Lives and Letters in American Parapsychology
A Biographical History, 1850-1987
by Arthur S. Berger
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers
Jefferson, North Carolina, and London
Editor's Introduction: Dreams are such ordinary experiences that for a long time their research potential was ignored by American parapsychologists until Montague Ullman, M.D., a New York psychiatrist and psychoanalyst (his own interest in dream experiences having been aroused in a clinical setting with his patients), stimulated research interest in others. This development is apparent from the frequent references in the dream literature to his dream work at the Dream Laboratory of the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, which he established in 1962. His work virtually constitutes the one source of experimental evidence that the content of dreams may be affected by telepathy.
The association between dreams and paranormal phenomena has been recorded time and time again. For example, in 1931 the BSPR reported on a questionnaire sent to 10,000 people listed in Who's Who in America and noted that 25 percent of the paranormal experiences occurred in dreams. After studying the Parapsychology Laboratory's collection of spontaneous cases, Louisa Rhine found that the great majority of paranormal experiences occurred in the form of dreams. The relationship between dreams and the paranormal persuaded many students of parapsychology that dreams had a great deal to say that was significant about the paranormal. But parapsychologists could only daydream about dreams because it was not possible to make dreams speak experimentally: There was no way of investigating the association between dreams and the paranormal in the absence of any method to determine if a subject was dreaming while sleeping.
Dr. Ullman helped parapsychology make one of its great advances of the past quarter century by utilizing a physiological method for monitoring dreams. He used the EEG to record brain waves and the Rapid-Eye-Movement technique to record eye movements. These techniques permitted Ullman, in his experimental studies, to know when sleeping subjects were dreaming and the length of the dreams. He was then able, during the dreams, to have agents use target pictures in an attempt to influence telepathically the content of the dreams. The subjects, awakened as soon as their dreams ended, tape recorded their dream imagery and their accounts later were blind-matched by judges against the target pictures.
Besides having made possible a nocturnal approach to ESP, Dr. Ullman coedited the Proceedings of the International Conference on Hypnosis, Drugs, Dreams and Psi (1968), and was an associate editor of Wolman's Handbook of Parapsychology (1977). He has made contributions to the parapsychological and nonparapsychological literature and coauthored with Stanley Krippner Dream Studies and Telepathy: An Experimental Approach (1970), with Stanley Krippner and Alan Vaughan Dream Telepathy (1973), and with Nan Zimmerman Working with Dreams (1979).
A former fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Dr. Ullman has been president of the Parapsychological Association and the Gardner Murphy Research Institute, was president of the ASPR from 1971 to 1980 and served on its Board of Trustees and Medical Section. He is now clinical professor of psychiatry emeritus at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. - A.S.B.
As everyone who wears glasses knows, as we grow older we have to keep changing lenses to adapt to the changing structure of the eye. If we don't our view of the world loses its clarity and accuracy. The same with memory. If we don't enrich our capacity for reflecting on the past through emotional growth, then those experiences of the past remain impaled on the narrow vision that first greeted them. This is what strikes me as, nearing 72 (I was born in New York City on September 9, 1916), 1 write about my life with a public in mind. I find it best to begin with the end and use that to point to earlier events in my life.
Family pressures as well as my own aspirations drew me to medicine. An accidental exposure to the world of psychic phenomena while in college oriented me to the mysteries of the unconscious realm of existence, including our dream life. My background in neurology oriented me to the neurophysiology of dreaming; my exposure to psychoanalysis as a student and a practitioner oriented me to the metaphorical structure and healing potential of the dream, and my work in community psychiatry impressed upon me the importance of identifying and sharing the skills necessary to make dreams generally accessible. Hovering in the background throughout all these experiences was my fascination with the paranormal. The latter acted as a kind of Greek chorus, reminding me then and now of how much we still did not know about dreaming and the unconscious dimensions of our existence.
Since I have become more content with and more tolerant of myself I feel better able to dislodge some of the earlier encrusted views of my past. The first such view had to do with the way I felt about my parents as I grew up, best summed up by saying that I felt at odds with them. I grew up rejecting their world of bourgeois, religious, commercial values. Though it might have been less painful otherwise, it was the distance between us that also made it possible for me to follow my own path.
