Dreams Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other staff.


I keep having a dream over the years in variations that always puzzles me. I can't find a place to urinate. I'm often in an old tree house above the family garage, and usually end up looking all around and urinating in the garage. Sometimes there is a hole in the floor, but other times I just let go on the gardening tools and bench there. I've also had these dreams where I wander around other buildings looking for a place to urinate. Got any ideas on this?


Looking for a place to go is as frustrating in dreams as it sometimes is in life. However, in waking life we usually don't look for deeper meanings. Although this dream has its own uniqueness and deep mystery that only the dreamer can give meaning to, there are some common and mythic themes I can comment on.

Often when we have to urinate in a dream, we really do have to urinate! But other times we have to urinate during sleep and don't dream about it at all. So a second set of answers may be necessary. I think urination in dreams reveals a part of the way the dreaming mind works in general as well. When the urge comes into the dreaming mind, the mind deals with this request like all others, it begins to play with it, to match it to earlier experiences that are similar and to unfold the metaphorical aspects of the urge.

On the symbolic level, we can look at the dream images of urination and deification in terms of getting rid of something that is causing us pressure. And the thing we need to give up may not be social sanctioned in all quarters. The famous dream worker Jeremy Taylor says that when he has dreams of urination, he goes somewhere private and writes down on a piece of paper all the things he really wants to do, being completely honest with himself and then burns the paper. This way we can allow expression of the most noxious of our desires without making ourselves too vulnerable.

Exploration of the way we feel in these trapped situations brings out many of the issues where we have poor options about the where and how of the situation, but no choice about the thing itself. It must happen, it is going to flow -- and yet there is no good place for this to happen. The dream image gives us the ability to visualize this kind of situation and to allow us to explore various ways of moving with this tension that will, inevitable find expression in other forms in the world. The key here, I feel, is not in finding a good place to urinate, but in learning ways of being in the predicament itself. This is what Jung calls a real symbol as opposed to a simple sign. A real symbol has the ability to hold the tension long enough for a whole new paradigm of consciousness to emerge.

It might be useful to notice *where* this play unfolds. Is it at work, at one's childhood home, the store, an unknown territory? As we become comfortable working with one area, new ideas and hope spring from this empowerment and can create a fountain of -- well, ideas.


Richard Wilkerson is general editor for The Internet Dream E-zine, Electric Dreams, and director of DreamGate, the Internet Communications and Dream Education Center. He writes the Cyberphile column for the Association for the Study of Dreams Newsletter.


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