J Korean Neuropsychiatr Assoc.  2009 Mar;48(2):102-109.

On the Meaning of the 'Tooth-Losing Dream'

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Hanyang University Medical Center, Seoul, Korea. serpent9@naver.com


Everyone frequently dreams of "losing ones' tooth". According to folk tradition, this tooth-loss dream has been regarded as bad dream which foretells the death of the dreamer's important relatives, and this is not different between oriental and occidental cultures. Freud related this dream to guilt about masturbation and fear of anxiety in the context of the Oedipus complex. However, there appears to be no difference between the frequency of this type of dream between males and females, as shown by reports from male and female internet portal users as well as previous reports in the literature. Considering other psychoanalytic interpretations, and the meaning of tooth in the folklore literature, or rituals about handling the lost tooth in the world-wide tradition, the tooth-loss dream seems to reflect a universal and archetypal anxiety over losing something important. At the most fundamental level, the tooth-losing may contain the most and first important losing or separating event, that is, separation from the mother's body. The loss of important body parts (castration) or body functions, or other personal losses, may be attached to the same line of memory and emotion. So, the full meaning of the tooth-loss dream can be uncovered by considering both the archetypal and personal layer of dreamers' experiences.


Tooth-Losing-Dream; Anxiety; Separation
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