Both my parents were first generation Americans who were born and brought up on the lower east side of New York City. My father's father, Samuel Ullman, came to America at the age of 14 from Hungary. His life was a success story I never got to know or appreciate. By the time I was born he was the head of a successful manufacturing concern along with his oldest son, my father William, who, I was told, was a superb salesman, and with his youngest son, Max. Next in age to my father was Sol, who became a lawyer, and a younger son, Martin, who was a commercial artist. The two youngest children were daughters, Doris and Minnie. I was already launched in the private practice of psychiatry at the time my grandfather died at the age of 81. 1 recall him as a serious, quiet man toward whom everyone showed the utmost respect. He spoke only when necessary. He was deeply religious and most of the family occasions revolved around the Sabbath and the various Jewish holidays. I was the oldest grandchild and I knew he took great pride in my accomplishments. He was, however, a very distant figure. My feelings toward him were tinged with a sense of guilt as I grew away from the Jewish traditions and began to embrace left wing causes, a far cry from the staunch Republicanism that seemed so much a part of the family tradition.
My father's mother, Katie Grossman, was a different story. A beautiful woman, she was also a "sport." Her place, of course, was relegated to the home and there she was warm, welcoming and nurturing. There was a side of her that managed to escape the "old man's" surveillance. She loved to smoke and play cards and occasionally she would sneak off for holidays to enjoy the baths at Saratoga. I enjoyed her company, her food, her generous spirit.
My mother's parents came from Poland. My grandfather, Herschel Eisler, became a tailor, earned a meager living, lived to a ripe old age and had a wonderful sense of humor. What intrigued me as a child was that he had an artificial leg and, although I knew him into my adult years, I never did discover what caused it. My grandmother died sometime during my adolescence and I have only a hazy recollection of her. The Ullman family, being successful, began to move upward, literally, going first to the Bronx and then to the upper west side of New York along with other prosperous middle class families. My mother's family consisted of an older brother, William, and two younger sisters, Esther and Estelle. They remained on the east side and we began to see less and less of them as my mother became more and more involved with my father's family.
My father was generous to a fault and loved high living. He smoked heavily, drank, overate and, to the despair of my mother, gambled as well. He died in 1935 on his 44th birthday of a coronary. I was then in my second year of medical school. The day he died, synchronistically enough, the lesson in our pathology course was on coronary occlusion. My sister Jean was 16 at the time and my brother, Robert, was 13.
My mother, Nettie, was a very conventional person, eager to be accepted into my father's family. She was a superb cook and baker but given to hysterical anxiety at the slightest provocation. She was irresistibly drawn to babies and small children but didn't do so well when the child's struggles to individuate itself began. My fondest memories of her had to do with the wonderful food she plied us with. Much as I resented her great need to "show off" her children, it also bolstered my ego. My father was the focus of her life and she never quite recovered from the shock of his death. My Uncle Martin took an active interest in the family following my father's death. I felt a special closeness toward him. He inherited my grandmother's capacity to enjoy life.
As far as I can remember I never saw my mother or father ever read a book. But my father's best friend did read and became the first inspirational figure in my life. He was Dr. Irving Krellenstein, our family doctor and a very comforting presence when we were ill. He would overcome our apprehension with the songs he made up as he examined us and the way he made us laugh. He had a high brow which seemed to follow the same shape as the stethoscope he wore. I thought that, in order to be a doctor, you had to have a brow like that. Aside from my grandfather he was the only man I believe my father had a deep respect for. He often came to our house for a Sabbath dinner. He made me feel that being a doctor was special, something apart from and above the world of business.
At the time I started school, the public school system was so overcrowded that a rapid advance system was instituted in order to move students along quickly. This, in addition to the fact that I attended a three year high school (Townsend Harris Hall), resulted in my enrollment in City College just prior to my fifteenth birthday. I was bright enough to handle the work but inside I felt like the immature child I was. I wanted very much to get into medical school and to get the grades necessary for admission. The competition was severe. Classes numbered over a thousand in each year at City College and it seemed to me that most students were taking pre-med courses. My father so wanted me to become a doctor that, despite some resistance and shame on my part, he was not above using influence to ease my admission into medical school at New York University at the end of my third year at college. I had good marks, but so had hundreds of others and I have often wondered whether I would have made it on my own.
The first two years at medical school were difficult. My classmates were older, seemed far more self-possessed and far less fearful of failure than I was. There was, however, a deep satisfaction that came from the fascination of the subject matter and the prestige of being a medical student. At the start of my final year, in the autumn of 1937, I met my future wife, Janet Simon. Courtship was on and off for the next four years, mostly because of my not knowing my own mind. We were married at her home in Brooklyn on January 26, 1941, at the onset of my residency in neurology. Janet, her family and her home provided the warm setting I so badly needed. She taught piano and was the source of our income during my residency years when I earned very little.
