The Classification and Coding of Objects


The characters in a dream report do not act, interact, emote, strive, and meet their fate in a vacuum. The dream report usually contains physical surroundings which are divided into two very general categories in the Hall/Van de Castle system: settings and objects. Generally speaking, settings and objects have not been quite as interesting as some of the categories that already have been presented, but they sometimes have their uses.

Almost all dream reports include some form of recognizable setting, and dreamers frequently begin their report by saying something about the setting. In the same way that there are often several acts and scenes to a play, so, too, is it common for the setting to change during the course of a dream narrative, sometimes quite abruptly.

Classes of Objects


Architecture refers to buildings or structures and their component parts. Seven different subclasses of architecture are coded. The first letter of the coding symbol for architecture is A which is followed by a second letter to indicate the subclass. The first four subclasses deal with entire buildings or units within buildings while the next two deal with small component parts of buildings. Any architectural object not included in these six categories is coded in the miscellaneous subclass.

Residential (coding symbol: AR).  This subclass is composed of all buildings and units of buildings (rooms) that are used for residential purposes. It includes house, mansion, castle, palace, cabin, shack, hut, tent, and other type of private dwelling place. It also includes apartment house, dormitory, hotel, motel, inn, and other types of multiple dwelling places in which people reside temporarily or permanently. In addition to obvious residential rooms such as bedrooms and living rooms, AR also includes hallways and stairways as well as levels within a residential building such as the second floor, downstairs, and basement.

Vocational (coding symbol: AV).  This subclass includes buildings and rooms in buildings devoted mainly to business transactions, manufacturing, employment, or education. What such buildings share in common is that they are primarily concerned with work or vocational activities. Included is any type of store, factory, and office. Classroom buildings and classrooms are also coded as vocational because of their implied work emphasis; other educational buildings such as school dormitories, cafeterias, and chapels are classified under other headings. Banks are included in the money class. Home workshops and study rooms are not included here; they are coded AR.

Entertainment (coding symbol: AE).  This subclass covers buildings and rooms that are used for recreation, entertainment, sports, or other pleasurable activities. Included are restaurant, cafeteria, diner, bar, nightclub, casino, dance hall, theater, museum, art gallery, bowling alley, stadium, gymnasium, and indoor swimming pool. Recreation or hobby rooms in a home are not included in this subclass; they are coded AR.

Institutional (coding symbol: AI).  This subclass is composed of buildings or units within them that society maintains for collective action in dealing with social or governmental problems. Such buildings are therefore generally supported by taxes or subscription. Included are hospital, infirmary, jail, penitentiary, court house, government building, military building, and church, as well as the units within them such as surgery room, cell, court room, tax collector's office, and choir loft.

Details (coding symbol: AD).  This subclass consists of all parts of a room or smaller units of a building not usually regarded as separate rooms. Included are door, window, wall, ceiling, fireplace, aisle, steps, and floor. In the last example, floor refers to the walked-on surface of a room, not to a level within a building. It does not matter what type of building is involved; a house door, restaurant door, or church door are all coded as AD. In addition to internal components, architectural details also include those structures viewed from outside a building such as roof, chimney, spire, belfry, ledge, balcony, railing, fire escape, shutters, arch, and column.

Building Materials (coding symbol: AB).  Included in this subclass are those objects used to construct buildings such as boards, lumber, bricks, concrete blocks, and cement.

Miscellaneous (coding symbol: AM).  Any building or part of a building which cannot be classified within the preceding architectural groupings would be included here. Some examples are tower, dam, and fountain.


(Coding symbol: HH.)  Contained within this class are all objects frequently encountered in a household setting. Included are furniture such as table, chair, and bed; appliances such as stove, refrigerator, and vacuum cleaner; furnishings such as rug, drapes, and lamp; and supplies such as sheet, light bulb, and soap. Silverware, dinner ware, and cooking utensils are coded HH. Examples of other objects coded HH are broom, clock, scissors, needle, safety pin, thermometer, medicines, cosmetics, bottle, mirror, faucet, rope, garbage can, and hose. Office furniture and furnishings are also considered HH.


