The symbolic meaning of dreams about killing someone doesn’t have anything to do with repressed anger or aggression – at least not in the literal way that most of the dream sites out there claim.
The real meaning of dreams about killing someone depends on who’s dreaming the dream and what is going on in the life of the dreamer at the time of the dream.
Always remember, dreams about killing are symbolic. They represent an unconscious psychological dynamic in you, not some latent crazed killer in you.
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Dreams About Killing Someone: The dream figures
When analyzing the symbolic meaning of dreams about killing someone, you have to ask yourself:
Is the killing a necessary sacrifice, or, are you killing an essential quality in yourself?
Whenever psyche presents a dream of killing someone, both the killer and the victim are important aspects of the dream. For instance, killing bullies in your dream will have a totally different meaning than killing your mother or father in a dream.
The people in your dreams are dream figures, each representing a part of yourself, and very rarely the actual people in your life. The actions in your dreams represent unconscious psychological dynamics in you, meaning that you are not conscious of how your attitude or behavior affects your life.
Dreams are a response to the way you think, feel, behave, or see the world. So we always have to translate our dream actions with that in mind. For help with that, you can read my introductory article on How to Decipher Dream Meaning where I talk about types of dreams.
A brief look at the Symbolism of Killing and Sacrifice
Sometimes when we kill someone in a dream, we are symbolically killing something in ourselves that must die in order for something new in us to live, for example, killing a habitual thinking or behavior pattern.
That habitual pattern could be something such as an attitude or an ideal that no longer serves us, or, it could even be a narrative or story about our lives that we have carried around for far too long.
There are also times when dreams about killing show us that we are unconsciously killing something in ourselves that should live – perhaps something we have rejected or denied about ourselves. Take for example here, a dream where you are killing an innocent child or an animal, such as the one I talked about in the post on dreams about rats.
And finally, killing someone in our dreams can let us know that it’s time to break away from certain relationships, for instance, relationships that keep us trapped in an unhealthy dynamic.
I have gone into the meaning of dreams about death in a previous post. The two themes – killing and death – are related, so I would suggest reading that one too.
In this post, we’ll look at several dreams about killing someone. These dreams are from different people, each with very different life situations.
Dreams About Killing Someone: Questions for Reflection
The questions to ask yourself regarding your dreams about killing someone are:
- Is killing this person necessary in order for you to move forward in life?
- For example, if you dream of killing your mother, then perhaps you are trapped in a mother complex. Killing your mother would be breaking free from the complex and stepping into an adult life, not a latent or hidden desire to kill your actual mother.
- Is killing this person holding you back from moving forward in life?
- Suppose that you dream of killing a child. This could mean that you have a tendency to kill or negate anything fresh that tries to come to life in you.
And next, your considerations are:
- What’s happening in your life right now?
- Are you conscious of any turmoil or struggle in your life?
- Keep in mind that we are not always aware of inner conflict. Many people are so disconnected from their emotions that they do not consciously suffer.
- Are you suffering from any emotional or physical disturbances?
- These are often signals from our psyche that something in our lives is out of balance.
Now we are going to get into some dream material. Stay with me as I amplify these dream images because this is the approach you want to use when working with your dream interpretations. You can always learn something by reading or listening to dream interpretations.
Dreams About Killing Someone: Killing Bullies and Other Antagonistic Characters
Bullies and other antagonizing people play a big role in our dreams, most especially if we have suffered encounters with bullies or antagonistic people in our lives. Whether we meet them in dreams or meet them in our daily lives, these characters torment us, and for some even to the point of suicide, as we can see in the far too many horror stories of children and young people committing suicide over this kind of thing.
To overcome any bully without, we first have to overcome the bully within us.
These dreams about killing are about learning to stand up for yourself, against both the external and the internal bullying forces. This requires a healthy sense of aggression. Falling victim to your own destructive thoughts is just as psychologically dangerous as falling victim to bullies.
If you dream of killing a bully or other antagonistic character, consider it a good thing!
A woman recently asked me about this dream about killing someone: a bully in her life.
I dreamed of killing my bully, as well as all of the people who had apathetically witnessed her behavior. Then I had another dream where the bully herself visited my house and we were nice to each other.
Dreams About Killing Someone: Killing a Bully in Your Dream
First of all, I have to say that I love these two dreams because they are a perfect example of how dreams illustrate both the problem and the solution in a person’s life – namely how she can transform the bully dynamic into one of psychological friendship.
As I have already said, dreams are symbolic representations of what goes on in our minds, but dreams show you the unconscious dynamic of what’s going on in your mind. These unconscious dynamics affect every aspect of our lives.
These dreams want this woman to become conscious of something about herself: she has a real strength within her, but apparently she is unable to access it. The dream shows her the way.
