Discerning the ontology of dream characters from the standpoint of co-creative dream theory

  • Gregory Scott Sparrow (Author)
    University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley Atlantic University

    Associate Professor

    Dept. of Educational Psychology

Identifiers (Article)


It is not uncommon to have dreams with familiar characters who appear to exhibit independent agency and personhood, whether the actual persons are alive or dead. Discerning the ontological nature of dream characters presents a challenge in contemporary dreamwork, especially if one wishes to adopt an inclusive approach that allows for dream characters to be derived from intrapsychic or transpersonal sources. An inclusive model avoids two possible errors inherent in an either-or approach: 1) Believing that a dream character is a “real” person, a dreamer may disavow ownership over unacknowledged or rejected aspects of self; or, 2) Believing that the character originates intrapsychically, the dreamer may assume ownership of qualities and attitudes that are not derived from within. In this paper, I introduce an integrated view of dream character ontology based on the co-creative dream paradigm (CDP), which allows for the possibility that various sources co-inhere as mutable imagery coalescing in real time on a continuum of relative influence. This approach allows for the possibility that a dream character’s ontological status may derive from multiple sources, shifting in degree of representation from moment to moment.


lucid dreaming, dream imagery, dream analysis, co-creative dream theory, paradigm
How to Cite
Sparrow, G. S. (2022). Discerning the ontology of dream characters from the standpoint of co-creative dream theory. International Journal of Dream Research, 15(2), 235–241. https://doi.org/10.11588/ijodr.2022.2.88638