Why is everyone having weird dreams about Jeremy Corbyn?

People keep dreaming about Jeremy Corbyn. What is going on in the nation's unconscious?

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Everyone's voting for Jeremy Corbyn. And when they're not voting for him, they're dreaming about him. He is the socialist hero of the nation's unconscious. He's literally starting a revolution from our beds. But how come? And what are our slumbering brains trying to tell us?

About a month ago, Chris Brooke, a lecturer in political theory at Cambridge, noticed a number of his friends and online contacts relaying their dreams about Jeremy Corbyn. He was surprised when two such messages popped up on his Twitter timeline on the same day, both written by people he knew.

"It was at the end of July, when the Welfare Bill vote happened," he recalls. "That was a turning point of the Labour leadership race. There was a palpable shift in the way people thought about Corbyn's campaign – that's when I noticed a couple of friends had had Corbyn dreams."

Out of curiosity, Brooke sent a tweet asking if anyone else had dreamt about Jeremy Corbyn, "and then each day, I searched for 'dream', 'dreamt', and 'dreamed', with Jeremy Corbyn's name, and the other candidates.

"There are a lot more Jeremy Corbyn dreams – I had been searching for each of the candidates, but you don't get very much for the others. A few women were recounting straightforward sex dreams about Andy Burnham, but hardly anyone dreams about Yvette Cooper. There was a lot of coverage about her, but no dreams. Some had Liz Kendall dreams, but most of the time they were disturbed about having them.

"I was mildly curious and find it interesting, but also very, very funny, which is why I do it. People being vaguely horrified by their subconscious," he laughs. "It's no surprise that it's mainly a Corbyn thing – people do use the language of hopes and dreams about him."

The flood of dreams Brooke ended up discovering and retweeting have acquired a bit of a cult following online. So much so that BuzzFeed recently illustrated some of the weirdest ones.

Read Brooke's report of his Twitter investigation into our Jeremy Corbyn dreams here:

 

Surely we are dreaming more about Corbyn because he's received the most coverage? He's just on our minds more so than the other candidates. After all, when he voted against the Welfare Bill at the end of July (around the time Brooke began noticing our Corbyn dreams), there was a spike in interest in the candidate who was once a rank outsider.

But apparently our unconscious obsession with the socialist candidate goes beyond hearing about him in the news. Ian Wallace, a psychologist who specialises in dreams, and author of The Top 100 Dreams and The Complete A to Z Dictionary of Dreams, claims that there is a phenomenon where we dream more about high-profile figures on the brink of power.

"Very often when there is a leader to be elected, or some public figure has access to power, then people will create dreams about them," he says. "I remember this from 1997 when Tony Blair was coming into power and a lot of my clients were dreaming about Tony Blair.

"There were a huge amount of dreams in the US and some in the UK in 2008  the so-called Obama Dreams  when people were dreaming a lot about Obama. In 2010, when Julian Assange was leaking secrets and revealing things that he maybe shouldn't have revealed, then a lot of people were having Julian Assange dreams. So it's quite common for people to be having Jeremy Corbyn dreams."

Why?

"We create our dreams, they don't happen to us – there's a misconception that people just lie there in their beds, like psychic receivers, which is complete and utter nonsense . . . all the characters you create in your dreams reflect aspects of your own self that you may have the opportunity to express in waking life," he tells me.

Therefore we end up dreaming about people who signify our potential in real life to also achieve something.

"A public figure like Tony Blair, or particularly Obama – who was all about change and transformation and having the power and ability to express themselves and articulate that change – really resonated with the unconscious selves of thousands and thousands of people who realised that they had the power within them to change and transform their lives somehow . . . We just use these people in our dreams as a way of symbolising qualities that we find hard to articulate."