(Coding symbol: FO.)  Both food and drink are coded in this class. Included are all forms of food or drink whether on the shelf of a store, in a refrigerator, in a container, on a plate, or on the table. It does not include food that is growing. Growing food is coded in the nature class. It does include general terms such as groceries, drinks, and things to eat, but not a reference to a meal or to eating without any specification as to what the meal consisted of or what was eaten. Grocery store and meat market are coded as AV, restaurant and cafeteria are coded as AE, dining room as AR, and dining room table as HH.


Three subclasses of implements are coded. The first letter of the coding symbol for implements is I to which a second letter is attached to indicate the subclass.

Tools (coding symbol: IT).  This subclass includes tools, machinery, and machinery parts. Objects that are used in vocational activities are generally included here, although some such as typewriter are coded in the communication class. Examples of the IT subclass are hammer, nail, saw, screwdriver, wrench, pliers, shovel, rake, lawn mower, lathe, X-ray machine, jack, lever, and starting button of a machine. Household appliances are coded in the household class and parts of conveyances are coded in the travel class.

Weapons (coding symbol: IW).  This subclass consists of such weapons as gun, club, sword, grenade, missiles, or bomb. Tanks and bombers are coded here rather than in the travel class.

Recreation (coding symbol: IR).  This subclass incorporates sporting goods such as baseball bat, tennis racquet, balls, ice skates, and fishing pole; objects used in playing games such as cards, checkers, and dice; and toys such as dolls, miniature trucks, and blocks. This subclass also includes musical instruments.


(Coding symbol: TR.)  Encompassed within this class are all forms of conveyance such as car, truck, bus, streetcar, subway, train, boat, airplane, bicycle, elevator, and escalator. Parts of a conveyance such as wheel, brakes, motor, windshield, and propeller are also included. In addition, objects associated with travel such as bus depot, train station, airport, license plate, passenger ticket, and luggage are coded TR.


(Coding symbol: ST.)  Covered within this class are all types of roadways by which a person can go from one place to another. Included are street, highway, road, path, trail, alley, sidewalk, driveway, intersection, bridge, and train tracks.


(Coding symbol: RG.)  This class primarily takes in all land areas that are limited by some form of boundaries. It includes city, village, block, square, parking lot, yard, park, playing field, lot, cemetery, farm, college campus, and military camp. Also considered as regions are water areas whose boundaries have been established by man, such as outdoor swimming pools and reservoirs.


(Coding symbol: NA.)  This class consists of all outdoor objects that exist in nature. Included are all forms of plant life such as tree, flower, and grass; terrain such as mountain, plateau, cliff, cave, valley, field, meadow, swamp, and forest; natural bodies of water such as ocean, lake, pond, river, and waterfall; weather elements such as rain, snow, hail, and ice; heavenly bodies such as sun, moon, star, and planet; earth and its mineral products such as ground, soil, dirt, clay, mud, sand, pebbles, rocks, iron ore, gold ore, crude diamonds, rubies, or other gems. Growing fruits or vegetables are NA, but fruits or vegetables prepared for eating are FO. Similarly, water or ice as it appears in nature is NA, but a glass of water intended for drinking is coded FO.

Body Parts

Both human and animal parts are included under this heading. Five subclasses of body parts are coded. The first letter of the coding symbol is B which is followed by a second letter to indicate the subclass.

Head (coding symbol: BH).  This subclass is composed of all visible body parts in the head region. It includes head, neck, throat, face, hair, horns, eyes, beak, nose, mouth, lips, tongue, real and false teeth, jaw, ears, and beard.

Extremities (coding symbol: BE).  All extremities of the body such as leg, arm, tail, and fin as well as parts of extremities such as finger, hand, elbow, toe, foot, knee, and claw are included in this subclass.

Torso (coding symbol: BT).  All visible parts of the torso such as shoulders, chest, abdomen, hips, side, and back are included in this subclass. Terms such as body, build, and physique are also coded BT.

