9 Types of Kidnapping (& Escape) Dreams and What They Mean

Kidnapping in a dream is generally associated with ill fortune. Dreaming one’s own kidnapping serves as a warning to the dreamer. A dream where you kidnap someone else is a warning against what others might do to you.

Kidnapping and escape dreams, their symbolism and meaning
Dreaming of being kidnapped and taken away

Kidnapping as a desire for domination

Dreams about kidnapping can indicate a desire to either dominate someone or to be controlled by them. Dreams where you are kidnapped, but are not feeling afraid can have a sexual connotation.

We may dream that we are kidnapping someone, attempting to influence them, absorbing some of their personal quality that was not freely available, or making demands they cannot meet. In this case, we need to moderate our actions because we are trying to influence someone else.

Kidnapping means someone has power over you

When we are kidnapped in our dreams, we are reminded of how easily we can be controlled by someone else and forced to do or be something against our will. 

A dream in which you are in the middle of being ambushed, abducted or kidnapped implies that someone or something in your waking life is trying (but has not succeeded yet) in taking control of you. As a result, your dreams serve both as a warning and as an expression of your frustration and surprise about the situation.

In a dream, being held hostage may indicate that you feel controlled by someone or are subjected to some influence that keeps you from fulfilling your responsibilities.

A hostage taker may demand money, recognition, or some other form of reward. Do you have someone in your daily life who makes you feel guilty or puts unnecessary demands on you?

A dream in which we are kidnapped or abducted usually indicates that we have a problem with authority, whether at work or in our personal lives. Furthermore, it reflects a sense that you feel powerlessness in everyday life.

Kidnapping means there is a love-hate relationship in your life

Similar to what happens in real life kidnappings, some kidnapping dreams show a rapport between the victim and hostage-taker, which can indicate a love-hate relationship in waking life.

Images such as these may contain a dream version of the so-called Stockholm syndrome, in which victims sympathize with their captors.

Kidnapping someone as a form of self-protection or envy

When you dream of ambushing or abducting someone, it may reflect your desperation to avoid humiliation in real life. If the person you are ambushing is someone you know, you also need to consider if you are secretly envious of this person in waking life.

If this is the case, your unconscious may have been expressing your desire to capture or kidnap the qualities you admire and make them your own. Alternatively, you may have a hidden desire to control that person.

Kidnapping as a fear of losing part of yourself

The main theme in kidnapping dreams is fear. When we are kidnapped in a dream, we are aware that our own fears and doubts can cause us harm.

Our own ‘demons’ are taking over, ganging up on us and making us feel insecure. This is the frightened part of us that feels out of control and might need to be ‘negotiated’ with. 

When the dreamer has such a kidnapping dream, it is likely that he fears losing something very important to him, or losing things that are safe and familiar. It’s also possible that dreamers are fearful of leaving their homes, childhoods, social networks, or long-held principles and beliefs, and this works in a similar fashion to dreams where you feel abandoned.

Kidnapping or abduction dreams are most common during times of transition, be it physical or psychological, as well as times of great life stress when the future is clouded and uncertain.

To interpret the dream, consider all the details and try to isolate and identify what particular fear created this dream.

Kidnap dreams can mean you feel trapped in life

To have a dream where you’re held hostage or kidnapped could indicate feelings of victimization or entrapment in waking life.

Various situations in daily life can cause this, such as an abusive relationship or financial difficulty. The dream could mean that you’re feeling powerless and can’t figure out how to get out of a tough spot.

The defining trait of kidnapped hostages is that their freedom is taken from them against their will, which symbolizes being trapped by circumstances in real life.

In your dream, the hostage situation may also represent an aspect of your personality you aren’t expressing such as your creativity, intellect, or spiritual freedom. 

A dream like this may remind you of the circumstances in your life that limit your freedom. A kidnapping dream may also spark your imagination and enable you to see new possibilities by triggering your problem-solving abilities and imagination.

Kidnap dreams can you are too strict with yourself

A dream in which you are held captive could be an indication that you are overly controlling of some aspects of your psychological world. 

You may be afraid to express yourself or feel prisoner to your circumstances, such as a new job, marriage, or the birth of a child. 

There is also the possibility of you rejecting your hidden potential or your true feelings.  

Regardless however, the fact remains that, for better or worse, these things restrict your freedom.

