DreamBank Help

The DreamBank Search Engine lets you search for words and phrases contained in collections of dream reports. It will NOT answer your dream interpretation questions (i.e., "what does it mean when you dream about...").

The search form has five parts:

  1. Query

    This is where you type the word(s) for which you want to search. The search engine interprets any spaces you type as separators between query terms, so if you need to search for spaces, you must replace them with underscores.

    For example, if you type blue moon in the Query box, you will not only find dreams with the phrase "blue moon," but also dreams that talk about a full moon and a blue sea, or playing the blues on a moonlit night. If you want to find only "blue moon," you need to search for blue_moon.

    There are also ways to search for more complicated patterns. For instance, you might want to find any form of the verb take: take, took, taken, taking. Or you might be looking for dreams about a person named Jennifer, so you want to be able to find Jen, Jenny, or Jennie as well. To do this, you can use regular expressions. Click here for more information.

    DreamBank tries to be intelligent with respect to the Query field. For example, if you type cat & dog instead of just cat dog, it will know what you mean. Similiarly, if you type cat, dog, the search engine will automatically remove your comma; it will even change you to "OR" mode if you type cat or dog. But try to use the proper syntax so that the program doesn't accidentally do something you didn't ask it to do.

    After you've typed your query, perform your search by clicking the "Search" button or simply hitting return/enter when your cursor is in the Query box.

  2. Dream series

    Select the dream series you're interested in by clicking in the scrolling menu box. If you want to select more than one series, hold down the Command/Apple key (Mac) or Control key (Windows) while clicking on additional series. (You can also click while holding down the Shift key to select a continuous range in the box.)

    If you want more information about your selected series, click the "get info" button. To see a table with information about ALL of the series that are available, click the "ALL info" link.

  3. Matching mode

    If you select AND mode (the default), the search engine will look for dreams that contain every query term that you enter. In "or" mode, the search engine will find dreams that contain any term that you enter.

    So if your search query is cat dog, AND mode will only find dreams containing both a cat and a dog, and OR mode will find dreams with either a cat or a dog.

    If you want to do a "combination" of AND and OR mode -- e.g., find dreams containing John and either Jane, Jill, or Jenny -- use AND mode and then separate your "or" terms with pipes (|). In this example, your query would be John Jane|Jill|Jenny. Read the page on regular expressions for more about pipes and other complex queries.

    Next to the "OR" button, there's a checkbox labeled "subtotals." Check this box if you're using OR mode and you want a breakdown of exactly how many dreams contained each of the terms you searched for. Note that having this option checked slows down the search process a little bit.

  4. Case sensitivity

    If case sensitivity is on, then the search engine will pay attention to whether your query contains uppercase or lowercase letters. If case sensitivity is off, case doesn't matter (this is the default).

    For example, a case-sensitive query for the word bill will find dreams that involve picking up the bill in a restaurant, duck-billed platypuses, etc., but it will probably not find dreams about a person whose name is Bill. A case-insensitive query would find all of them.

  5. Results display

    You can have the search engine display its results as: lists of dream numbers; a table showing all your queries; both; or neither.

    Usually, the more compact "Table" option is better, but there are certain situations where you might want to list out the numbers of all the dreams that match your query.

    There is also a third checkbox labeled "Contingency." Check this box to get a contingency anaylsis of your query terms; in other words, do the terms appear together more or less often than you would expect by chance? (You can only do a contingency analysis if you are in "OR" mode, and you have the "subtotals" box checked, because otherwise the search engine will not calculate a separate result for each query term.)