Dreaming in Third Person

Are your dreams like movies in your head?

I learned something interesting about my teenage daughter a couple weeks ago. Often, as I’m driving her to school in the morning, she’ll tell me about some weird dream she had that morning – and they are almost always weird. Like seeing a library in the sky, or seeing people she knows in weird places or situations. But what I never realized until she mentioned something about how hair looked in her dream, was that she dreams in third person point-of-view. As in, she sees herself as if she’s someone else, like watching a movie.

It was hard for me to comprehend – and it’s also something I never thought about before. Sure, I’ve had dreams where I wasn’t playing an active role, but was just passively seeing other people going through whatever actions, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen myself, other than looking in a mirror. It never occurred to me that it would be otherwise for others. On the other hand, it seemed weird to my daughter that I would dream everything in first person point-of-view. Although when she thought about it, she thought some, if not most, of her friends dream in first person.

...or are you a first person shooter?

It reminded me of my Grandpa Adams, who told me he dreamed in black-and-white. I was maybe eight or nine at the time, and of course thought this was very odd, although it didn’t seem as strange at the time as it does when I think about it now. No, he wasn’t messing with me. At the time, I figured he dreamed like he watched TV, which for him was in black-and-white, until maybe ten years or so before we had that conversation. But why it seems stranger now, is that he was born in 1914, and therefore wouldn’t have had television until he was well into adulthood. Of course he went to the movies, but wouldn’t have had that frame of reference until he was at least elementary-school aged. I don’t think I know of anyone else who dreams (or did) in black and white, although it’s not a topic that we talk about all the time. It never occurred to me to ask my other grandparents.

It’s something I don’t think about often. I hardly ever remember my dreams, and of the few I do, 99% of them are just dumb and boring.

So what about you? Do you see yourself in your dreams, or are you a first person shooter like me? Does anyone you know dream in black and white?

Photo of people running via Microsoft Office Images
Game photo via gamingbolt.com 

19 Responses to \

  1. oooo..that’s weird! I’m always me, though come to think of it, I’ve never actually seen myself in my dreams so maybe I’m not me. Interesting! Dreams are so fascinating. My most memorable dream was one where I was a victim of a crime (won’t go into gritty details here) by a person my family new (but I had never met) I told my mom about it because it terrified me and a few weeks later my grandmother sent us an article from the paper that this person was arrested for committing this crime. Exactly where and how I experienced it in my dream. That was the only time that happened to me, though.

  2. I dream in 1st person, and in color. Thank god I don’t smell anything, though. I think I’d gross myself out. I don’t know how many times I’ve dreamt of going to a bathroom that didn’t work!! Do you think THAT means anything??

  3. Interesting topic! I did research on dreams in college and have been fascinated ever since. I do dream in color. Sometimes so vivid it is not realistic. When the color gets to be overpowering, I know something inside is telling me I need to get out the paints and do some art!
    As for 1st or 3rd, I’ve done both. I’ve always had unusual dreams, too. One strange one was that I was dreaming and “woke up” in my dream and told someone about the dream. This is a topic I love to discuss!

  4. Shannon, that is wild! Precognitive dreams! Really makes you wonder what’s going on in our heads when things like that happen, huh? I’m glad you found out before something happened to someone in your family. Thanks for sharing!

    Stacy, I am literally LOL at your comment! I have the same kind of weird-dumb dreams! I’ve read about people having these dreams only to wake up and find they’ve wet the bed. I guess we’re lucky!

    Michele, that’s something that you’ve done both POV! I have had dreams before where I knew I was dreaming. It’s weird. I also often know I’m in a certain place – my home, for example – but when I wake up and remember the dream, the place looked nothing like in real life. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Wow, I’ve never considered dreams in the 3rd person. It kind of seems scary, but then again I only dream in 1st. I can’t help but think of that MASH episode of dreams when Klinger saw himself as the patient on the table!

  6. I’ve had a number of pre-cognitive dreams…eerily accurate. and now I know, in my dream, when I’m in one of these, so it’s as if I pay more attention to it, so i can recognize it when it comes up. otherwise I don’t remember them.

  7. Coleen, I remember that episode! I’d think it would be weird, which surprised my daughter.

    Louise, that’s great that you have these – and can recognize when you’re in one! I’m probably the least intuitive person I know, so I probably wouldn’t recognize a precognitive dream even after the fact! Thanks for visiting!