The dream uses the image of someone who bullies her in order to show her that she has an inner bully, only it is not the kind of bully who antagonizes other people. It’s a bully who antagonizes her from within. We can even get a hint that her bully is an inner figure from looking at the dreamer’s own language: she says, “I dreamed of killing my bully.”
She didn’t say a bully or a girl who bullies me. Using the phrase my bully is very telling.
I think most of us have had some first-hand experience with this kind of inner dynamic. The inner bully can manifest as chronic negative thoughts and feelings about yourself. This is where the idea of “beating yourself up” comes from.
This young woman lacked self-confidence and she also admitted that she often felt bad about herself.
Whenever you feel chronically bad about yourself as a person, then you are feeling the effects of your inner bully.
Now here’s the strange thing about inner dynamics. Whatever is going inside will also manifest itself outside. If you have an inner bully, then you probably meet a lot of bullying type of people in your life.
Why does this bully show up in your life, both within yourself and in the external world?
Because you have something to learn about yourself.
If this is true for you, then a dream of killing your bully is an opportunity to grow.
Dreams About Killing Someone: Developing a Healthy Sense of Aggression
Dreams about killing someone make an extreme statement about our sense of aggression.
Given the circumstances of the dream I just shared, it’s clear that this woman was far too passive in her life. Pathological passivity is actually a problem in a lot of people.
This is also an example of a compensation dream. Because this woman is far too passive, the dream shows an extreme act of aggression.
All of us need to have some aggressive energy – it is part of our instinctual nature. Healthy aggression protects us when we need protection.
We can’t wait for someone else to take up for us. We have to protect ourselves.
In our dream example, the dreamer also kills all of the people who stood by, apathetically, as she stated. I told her that she needed to understand that those apathetic people in her dream represented her own apathy about taking up for herself.
Dreams About Killing Someone: Changing the Psychological Dynamic
She needed to kill that apathetic part of herself as well. And look what happened when she did this: the energy of the bully changed. The bully went to her house and they became psychological friends, which translates into her personal power
In a dream, the image of friendship with a bully is symbolic of a possible change in the dreamer’s psychological dynamic. At first the woman thought she was rewarding the bully. However, that is a literal reading of the dream, not a symbolic reading.
The symbol of the house in dreams points to our whole situation in life, meaning our whole system of adaptation to life: our relationships, our motivating forces, and in particular, our current attitude.
When this bully goes to her house, it shows the possibility of the dreamer integrating some of the bully’s strength. To become friends in the dream says, “now we are in alliance”. Now she has the power to be stronger in life because she is allied with a stronger – more aggressive part of herself.
This bully, both the dream bully and the actual one in the dreamer’s life, is symbolic of our dreamer’s lack of healthy aggression. The bully is what we’d call a shadow figure for the woman.
And as we can see from the dream, finding a healthy way to integrate the bully and the dynamic will change.
Dreams About Killing Someone Who is Already Dead
Another common dream theme is that of killing someone who is already dead. Here are some basics behind this dynamic.
People leave their psychological imprints on us, most especially those who were present in our lives during our developmental years. These living imprints remain with us long after a person’s death. In a sense, everything these people did to us continues to affect us at some level throughout our entire lives.
For example, a woman with a negative mother complex will continue to suffer from that complex long after her mother dies.
She will continue to endure everything that she did when her mother was alive: insecurity, bitterness, and self-loathing are just a few examples of how a negative mother complex affects us. To read more about the negative mother complex, click here.
Dreams About Killing Someone: Killing the Mother
I have seen women in psychotherapy who worked for years on their negative mother complex, even long after their mother was dead. So many times these women dream of killing their mother.
It’s never a pleasant dream to have, but it’s a very important dream for a woman in this kind of situation. It means that she has broken free from her unconscious identification with the mother complex.
In other words, she has finally broken free from believing all of the horrible things she’s been saying to and believing about herself.
This is psyche’s way of saying, “now you can kill the deadly effects of this complex and allow something else to be reborn out of this death.”
This could even happen with a too-positive mother complex. A too-positive mother is just as debilitating to your psychological development as is a negative mother complex. If you are to fully develop, then any psychological fixation that is too strong will have to symbolically die.
Reflections on Dreams About Killing Someone Who is Already Dead
- Who did you kill?
- What did this person mean to you?
- What was your relationship to this person?
- Even though this person is dead, how does he or she still affect you?
These are questions you’d have to answer before you could determine the dream meaning of killing someone who’s already dead.
Killing Someone in a Dream: Killing Abusive Men
Women often dream about killing abusive men. One woman shared a dream about an abusive dream man and her mother psychologically attacking her:
In my dream a man and my mother disrespected me. The man made me feel hopeless. I grab the man’s neck out of anger and kill him.
I could see from the dream that this woman had the kind of negative mother-animus complex that I just spoke about. This kind of imagery is very common in the dreams of women with negative mother complexes. An antagonistic male figure appears with the negative mother-image.
