plots are interesting, provided they don’t get menacing to the point at which I can’t handle the situation.

  7. Jessica Says:

    I’ve never had many recurring and/or stereotypical dreams. The only recurring dream I’ve ever had was when I had a broken leg – I kept having dreams that I was somewhere out in the world with my broken leg and needed to walk/drive to get home, which generally ended with me waking up right as I crashed because I couldn’t brake hard enough. Thankfully I haven’t had any more of those now that I can walk again, they were very unpleasant.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That sounds awful.

      I have a driving one where I’m in the passenger side and have to somehow drive a moving car because the driver is incapacitated or suddenly not there.

  8. RH Says:

    The dreams that stay with me the most when I wake up are either 1) pee-related, like desperately searching for a bathroom but only finding one with no walls/doors and crowds of people around or 2) something requiring urgent action happens and I need to use my phone asap (to call someone or 911; look up directions to airport because flight is right now!, etc) but I can’t make the phone work properly.

    • Nanani Says:

      Oh! I used to have phone dreams, before I had my own cell. I would need to use the wall phone and there was hold music that I couldn’t turn off preventing me from making the call.
      Haven’t had anything like that since I got my own phone.

  9. Debbie M Says:

    Most of my recurring dreams involve me being chased by monsters. In one version I watch one coming to me through a window, and wake up right before it gets me. Except for that one time with the Chips Ahoy (?) beach ball guy came right up to our car, which was in the middle of the desert and opened the door and then someone (probably my brother) closed the door on him fast and he popped.

    In the other version, I’m running from one, usually up stairs, jumping from one staircase to another, and the staircases get farther and farther apart. But once I jumped down an entire flight of stairs in one jump, and that was pretty cool.

    One time, I did see a relation to reality. These dark green buildings were rising in the distance–kind of magically building themselves–and that was the first sign that aliens had arrived. That green was the exact same color as the mildew we’d scraped off the outdoor showers at summer camp before opening day! I really don’t think I was afraid of that mildew taking over the world or anything, though.

    I have the one where I’ve waited way too long to do something important. My science project is due in sixth period today and I haven’t started it (in that one I skipped all my classes and barely finished a super crappy project on an interesting topic–when I woke up I still had plenty of time, but I could not figure out what topic I had chosen, so I still had to do all the work). Or I forgot to drop a class and the final is today. The tooth-falling-out dreams feel sort of like this: I’d been planning to brush my teeth, but I waited too long.

    But I also have one that’s a funhouse. Often I approach it by crawling through a sandy cave, which sometimes also involves floating down a river, to get to the good part of the woods, beach, or whatever. It’s like a playground, but the best one ever. My best friend from high school is often there, or I’m bringing someone new with me to show them. Sometimes it involves secret passageways and doorways and stairwells in mansions. It’s always familiar in the dream; I’ve always been there before. When I wake up, I realize it’s no place I’ve actually been. I haven’t had this one in a while, but I really like it except for it not existing in real life.

  10. bethh Says:

    I am just now realizing that I have a version of the naked-in-public dream – I occasionally dream I’m in a very very short tshirt and out in public. Huh!

    I also dream I can’t find/can’t open my locker, which is a variation on not going to the class, I guess.

    My most typical stress dream in recent years is around travel – either I’m at the airport/can’t find/figure out the gate, or I’m on a trip that really happened in real life, and I’m not packed yet but everyone is leaving for the day’s journey without me.

    I don’t think I’ve had the teeth dream, and it’s a good thing – in December in real life I tripped and fell, at speed, as if making a dive for home plate. It’s a fricking miracle I didn’t break my teeth, I full expected to, and just IMAGINE what my dreams would be like now if I had!

  11. xykademiqz Says:

    I have super action-packed dreams. Lots of vehicles and explosions and often a lot of water (bodies of water). I really need to write them down and sell screenplays.

    One recurring theme is regret. Like I sell my house (which I love IRL) and buy a new one, then spend the whole dream trying to convince myself it was a good idea, but really being heartbroken over the stupid choice and wanting desperately to go back and undo it.

