Working with Dream Themes: The Loss of Identity

Okau Road tunnel

Passing Through a Tight Place

One of the messages that Edgar Cayce had to say about dreams is that they point out the difference between how my higher self sees me and how my ego self sees me.  Dreams are always trying to get us to let go of ego and grow into our higher selves.   Nightmares are often caused by this clash between these two parts in each of us.   The ego just doesn’t want to let go to that higher self and the results show in fear, anger or depression!  Loss of identity dreams especially seem to be related to this issue of ego letting go.  When we worry too much about things like money, status, job opportunities and people loving us, “loss of identity” dreams often kick in, reminding us that there is more to us than our ego identity.

How we think of ourselves is something that seems to be very important in dreamtime.  I say this because so many of my dreams and those of my friends, students and colleagues who have shared their dreams with me note the theme of personal identity, or the loss of it, showing up in dreams—especially when we come to recognize our unique symbols or the commonly occurring symbols for this event.

I have to admit it was a long time before I recognized the symbol for what it meant in my dreams, even though I had the dream repeatedly over many years.   In the dream I would lose my purse or have it stolen, usually by a bunch of bratty kids.  I was aware enough to realize these nightmares usually occurred when I was worried about finances so I just assumed that’s all there was to it.   Having the dream repeat over a period of time should have clued me in that I didn’t fully understand or appreciate the dream.  Here is a typical dream:

I go through a tight place but make it through.  I realize I don’t have my purse.  I go back to the tight place and see a lot of women have left their purses here going through this tight place.

Going through a tight place evokes the feeling of going through the birth canal, the transition to a new level of being or awareness.  At the time of this dream I was just about to undergo a major spiritual event, a kundalini awakening.  After doing this, I would realize I don’t have my purse.  At the time, I had just come into an inheritance so money wasn’t an issue.  So what did the purse mean?  Sandra A. Thomson in Cloud Nine: A Dreamer’s Dictionary notes that it is related to identity. The purse holds one’s identity in the form of ID cards such as a driver’s license or passport.  Going through such a major transition would cause me to lose the way I look at myself, my identity—which indeed happened to an enormous degree.  The kundalini awakening had me undergo such physical, emotional and spiritual changes that I no longer recognized my “old self” on any of these dimensions.  However, eventually I was led to  experience the fact that at the core I am a being of energy and light, able to receive and transmit healing energy.   I was being transformed.  What a new spiritual identity!  The dream was telling me that it wasn’t just me but there are many other women who experience this loss of identity when undergoing major transitions.  The many women could be other women or other parts of myself.  As it turned out, I ended up making many changes which totally changed my waking life identity as well.  I left my career in IT consulting, moved to Hawaii, and became a writer, educator and life coach.

Dead Men Do Tell Tales: An intuitive teen dream detective mystery novel using dreamwork methods to solve a case. See

The Traveling Sketchbook: An American Kid Discovers Japan, a coming of age story set in Japan.  See


8 thoughts on “Working with Dream Themes: The Loss of Identity

  1. First time reader and first time writer.
    Thank you so much for your input, I enjoyed it and it helped.

    My loss of identity dream was in no way subtle. I was in a private Zoo/ observation lab. I was in the cage and I could not speak English anymore. I was practically Cromagnum.
    I was being taunted by a worker and eventually I escaped through an air duct. The worker caught up to me and had a taser and taunted me so much that I distinctly remember screaming to him that I had a name and I was of great worth.

    Is there any reason why my dream would be so vivid? I think there is also a comparison to the right space/ air duct. Any thoughts?

    • Thank you for sharing your amazing dream. The dream may have been inspired or sparked by something happening in your waking life. For example, someone or something may have been “caging you in.” However, to get deeper insight and spiritual growth, it is important to think of everything in the dream as representing some energy inside yourself. Ask what part of you is or has been limiting yourself, caging yourself in? You broke free and managed to get away so there is a part of you that is very strong and determined. Always choose to act out of that particular energy!

  2. I feel my creativity is being held back. I haven’t been able to express my inner desires lately. I want to but I feel overwhelmed by day to day obligations. I think I need to ponder my priorities and balance my responsibilities and my own personal feelings.

  3. HI,i have the same dream every week,sometimes more than once.I fly through a dark space and dont know who I am,what my name is…I also dont know where I am.It is so frightening that it wakes me up,but the scariest of all is that once I am awake I still hold that feeling!I still dont know where I am and who I am;it usually takes me about 1 minute to force my mind back to the present and realize. Every time this happens I have the feeling that I am losing my mind,that I might be in the early stages of some disease?

    • Hi, Mike. If this were my dream I would ask myself what is going on in my life that makes me feel “lost in space?” Is it a job that is no longer meaningful, a relationship that has gone bad, a disconnect from the place you are living in? Often, this kind of dream signals there is a search for deeper meaning and exploration going on… you are like an astronaut “out there.” Instead of seeing this as lost in space consider it an opportunity to start exploring. What in your life needs changing? What do you want more of? What new places do you hope to explore? Hang in there; this is a great dream calling you on a new adventure for more more meaning, depth and adventure in your life.

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