In Jungian terms, we’d call this man a negative animus. I wrote about the positive animus in a woman in my post on Dreams About Cheating, but in this case, he’s destructive.
The two figures together – a negative mother and negative animus – are a powerful complex in the mind and soul of a woman. Typically, this inner complex will manifest itself as extreme feelings of self-doubt, self-loathing, generalized anxiety, hopelessness, and fear. A woman trapped by this inner dynamic will feel like she can never accomplish anything in life.
She will tell herself things such as, my life is over, it’s too late for anything to happen for me, or I am too stupid to ever succeed.
All of these together often make a person feel desperately powerless.
Anyone who suffers from this kind of inner state has to learn how to stand up to all of those painful feelings and negative thoughts, especially in the middle of the night when they keep you awake. You can click here to read my article on Anxiety and Depression, where I talk about the power of complexes, where they come from, and how you can separate yourself from them.
The dream of killing a man like that says to such a woman, “you can overcome this state of mind. Stand up to it. Grab it by the throat and throttle it. You must overpower and kill it.”
The rage that this woman felt in the dream empowered her to take that guy out by wringing his neck. I told her to find and use that rage to fight against debilitating thoughts and emotions.
And as a final note, before a woman can really kill the unconscious effects of a negative mother complex, she must first kill that negative animus. She needs him on her side for the killing of the mother complex.
Dreams about Killing Someone
Dreamed that a gay man was helping me with some clothing. He was making some very serious passes at me, and though it was flattering, I wasn’t too tempted. My body felt and looked amazing – it was one of the reasons he was so attracted to me.
Then the scene changes and I am alone. There is a young woman harassing me to no end. It was the same kind of woman that has been appearing in my dreams for decades.
I have been told that I must kill her, or that the harassment will never stop. This seems extreme and though I am fighting her off, I cannot bring myself to kill her. It does not feel like she is trying to kill me, but it certainly feels like she’s trying to drive me into madness.
This dream came from a woman who battled constantly with dream women such as the one here. These women seemed to appear in her dreams anytime she had started feeling good about herself. She too had come from a family where the women in her life mocked her for being herself. Any accomplishment she’d made was given the kind of humoring praise that you’d give a two-year old for his first drawing.
The day before the dream, the dreamer had an embarrassing incident in a parking lot. We both laughed about it because it was funny. Yet, there was a taunting female voice in her which had turned that small, humorous incident into something mortifying.
She was feeling a horrible self-loathing over this one small incident. As a matter of fact, this would happen often to her. Her simple and humorous human folly and embarrassment would sometimes antagonize her beyond all endurance, even though she knew better.
This kind of self-antagonizing psychological dynamic is represented by this woman in her dream, who the dreamer felt would “drive her into madness”.
We worked on this inner dynamic of self-mockery. Eventually, she had another dream where this same kind of woman showed up, again making trouble for her.
In this dream, the mocking woman had fallen asleep in a car that was about to be crushed. If you’ve read the post on Dreams About Cars, then you’ll remember that they are about the unconscious driving forces in our lives.
Mockery and self-loathing were an unconscious driving force in this woman’s life and those forces were clearly in the voice of an inner feminine.
At first, the dreamer felt an urge to wake the mocking woman, but she resisted. She realized, it’s best to be rid of her. This is part of the problem with women who suffer from antagonizing females. All too often they are naive about their antagonizers. Even when given an opportunity to be rid of someone like that, they give into being too nice or too forgiving, and thus, the cycle begins again.
Dreams of Killing Abusers
Here’s another dream from a woman who confronted killer men in dreams.
Why did I have a dream of murdering my abusive husband when I have no husband or partner? This was immediately after waking from another dream of murdering two male intruders in my house trying to attack me.
The dreamer was not married in real life, nor did she have a partner. In the dream, she is married to an abusive husband.
This abusive dream-husband suggests that she is trapped by an unconscious, inner marriage. Again, this manifests in a woman’s psychology as an inner persecutor who torments her with self-doubt and meanness.
That her dream ego kills him is a good thing. It says to her, “you have the power to overcome self-doubt and negativity”, but that she must take extreme measures. Psychologically speaking, she has to stand up to negative thoughts and emotions.
The two murderous intruders are always interesting in women’s dreams. Typically, if you confront them, they change. The way you confront them in your psychological life is to discover what they want from you.
Very often, it’s some kind of creative venture that wants to come to life through you – a venture that will earn you your rightful place in this world.
Dreams About Killing Someone: Final Thoughts
As you can see, these dreams about killing were really about killing the antagonistic figures in our psyche. I think that you can extract what it might mean to kill something or someone innocent in your dreams.
If you have some specific dream material regarding the thread of killing innocents in your dreams, please share them with me. In a later post, I’ll talk about what it means to sacrificially kill something or someone.
Want to learn more about working with dreams or Jungian Psychology?
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