Anatomy (coding symbol: BA).  This subclass contains internal body parts, both bony and visceral, and includes such parts as skull, ribs, leg bone, tonsils, heart, lungs, and intestines. Terms such as insides or guts are coded BA. Also included are body secretions such as blood, perspiration, saliva, and pus. Note should be made of the following grouping, BS, before coding something as BA.

Sex (coding symbol: BS).  This subclass embraces all body parts and organs related to reproduction and excretion such as penis, testicles, vagina, clitoris, uterus, pelvis, pubic hair, breasts, nipples, buttocks, and anus. Also included are secretions or products from these organs such as semen, menstrual blood, urine, and feces. Embryo and fetus are coded BS.


(Coding symbol: CL.)  Covered within this class are clothing and parts of clothing. Included are outer garments, underwear, headgear, and footwear, as well as such items as pocket, collar, and button. Accessories that are carried or worn by a person such as handbag, cane, wristwatch, and eyeglasses, and jewelry such as ring, necklace, and ornamental pin are coded CL.


(Coding symbol: CM.)  This class is composed of all forms of visual, auditory, and written communications and the means for transmitting them. Included are TV set, movie, photograph, drawing, painting, picture, sculpture, telephone, radio, tape recorder, phonograph, book, magazine, newspaper, letter, telegram, postcard, advertisement, map, and test. Objects used to produce communications such as camera, film, microphone, typewriter, pen, pencil, and paper are also coded CM.


(Coding symbol: MO.)  This class incorporates money and objects closely associated with money. Included is any type of money in the form of currency and coins; objects that can easily be exchanged for money such as checks, gambling chips, and subway tokens; negotiable objects such as stocks and bonds; records referring to monetary values such as check stubs, bills, receipts, and price tags, and containers for money such as piggy banks, wallets, and change purses. Unless a purse is mentioned as a coin or change purse, it is coded CL because a purse is considered a stylistic accessory that is a receptacle for a wide variety of objects beside money. Bank buildings are coded MO.


(Coding symbol: MS.)  An object that cannot be included in any of the preceding classes is coded as MS.

Coding Rules

Some objects raise problems as to whether they should be coded in one class or another. Their placement must be decided on the basis of context, usage of the object, and the manner in which it is described. For example, a knife can be used as an aggressive implement (IW) or as cutlery (HH). A key may open a home (HH) or it may start a car (TR). To use rags for household cleaning (HH) is quite different from wearing them for clothing (CL). Thus, objects such as knives, keys, and rags cannot be mechanically assigned to the household class in every instance.

1.  Each object is to be assigned to only one class. A knife, for example, cannot be both a household object (HH) and a weapon (IW).

"My mother said to put the KNIVES (HH) and FORKS (HH) on the TABLE (HH)."

"He kept coming after me with a KNIFE (IW) in his HAND (BE)."

2.  Any object that is mentioned in the dream is coded. An object need not be physically present to be coded.

"I was planning to buy a CAR (TR)."

"We were reading about how they made CHEESE (FO)."

3.  If the same object is mentioned several times in a dream, it is only coded once. If two or more similar but distinctly different objects of the same type are mentioned, each is coded.

"I looked at the NECKLACE (CL), passed it along to Jim, and he handed the necklace to Walt."

"There was a red BOOK (CM), a blue BOOK (CM), and a yellow BOOK (CM) lying on the FLOOR (AD)."

4.  If an object is a part or subunit of a larger unit, each of the subunits as well as the larger unit is coded.

"His NOSE (BH) was very large for his FACE (BH)."

"The LIVING ROOM (AR) of this HOUSE (AR) was all decorated in blue."

"The DOOR (AD) to the LIVING ROOM (AR) was made of oak."

5.  An object is not coded if it is referred to in a generic sense, or if the dreamer mentions an object in order to exclude it.

"I told her that I was eager to finish school."

"I got cold feet and couldn't go through with it."

"He said it was not a flower but a TREE (NA)."

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