Your Dreams About Murder & Crime, Explained

It may be deeper thank you think.

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Experts explain the meanings behind dreams about murder and crime.
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If you've never woken up in a cold sweat after having a dream about someone being murdered (or about any other crime), then consider yourself lucky. These grisly nocturnal visions can shake you to your very core, whether you’re the victim in the dream or the perpetrator. But are these dreams about crime simply a side effect of listening to too many true crime podcasts right before bed? Or is there a deeper meaning to decode?

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As is the case with all types of dream interpretation, it’s important to consider the feelings that come up when we dream about someone being murdered or experiencing some other violent crime — and then analyze where else these feelings come in our lives currently. “A dream is often a metaphor,” says licensed clinical social worker Bridgit Dengel Gaspard, LCSW, which means you can view it as a message from your subconscious — aka, something your brain is trying to tell you. It’s also why dream meanings vary from person to person, says mystical practitioner Shawn Engel. While there are general dream meanings that can be applied broadly to everyone, it’s always going to be more helpful to interpret your dreams based on your own experiences.

As a side note, crime-related dreams might also be a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you've been the victim of a crime in real life (or are close to someone who has), it could be helpful to talk to a professional rather than try to decode this type of dream on your own. "Metaphorical dream interpretations are more for those who have not experienced such trauma in waking life, as these correspondences are not applicable to PTSD-related flashbacks,” Engel tells Bustle. Working with a trained mental health professional can help you suss out traumatic events and potentially cut down on any related nightmares.

While it’s possible that you’ve just been hitting your favorite true crime shows a little too hard before bed lately, dreams about murder and other crimes can often symbolize different kinds of (non-crime-related) anxiety, dissatisfaction, or feelings that we’re experiencing in our real lives. Read on for some expert interpretations.

1. Dreams About Robbery

Thankfully, dreaming about robbery doesn’t mean you’re about to be a victim of an actual robbery. Instead, it might mean you’re currently feeling anxious about losing something (or someone) in a more metaphorical way. According to Engel, dreams about robbery usually symbolize a fear of having something taken away from you. “For example, if you run an online business and you're afraid of getting your intellectual property stolen, you may have repeat home invasion dreams,” Engel says.

To put a stop to these dreams, consider which areas of your life feel shaky or uncertain — such as your career or relationship — and work on building a stronger foundation so that you feel more secure.

2. Dreams About Home Invasion

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Wake up from a dream about a burglary or someone breaking into your house, and it’s fair to say that you have a fear of someone invading your privacy or crossing your boundaries IRL. Again, think about the visual of someone climbing through a window or breaking down a door, and what that represents.

It’s definitely not a fun dream to have, so take the time to look at what parts of you feel “invaded” and see if there’s a way to “beef up” your security, so to speak. Are you overworked? Are the people in your life not respecting you? The fix might be as easy as saying “no” when you mean no more often, Gaspard says.

3. Dreams Where You’re The One Committing Crimes

‌No, dreaming about robbery doesn't mean you're on your way to becoming the next Bonnie or Clyde. If you’re the one doing the thieving in a dream, it’s possible that you feel something is missing in your life or that you’ve been unable to get something you want. Robbing someone else of their possessions in a dream could symbolize the intangible qualities or experiences that you’ve been striving to create for yourself, but haven’t succeeded at yet.

4. Dreams About Being Kidnapped

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To interpret what this type of dream means, start with the details. Gaspard suggests writing down things like who kidnapped you and what the situation felt like, and then seeing how it applies to your past or present self. It’s possible the kidnapping dream represents a part of you that needs attention. If this sounds right, Gaspard recommends giving yourself permission to embrace that area of your life.

Of course, kidnapping dreams can also represent a sense of feeling trapped or held back. Your captor in the dream might even represent or “hold the key” to what needs to be addressed in your waking life. For example, if you dream that you're being held captive by an ex, it may mean that your remaining feelings for that person are making you feel stuck or unable to move forward.

