Presidential Dreams

Presidential Dreams

Primary sources exposed and explained.
March 14 2008 3:59 PM

Presidential Dreams


Last month, Canadian novelist and blogger Sheila Heti began gathering and posting online e-mails from ordinary citizens relating dreams they'd had—not hopes-and-ambitions-type dreams, but literal dreams experienced during the Rapid Eye Movement stage of nighttime slumber—about the three leading major-party candidates for president. A graduate student in California described seeing Hillary Clinton wearing a dress made from the fleece of an endangered penguin. A 40-year-old playwright in Toronto grew perturbed when John McCain questioned the accuracy of a political brochure put out by the playwright's best friend—a person who in real life has no interest in entering politics. A 22-year-old woman in Saudi Arabia was read a bedtime story by Barack Obama. To participate in Heti's examination of the "collective unconscious," "Hot Document" readers are invited to send similar nightmares, romantic dreams ("Barack, my favorite musician, and my first love were the same person") or ordinary nighttime imaginings ("Hillary and I were cleaning my parents attic") to her Web site at,, or Samples are below and on the following four pages.

A Jungian psychotherapist named Raymond Hillis  weighs in here with an analysis of various themes ("assassination," "the value of wholeness," "romance") emerging from Heti's experiment. In keeping with his Democratic front-runner status, Obama has at this writing inspired the most dreams (134), with Clinton a close second (118). Heti has compiled only two dreams about McCain, but she didn't add the putative Republican nominee to the dream poll until March. 


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