    I also often search for things, like my car was stolen (which it never was) in weird places that are amalgams of the many places I lived and visited, and — you guessed it! — I spend the whole dream searching for it, often against various obstacles.

  12. kt Says:

    Not recurring, but recently I had a very vivid dream that I was meeting up with my PhD advisor and another academic mathematician (I got my PhD ten years ago and have since gone to industry) and I was trying to reconnect, and I asked my advisor what advice he’d have to give me, and just as he was going to tell me, he started vomiting all over. I was like whoa… that’s not good. And then it turned out he’d been drinking vodka non-stop before dinner so maybe that was the problem.

    Can anyone interpret this for me?

  13. mnitabach Says:

    Lolz mine is I show up to take law school exam but I’m not wearing pants, my pen won’t write, and I forgot to even attend the class all semester. Then I start trying to explain that it doesn’t matter bcs I already graduated law school & I’m just taking this class for fun & the “authorities” just laugh maniacally at me & tell me it does matter & I have to pass the exam.

  14. Bee Says:

    I have a less dramatic version of the teeth-falling-out dream– I realize one of my teeth is loose, and have to be really careful not to have it fall out.
    I don’t remember having unprepared-for-test dreams when I was in school, but I’ve had unpreparedness dreams of all sorts in the last few years, after I graduated. Sometimes I’m back in school and don’t have the homework or didn’t put together a presentation, other times I’m supposed to give a speech or be in a play or dance show and I didn’t rehearse– it’s never about something I have to do in real life.

  15. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    I used to have a recurring dream where I was a child and the house was on fire. Mostly now I have boring anxiety dreams where I needed to do something and didn’t. Once before the first day of class I dreamed that nobody showed up for the first day of class!

  16. pyrope Says:

    I have never had my teeth fall out in a dream, but I do have a recurring dream where I’m chewing gum and it gets all stuck in my teeth and I’m trying to pull it out. I don’t think that every happened to me IRL, but I hate gum because of that dream!

  17. teresa Says:

    I used to have a version of the school dream where grade-skipping invalidated all my later education and I had to go all the way back to middle school to make up the missed year. Now it is usually around being supposed to graduate undergrad and realizing I can’t graduate and go on to med school because of some version of the class-never-attended or papers never written, and then worrying about having to explain to my parents why I’m not graduating. Sometimes instead I’m back in medical school or residency and have failed to match to residency or fellowship or otherwise have some disaster.

    I also have a recurring dream where I can’t open my eyes or force them open and they close again, often when I’m supposed to be driving or going somewhere, and another where I am in a race or supposed to get somewhere but can’t stand on my feet- only walk on my knees or crawl.

    My version of the pee dream is searching everywhere for a bathroom, finally peeing, and immediately having to pee again and having to search for another bathroom, over and over. Usually I wake up and actually have to pee.

  18. socal dendrite Says:

    When I’m stressed I tend to dream that I am having awful, horrible arguments with my family (usually my mother or sister). I’ve never told them, because it’s hardly their fault!

  19. First Gen American Says:

    The other recurring dream I have is someone trying to kill me but instead of running, I actively fight back and am not scared. The dream almost always involves me making a makeshift weapon out of household objects. I distinctly remember one where someone was trying to kill me with a bow and arrow and I lifted up a kitchen chair to use it as a shield. I always wake up before either party is killed.

  20. Matthew D Healy Says:

    One of my recurring dreams is I go back to where I did my Undergrad for another BS degree. The really odd part is, in the dream I have a PhD just as I do in real life and all the faculty know that so they (1) think I’m crazy to want another BS and (2) address me as DOCTOR Healy with heavy emphasis on the DOCTOR part.

    Of course I have no plans to get another BS. Would it even be allowed if I tried?

    • Matthew D Healy Says:

      I also have a recurring dream where I am running away from something terrifying but my feet will only move very slowly.

  21. Meiko Says:

    Most of my recurring dreams revolve around getting lost and not being able to find the place I’m supposed to go to, usually while being extremely late to some event. In real life I have an extremely bad sense of direction but I’m quite organized so I am almost never late.


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