At medical school my interest gravitated toward both neurology (I loved watching two masters, E.D. Friedman and Foster Kennedy, do neurological examinations) and psychiatry (where Paul Schilder gave off philosophical as well as psychological sparks in response to any question put to him). With Schilder as our guiding spirit several other students and I managed to get a Medical Psychology Club started. Among those invited to speak were many who later made important contributions to psychiatry, e.g., Joseph Wortis and Nathaniel Ross.
A graduation gift from my grandfather enabled me to spend six weeks in the Soviet Union in the summer of 1938 in the company of two distinguished medical historians - Henry E. Sigerist and Victor Robinson, along with several other doctors, a young lawyer and Sigerist's daughter. Earlier, Sigerist had written a book favorable to the Soviet health system and, as a consequence, we received a warm welcome as we travelled the length and breadth of the land, visiting medical institutions, research centers, collective farms and factories. I was impressed medically with what had been accomplished through public health programs and, politically, with the vision of what seemed to me to be the start of a new and progressive society built on socialist principles. On the way home I spent a day in Berlin where, on a sightseeing trip, in response to a question, the guide denied that Jews were being mistreated in any way. Then followed an exciting week in Paris just before returning home. While there I managed to be in the audience at the Sorbonne when the aging Pierre Janet delivered a lecture.
Upon my return from this trip I kept up a relationship with Victor Robinson who taught medical history at Temple University at the time. He was a prolific writer, turning out very readable and scholarly books on the leading medical figures of the past. These were books that should have but have not found a place in the current medical curricula. A gentle man with a pixieish quality, he plied me with his writings and touched off in me a zeal for writing.
In January 1939, I began four years of hospital training, the first two in a medical internship (Morrisania City Hospital), followed by a year of residency in neurology (Montefiore Hospital), then a year as a psychiatric resident at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. At the end of that year I was called into the Army. I reported for duty as a medical officer in December of 1942 at the Lawson General Hospital in Atlanta. After several months I was transferred to the Kennedy General Hospital in Memphis, where our first child, Susan, was born that June. I remained at Kennedy for a year, serving both as a neurologist and a psychiatrist. Then followed a year and a half abroad in general hospitals, first in England and later in Paris. I returned to the States in December 1945, opened an office, at first for the practice of neurology and psychiatry, then drifting into psychoanalytic practice as I completed training in that subspeciality at the New York Medical College. In 1946 our second child, William, was born.
In 1950 I joined the faculty of the Comprehensive Course in Psychoanalysis at the New York Medical College. The next ten years were devoted to teaching, to practice and to various research endeavors. The latter included a project that explored the relationship of suggestion and the cure of warts, a study undertaken at the invitation of Dr. Marion B. Sulzberger, then head of the Dermatology Department of New York University. Subsequent to that I was a research psychiatrist on a multidisciplinary study of stroke patients at Bellevue Hospital.
I embarked on my psychoanalytic career in 1942 with Bernard Robbins as my analyst. I found him a remarkably sensitive, insightful and supportive therapist and regretted having to interrupt analysis during the three years of army service. Robbins had been analyzed by Harry Stack Sullivan and Karen Homey. Influenced by his ideas I felt more at home with the "culturalists," those who broke from the emphasis on instinct theory to take a closer look at interpersonal and social influences. Robbins was a man of original and progressive views because of which he, along with a number of other analysts, broke with the New York Psychoanalytic Society to develop training centers of their own. Robbins helped found one such center at the New York Medical College, and it was there that I entered into formal psychoanalytic training in 1946, following my return to civilian life. In 1950 I was made a member of the psychoanalytic faculty. I taught there until 1961 when I terminated my private practice to develop a department of psychiatry at what was then known as Maimonides Hospital (later the Maimonides Medical Center). Our last child, Lucy, was born in 1951, shortly after we moved to our present home in Ardsley, New York.
Since the focus of these autobiographical notes is my lifelong interest in psychic phenomena I should like to go back to September 1932, at the start of my sophomore year at the City College of New York. I had just turned 16, knew nothing about psychical research and was studying hard to prepare for admission to medical school. Early in my second year a friend and classmate, Leonard Lauer, confided in me the story of his personal encounter with psychic phenomena. After explaining the term to me he shared the basis for his conviction. He had read the early literature and reeled off strange names to me - Lombroso, Schrenck-Notzing, Flammarion, F.W.H. Myers, Oliver Lodge, T.J. Hudson, William Crookes and, finally, William James. More important, he had been party to and had witnessed some of the extraordinary phenomena he had read about.
