Q: Okay, this is kind of gross, but I’m really curious… I’m standing alone in a nice, big kitchen in a house that feels somewhat communal. I have to go to the bathroom, but I don’t want to use one of the bathrooms because I want to avoid people knowing. The next thing I know, I’ve pooped in a plastic compost container and am placing the full container in the refrigerator! I know I intend to flush it all later. It’s really full and gross. Later, I am in another room and there’s a crew of people, in their 30s, happy, gathered and cooking in the kitchen. I have anxiety that the container will be discovered. When they leave, I go to the fridge and find that someone has dumped and cleaned the container and that it’s now full of cooked white rice. What?!
A: Awesome! Yes, in a way this is a totally gross dream. Fine. But the symbols behind it are also pretty awesome. Here’s the quick-and-dirty (so to speak) about poop dreams: they can very directly reflect what’s going on in our “psychic digestive systems.” The psychological processing of things is not unlike physical digestion in the way it works: we take things in, process them, integrate the nutrients, and release the waste.
When life throws us things that are requiring more of our attention, poop dreams often show up. The dreams are pointing to the need to digest something, to fully take something in, or they can point-out problems with the processing. With “psychic digestion,” there are endless social norms that can keep us from properly integrating what we take in. Each day, the emotions, experiences, memories, relationships, stimulus, information, and conversations in our lives cannot all be fully digested because we don’t have the time, or we get interrupted, or we’re at work and on deadline. Too much of the external expectations and not enough of the internal awareness can leave us constipated, or sick. Symbolically and literally. In this dream, you’re scared to go to the bathroom because other people are around. This can suggest that you have needed to process something that’s happening in your life away from others, or that you were unnecessarily concerned about the opinions of others in regards to what you’re sorting through.
I say this in the past tense, because this dream has a full conclusion. To start, you do poop, reflecting that something that you were processing (a relationship struggle? a work difficulty?) has worked its way through your system (you’ve found some clarity with it), but before you let it go completely, you put it in the fridge! You “put it on ice.” Something more was to be done.
The critical, wonderful twist to this dream comes when you discover that the poop is no longer in the bin and that there is cooked rice in its place! Wow. This kind of image reversal is known as alchemy, the act of turning stone into gold, or the psychic human equivalent, poop into food: the S*&t of life into personal growth. This is a pretty literal symbol when you look at it that way. (The compost bin, if you consider the concept of compost, is the other symbol that really points to this.)
This theme of transition is such a crucial one in dreams that I know we’ll have to explore it more soon. For now, I would venture to say that this dream is reflecting that you have successfully processed through some things recently and have turned the experience into nutrients for a new beginning. Get to know those people in the house who helped you do that. They’re your allies and support and good parts of you to know for the future.
Have you had a dream like this? Leave a comment and share!
Satya is a Jungian psychotherapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon specializing in dream work, the quarter-life crisis, and work with individuals in their late teens, 20s, and 30s. www.QuarterLifeCounselor.com