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House Calls to the Inside of Your Head

Sunday, November 04, 2012 - 10:00 PM

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama during their first debate. (Alex Johnson/WGBH)

It's hotly debated if there's a function for dreaming. Are dreams a space to try out unexpected solutions to problems? Are they a chance to practice fight or flight responses? Do they have no function at all?

Maybe our waking brains just make quick sense -- plot lines and meanings -- out of lingering images from what was essentially just a night of meaningless brain hiccups.

Whatever the case may be, one thing that seems undisputed is that events, people, and activities around which there is a great amount of stress are more likely to appear in dreams. Harvard prof Robert Stickgold found (as he explained in the Radiolab segment on Dreams) that when he made his students play a stressful video game about alpine skiing, he could supplant the image of skiing into 40% (40%!) of the students' dreams that night. 

Which made me think about a potentially very stressful event looming on our collective horizon. The election!

And I suddenly wondered: will Romney and Obama be making house calls to a vast number of people's heads tonight?

I have no idea if millions of voters will dream about the candidates, but I'm curious to do an informal poll. Let us know if you happen to have (or have had recently) a presidential dream. If you're willing to share who you're voting for, it would be interesting to know how your choice affects your slumber -- is it the opposing candidate, or the one you feel better about, that makes an appearance in your dreamscape? And what is the candidate doing? Wearing water wings? Chasing you down the hall? Spooning you on your therapist's couch?

Maybe something you share will lead to some sort of insight on the function of dreams or the possibility of dream interpretation as election predictor. I don't know. Who knows. Let us know. And sleep safe.


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Comments [28]

Joel Maida

Before the debates started I had a dream where Romney and Obama were sitting next to each other laughing together as genuine friends in the back of Obama's car. I feel I had this dream after realizing some of their similarities, and especially after finding out that their campaign sponsors were almost identical.

Dec. 22 2012 06:35 PM
Rachel from greater NYC area

The last weekend of August I dreamt that I found Mitt Romney's laptop and discovered the password to his secret campaign files. Wouldn't you want to know too? Of course I can't remember the password now!

Nov. 30 2012 11:17 AM
Alli from Seattle

I ended up watching the last debate on a 25 ft. screen with surround sound at a venue in Austin, TX. Since they had a bar I ended up drinking a bit throughout the debate. The combination of alcohol and seeing Mitt's face at a terrifying size resulted in me having nightmares about Mitt Romney that night. He kidnapped me and I couldn't scream for help because I was losing my voice. He couldn't keep me at his home so he took me to a hotel, where I managed to escape. I ran around the hotel looking for help and either no one believed me or they were busy doing something. To make a long detailed dream a bit shorter, eventually some cops came but were dressed as zombies and then there was a weird Shutter Island twist at the end of my dream. It was terrifying.

Nov. 22 2012 04:07 AM
Radiolab from NYC

Guys! Such great comments. We wish we had a dream like @Haley from Dallas, where we become interim president. And @Amanda, we're totally intrigued by the fact that your dream is repetitive... once every four years -- do the candidates change? that's crazy!

Nov. 20 2012 11:28 AM
Danimal from Oregon

I had two different dreams, on two different night, a week or so before the election. One, Romney was at a gathering or fundraiser and he was wearing a really tacky red, white, and blue suit. He and Ann were trying to connect with people though they were really dismissive of him and making fun of his suit. I tried to engage him in small talk though he seemed distracted and upset. The second dream is a bit vague, though Romney looked me in the eyes and he had a really sincere look on his face. His eyes began to water and I felt an immense compassion and love coming from him. Huh. I still voted for Obama :)

Nov. 20 2012 01:35 AM

I'm an English language assistant on French speaking island in the Caribbean. I've never had to be so up on politics as when living among foreigners. They expect me to be a font of political knowledge at all times. The night after the election I had a dream that I met President Obama in a crowd of French speakers and I was super excited and congratulatory, but I could barely talk to him because all the French speakers kept yelling for me to translate.

Nov. 15 2012 04:51 PM
Ted from Ohio

First of all I'm a long time Democrat and voted once again for President Obama.