I took Leonard Lauer seriously. He was also a science major and fancied himself a hard nosed scientist. At the home of his friend Gilbert Roller, he had witnessed table movement and knockings when he, Gilbert and another friend named Larry (Gilbert Laurence) sat around a small table in the dark in a seance arrangement. They had been sitting for many weeks and were convinced that the effects were not of their own making. Several years earlier poltergeist effects had plagued Gilbert and his family and Gilbert's mother was said to be a medium. The group met every Saturday night and I was invited to join. In addition to my exposure to the literature, what I witnessed was to make me a psychic researcher for the rest of my life. For the next year and a half I, along with the others, devoted Saturday evenings to what rapidly evolved into a very serious project.
At various times I have tried to write an account of these experiences. The first was in the form of an essay for a philosophy course I was taking at the time. What follows are some excerpts from that essay written in 1932:
The first phenomena we developed goes by the name of telekinesis, or super-normal movement of objects not due to any known force. In these experiments we (four of us) used an ordinary bridge table, keeping contact with the table and with each other by our hands. The room is usually light enough to allow us to see what is taking place. After a few moments the table would start to move and distinct knockings are heard, seemingly coming from beneath the table. One of the sitters gives commands (it is immaterial who does the talking as long as all the others are thinking along with him) and the response is almost instantaneous. The table moves to the one whose name is mentioned. We then managed to get the table to tilt in whichever direction we asked. After continued experiments of this type we finally decided to get this unknown force to elevate the table. Early attempts in this direction all ended in failure. One night, however, we were thrilled by the sight of the table rising from beneath our hands to the height of two or more feet! We repeated this and were successful at subsequent trials. Once, when the table was elevated we each individually removed our hands from its surface. To our astonishment the table remained suspended in mid-air for about two seconds before collapsing to the ground. Encouraged by this success we kept trying. The height of our accomplishment with telekinesis was an experiment in which we made the table come up to our hands which we held about two feet above it. (We had always found success without contact of the hands rather difficult).
"We gradually became so accustomed to the table motion that it no longer interested us. Our efforts then turned to the field of photography. I should like to note a curious experience we had in this connection. In our first attempt we took a photographic plate and placed it in a tin case (in this position it could not be affected by any physical force). The plate was placed on the table with one of the sitter's hands resting on it. The room was absolutely dark during the entire process and the usual contact was maintained. After several minutes we put the plate aside, thinking it would not be worth developing as we felt it was impossible for the plate to be affected. We then went back to the table and asked the 'force' to give us a message, if there were any, by knocking after the appropriate letter in the alphabet as it was called off by one of the sitters. In this way the word 'P-L-A-T-E' was spelled out. We immediately developed the plate and, sure enough, there was a distinct imprint of the hand. We repeated the procedure and got several other imprints, not only of hands, but of any object we placed on the metal case that held the plate. Thought photographs were the next step. Below is a list of the objects we thought about and the objects received on the plate [numbered as in the original positives]:
Objects thought about
5. Page from a book
Column from a newspaper
1. Bottle (large, corkless, labelless)
Small, corked iodine bottle with label
The letter "C"
4. Picture of a girl's face
"A brief explanation of the above experiments is necessary. In the first we got a picture of an ordinary newspaper column and managed to make out some of the words. In the second the bottle on the plate was entirely different from the one we thought about. We got an iodine bottle that was later found in the medicine chest in the bathroom. In the fourth try we thought about a certain girl, but it seems that during this sitting one of the members could think of nothing but Indians. The only possible object suggested by the image on the plate is an Indian idol.... In one of the rooms we later found a small souvenir which was the exact shape of the image on the plate. None of the sitters had been thinking of this idol; only one of them had ever seen it before and that was several years before.
"At the first photographic sitting I accidentally performed an experiment which convinced me that there was no trickery at all in the matter. While one of the sitters had his hands on the case that contained the plate I placed my thumb over his hand and an imprint of my thumb came out on the plate negative. If the plates had been fixed beforehand (they could not have been handled after the sitting because I, myself, developed them), this would not have happened."
