Laura and the spiders

January 22, 2010 - Leave a Response


Dear Dr Toby

I always enjoying reading your articles and seeing you on tv so I really hope you can help me understand what my nightmare is all about.

I started having nightmares after I attended the funeral of an old school friend three weeks ago.

My nightmares normally start off like happy regular dreams but they always change, and I know the change is about to happen when the spiders appear.

I can’t remember the dreams clearly and they are always different, but the spiders always come and then they become nightmares.

Following the advice in your book I placed a notepad beside the bed last night, and when I woke up I wrote down everything I could remember and I hope it is enough for you to decipher what it means and how I can move on.

The words I wrote down were: sunshine, meadow, picnic, friends, wine, meat pie, SPIDERS SPIDERS SPIDERS, scream, black cloud, thunder, flee, lost, where’s Jenny,  alone, cold.

What does it all mean Dr Toby? Please help.

A fan in distress



Dear Laura, 

Firstly, can I say thank you for your lovely comments, it’s always nice to hear from a genuine fan.

Secondly let me pass on my condolences to you on the passing of your friend and reassure you that in times of grief it is entirely normal to experience these kind of nightmares.

Despite the evidence of studies carried out by some of my colleagues, let me reassure you that this is not always the sign of an impending, potentially violent, psychological breakdown.

The fear of spiders, or arachnophobia, as we, in the trade, call it, is not uncommon and can often manifest itself in our dreams, especially when these dreams have been triggered by the death of someone close, someone that we had deep feelings for.

You don’t mention whether you and your friend, Jenny, had been in contact before her untimely demise, but I am sensing that you may’ve had unfinished business.


I am guessing that there were things that you’d longed to tell her but now will never have the chance to, perhaps a longing which now will never be fulfilled?

The notes on your pad reinforce this hypothesis, the fact that your dream started with you happily picnicking with Jenny in the sunshine, no doubt a memory from your school days.

Both of you lying on the ground in your skimpy summer dresses, the sunlight filtering through the leaves, highlighting the freckles on Jenny’s luminescent skin as you gaze on adoringly, feeding her scotch eggs and sausage rolls, watching her intently as she licks the crumbs from her plump, luscious lips.

Then all of a sudden the scene changes, black clouds and thunder, you look and Jenny, the person with whom you felt most comfortable, the person who understood you like no boy ever could, is gone, you feel alone and as if everyone you’ve ever loved has abandoned you.

Unfortunately death is the flip-side of the coin of life and something that we all need to come to terms with, I would suggest joining a women’s group where you can make new female friends and move on.

Hope this helps,

Dr Toby


Tim and his friend’s dog

January 20, 2010 - Leave a Response

Shar Pei

Dear Dr Toby,   

I had a dream last night,. I was put in charge of looking after a friend’s dog, it was one of those puppies with the squashy faces.

It looked cute, but it was pretty snappy, so I put it down and it scurried off after trying to bite me.

I thought it had gone to hide under a rug, but when I went to look, I couldn’t find it there or anywhere.

Then I think there was a bit about mafia ninjas, but that wasn’t connected to anything. Please can you explain what this could mean?

Yours worriedly,



Dear Tim,

Thank you for contacting me with this dream, your e-mail, like your friend’s puppy is short and sweet, but reveals a lot about you and your inner turmoil.

The overriding thing that I am getting from your dream is a fear of abandonment, a fear of rejection and probably a fear of relationships, that and a slightly geeky obsession with Hong Kong cinema.

The puppy represents love, in all it’s forms, it’s cute but can also hurt you, love can often make us bite the hand that feeds us, like a cute, little, saggy faced doggy.

The fact that in your dream the puppy was lost, never to be found again, shows that you are scared of commitment, fearful of losing those whom you love. You haven’t given me any background on your situation, but I am guessing that you have been abandoned by someone that you loved a great deal, probably a girlfriend or wife who never truly returned your affections and ran off with another, possibly younger, man with firmer buttocks, strapping ‘guns’ and a bigger schlong.

You don’t say whether your friend in this dream is male or female, but I would guess male, a close man friend who would trust you with his favourite pet, someone that you obviously respect and look up to.

I would advise you to contact this friend and suggest to him that you take some walks in the park, perhaps share an ice-cream whilst feeding the ducks and see what happens, you may find that this friend can give you the Man love that you are clearly aching for.

Hope this helps,

Dr Toby

Stuart and the Star Wars dream

January 18, 2010 - Leave a Response


Dear Dr Toby,

I  had a really weird dream the other week. My close friend Matt was in it and my brother-in-law Tom as well.

