Anyone who has woken from a dream in which they murdered someone knows how distressing it can be. It doesn’t matter whether you killed someone or you witnessed a killing in the dream. Either way, it’s traumatic. So what do dreams about killing someone mean?

Interpreting Dreams about Killing Someone

So what does it mean when you dream about killing someone? Well, there’s a lot to unpack so let’s take it one step at a time. Remember to look at every aspect of the dream:

How did you kill them?

The method of killing can be very symbolic, here’s why. When we dream our mind uses words we’ve been thinking during the day and then converts them into images.

For example, we might feel stressed in our work and think that we are stuck in a rat race. Then, when we dream, we may see rats running down a road. So it’s important to talk about your dream and free associate a little.

Dream about killing someone with a knife

When you kill a person with a knife, it is up close and personal. Knives are also associated with words, i.e. ‘her tongue cut me like a knife’. This dream suggests you have been terribly hurt by someone saying hurtful things about you.

The person was particularly close to you if you stabbed them in the heart. If you were very angry with what they said you may have taken out your rage on their face in order to silence them.

Shooting someone with a gun

The gun is a phallic symbol and associated with male dominance and control. When you shoot someone, you are also fairly removed from the person. You don’t have to get too close to them. It is a clean method of killing. There is a distance between you and the victim, so it is quite an impersonal way of dispatching someone.

This method of killing could also indicate a wish to escape from a situation. Perhaps you feel powerless or feel that you have too much to deal with. You can’t take on any more work so shooting gives you time and space to think clearly.

Strangling someone to death

When you strangle someone to death, you are preventing them from breathing. But you are also stifling them, you are stopping them from talking. This dream can indicate a desire to keep something hidden from others.

Perhaps you fear that someone will find out your deepest secret desires? Maybe you feel ashamed of them and worry that you’ll be found out? Do you think people will judge you if they know the real you?

Beating someone to death

We’ve all heard of the saying ‘don’t beat yourself up over it’. Well, this dream is all about controlling your anger. It doesn’t matter who you killed in the dream, the warning is the same regardless.

Perhaps the person you killed is a trigger for you, but this dream is telling you that you must start taking responsibility for your own actions. All this pent up aggression and frustration is down to you, not this other person.

Poisoning someone in your dream

Poisoning in a dream is linked to jealousy or desire for something the other person has. Typically, a poison dream is associated with a desire for another person. The victim is poisoned to get rid of them. They are seen as an obstacle in the way of true love.

However, in reality, people poison their victims for many different reasons. Poisoning is a passive way of killing someone. It doesn’t take any strength and you don’t have to get close to the victim or feel the impact of the kill. Do you feel powerless in real life over a situation?

Who did you kill?

female killers why women kill

Mother

This dream represents regret at the bad choices or decisions you have made in the past. Or perhaps you have missed an opportunity and wish you could go back in time.

It doesn’t mean you have a bad relationship with your mother. This dream suggests coming to terms and accepting responsibility for your life decisions.

Father

Father figures are authoritarian and controlling. They provide stability and a safe haven. They protect us and guide us. By dreaming of killing your father, you are exerting control over your own life.

You can see that a situation has gone on for too long and you are putting your foot down. You are taking charge and you will not be submissive anymore.

Parents

Killing your parents in a dream indicates your growth and independence. You are transforming into adulthood and no longer need guidance from your parents. Your relationship with them has changed to one of the equals.

Entire family

Massacring an entire family is a sign of a deep sense of failure. You feel as if you are totally alone in the world and nothing has ever worked out for you. No matter what you try to do you always end up failing. This is a strong message from your subconscious to seek proper help.

Your partner

This dream suggests that you are jealous of your loved one. It’s that old saying. If I can’t have him/her, no one else can‘. You are so afraid your partner will cheat on you that you kill them.

This dream is your own insecurity rising to the surface. Either you don’t want to admit it or it is consuming you in your waking hours. Try and think rationally about the situation.

A stranger

Dreams about killing someone you don’t know are very common. Usually, the stranger represents something important in our life that we can’t face or deal with. So it’s important to examine all the aspects of killing the stranger in your dream to try and unpick what our subconscious is trying to tell us.

What did they look like? Did they remind you of anyone? Did they attack you or run away from you? How did you kill them? What happened afterwards?

Yourself

Killing yourself suggests a longing for transformation or a change in circumstances. Perhaps you want to switch careers or move to a new part of the country or world? Or maybe you are unhappy with your partner and feel trapped in the relationship? Killing yourself is a suppressed desire to start afresh.

A friend

When we dream about killing a friend we should look to the friendship to see if anything has changed recently. Is there anything your friend is doing that you are not willing to bring up? Do you resent your friend? Do you disagree with their life choices? Are you jealous of them? Do you worry that if you discuss these things you’ll lose the friendship?

A child

Killing a child in your dream is particularly traumatic, but it doesn’t mean that you are a cold-blooded predator. It indicates that you are struggling with a lot of responsibility at this moment. You need to take a step back and review your commitments.

