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Dreams of Toilets

by Gillian Holloway, Ph.D. (Dream Discoveries Newsletter, Winter 1995)

Dream adventures surrounding the need to use a restroom are often graphic, vivid, and memorable. This is one of the most asked-about symbols in dreams, which suggests to me that it is an image shared by many.

The theme of elimination, or being surrounded by physical waste suggests a need to release psychological matter from the past, or the proper elimination of troubles and concerns in waking life.

To dream of waste material surrounding you, or of running into piles or ditches filled with fecal matter may indicate that you are feeling overwhelmed with trouble, or emotions. The subconscious mind may signal it is time to release an old psychological pattern or fear by developing dreams that contain themes of elimination and evacuation. The body cannot survive in good health without proper elimination, and the psyche in it's own terms requires the release of psychic waste as well.

Searching for a toilet can symbolize the wish to express yourself and care for your own needs.

It is true that people who have a physical need to visit the toilet while asleep will be inclined to incorporate that urge into their dream action as if trying to solve the problem without awakening; yet this occurrence does not preclude the dream itself from having psychological meaning.

If you dream of searching for a toilet and finding only toilets that are filled, clogged, overflowing or unacceptable because of filth or poor conditions, this can indicate a building sense of overwhelm in waking life. The "no toilet for me" scenario is common to people described as "givers" who tend to put their own needs in last place. These people often have friends, co-workers, and spouses who follow their implicit lead and work in unspoken partnership to maintain their "me last" format. Their unselfish virtue can "back up" on them if it goes to an extreme, and toilet dreams are a graphic clue that this tendency has gotten out of hand. If you have this type of dream, check whether there is no outlet for your genuine expression of needs and opinions, or no place you can "unload" as other people unburden on you all day.

One key to understanding these startling dreams stories is to consider first that the elimination and the excrement in the dream are often symbolic of self-expression, particularly of sentiments that are necessary to "let pass" as one would need to pass waste material. Difficulties in finding an appropriate lavatory, challenges to privacy, or the tendency to eliminate in front of others are often metaphors for current experiences regarding self-expression, privacy and personal needs.

Quick Clues About Toilet Themes

  1. Toilet Overflowing: Your cup runneth over with emotions or tiresome experiences.

  2. Defecation in Public: You may have expressed yourself inappropriately, "dumping" on someone; or feel that you have exposed private business in public.

  3. Clearing a Blocked Toilet: You may have recently solved an old problem, or let go of hard feelings.

  4. The Toilet is Exposed: You may be in a situation that compromises your usual sense of privacy.

  5. You Make a Startling Discovery: Whether you have magically become the other gender, discover a frog growing out of your navel, or have a neon tapeworm, the startling discovery in these dreams is usually a dramatic expression of something perfectly normal, but unexpected you have recently learned about yourself.

Going through a life passage that causes you to examine your emotional history sometimes evokes dreams of toilets and elimination. You may even dream of examining or being fascinated by your feces. While it's normal to be puzzled by such dreams, they make perfect sense when viewed as metaphors for the release and understanding of what is no longer needed. Many people find that allowing themselves just a bit more time and room in waking life to express themselves, attend to their own needs, and release what they have outgrown returns them to a greater sense of balance and peace. One way we can honor our dreams is to gently take their messages to heart, and using common sense as a guideline, increase the loving messages we send ourselves by day as well.


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