5. Dreams About A Car Chase

According to Gaspard, the car in your car chase dream represents you “driving through” life. Are you going at warp speed? Are you dodging things? Are you putting yourself or others at risk? It’ll help to ask yourself what you feel like when driving the car and who or what you’re chasing or being chased by. It’s possible an out-of-control car chase dream represents a part of you that’s racing towards a goal at all costs, perhaps at the cost of your health or relationships.

“We could also look at what kind of car is being driven or being chased, which could be a reflection of the status you’re aiming to achieve, or if it’s a car owned during an earlier time in their life,” Gaspard explains. “This could represent that there are unresolved issues related to that period that need to be addressed.” As with all dreams, it might be helpful to chat with a therapist to really uncover these areas that need to be addressed or healed.

6. Dreams About Assault

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Assault dreams can signify that you feel violated or that some aspect of your life feels wildly out of control, Engel says. It might also represent underlying or repressed anger. But on the flip side, could also represent protection or a type of self-love. “For example, it might signal that you’re now ready to deal with a major issue like confronting a bully or an addiction,” Gaspar says.

If you have a dream like this, pay attention to which areas of your life feel scary to you, or if there’s anything that currently feels like it’s beyond your control in a frightening way. This dream may be a sign that it’s time to start facing the situation. Is there a way to take small steps to get a better handle on it?

7. Dreams Where You’re Trying To Solve A Crime

Now let’s say you’re the one on the case in the dream, following clues and trying to solve a murder or other crime. “Our psyche is always working on things whether we are aware of it or not,” says Gaspard. This type of dream could be another way of solving a puzzle, like something in your life that’s been holding you back, or a tough situation that needs to be addressed.

It could also be your sleeping mind’s way of figuring out a social issue, like a misunderstanding in your family or friend group. “The detective could represent a more cool, dispassionate, or curious part of you who tries to look at the bigger picture through understanding the motivations or preferences of the players involved,” Gaspard says.

8. Dreams About Being Chased

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According to Gaspard, chase dreams are one of the most common types of dreams. (We’ve all experienced that feeling of running away in slow motion, right?) To interpret this type of dream, consider what’s chasing you as well as the feeling you have during the dream. More than likely, that shadowy figure running after you represents a part of yourself that you’re disowning, Gaspard says. It’s chasing you because it needs to be addressed.

9. Dreams About Murder

Murder dreams are often more than just horror-movie-induced fears creeping out of your subconscious at night. According to Engel, murder dreams are often the result of repressed emotions or a loss of control. “When we're looking at themes of trauma in dreams — which include victimization, surrender, loss of control, and passing away — we can surmise that the dreamer is feeling repressed in some way,” Engel says. “It may feel like they can't hold onto what's in their life.”

If you have a dream about someone being murdered, it could indicate that you’re dealing with repressed feelings of anger, frustration, or fear — and your subconscious is trying to find a way to get you to express them. If you're the one being pursued by the murderer, it could mean that you're trying to outrun an aspect of your emotions or a situation that you need to own up to.

That’s why it’s important to look at all aspects of the dream, from the victim to the perpetrator to the witnesses. “They each hold different personal histories of the dreamer and serve as an opportunity to look at what energies they have disowned in their life that perhaps they need to embrace a small amount of,” Gaspard says.

On a more positive note, murder dreams could also refer to moving on from an old habit or an outdated way of thinking. In this reading of the dream, the old habit is what is symbolically wiped out. Remember, dreams can be thought of as symbols that your subconscious uses to help you work through other situations in life that may be causing you to feel stressed, violated, threatened, or angry. So next time you have one of these scary dreams, don’t be freaked — just start analyzing your feelings.

Studies referenced:

Edwards, C. L., Ruby, P. M., Malinowski, J. E., Bennett, P. D., & Blagrove, M. T. (2013). Dreaming and insight. Frontiers in psychology, 4, 979.

Wittmann L, Schredl M, Kramer M. Dreaming in posttraumatic stress disorder: A critical review of phenomenology, psychophysiology and treatment. Psychother Psychosom. 2007;76(1):25-39. doi: 10.1159/000096362. PMID: 17170561.


Bridgit Dengel Gaspard, LCSW, licensed clinical social worker

Shawn Engel, mystical practitioner

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