There were many more remarkable events which followed the writing of the above account. These included a series of written messages purporting to come from someone identifying himself as Dr. Bindelof, a physician who had died in 1919 but who made known his continuing desire to be of help to us in both a fatherly and a healing way. These writings were obtained without anyone touching the pencil. Sitting about a night table with our hands in contact above we had placed a pencil and paper on the lower shelf. Soon after the lights were turned off the pencil would start writing at a furious rate. At the completion of the message it would be slammed down and the paper crumpled.
In the full flush of these exciting results Leonard and I took our case to the ASPR, then located in the Hyslop House at 23 Street and Lexington Avenue in New York City. There we related our experiences to Frederick Bligh Bond, then editor of the Journal. He listened with polite interest. In the 1933 account I wrote I seemed to have felt somewhat positive about the visit. When, much later, I checked with Leonard, his recollection was that he came away feeling disappointed at what he felt was a cool reception.
Sittings continued with other friends, including girl friends, joining us from time to time until the spring of 1934 when the group finally disbanded. Until then the group sat regularly, usually at weekly intervals, over the course of a year and a half. In summary, we experienced a gradual and climactic unfolding of almost the full gamut of psychical phenomena as such phenomena were known and defined by writers on the subject in the 19th and early 20th century. The developmental sequence led to such startling phenomena as levitation of a table, messages purportedly written by someone who had died and photographs taken without exposure of the plates. Heady stuff for a group of 16 and 17 year olds! Either that or mere foolishness and nonsense.
In the spring of 1966 I succeeded in bringing together five of the original group that had participated in the seances in the thirties. The purpose was to compare our recollection of these sittings, to assist each other in filling the gaps in our memories, to establish areas of consensual agreement as to what had actually taken place, and to define those aspects of the experience where the passage of time made any semblance of accurate reconstruction impossible. The events in question were extraordinary both at the time they occurred and in their lasting impact over the years. The meeting took place that summer on a Saturday. It was a day devoted to the boisterous recapturing of what was the strangest and most powerful experience of our youth. The phenomena struck us back then and also subsequently as inexplicable, as truly paranormal. Any differences among us concerned interpretations of the nature of the paranormal event and not about the fact that it was paranormal. Because we could neither explain it away nor seriously consider a 33-year sustained fraud, joke or deception by any member of the group or any combination thereof, we accepted it collectively as a compelling and powerful aspect of our respective lives. We subsequently had several reunions of this sort in the hope that some day a full account would emerge.
It is not an unusual psychological event for middle-aged men to seize on any pretext to regress to an adolescence they never completely outgrew. It happens at football games and at college reunions. Perhaps these dynamics played a role in what happened on that Saturday in 1966 or on the other occasions when, after many years of separation, we came together to reexamine the events that had welded us into a group in the first place. Within a few moments of being together we again began to re-experience passionately and intensely the harrowing and exciting times we had had earlier. It wasn't simply reliving the experiences of our lost youth. It was a good deal more than that. It was re-encounter with an aspect of our existence that, while still mysterious and inexplicable, was enduringly real for each of us.
What was undeniable was the deep and lasting impact these experiences had on the direction my life took. Despite periods when they were in cold storage (when I tried to learn how to view the world scientifically during my medical training and during service in World War II) they were never completely submerged. It would only take the sympathetic interest of another person to open the locked closet. Even while in the army and stationed at a hospital outside of Paris I managed to get three fellow medical officers interested in conducting a number of seances, unfortunately with no results.
The most sympathetic ear I ever encountered in connection with my early psychic experiences was that of Gardner Murphy. One of the first things I did in December of 1945, while on terminal leave, was to visit the ASPR whose headquarters were then at 34th Street. I happened to pick a day when there was an elevator strike and had to climb eleven stories to the offices. It was well worth it. Murphy was there, made himself available and quietly listened as I poured out the entire story of my earlier encounter with psychic phenomena. It was the start of what proved to be a deep and lasting relationship.
Soon after I opened my office we began to collaborate in informal weekly sessions on Saturdays that aimed at exploring ESP under conditions of light trance and hypnosis. Our subjects were students from Gardner's courses at City College. We took turns as experimenters. Gardner and I would meet for lunch beforehand and I used those occasions to share with him the paranormal dreams I had encountered with my patients the preceding week. These lunches were memorable. Gardner listened with rapt attention to these accounts. He was supportive, never challenging and, at times, would call attention to historical parallels. He was always in pursuit of some objectifiable evidence of psi but it never dampened his enthusiasm for its spontaneous manifestations. I know he was concerned with some way of objectifying the data we were getting in the exploratory studies we were doing with the students. I'm afraid his gentle exhortation fell on deaf ears. Quantitative methods were not my dish of tea.