Being gagged in a dream symbolizes that someone or something has taken away your freedom of speech and expression in waking life, that you cannot voice your concerns.

The chains and locks on a cell may represent the chains and locks you have put on yourself, your inhibitions in waking life. If these symbols appear in a dream, your unconscious is once again trying to encourage you to break free.

Your dreaming mind may portray you bound and fettered as a way to show you that there is no such thing as a bad decision, that sometimes in life you need to take a risk and make a judgment call and break free whatever the consequences.

If you dream of being stuck in a small space but can still move or crawl, this may symbolize your struggle to express your creative energies in waking life. Could it be that something or someone is holding back your creativity in daily life, and it is time for you to let go?

Dreams like these typically indicate that you are frustrated because you are not achieving your potential or ambitions.

The person who tried to kidnap or trap you in a dream may be the same person limiting you in real life.

You may also feel trapped by some obligation, situation, job that is deadening, or suffocating relationship you cannot escape from. In this case, your subconscious is urging you to find a way to break free.

Kidnap dreams as warning signs to do something

Kidnapping and abduction dreams are sometimes a message from your subconscious that you need to quickly mobilize and do something to avoid being trapped in a situation that can limit your freedom. 

A kidnapping dream can also be a warning that person in your life (or even an aspect of your personality) is 

The dream could also be warning you that someone (possibly your dream abductor, which could also symbolize a part of your personality) is systematically imposing their expectations on you.

You have to try to fix the most pressing problems instead of lamenting in silence. The key is not to permit others to decide for you.

Dream about being kidnapped, but escaping

To dream we are kidnapped, but then to escape, generally combines two or three different dream symbols: 1) the actual kidnapping  2) the time your are held hostage and 3) your escape.

However, the second symbol, which is to dream of being held hostage, may not apply in all dreams. For example, this could be because the kidnapping failed, and you escaped your captors before they could catch you.

To properly understand a dream where you’ve been kidnapped, but escaped, thus requires you to understand the mental symbolism your subconscious attaches to kidnapping, being held hostage (if applicable in your dream), as well the symbolism of “the escape”.

We’ve already touched on the symbolism of being kidnapped and held hostage, all that’s left now to understand your dream is to analyze what “the escape” means.

The concept of escape implies a need for spiritual freedom, to let go – or to avoid – difficult emotions. A common element of anxiety dreams is the desire to escape, either from the situation itself or something that threatens us.

There is also the possibility that we are trying to escape something that we simply have to confront, like a responsibility or personal duty.

To dream of a successful escape indicates that your troubles will be overcome; while a failed escape indicates that you will not be successful in defeating your challenges.

When a person dreams of escape, they may be seeking freedom from a particular circumstance that is bothering them, or they may represent a desire to recover from depression or even illness.

It is possible that dreams of breaking free from prison, cages, bindings, or bonds are symbolic of a desire to escape from a stressful situation.

Whenever you dream of escape, you are invariably implying there is something you must escape from. That ‘something’ can be a part of your personality or subconscious that you wish to deny, a responsibility you want to avoid, or a moral constraint that you don’t want to be a victim of.

Escaping in dreams however is a paradox. While in the dream world, our rational minds are powerless and it is our subconscious that decides everything for us. Thus, if you were able to escape a kidnapping, it wasn’t because of your own strength, but because the subconscious used the escape as a symbol,  that there is something in your life that you wish to avoid, that you do not want to confront.

However, sooner or later, you will have to face it head on.

Resources and references:

  • A dictionary of symbols by Cirlot, Juan Eduardo
  • A dictionary of symbols  by Chevalier, Jean
  • Dictionary of symbols by Chetwynd, Tom
  • A dictionary of dream symbols : with an introduction to dream psychology by Ackroyd, Eric
  • Illustrated dictionary of symbols in eastern and western art by Hall, James
  • Dictionary of symbols and imagery by Vries, Ad de
  • Symbolism : a comprehensive dictionary by Olderr, Steven
  • Dictionary of mythology, folklore and symbols by Jobes, Gertrude
  • The complete dictionary of symbols by Tresidder, Jack
  • The dream dictionary from A to Z by Francis-Cheung, Theresa
  • 1001 dreams by Altman, Jack
  • The Watkins dictionary of dreams by Reading, Mario
  • Dictionary of dreams : interpretation and understanding by Colin, Didier
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