OK, fine. But what do people's dreams tell us about how they're feeling about the potential next Labour leader? Wallace does some on-the-spot analysis of some of your weirdest Corbyn dreams below:
 

The interpretation:

"This sounds like quite an authentic dream. Anything to do with watching cartoons is watching a story that is quite superficial, and it's quite black and white. So cartoons are kind of like modern fairytales, they're very, very simple morality tales that are black and white – they're just good and evil, and that's it. So the dreamer is concerned that this is too much of a fairytale that Jeremy Corbyn looks like he's approaching power. He may well gain the leadership of the Labour party, a powerful party.

"Having a dream about a cardiac arrest is very, very common, and it's nothing to do with having some illness, or having some problem with your heart. What your heart symbolises is your courage, and your ability to do things wholeheartedly. So this person is worrying that in this apparently simple story of the leadership that Jeremy Corbyn will somehow lose heart and lose his courage, and again, drift away from his principles."

The interpretation:

"I seem to remember one of my granddads saying parsnips take a long time to grow and this is the best time to harvest them or pick them because they get a frost on them or something, so there's something there, this sense of fulfilment or success has been a long time coming, but it'll be worth it for that."

The interpretation:

"Corbyn and Kanye. It's quite a catchy duo, isn't it? This one is far more about the dreamer rather than anxieties about Jeremy Corbyn selling out somehow. This one's about the dreamer stepping into their own power, stepping into the spotlight and being really, really widely regarded. It's interesting as well, because one of the things that comes up again and again in dreams and their language, as well as idioms and metaphors and turns of phrase, are just actual phrases. So when the dreamer's thinking about 2020, there's probably something here about 20/20 vision – the dreamer's getting a really clear idea, a clear vision of what they want to do."

The interpretation:

"Nigel Farage seems to be the polar opposite of Jeremy Corbyn. But one of the challenges that Nigel has had is that he became more of a celebrity, or a fun figure than a dignified party leader. He became inconsequential, superficial. And there may be a concern by the reader that Jeremy Corbyn will just go the same way. He will become a stereotype, or a cardboard cut-out of a leader, rather than anyone who's going to make positive change."

The interpretation:

"There's a concern here that although Jeremy might get to power as the Labour leader, then it will be a divided party. He will try and control the party, rather than work through it with the normal process and a political consensus. Because it's whips and paddles, I don't know whether there's a Fifty Shades of Grey thing coming into this! It might be quite a painful process. So there's concern here wondering how strict Jeremy will be with the rest of his party and how united the party will be behind him as a leader."

The interpretation:

"This is a very common dream, dreaming about a grandparent. And usually what a grandfather represents is an acquired and accumulated wisdom and experience. So in waking life, that person will be drawn towards wisdom, but they're also having an opportunity in waking life to show their own wisdom. And maybe they've been behaving a little bit immaturely in some ways, or something like that. But they have the opportunity to behave more maturely."

The interpretation:

"The 26th most common dream is a celebrity encounter. And there's a concern here from the dreamer that Jeremy Corbyn will just turn out to be a career politician, rather than someone who's going to make a change. So he'll get in the public eye, and all of a sudden he'll sell his bicycle and buy a BMW, and he'll start eating meat again and shave off his beard, and just become another New Labourite or something like that.

"It's interesting that any dream involving food is to do with fulfilment. So the way that I work with dreams is to work with the language and the imagery. So we have all these idioms, like having an appetite for fulfilment, or being hungry for success, and those kind of things. So there's something where the dreamer is perceiving that there will be some sense of fresh fulfilment, that they'll be able to fulfil themselves in a really healthy and positive way. If Jeremy Corbyn manages to step in the public eye without drifting away from all his principles."

The interpretation:

"There are lot of rituals around food. And if you share a piece of cutlery with someone, it suggests a degree of intimacy. So they feel that the dreamer and Jeremy Corbyn are in it together, they're doing this together. But what will actually happen is it will be a very shortlived sense of fulfilment. It will be like a sugar rush. It's just quite a small fulfilment, that their share, or the size of the portion of the vote they will get will be quite small – so it's quite exciting. It's quite attractive to start off with, but then once that has been consumed, it will turn out to not be that satisfying."

