Saturday, August 8, 2015


By Mary Kennedy                             
As a practicing psychologist, I find that my clients are fascinated by dreams. Most of them have read a little Freud, who called dreams “the royal road to the unconscious.” Freud believed dreams can help us access our innermost thoughts; our fears, wishes, and desires. Think of dreams as a window into our unconscious life. They can be humorous, erotic, tantalizing or terrifying.
When I came up with the premise of the Dream Club Mysteries, I envisioned a group of Savannah women who would meet once a week to eat some fabulous Southern desserts and talk about their dreams. And of course, they would solve a murder or two in every book.
 I thought this might be an intriguing plot device and could pave the way for some interesting characterization.

As the women reveal their dreams, they realize that they hold hidden clues to the crime scene, usually in symbolic form. Sometimes they even uncover the identity of the murderer. But are these clues really “revelations” from the subconscious or merely coincidences? I remembered Freud’s claim, “There are no coincidence.” I chose to sidestep the question and leave it up to the reader to decide.

When I’m asked to speak on dreams, I find that people have strong beliefs—and sometimes misconceptions—about dreams. Here are three questions I’ve come across, again and again.

You can only dream about things you’ve experienced in real life. Is this true?
No, of course not. Anything can happen in a dream. You can take on a new persona, explore lands both real and imaginary, and have adventures worthy of Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean.
 Since dreams are not subject to time and space constraints, you can share a plate of marrons with Marie Antoinette (“Let them eat cake!”) one night and be part of the first space mission (“Houston, we have a problem”) the following evening.
Isn’t it true that our bodies don’t respond to our dreams? We continue to slumber, unaware that our minds are playing out a little fantasy in our sleep.

This is false. Think about the last time you did something physical in your dream. Were you climbing a mountain or swinging from a zip line like Angelina Jolie? Your blood pressure may soar, your heartbeat may ratchet up a notch, and your chest probably felt tight. If you awake in the middle of an “action” dream, just take a few deep breaths and everything will return to normal in a few minutes. On the other hand, what if you’re dreaming of lounging in a meadow, taking in the sweet scent of honeysuckle as you thumb through a book of poetry? Your body will show signs that you are indeed at rest. Your heart rate will ratchet down a notch and your breathing will become slower as your mind enjoy this respite from the cares of the day.
What does it mean if a dead relative appears to me in a dream? Does it mean I’m going to die?
No, not at all. When people dream of a loved one who has passed, they usually experience a sense of joy and peace. It reassures them to know that their friends, relatives, and spouses really do exist on another plane. Invariably, the loved one appears to be in perfect health, happy, and relaxed, with no sorrow or cares.  

I hope you've enjoyed this little foray into dreams. Dream a Little Scream, the second book in the Dream Club Mysteries is available right now. If you're interested in dreams and love mysteries, you might  enjoy it!                                                        

Mary Kennedy. Sweet dreams and happy reading!


Nicole said...

Thanks, Mary, for sharing this information on dreams…very interesting. I don't know a lot about dreams, and I'm looking forward to reading your series. :-)

Dr. Mary Kennedy said...

Thanks so much, Nicole!

Unknown said...

Good Blog Mary. I used to remember my dreams, but these days, I don't usually even know IF I dreamed. I probably do, but I can't remember having a dream when I wake up. I've had many types of dreams in the past - some pleasant, some terrifying. The scary ones were usually two types. 1. Going over cliff in a car. Sometimes I felt anxious/helpless, but sometimes I just floated. 2. Someone breaking into my home and I lose my voice - try to scream but nothing comes out. Fortunately I haven't had those in years. The happier ones usually include people I know or knew. And sometimes it would make me laugh when someone I barely know (like a co-worker) pops up in a situation that they totally do not belong. Looking forward to having a little time and starting Dream a Little Scream.

Dr. Mary Kennedy said...

Hi Lynda, thanks so much for stopping by! The "trying-to-scream-and-not being able to" dream is especially terrifying. People also dream that they're trying to escape it feels like they're moving through molasses...moving in slow motion. Sometimes the mind "plays" in very strange ways!

Anonymous said...

My "trying to scream and no sound coming out" usually has me in my car, either with some big, bad scary man trying to get in or with the car hanging off a cliff. Although I never really scream in real life, I have woken myself up. Cordella