This morning, I woke up, and immediately went, holy fuck! My mind had taken me at some point during the night to a terrifying place, the stuff of nightmares—a place, likely in hell, where I had a sex dream featuring a smiling Eric Trump.
“I had the most disturbing dream of my life last night,” I typed into the Jezebel Slack channel, before proceeding to horrify my coworkers with descriptions of Eric’s “tender smile” as we made out and, I imagine, boned. (While I do not remember the actual sex act, thank god, you know when you have that feeling in a dream that you boned?) “He was very sensitive and giving in the dream,” I noted. I recognize the horror of those words.
Was this dream somehow coronavirus-related? People have been having extremely vivid and often panicked dreams lately, and while I’ve had my share of dreams revolving around covid-19, where does a sex dream featuring the toothiest Trump son fit into our collective dream world right now?
To help me plumb the fearsome depths of my own possibly depraved psyche, I reached out to Alice Robb, author of Why We Dream: The Transformative Power of Our Nightly Journey. I really only had one question for her: What’s wrong with me?
JEZEBEL: I texted you the details of my dream. What’s happening here? Is my brain broken?
ALICE ROBB: I don’t think your brain is broken.
I thought I would ask you the type of questions that I would ask myself if I had a dream like this. How’s your sleep schedule changed with the coronavirus?
I feel like I’m getting a little bit more sleep than I used to. I’ve been going to bed earlier, sometimes around 9 p.m. I’ve noticed that I’m falling asleep more often while I’m in the middle of doing something, like reading a book or watching something. And that’s not been my usual sleep pattern, so it’s definitely changed in the past few weeks.
A lot of people are sleeping longer hours. Now, are you still waking up with an alarm?
I have an alarm set every day, but I find often I’ll wake up before it goes off.
Sleeping longer hours is one of the main things that correlated with high dream recall. The dream you had last night, do you know what part of the night you had it in?
I don’t. I definitely remember the Eric Trump part of the dream preceded another very vivid dream, or different scenes rather. But those have left my brain. The part with Eric Trump—sexy time with Eric Trump in my dream world!—is the part that stuck with me.
Later in the night or towards the morning is when we tend to have the most vivid and bizarre dreams. The stuff that when we’re having the longest REM periods, and REM is the cycle when you’re having the most dream activity.
I would say one thing that might comfort you a little, is there’s definitely a bias in which dreams we recall. You probably had other dreams last night during your other REM cycles and they probably did not involve having sex with Eric Trump.
Do you remember what you were doing or thinking about before you went to bed?
I was reading a novel, a book of short stories by a science fiction writer. So not really anything related to the Trumps or Eric Trump!
Was there anything sexual in the book?
No! It really felt like it just came out of nowhere.
One thing to know is that sex dreams are pretty common. One survey found that 8 percent of all dreams have some sexual content in them. I also read in a study that women are much more likely to have sex dreams about public figures than men. So I don’t think this is as crazy as you might feel it is.
Do you have sex dreams often?
I do, but I can’t really remember one in the past where it was someone who was a public figure. Usually in my dreams, it’s kind of this almost faceless person.
Has your quarantine been a celibate time?
Oh yeah, unless you count masturbation!
One thing that’s correlated with sex dreams is sexual fantasizing, but not the amount of time you’re actually spending having sex. If you’re spending more time than usual fantasizing, that can produce sex dreams.
I guess my question is, what does it mean to have a sex dream about someone who in your waking life you completely detest?
What are your associations with Eric Trump specifically?
Just completely negative—an asshole, a jerk, a rich entitled bastard. Part of a family who’s fucking all of us over. Which I guess could maybe be appropriate. We’re all definitely getting fucked by our government right now!
Does Eric Trump remind you of anyone you know in real life, or past partners?
No, honestly when I look at him, all I see is like a cartoon shark. He definitely doesn’t remind me of anyone I know in my personal life.
This is maybe an underwhelming explanation, but if you’ve been spending a lot of time during the day thinking about government and Trump, dreams tend to incorporate what we’re thinking about during the day. So it could be something like that.
I guess one consolation is that it wasn’t Donald Trump. That would probably have been a step too far even for my subconscious to go there. That would be the ultimate terror.
Freud would have said all dreams represent wish fulfillment, and this is you actually fulfilling a fantasy that you couldn’t acknowledge to yourself.
I don’t believe that. We all have sex dreams about people we would never be interested in having sex with.
Could it just be my brain combining wildly different things, like my wish that we weren’t quarantined and I could be having sex, coupled with the fact that I am reading a lot of politics news and it’s all overwhelming? Maybe it’s just my stupid brain trying to fit all of that together in a way that makes sense.
When we’re dreaming, it’s a much more jumbled-up time, and the parts of our brain that are involved in rational thinking are less active. And we are making these very random connections that we would not make in reality. So you might be having very emotional times during the day thinking about the Trumps, and thinking about sex, and it all gets kind of mixed up together.
What really stuck out to me was how sensitive he was and how giving. I think if that hadn’t been a part of it, I would be less freaked out. But now, I won’t ever be able to look at him without thinking of this.
Did Eric Trump look the way he does usually?
He did, but with a very gentle smile on his face.
Is that what your sex dreams are usually like? Positive?
I would say it tracks with what they’ve been like before.
I guess if it were me, I would also ask myself what Eric Trump represents, whether that’s a person or a trait. Just if he reminds me of anything in real life, and I would try and examine my feelings about that, and see if there was anything I wasn’t acknowledging about that person or trait, if I had some kind of attraction or not. Not even in a sexual sense.
But that might be a metaphor for something else.
It’s hard to say without being inside your brain.