The interpretation:

"He will have a change of heart, his courage will be transformed in some way. So he'll have that change of heart and who people are voting for is not who they'll actually get."

The interpretation:

"The most common symbol, rather than the most common dream, is the house – a dwelling. So that person is thinking they might find a new identity when Jeremy Corbyn comes into power. They said socialist utopia – don't know if he was being slightly ironic when he said that – but it's that feeling people will feel they have a new identity when he comes into power."

The interpretation:

"It's going back to that same theme, this concern that the dreamer has about Jeremy Corbyn, is that he goes into the public eye, he gets involved, and there's this public drama, and then when he does, somehow he either loses his Labour socialist principles, or becomes perhaps a bit more dictatorial or self-centred.

"The 18th most common dream is when you're giving a performance and things start to go wrong in that performance – you've forgotten your lines, or you speak in someone else's voice, or there's some technical problem that you can't hear yourself, or something's gone awry in the production.

"It happens a lot with people who actually do perform, so a number of my clients in the public eye, when they step out in front of a camera or onto a stage, a common dream that they have is that they've completely forgotten their lines, or when they do speak, it's in someone else's voice, and they can't seem to get their own voice back."

The interpretation:

"HAHAHA. Yes. Not entirely sure if that is a real dream, or just an aspiration of the dreamer. Very often people make up a daft sounding dream, I sometimes get this on the radio, when people will phone in with a dream, and they think they're making up a dream just to have a laugh, or to try and trip me up in some way, but very often that daft dream will have a lot of unconscious truth in it.

"Any time you dream about a penis if you're a man or a woman, is about being able to stand up for yourself, and doing that very strongly and consistently, and over a period of time, and all the other things you'd associate with that sort of image. So when the person creates that dream, and even if they're just making it up for a laugh, there's something where they feel they need to have more power themselves, and do that more consistently, and stand up for themselves. And perhaps they're not doing that in waking life and just allowing other people to walk all over them."

The interpretation:

"Falling to your death – anything to do with death is a transformation, and falling is a letting go of control, so there's a feeling that this person has no control over, and a kitten – well, a cat symbolises freedom, independence, and being really comfortable in your own freedom, so a kitten is a developing sense of freedom, and the blueness suggests something to do with the Conservative party. So the person is concerned that there will be, if Jeremy Corbyn gets into power, that will perhaps weaken Labour somehow, it will allow Conservatives to develop even more freely."

The interpretation:

"The second most common dream people have all around the world is that their teeth fall out at some point. Anything to do with teeth is about power and confidence. We tend to show our teeth on two main occasions in waking life – one is when we're smiling, we're happy and confident, and the other one is when we're snarling and asserting ourselves, and just showing our power and confidence.

"Anything to do with a vehicle is to do with personal drive and ambition in waking life. So again just working with the language, if you're being driven around in a taxi, someone else is in the driving seat, someone else is in charge of where you're going, even if you've told them where your destination is, they're taking you by that particular route that they choose to. So someone's anxious here that when they do vote for Corbyn, where he actually will take them might not be where they want to go. And he'll have no real power to get to where they want to go anyway – so that's the concern there, that Jeremy will have no real power when he gets into powerful office."

The interpretation:

"This is really fascinating – Jeremy's trying to attract goodwill and good opinion by telling jokes and just trying to be one of the lads and getting people on his side, just by having a bit of a laugh, and the dreamer's thinking 'yep, he'll just be like all of the other ones', a man of principle who just goes adrift somehow."

***

After this valiant effort, Wallace concludes: "With these Jeremy Corbyn dreams, the main concern is that he will go back on his principles somehow . . . if he had some way of actually saying he was going to stick to his principles, and not something like Miliband's Moses tablet, but something that would resonate far more with people who are electing him, and with the voters. That would be very good for the dreamers."

 

Here are some others:


And some people are still thinking about the other three candidates, at least unconsciously...

Anoosh Chakelian is the New Statesman’s Britain editor.