Exploring the Dreams of Women with Breast Cancer: Content and Meaning of Dreams

Teresa L DeCicco, Tallulah Lyons, Wendy Pannier, Christopher Wright, Jessica Clarke


This study examined the dreams of 34 women, (17 who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and 17 who had not) and the meaning of their dreams via dream interpretation. Results were compared between those with breast cancer and those without. As expected, the women with breast cancer had dream imagery that specifically reflected their waking day experiences in relevant ways. Furthermore, the significant difference between the two groups provides support for the continuity hypothesis of dreaming. The women with breast cancer had significantly more medical figures, torso imagery, pain, disease reference, and death imagery in their dreams. When examining the meaning of the dreams with dream interpretation, the women with breast cancer had meaning pertinent to their waking life such as insight about their disease, medical events and figures, fear, and death. The women without breast cancer interpreted their dream imagery mainly to be about their romantic relationships, future, stress, family, and friends. This research illustrates that dream imagery is specific and relevant for women with and without breast cancer, and furthermore, that they make meaning of their dream imagery in beneficial ways. Implications and future directions are discussed in relation to dream imagery, interpretation of imagery, and breast cancer.


Breast Cancer; Dreams; Meaning; Content

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11588/ijodr.2010.2.514

URN (PDF): http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:bsz:16-ijodr-5142