In the movie, Inception, a totem helps a totem owner eliminate the possibility that you are in someone else's dream. The explanation being - only you know your totem's unique uncommon feature, so if that feature is present, then you are surely not in someone else's dream because the dreamer wouldn't know about the secret feature of your totem.

However, how does projection not affect this scenario? If Cobb is able to project Mal inadvertently into another person's dream, why wouldn't he not inadvertently project his totem's secret feature also into another person's dream - thereby invalidating the premise of a totem?

  • 4
    You could drive a truck through the plot holes in Inception. May 8, 2013 at 16:12
  • 9
    @TheMathemagician You could drive a train through the plot holes in Inception!
    – user56
    May 8, 2013 at 17:23
  • 7
    @Gilles You could drive the plot holes in Inception through the plot holes in Inception. Jun 8, 2013 at 23:31
  • Possible duplicate of Isn't Cobb's Totem Invalid? Mar 25, 2017 at 20:35

1 Answer 1


Although I find the plot hole comments hilarious, I don't think this is a particularly big plot hole. ;-)

Mal is a projection of Cobb's subconscious. She is a manifestation of his guilt over her suicide: a form of self-sabotage. I don't think it's logical to assume that such a projection could also be an inanimate object like a totem. It seems to me a subconscious projection of part of your personality would have to take the form of something/someone with – well, a personality.

  • Well, as the comments say - what about the train?
    – Izkata
    Jun 8, 2013 at 14:25

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