Monday, June 29, 2020


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.

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.

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

*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.

*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 rachet 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.

*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.

*Why do I keep dreaming about a beautiful house?

The “House Dream” is very common and well documented. The house is supposed to represent all the untapped potential in your life. All the rooms are bright and airy, and dreamers report that they seem to stretch on forever.

*Sometimes when I’m dreaming, I’m suddenly aware that I’m dreaming. I can choose to end the dream if I want to. Is this common?”

This is called “lucid dreaming” and most people aren’t capable of doing it, but it’s an interesting phenomenon. With practice, you can become proficient at it.

*I have vivid, violent nightmares. How can I make them stop?

Some medications increase the likelihood of “disturbing dreams.” Also, many people experience nightmares at times of great stress in their lives.

*Sometimes I find myself dreaming about being stranded in a strange city at night. I have no car, no money and no way to get home.

This is a classic anxiety dream. The dreamer feels alone and vulnerable and this usually occurs when things seem to be “spinning out of control” in real life.

Whether or not you’re a “believer,” it’s fun to explore our dreams and try to decipher what they really mean, as the women in the Dream Club do. But do clues from their dreams really solve crimes? Is it luck, or coincidence or a combination of the two?  I leave it to the reader to decide.

Thanks for stopping by and I'd love to hear about your dreams! 
Mary Kennedy


Unknown said...

My dreams usually include a bus ride or cab to nowhere The other night I was at the theater with some friends. During the intermission couldn't find my friends or my seat.

Gayle said...

Once when my children were infants (I have twins), I dreamed someone broke into the house and was going to take them away. I woke up but was paralyzed. I wanted to move so badly but simply couldn't. After a few minutes, the feeling passed, and I rushed to my babies' room to make sure they were fine--which, of course, they were. I never forgot that dream or the feeling of terror and helplessness.

Lorraine Bartlett said...

For months, I've been dreaming I'm going to/or at a conference. I see old friends, but we never have time to meet or talk and I'm constantly wandering around the hotel.

Dr. Mary Kennedy said...

Unknown and Gayle, anxiety dreams are awful! They seem so real and the feeling stays with you long after you are awake and realize it was "just a dream."

Lorraine, I have had the same sort of dream! I think it's because our lives are in such a state of flux because of the virus.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Sonya Steele said...

Hello Dr. Mary! I am a lucid dreamer. My dreams are very vivid and I can change them as they are occurring if something becomes stressful. It is extremely rare for me to wake without recalling 1 or more dreams in a given night. I learn a lot from my dreams, gaining insight into issues that are weighing on my mind and how well I am coping with stress. Fun dreams or dreams in which loved ones who have passed away are present are wonderful. To keep myself from influencing a dream I am enjoying, I observe it as though it is a movie playing. I get the benefit of the positivity of the dream and any insight it might offer me, without risking becoming too alert in my happiness and either waking up or dictating the course of the dream. My dream life is never dull!