  8. 1st person, color. But I do remember in a psychology class (cognitive psych?), we talked about dreams and that some people dream in black and white. I rarely remember my dreams, though. Even then, they are often impressions, not vivid scenes. Interesting post!

  9. I never really thought about that before. It’s interesting because I usually dream in first person, but there are also times when I can see myself as if from outside of my body. I wonder why that is and what it means. Now I want to get a book about dreams.

  10. Dreams are fascinating. I’ve had dreams in both 1st & 3rd as well. I have even awakened, upset at the turn of events in my dream, gone back to sleep and re-wrote the dream. Thanks for the interesting topic, Jennette.

  11. I once got into a discussion with someone about this and they insisted that everyone dreamed in black and white. I knew they were wrong since I dream in color and almost always in first person. My dad used to have a lot of pre-cognitive dreams Louise. He used to say he was going to write them down and put them in a sealed envelope with a date for me to open. I guess he never got around to it. I don’t dream as much as I used to. Might be the hours I keep. My strongest dreams were right after my sister’s death. We would talk a lot at night in my dreams, and she would discuss the difference between my grief and my father’s to help me understand. She also sparked the idea of the floral cross for her service. But that was more of a daydream during a very long drive home. My subconscious working something out or something more? You be the judge.

  12. Julie, that’s mostly what mine are – the few I actually remember. Thanks for coming by!

    Emma, weird, huh? It never occurred to me that everyone didn’t dream in first person! It does make you wonder.

    Lynette, that’s wild! I don’t think I remember mine long enough – or at least enough of them – to write them down. Some writers get their ideas that way!

    Debra, that’s funny about your discussion! I don’t know of anyone besides my grandpa that dreamed in B/W. And that’s something about your dad! I don’t dream as much as I used to either, and you’re probably right about lack of sleep and stress. Thanks for stopping by!

  13. Wow, I’ve never considered that a person could dream in 3rd person or black and white. How cool would that be?! While I’ve never really thought about my dreams in these contexts, I’m just glad when I do dream and remember them. Can you imagine how boring those sleep hours must be without a dream to brighten them up?

    Thanks for the interesting post, Jennette!

  14. I dream in color; I dream in red. (Pearl Jam, remember?) And I dream in first person. I have very vivid dreams. They take place in an alternate universe. For instance, we go to grandma’s house, but it’s not grandma’s house on this side of reality. I can go the mall, but it’s not the mall I go to when I’m awake. I’m always trying to solve a mystery or running from someone. Confession: I find my dreams very entertaining. 😀

  15. Sheila, I’d never thought of them either, until my grandpa and daughter brought it up. I enjoy sleeping with or without dreams LOL.

    Catie, sounds like your dream settings are like mine, you know where you are in the dream, but when you wake up, you’re like, “But the mall looks nothing like that!” You’re lucky to get interesting dreams! On the rare occasion I remember mine, they’re usually just dumb and boring.

  16. This is such a fun post. I never thought about it before. I tend to dream first person, but I’m not always playing myself in my dreams. I’m always a woman, but I’ve dreamed about living in different eras and places complete with a different name even. In the dream, it seemed normal and I believed I was this other person. On occasion, I’ve “watched” a dream like I’d watch a movie, except in my dream I knew what I was watching was “live,” but I’m still first person even in those. I don’t see myself acting something out.

  17. Oh wow, Marcy, your dreams sound like fun! Almost like quantum leap. I’ve never had one (that I remember) that took place in another time, or where I got to be someone else – lucky you! Thanks for sharing!

  18. I don’t know if this feed is still live or not, but just thought I would add my dreaming style, lol… When I dream, I always dream the same way, always have, since being little.. There is me in the dream, doing whatever,, (I guess that’s the first person), but I’m almost always aware I’m in a dream,, then there is another me watching the dream,, but again aware that I’m asleep in bed, and that it’s just a dream,, and then there is a third me,, who is watching the dream me watching, and watching the me in the dream doing ‘whatever’… And the third me also knows that itself, and the other two are in a dream, and that i am actually in bed asleep… Sometimes it gives me a headache, and i just want to wake up… 🙂

  19. I was researching dreaming in third person because I thought other people did too. I am trying to figure out why I see myself in my dreams like a character in a movie.