Mind is playing tricks on me. On purpose.

Earlier in the night, I had a dream about one of those toy guns that shoots a flag on a stick that says BANG! image

In my dream, someone had given my daughter the gun, and I found myself embroiled in an argument with a friend over the appropriateness of such a gift.

I thought the gift was fine, making the point that even if I were to concede that toy guns promote violence (which I do not believe), the frequency with which women are associated with gun violence is so low that there really is no danger in giving a girl a gun.

“In fact, if I were a toy gun manufacturer, I’d be marketing pink and yellow guns to girls under the slogan:


Naturally, I won the argument, and even though it admittedly occurred in my dream, I still feel good about my victory.

Much later in the night, I had a dream about a man threatening suicide with a gun. When the man placed the barrel of the gun in his mouth and fired, he found his mouth suddenly filled with a red flag with the word BANG on it.

I was relieved. The transition from a suicide attempt to an amusing sight gag is always a good one.

But I was genuinely surprised by the introduction of the toy gun to an otherwise highly intensity, pulse-pounding scene.  I had thought the gun was real, and I fully expected to watch the man die.

And this is where I become fascinated by the brain.

How is it possible for my mind to create a scenario that  genuinely surprises me without me becoming aware of the surprise?

In short, how does a brain keep secrets from its owner?