Dream Killing

Writing to the end of Dreamrunner has coincided with a tragic case that has come to light in the UK, where a devoted husband, Brian Thomas, strangled his wife of 40 years while having a nightmare about youths breaking into the camper van they were sleeping in together. My heart goes out to this couple and their family. The fact that I’ve been exploring the impact of a similar situation in Dreamrunner means that I’m not only aware of this case of homocidal somnambulism but quite a few others besides; my main source book for the novel was Carlos Schenck’s excellent ‘Paradox Lost: Midnight in the Battleground of Sleep and Dreams’, which details many case studies, interviewing couples whose lives are affected by violent sleep disorders.

What is going on in a person’s psyche when they kill in a dream? What’s the symbolic meaning of responding to a perceived threat (in the Brian Thomas case, boy-racers in a carpark disturbed the couple’s sleep and prompted his nightmare about a break-in) with violence? I don’t have the answers, but I do have some thoughts about alternative ways of tackling violent sleep disorders other than just taking a course of pills which represses the condition without addressing the underlying cause, and I look at these other possibilities in my novel. Dreaming is powerful, sleep disorders are common, and in a state of automatism, where the mind is no longer in control of the body, terrible things can happen.

Parasomnias – sleep disorders – are coming more into the public eye, and this can only be a good thing for sufferers who often think they are losing their sanity until a doctor in the know is able to diagnose them. Dreams are all too often shrugged off as ethereal phantasmagoria, but when something this tragic happens in the ‘real’ world as a direct result of a dream, it becomes brutally apparent that the unconscious mind is a power to be reckoned with.

4 Responses to “Dream Killing”

  1. christine swint, January 9, 2010 at 12:28 am

    I will have to read this book you’ve mentioned. I recently wrote a poem about a similar theme. The whole idea of even taking deliberate action based on a dream is a problematic one, let alone acting unconsciously during the dream state.

  2. Clare Jay, January 10, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Hi Christine,

    I remember someone telling me they awoke from a vivid dream that they’d had a car crash on the way to work, so that morning they deliberately drove a different route in an attempt to stop this from happening… and crashed the car! (not badly, thankfully).

    It’s sometimes hard to say what is the best way of taking action based on a dream. In this case, it seemed a pre-cognitive dream ‘warned’ the dreamer but the crash itself might have been unavoidable. Very hard to say!

    Do read Carlos Schenck’s book, I highly recommend it and I’m sure you’ll find it fascinating. Send in your poem if you feel like it. 🙂


  3. Hydrolyze, February 18, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Many thanks. Yet another fabulous piece of content, this can be exactly why my spouse and I returned for your blog every so often.

  4. fashion, May 15, 2013 at 12:45 am

    I’ll be in touch again to learn much more!

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