It’s an old fashioned rodeo show, and for some reason Donald Trump appears during a break in the action to address the audience. But suddenly a beautiful chestnut mare, with a single white star on her forehead, bursts toward him and tears the blonde hairpiece off his head with her teeth. As security tries to catch the horse, who’s now parading around with the wig in her mouth, the crowd begins to laugh — nervously at first, then with gusto, as they struggle to understand whether what they’re seeing is part of the show.
This weird scene, which sounds like a convoluted metaphor for the current presidency, never happened in waking life. Rather, it’s one in a growing catalogue of dreams about Trump that New York psychotherapist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and writer Martha Crawford is collecting on a new blog called 45 Dreams.
“So far I've found them strange and lovely and fascinating,” Crawford said of the anonymized dreams, “and also frightening.”
News about the bombastic Trump can be hard to avoid in real life, and Crawford’s compendium suggests that he’s also come to haunt our slumber. Crawford has gathered about 30 dreams since launching the blog last week, solicited from her blog readers and over Twitter. They range from inane to surreal to nightmarish. That variety is part of what intrigues Crawford: In her mind, Trump is a figure onto whom the public projects their unconscious hopes and fears. Fervent conservatives might see him as a divine appointee and progressives as a buffoon, but dream logic has a way of breaking down those rigid divides.
“I wanted to see if our unconscious lives held to this polarization, or if there were any kind of unifying themes that emerged,” she said. “I also wanted to hear what our intuition had to say, outside of our consciously informed opinions.”
Some dreamers have been surprised by their own unexpected feelings about the president.
Some dreamers, Crawford has noticed, have been surprised by their own unexpected feelings about the president. People who despise Trump in real life can be taken aback, when they wake up, to realize that they empathized with him, or even sought to soothe him with food or physical touch.
Others are bona fide night terrors. Some include sexual assault and grotesque horror. One describes a scene in which Trump and his Secret Service detail entered a log cabin in a forest. Then a young black man knocked on the cabin door, and the dreamer was overcome by a foreboding sense that he was going to be shot. Sure enough, Trump picked up a shotgun and fired it through the door, killing the man, as the dreamer yelled in vain that there was no threat.
Some of the dreams seem so loaded as to seem made up, and because Crawford accepts anonymous submissions, they might be. But others — one describes Trump as a “baby-monster,” locked in an apartment, who eats dog food — are just bizarre.
Crawford isn’t the first to note dreams about Trump. A separate blog collected a handful of dreams about Trump before going defunct, and BuzzFeed noticed the day before the 2016 election that the then-candidate was cropping up in the dreams of social media users with cameos as a dentist, a math teacher, and an Uber driver.
But Crawford may be the first to take such dreams seriously. She’s not yet sure where the project will lead, but one possibility is that she’ll sort them into archetypal categories — the Mad King, the Evil Giant, the Divine Savior — and publish an analysis of the breakdown, or an essay about the role of fable and folklore during times of political jeopardy. She might just keep blogging the dreams, as a small way to give people outlets for their political anxietities.
“I think it is safe to say that the division in our nation is both a symptom of our unconscious projections and fears and hopes and is also impacting our unconscious lives — in a circular feedback loop — as we manifest our fears and then respond to them,” she said. “My ultimate hope is that this project can be a space where we slow that process down, and reflect a moment on what we are responding to before we react.”
One of the darkest dreams is described in just two sentences.
“I dreamt he actually pushed the button and started a nuclear war,” it reads. “Fortunately it’s the only dream about him I’ve had.”