In a deeply personal story of abuse, forgotten memories, perseverance and triumph, therapist Mike Deninger chronicles his transformation into a healer and champion of those suffering from trauma. In his new memoir Snakes in My Dreams: A Mental Health Therapist’s Odyssey from Hardship to Healer (Unrivaled Books), we meet a father, husband, and prominent educator of the deaf who is concealing secrets he believes must never be divulged.
He is attracted to men, a cause of confusion and self-loathing. He also suffers privately from anxiety, depression, and alcoholism; problems that have plagued him since his youth. But there comes a time in his late 30’s when Deninger can no longer suppress his pain. He begins a search for the roots of his distress, filling journals with all his memories and recording every dream in pursuit of answers. In therapy, he uncovers repressed memories of incest, which he learns are fueling his inner turmoil.
In this skillfully crafted memoir Deninger reveals how he found his way to truth. Journal entries and dreams are interspersed throughout the unfolding story and illuminate the interplay between conscious and unconscious thought. Then by meticulously connecting the dots the author demonstrates how the mind shields us from overwhelming events and how previously blocked images return to consciousness.
“The purpose of this memoir is to stimulate others to find their own truth,” Deninger says. “My personal experiences shed light on the process of healing from trauma and repressed memories—for both those in recovery and mental health professionals. The story brings hope to those whose self-esteem has been damaged by the buffetings of life and demonstrates the integral roles that love and forgiveness of self and others play on the road to wellness.”
Clearly this is not a tale of incest alone. It’s also a story of the author’s coming out, coming into his own, and joyfully claiming spiritual renewal. This memoir is unique because of the many issues encountered in one man’s life: depression, anxiety, addiction, acceptance of homosexuality, memories of incest, rejection from a parent, the tragic death of a partner, a career change, religious conflict, and a final resolution in which love triumphs over pain and brokenness.
Born into a large working class family in Rochester, New York, Deninger rose from humble beginnings to a leadership position in the field of deafness. As a Dean at Gallaudet University he hid his problems well until undergoing a metamorphosis. He now enjoys sharing his skills, knowledge, and wisdom in his current role as a mental health therapist and through his writings, workshops, and presentations. “I understand from the inside out what it’s like to suffer from tragedy,” he explains, and he’s keenly aware of the renewal that’s possible when one frees the mind, relaxes the will, and cultivates the inner spirit. “Snakes in my Dreams conveys the truth I feel obligated to share before my time is up,” Deninger concludes.
Deninger received a BA in English and a MS in Special Education from Canisius College. He earned his PhD with distinction in Special Education Administration and a MA in Mental Health Counseling, both from Gallaudet University. Licensed as a Professional Counselor in Virginia, Deninger holds certification from the National Board for Certified Counselors. He is also certified as a clinical hypnotherapist by the National Board for Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists and as a trainer of Eye Movement Integration™, Ericksonian Hypnotherapy and Neuro Linguistic Programming by the American Hypnosis Training Academy.