Dreaming About Julian Assange? Shrinks Say You're Not Alone


The other night, I dreamed of Julian Assange. He was hiding out in my house and eating everything, but wouldn’t let me buy more groceries. When I found out my friends were having similar dreams, I contacted an expert.

When I say I and women I know have been dreaming of Assange, please don’t misunderstand: far from erotic ruminations of the Assange-fancier set, whatever our personal opinions of the Wikileaker and alleged sex criminal, these were uniformly anxiety dreams from which one wakes up discomfited and uneasy. In mine, I was held virtual prisoner and eaten out of house and home. Another friend said she was at a dream party in which Assange dominated the conversation. A third, who said she’s dreamed of Assange three nights in a row, remembers that” he told me he was my “dream master” and forced me to write a blog post about him.”

So, what’s the deal? Why has Assange infiltrated our dreams (and insert “Wikileak” joke here.) And are we just nuts? Not exactly, says Ian Wallace, a psychologist who specializes in dream analysis. In fact, says Wallace, “A number of my clients have also been reporting dreams where Julian featured prominently. A common dream, particularly among women, is the ‘spy’ dream and the Julian Assange dreams are a variation of this.” He likens the phenomenon to the spate of Obama dreams that swept the globe in ’08.

In Obama’s case, he symbolised the opportunity for confident and decisive change at the time, and so many dreamers used him to reflect a personal situation in their own waking life where they needed to have the confidence to make some sort of significant change. In a similar manner, [Assange] has come to symbolize closely guarded secrets that may cause much discomfort if they are openly revealed. These secrets reflect our own personal perspectives and also confidential information that others have trusted us with. For example, someone might feel that their boss is a creep but they tolerate this because they really enjoy their job and want to continue in it. They realize that if they openly told their superior what they actually thought, it would result in them being fired…This level of personal diplomacy is part of our social fabric and even though we are aching to tell someone what we really think of them, we also usually look at the bigger picture and how it will affect us in the longer term.

Says psychologist Kelly Bulkeley, who has studied Obama dreams,”there might be a symbolic correlation between his anarchic secret-revealing behavior and dreamer’s personal issues surrounding authority, secrets, freedom, etc…there are lots of people in the public eye, and if your unconscious mind picks one of them to dream about, there’s probably a meaningful connection between that person and fears, desires,
conflicts in your waking life.”

So Assange, then, stands in for anxieties about secrets getting out — in short, security breaches. (Which the recent Gawker hack can’t have helped with in my own case.) And what of the sinister “dream master?” Says Wallace,

there is something that you really want to express but are unsure of how it will be received by others. This may well be something to do with your profession. As well as being a sleep phenomenon, we also use the word ‘dream’ to mean a hope or aspiration. This suggests that you have a particular life dream that you want to master but may lack some confidence in speaking your truth about it.

I had assumed the food dream was just about needing to hit the supermarket, but according to Wallace there’s more going on:

We use the house to symbolise our own selves (houses have insides and outsides and so do we) and so your house dream indicates that you have a part of your own identity that you like to keep private and away from public view. This is not anything shameful and is probably a talent or a unique skill that you would really like to express but are self conscious about what others may think of what you produce.

I also think it’s interesting that Assange — who’s been accused of sexually abusing women — should be a figure primarily in women’s dreams. Says It seems like at this time, he could stand in for a lot of different kinds of security breaches — and as long as he’s still in the media every day, he’s not going to stop haunting your dreams any time soon.

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