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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



death or the terminal state resulting from acute insufficiency of the oxygen supply to the brain and other tissues when the air passages are filled with fluid; a variety of asphyxia. Death from drowning usually occurs three to five minutes after breathing has ceased and the blood has stopped flowing. Sudden death in the water may be from causes other than drowning (such as heart disease, cranial injury, or injury to the cervical segment of the spine), in which case the true cause of death is determined by a forensic medical examiner.

First aid for drowning, rendered at the site of the accident, is effective only during but not beyond the time of clinical death. Such aid consists of removal of the fluid from the air passages, artificial respiration, and cardiac massage. After the vital functions are restored, the victim must be kept under observation by a physician to prevent possible death caused, for example, by pulmonary edema.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about drowning?

Large bodies of water often symbolize the unconscious, so drowning may indicate being overwhelmed by unconscious, repressed issues. This need not being entirely negative; being forced to face issues one has been avoiding can have a positive outcome. Water also symbolizes the emotions, and dreams about drowning sometimes occur during periods of crisis (e.g., loss of a loved one) when one feels overwhelmed by emotions. Finally, drowning sometimes is initiatory symbolism, indicating that the dreamer is entering a new stage of development and “dying” to the old self.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


Dreaming about drowning is common and it invokes fear. However, it may have positive significance. This dream suggests that the dreamer may be overwhelmed by unresolved emotions, old issues, or a current crisis. It suggests that a release of the old is necessary in order to emerge and begin anew. This dream serves to awaken the dreamer to embrace and to effectively cope with problems and negativity in his life.
Bedside Dream Dictionary by Silvana Amar Copyright © 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.