Anthropological Dream Research -or- Cultural Studies of Dreams

The International Institute for Dream Research (IIDR) has been on the web since 1996 collecting dreams from those living in the global village. After nearly 35 years of collecting dreams, doing experimental, basic and applied research of dreams, I will provide you the reader with a synoptic summary of some of the IIDR's research findings.

 The methods that I use and other findings will be presented in a future comprehensive paper about dream research as part of "Field Notes of a Dream Researcher: 1001 Nights in the Global Village". The first part "Anthropological Dream Research" below discusses the cultural aspects of dreaming on the planet. The dream provides insight into the influence of culture, providing data for culture study research.

I.   Anthropological Dream Research  -or- A People's History of Culture

The sample of reported dream data comes from around the planet, from London to New Zealand, from the rich and the poor, from the living and the dead, from blacks and whites, from children and the elderly, from the healthy and the sick. 

There are over 7 billion people living on the planet, from an anthropological perspective, an oceanic daily tide of everyday dream visions. The anthropological influences on the psychosomatic process of dream vision, is ongoing for those living on the planet. The anthropological data can be summarized as an epic tale of a "people's history" of dreaming. The IIDR dream interpretation "A People's History -or- Psychohistory of the Global Village" explains more about the ongoing transpersonal process of dreaming.

i. A People's History of Oral and Visual Culture:

The Oral Tadition: Anthropology of Speaking, Writing, Reading and Literacy

We are informed that some tens of thousands of years ago, language began when an ancestor, a primal poet began finding words for all the objects that entered consciousness. Today, on the average, children by age four have mastered the oral language of their mother tongue. The dream     provides a developmental scaffold for language acquisition. The cultural dreams of the ancient Greeks that Homer talks about in the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey", were at first handed down orally in a time before writing existed. The medium of writing changed Western culture, by providing a external written transgenerational form of cultural memory. By the time of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, he was able to record the dreams of Socrates in his dialogues. The oral tradition provides the tools for literacy. The key to all cultural literacy (1) is reading. Speaking, writing and reading changes the way we think, imagine, feel and dream.

Many of the dream interpretations posted at the IIDR website speak about orality and the oral tradition, here are a few;

Hollywood Dream Factory: Visual Culture and the Spectacle of Everyday Life

From a "visual anthropological" perspective, the visual perceptions and memories found in dreams are influenced and shaped by mass media. Visual culture is "dramaturgically"  organized. the culturally ritualized drama of everyday life is the stuff our dreams are made of. Guy Debord has called this mediated reality "The Society of the Spectacle". Hortense Powdermaker's, "Hollywood, the Dream Factory" (1950) is the only serious anthropological study that researched the influence of film. The IIDR has found the influence of film and media on dreams is pervasive, to the point that we can speak of a psychological form of cultural imperialism, perhaps even mind control. Many dreams speak about the Hollywood Dream Factory and Visual Culture, here are a few;

Further Reading:

  • E.D Hirsch, "Cultural Literacy"                                    







All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.