A few days after the election I had this dream, very vivid and felt quite real, I was in my own house and there were several people there, like it might be a Christmas, Mitt Romney was there swearing, yelling and throwing things and drinking lots of Tequila, he kept yelling at me about hating this bleeping Patron and why don't I have anything better. I do not recall who any of the other people were. I don't recall him saying anything negative about the President, just really angry and quite drunk.

go figure.

Nov. 15 2012 09:39 AM

For those who have not forgotten the "Fact of the Matter" this again gets at the heart of the issue of Yellow Rain, and what was wrong with the podcast from a third party perspective.

Radiolab has so much to answer for.

Nov. 13 2012 07:32 PM
lynette from Chicago

I had a dream two nights before the election where I was at a polling booth about to vote. The ballot looked like a glossy magazine, and Obama's photo was all over it, on every page. In fact, there wasn't a single mention of Romney, or any republican, anywhere. The only options of candidates for lower offices were democrats, and according to the ballot the only person running for the presidency was Obama.

Nov. 12 2012 04:36 PM
Amanda from Smithville, TN

I had a dream that I was watching the presidential debate, Obama vs. Romney, but Mitt Romney looked like Nixon. They were debating in rolling chairs, and stopped taking the debate seriously and started getting silly in rolling chairs. Romney/Nixon started answering "Yeeeeeessss...Yes yes yes yeeesss..." while spinning around in his chair, then rolled off the trellised stage. Obama showed off by surfing on his rolling chair and fell off, knocking over a whole bunch of rolling chairs that were for some reason made of wood? Woke up smiling :)

Nov. 11 2012 02:18 PM
Roxanne from Portland, OR

I had a dream that I was out walking in autumn and I pass Obama and he just holds his arms out to me, like for a hug. We hug and smile and he asks if I want to play catch. We get our baseball gloves and toss the ball, talking about his family and my family and nature. It was really peaceful.

Nov. 09 2012 11:46 AM

I had a dream a few weeks ago that I was at a country club and waiting on Mitt Romney when I just started yelling at him about his horrible policy ideas and lies. Then all of a sudden he broke down crying saying "I know; I know." It was awesome.

Nov. 08 2012 01:51 PM
Brice Stone from Ma.

I had a dream of a human sized roasted chicken that had the head of Colonel Sanders (Kentucky Fried Chicken). In little black buckle colonel shoes, and with angry pursed lips, he was in chase swinging a meat cleaver. He was chasing after Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, who was sweating, and trying to run fast from the angry colonel. The senator was wearing only a diaper.

Nov. 08 2012 12:37 PM
Nikki from Austin,TX

I recently got an Iphone, and have become addicted to the game "Stupid Zombies". So much so, that my dog is mad at me. So in this game, you are stationary, and you have to ricochet bullets off of surfaces to kill the stupid zombies. In this dream, instead of stupid zombies, it was a giant floating Mitt Romney head.....and my goal was to shoot it. This is the dream I had election night. I decided I could not stay awake for the emotional roller coaster, so I went to bed early instead....that was my dream, waking me up at 3am

Nov. 08 2012 11:29 AM

The night of the election (I'm an American living in China, so our night was election day), I dreamed that Romney won, but during his inaugural address, it was revealed that he was an evil robot who ate children for fuel. He also outlawed kittens.

Nov. 07 2012 11:39 PM
Pete from Minneapolis

I don't ever dream. Or, very rarely recall my dreams, anyway. Last night was different.

I woke up today feeling uncharacteristically calm, relaxed, and happy. I had a dream that I had gone to see a friend in NYC, but had gotten lost before we met up (never been there), and ended up meeting lots of other great new people and had an unexpectedly fulfilling, beautiful time. I particularly remember feeling deeply warm and accepted (by total strangers).

When I woke up and recalled all of this, it occurred to me that I had had a local news affiliate on all night, reporting election results. I had fallen asleep in front of the TV pretty early and didn't know anything about how the election turned out. I watched for a few minutes in a morning haze, and was... well, shocked merely begins to describe it, to find out that Minnesota, the place I love for better or worse, till death do us part, was the first in the nation to reject a constitutional amendment to define marriage as one man + one woman. As a gay man, I've never felt more at home.

Not exactly what you were looking for, I know, but I couldn't resist. Dreams are amazing.

Nov. 07 2012 10:32 PM
Jacob from Japan

My wife and I had a similar dream on the same night that Barack had been re-elected. This was the weekend before the election. I voted absentee to re-elect the president, my wife isn't a U.S. citizen.

