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Dream worlds and the influence of language

“Tell me which language you speak and I will tell you what you are dreaming of.” Of course, I cannot leave this statement as it is, it is wrong, but there is an exciting core of truth behind it: Language has a significant influence on the dream images created by our unconscious self.

It has been observed, that English-speaking Americans often dream of bugs in connection with diseases, while Germans and Austrians seem not to. This might be because the English word “bug”, is also used for cold viruses or bacteria. For example, US Americans use the expression “To catch a bug” to express that they got a cold, while in the German language the not really pictorial expression “Ich habe mir was eingefangen” is used, which literally translates as “I caught something”. Based on this observation, it seems hardly surprising that there are more reports of bug dreams in connection with COVID-19 in the USA, but until now not in German speaking countries.

We call such dreams holophrastic linguistic dreams (HLD’s), an expression that precisely hits the thought behind them and that we owe to Ken Arenson. With Jacques Lacan, who, building on Sigmund Freud, turned away from his reference to biology and added the philosophical ideas of structuralism, we already come across theses about the influence of language on the unconscious.

Language has an influence on our inner self and that could also show in our dreams and in our dream imagery!

Exciting new studies and publications await us on this topic, and we can look forward to their further findings.