We were all going to see a new Star Wars that George Lucas had done, we’d got to the cinema, and as we were queuing Matt decided he didn’t want to go in, he said he knew it was going to be rubbish and stated that the prequels were shit, so ergo, this would be shit.

We tried to change his mind but he was adamant and refused to go in. Tom and Me decided to go in anyway and we left Matt outside having a drink.

When we went in the scene from Star Was that it was set on a train, and both Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker were played by Indians, and Tom told me that due to the economic crises Lucas had been forced to do this on the cheap, and went to Bollywood and also didn’t use any effects. So Darth Vader was just in normal clothes breathing heavily between sentences and Luke Skywalker was wearing a blond wig.

We were enjoying it right up until the finale which involved Luke and Vader in a dance off cheered on by two teams of break dancing Ewoks.

Then I woke up.

What does it mean, it’s been haunting me ever since?



Dear Stuart,

Ah this old chestnut, you’d be surprised how common this dream is, especially amongst men who were aged between 5 and 10 when the original ‘Star Wars’ movie came out in 1977.

If we look at this dream and break it down into it’s individual components we can see that ‘Matt’ and ‘Tom’ represent the two sides to your personality. Matt is the adult, grown up you, the one that has taken on board responsibility and released infantile obsessions, where as Tom represents the immature, child-like impish side of your psyché, the one that will ultimately lead you to disappointment, making you chose to try to re-live your childhood rather than become an adult and have meaningful relationships with women instead of trying to complete your collection of ‘Star Wars Top Trumps’.

Matt has learnt from the disappointment of the first three Star Wars prequels and realised that George Lucas is nothing more than a talentless snake oil salesman who managed to strike it lucky with Star Wars and by handing over the directorial reigns for ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’ was at least able to postpone turning his own creation into a pile of overblown horse manure until much later when he thought Jar Jar Binks was a good idea.

In the dream though you have forsaken Matt and suffered the disappointment of trying to recapture your inner child with Tom, this should serve as an example to you in your waking life, you are an adult and should eschew infantile interests, read a newspaper, a broadsheet if possible, watch ‘Newsnight’ and go to dinner parties, in short, grow the heck up.

Hope this helps,

Dr Toby

Brendan and the dolphins

January 16, 2010 - 2 Responses


Hello Doctor Toby

Can you explain my dream to me please?

In my dream I am in the ocean, it is sunny and warm and peaceful. I feel safe and relaxed for the first time in ages.

Then a dolphin comes to see me. He is happy, and this makes me happy. And then his dolphin friends come and see me too and they form a circle around me, just below the water.

As I float effortlessly all I can see around me are their long noses above the gentle waves, glinting in the sun, occasionally spraying me with jets of water. This gives me an enormous sense of well-being and happiness.

What does it mean?

I see from your other letters that you like a little bit about the person, so I shall sum myself up as follows: I am a 42 year old divorced father of three teenage girls who I never see. Their mother left me ten years ago citing ‘irreconcilable differences’ and she moved back to Scotland taking the girls with her.

I’ve had a few relationships since, but nothing ever developed seriously as I tend to push people away if it gets too emotional.

Does my dream mean I need to swim with the dolphins in real-life to regain my happiness?

Brendan (London, NW3)


Hi Brendan, 

Thanks for contacting me with this dream, one which is not unusual amongst men in your situation, a divorcee who’s also separated from his children.

Firstly you are in the sea, a warm and comfortable place for you, this suggests a subliminal longing to return to the womb and the safety of your mother’s belly with all your needs catered for, this is not uncommon especially amongst men who’ve been used to an all female environment.

With your admission that your failed relationships have been because you’ve pushed people away when they get too close, it’s seems obvious to me that you have some Oedipal issues which may’ve affected your relationships with women, you associate women who are not your mother, with pain and unhappiness.

The fact that you are swimming with dolphins is, of course, highly significant. Dolphins are gregarious, friendly, playful creatures and they represent a desire to return to your childhood, to frolic with your pals in your bathing suits, a time when laughter and smiles were prevalent in your life.

Of course, when the dolphins spray you with water we are entering a whole new, and unseemly, part of the dream, a part where your subconscious has moved on from the playfulness and innocence of childhood to the more guilty pleasures of puberty and adulthood.

Freud would have a lot to say on this matter, but suffice to say I would suggest that this “spraying” by the dolphins indicates some dark, perverted sexual desires that you were unable to fulfill with your wife, do you sometimes have little ‘accidents’ in the night which actually give you a feeling of warmth and excitement?

If this is the case I would suggest a visit to Hamburg in Germany, where there are many clubs which cater for those who are curious about watersports, only by having a taste of these peccadilloes will you be able to satiate your curiousity and be able to sustain a fulfilling, loving relationship.

All the best, 

Dream Dr Toby