Nov. 07 2012 08:24 PM

(Like the economy. Heh.)

Nov. 07 2012 06:25 PM

About a week before the election I dreamt that Romney won, and that somehow it was my fault. Neither candidate made any actual appearances in the dream; I simply heard it by word of mouth from my family. It was very brief, without any particular resonant sounds or images, only ideas and feelings. It wasn't a nightmare per se; I didn't feel terrified like I was running from a monster or anything like that, but I definitely woke up feeling a little... depressed.

Nov. 07 2012 06:23 PM
Erika from Ames, IA

The night before Obama had a campaign rally at Iowa State University, which I planned on attending the next day, dreamed that I was walking to campus and a limo drove up. Obama rolled down the window and asked me how to get to campus. I gave him directions and he thanked me for being very helpful.

Nov. 07 2012 03:16 PM
Haley from Dallas, TX

Last night I dreamt that there was a big uprising after the election so I was elected interim president. I was really excited that I was getting experiencing so much success and then as soon as I started getting really nervous that I had no idea how to run a country (even if just for the interim) I woke up.

Nov. 07 2012 12:59 PM
Stephanie from Colorado

I dreamed that I was back in graduate school and in charge of a campaign stop for Paul Ryan. I was setting out refreshments in the auditorium and we had pizza and broccoli. Everyone said that Paul Ryan love broccoli so it was important that we had lots of it. Then it was almost time for the event to start and there were only 4 people there. It was five minutes till start time and I didn't want to lose my good seat, but I had to go to the bathroom. I kept telling myself, more people would show up in the next five minutes. Then I woke up. At the time I was kind of undecided, but reading lots about both candidates. I still don't have strong positive or negative feelings toward either candidate.

Nov. 06 2012 06:15 PM
Jackie from DC

Yes, in and a somewhat an unfortunate/ strange way. I dreamt I was having a a mild affair (ala a high school going to movies/lots of driving around /hand holding kind of affair) with one of the candidates. My employer saw this and I was summarily judged for my political party affiliation. My response was that the affair was actually an attempt to derail the election. It was, however, a beautifully shot dream (i.e. great camera angles). To note, the candidate also looked like Ryan Gosling, and I had just seen "Drive" the evening prior.

Nov. 06 2012 12:26 PM

Every year I dream I accidentally vote for the wrong candidate. Last night, I had the same dream as always. I think it stems from my fear of hyper-sensitive touch screens. In the dream I always think I've hit the right candidate's box, but I accidentally got too close to the other candidate's box and that one got picked instead. And I never realize my mistake until it's too late! It does serve to make me extra-careful at the polls!

Nov. 06 2012 09:58 AM
Aja from in your bushes

Interesting. This kinda happened to me today when I was taking an afternoon nap after a rather busy morning. I was in a bar having a drink with both Obama and Romney. Barack was sitting near me writing something on a napkin while Mitt was trying to steal a couple of peanuts from the other tables.

Nov. 06 2012 03:45 AM
Stephanie from Oahu

I am a supporter of President Obama but two nights ago I dreamt that Gov. Romney won the election. In the dream he was standing at a podium at a town hall meeting, or some kind of public forum, and he'd made the decision to sign into law a bill that I supported. I openly supported his decision and even defended him to other democrats. I don't remember specifics about the bill, but I remember feeling, at the moment in the dream when I realized that we had some idealogical beliefs in common, at peace with him being our President. So much has been made of this election and so many people think in extremes: "Either my candidate wins or it's all over." I myself had forgotten that there have been some conservative causes that I have also championed and that I'd even voted for a Republican Representative in my district in the 2000 election. This dream brought me back to reality. I will not be unmade by a Mitt Romney Administration. My future will still be mostly up to me. Even if I am upset by the outcome, this country will survive, we will not fall into further ruin, we will not be undone by a single man, no matter whether he is the President or a militant with a bomb strapped to his chest.

Nov. 06 2012 01:17 AM

I had an electoral map dream last night. No people, no faces, just a map and 2 colors.

Nov. 05 2012 03:54 PM

The only candidate I always dream of during presidential elections, is the missing third representing an alternative party of grown ups.

Nov. 05 2012 11:01 AM

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