What do your recession dreams mean?

Marketplace Staff Aug 5, 2009

You’re falling.
You’re taking the economy to bed with you. You’re feeling vulnerable, like you’ve lost your footing in the world. “It’s a very visceral symbol,” Bulkeley says. “We usually associate doing well with rising, so falling is a very accurate, painful metaphor for feelings that people have about the financial circumstances of their waking-life.”

You’re homeless.
Welcome to the downside of the American Dream. So much negative news is centered on mortgages and home foreclosures, that homelessness is something that really digs deep into people’s psyches, Bulkeley says. He points out the term “American Dream,” has become synonymous with home ownership. And our symbol-hungry dreaming imaginations are ready to use that metaphor as soon as we fall asleep.

You’re unemployed or nervous about work.
Nothing new here. The Bible tells us “A dream comes with much business,” That seems to be especially true in the recession, says Bulkeley. But while it may be a drag to be at work even in your bed, there can be an upside. Call it creative sleeping. Every now and then, says Bulkeley, a dream will bring on a new way of looking at an issue we’re struggling with in our waking work lives.

Charles Schwab is acting strange and he’s dressed like a punk rocker.
Maybe Charles isn’t your guy. But when your dreams include public figures you don’t know personally, what you’re really dreaming about are the qualities those public figures represent. So, a dream about Charles with spiked hair and weird clothes (no disrespect, Chuck!), could reflect your feeling that our financial leaders have not behaved as we would have expected. Next time, try dreaming of Warren Buffett.

You’re unprepared for the test.
And Ben Bernanke is giving it! Sometimes our brains concoct such absurdly unrealistic dreams they seem engineered just to make us feel relief when we wake up. The “unprepared for an exam” dream is a classic. It often reflects deep-seeded fears of being unprepared in challenging situations. “Taking a test was the original experience of that, and we carry it through out our lives,” Bulkeley explains. If you have a dream that it’s up to you to fix the economy, it may be a way of reminding yourself where you stand in relation to broader forces like the Federal Reserve (which is to say nowhere). Bulkeley says that might be a good thing. “

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