Why did you kill them?

As studies suggest, there is a lot of difference in the way a person kills in their dream and their motive for the killing.

Self-defence

A dream about killing someone in self-defence is a wake-up call to stop putting up with bad behaviour from someone close in your life. Is this person taking you for granted? Do they treat you like a doormat? Are they controlling? Do they get aggressive?

You might have been trying to rationalise their behaviour but your subconscious mind has had enough. It is telling you that this is not ok.

It was an accident

If you accidentally killed someone, then you need to be more responsible and start taking things seriously in your life. This dream is warning you that you are playing fast and loose. You are being reckless and soon someone will get hurt in real life.

You might not care about any consequences of your actions, but you need to act before it’s too late.

Examples of Interpreting Dreams about Killing Someone

psychotic female killer

I don’t often have dreams about killing someone, but I do have a recurring dream about killing a good friend of mine. This dream is particularly worrying. I don’t remember the actual killing. The main part of the dream revolves around hiding the body and the fear of it being found.

I guess you don’t have to be a psychologist to realise that my dream isn’t about the act of killing someone. You can interpret it in several ways. For instance, for me, the important part of the dream is the foreboding anxiety of the body being discovered.

Sigmund Freud and Dream Analysis

In dream analysis, Sigmund Freud would always prompt his patients to talk about their dream. In my dream, I was absolutely terrified that I would be found out. The burial site would be uncovered and I would be unmasked as someone I am not. This could relate to Imposter Syndrome. So where has this fear come from?

I have a good friend who once said to me that my job of writing was ‘money for old rope’. This always stuck in my mind. It irritated and made me angry at the time. Although I’ve always wanted to work as a writer, perhaps my friend’s comment made me feel as if I wasn’t good enough.

Then again, it could relate to killing and burying part of my psyche I am not willing to face. Perhaps deep down, I don’t feel as if I am good enough.

Carl Jung and Shadow Work

I wrote an article about Carl Jung and Shadow Work which really struck a chord with me. Bear with me, I know I’m going off on a tangent. I have another friend that would do things that started to irritate me after a while.

After I’d researched shadow work, I knew why these habits of hers wound me up so much. Because they were the exact same things I did too. This is called ‘projection’. I couldn’t face up to these habits in myself so I hated them in other people.

Then, there is the actual friend in my dream. I’ve known her since school some 45 years ago. Despite her being my best friend, she was a bully to other girls. I’ve always felt bad about not sticking up for the victims of her bullying.

We don’t see one another much in person, but we do chat on social media. Nowadays, she is a very spiritual person who cares for everyone. Maybe my dream is my subconscious telling me that the old person she used to be is dead and buried and I can move on?

I just wanted to put those thoughts out there before I go on to explore dreams about killing people.

Latent Content of Dreams about Killing Someone

This is because when we start to interpret a dream where we have killed someone, we naturally assume that the person we have killed is the most important factor. Of course, it might well be important, but it’s also important to look at all the other factors. This is the hidden or latent content of the dream.

For example, if you know the person, what sort of relationship do you have with them? Are you jealous of them? Have you had an argument recently? Do you hate them? Have they humiliated, cheated, or betrayed you? Do they annoy or irritate you? If so then your dream about killing them could symbolise your wish to get away from them.

On the other hand, did you kill someone in your dream that you admire or love? In this case, it is likely that the person you have killed represents something you want to be or obtain but can’t have. Or, you may have done something awful to this person and can’t face up to it.

Psychological Research into Dreams about Killing Someone

violent images

People who dream about killing may be more aggressive when they are awake

It should come as no surprise to learn this. Studies show people who dream about killing might be more aggressive in waking life. After all, we dream about the things we experience during the day. This is our mind coping with the day’s events.

However, it’s important to remember that there are different ways of killing someone in our dreams. There is self-defence, accidentally killing someone, assisting someone to commit suicide, and cold-blooded murder.

Research suggests that there is a link with the latter type of killing in a dream. If the dreamer is the aggressor and commits extreme violence in the dream this is related to aggression in waking life.

Males are more likely to dream about killing someone

While I do have a recurring dream about killing my friend, when I try and remember it, I don’t recall the actual killing part. What stands out for me is the burying of the body and the dread of being caught.

I don’t dream about stabbing or strangling my friend. In fact, when I think about it, I have always killed her at the start of the dream and the problem I face is where to bury her.

Statistics show that perpetrators of violent crime are most likely to be male. They commit around 74% of all violent crime (UK figures). So it stands to reason that if males are committing more violent acts in real life, they will then have more violent dreams than females, and research supports this.

Things to Remember When Interpreting Your Killing Dream

  • Killing someone in your dream doesn’t mean you want them to die
  • It means you want to instigate a change in your life
  • The person you are killing may or may not be the most important factor in the dream
  • What was your overwhelming feeling throughout the dream?
  • Concentrate on that to find the answer

Have you ever had dreams about killing someone? Why not let us know and maybe someone can interpret it for you!

Janey Davies, B.A. (Hons)

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