Sherlock Holmes: how to solve the mystery your dream presents

“My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t know.”

Sherlock Holmes and his partner Watson solved numerous of crimes. They were awesome detectives. Their awesomeness originated from an irrefutable way of thinking and acting.

Sherlock Holmes


Conan Doyle, writer of Sherlock Holmes got people out of prison this way. A man called Oscar Slater was thrown in prison being accused of murdering Marian Gilchrist. She was the first lady ever to be a doctor but suffered a dreadful death: being beaten to death in a robbery when her maid had gone out for ten minutes.

Marian Gilchrist and Christian Slater

Oscar was accused because he left for London just five days after the murder. In prison, he wrote a letter to Conan Doyle asking his help.

Imagine that your dream is a letter, of some part of you being in prison. Now your dream gives you the opportunity to search for evidence. Is the imprisonment rightful?

In a dream I had after being in disagreement with a dear one, I saw this person reading in a green map that is in my bookshelf. When I, while awake, opened this map again to look at the content I discovered it were my medical notes on pain. That is when I knew that, no matter how right I felt in accusing this person, I was doing him wrong.

Elementary my dear Watson, sometimes a dream requires more detecitive work… A client of mine told me her dream:
I am in a jewelry store. I have my old necklace that my mother gave to me when she died. The shop owner does not look at me. I feel ignored. Then a blond beautiful lady walks in and says: “Hey. I am double parked so i am in a hurry. Could you please give me a price for my necklace? The Jeweler takes a look at the necklace and gives her three golden coins. The lady walks out and the dreamer is left alone”.

When I heard this dream I had to carefully test my hypothesis. Being double parked… A necklace that is not valued by a jeweler… I assumed she was recently divorced, or unhappy in her relationship. When I asked her about it she told me that she was single again after she discovered that her husband was having an affair.  Because the necklace that got neglected in her dream was owned by her mother once I asked her about her mother. What kind of relationship did they have? What did her mother tell her daughter about relationships? I encouraged her to incubate a dream about her mother.

Researching dreams the Holmes way:

Maria Konnikova unpacks the mental strategies that lead to clearer thinking and deeper insights.


  • Be aware of trivial things. For example: Sherlock knew 140 different types of cigarette ash, that came in handy when he found an ashtray at a murder scene.
    In dreams it is wise to list down all the symbols in your story, no matter how small, because it could be the key to unlocking the door to freedom.
  • When a appears, b must follow. Deduction is based on the assumption of causality. Gather as much evidence as you can (your list of dream symbols) and make deductions about all of them. For example: if you dream about an undervalued piece of family jewel hanging round your neck one assumption might be that one is not very happy about his or her current engagement.
  • Use Google to find out what colors, phrases or symbols mean and use them to re-interpret your dream story. I once dreamed about a one eyes old man wearing a hat and found out i had been dreaming about Odin.

This article I wrote earlier can give you more insights in how to interpret dreams. And this Mindfunda sheds some light on the perspective of the dream story by asking the questions: who is the storyteller?


What is Mindfunda about?

My name is Susanne van Doorn, I am a Dutch psychologist, blogger and author. I have been working with psychology, dreams and mythology ever since I finished my study in psychology at Tilburg University. I made this independent site to share insights, and recent scientific articles about the brain, dreams, and mythology for use in your personal life.

This posting is categorised as Dreamfunda:  
Everything you need to know about dreams. Practical How to’s, the latest scientific research, the most commonly used ways to attach meaning to dreams. This and more is given to you for your everyday use in this part of Mindfunda

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