Lois Murphy often joined us at these Saturday sessions and she soon began to participate on a regular basis. She had a flair for it. Her ability to zero in on the target while, at the same time, to observe and articulate what she was going through was most impressive. It sparked my hope for a developmental approach for cultivating ESP. The work with Lois went on from the end of 1947 to the beginning of 1949. The work with the students went on for a year or so but with no spectacular successes.
With Lois, however, something of interest did happen, something that shed light on her inner mental processes as she sought to respond to the target picture. She identified two distinct stages. The first was a passive one that she referred to as free wheeling. She would let images come and go, trying to keep any voluntary control or interfering thoughts at a minimum. She would draw one image after another while keeping up a running commentary. Sometimes there was a clustering of images with obvious similarities; sometimes there were no obvious connections. Where the impressions took a distinct form she would name the object that seemed to be forming in her mind. This brought her to the second stage where, because of the perseveration of certain forms and impressions, she would come to a felt impression of what she thought the target was. She referred to this as focussing. Not infrequently her conceptualization of the image was wrong but the forms she drew came closer and closer to the forms suggested by the target as she went on with them. The trick was to keep her ego out of it - to push aside such thoughts as, "Oh, it couldn't be this; we had that target last week."
Another rather definite and striking finding was that Lois was sensitive to the "soft" or "hard" quality of the target picture. She shied away from pictures that suggested aggression, violence, hardness, etc., doing better with pictures drawn from nature, babies, food, etc. She did better with "soft" targets than with "neutral" targets (bicycle, boat, etc.). Also worth noting was the importance of her antecedent mood prior to the experimental session. She was always given the opportunity before we started to talk freely about this.
This was my introduction to experimental parapsychology. The work was informal, exploratory and relatively loose but it was congenial to Gardner, Lois and myself in our pursuit of both objective and subjective factors related to ESP. We worked largely with free hand drawings with the subject, whether Lois or one of Gardner's students, lying on the couch in varying stages of relaxation and trance. The most interesting results occurred with Lois and not, as might have been expected, with students even when deeply hypnotized. The Murphys' move to Topeka terminated these meetings but the cross fertilization continued. When, in 1961, I gave up private practice to become director of the department of psychiatry at the Maimonides Hospital, it was Gardner who obtained the grant that initiated our explorations into dreams and telepathy.
Gardner had a way with young people. True to his given name he offered the right combination of support and stimulation needed to fertilize the germinal ideas of others. Many people are well read, but Gardner seemed to have read everything and to have everything he read immediately available when relevant to the question at hand. His way of roaming freely over his past reading recovered for others much of value and helped to fit things into broad overarching theoretical structures. More personally he fullfilled my need for a respected and respectful mentor. He shared his books and writings with me and from that came a deep appreciation for the range of his knowledge, the humility with which it was set forth and his genuine openness and responsiveness to all that was human. He was the most selfless person I had ever known.
My contacts at the ASPR soon led me to a growing friendship with Laura Dale. Laura was deeply devoted to Gardner, to the ASPR and to the field of psychical research in general. There were many troubled sides to Laura's makeup but she managed to rise above them as she set about singlemindedly to make the Journal of the ASPR the repository of the finest theoretical and experimental contributions to parapsychology. In this she succeeded admirably. Knowing the field as she did and being a meticulous worker she was about as perfect an editor as one could be. Our friendship grew both through our mutual interest in the ASPR and through the secretarial work she did for me in the late fifties. She was an expert stenotypist which made dictating easy. I have never known anyone else who could turn out manuscripts as rapidly and as perfectly. Later Laura did most of the editorial work for the Handbook of Parapsychology.
Laura, Gardner and I went together on one rather fanciful adventure in Maine to see if dowsers could do better than the Maine state geologist in finding underground water. They didn't but they did give us insights into unusual and colorful personalities.
In the early fifties all we knew about the physiology of dreams was that they occurred from time to time during the night. With the idea of a dream-telepathy experiment in mind in this pre-REM era I enlisted Laura's cooperation in planning a series of exploratory experiments, using a gadget known as a dormiphone. It could be set to awaken the sleeper at various intervals throughout the night and deliver a recorded message. Laura and I then set about recording our dreams, she most often acting as the recipient and I as the sender. We experimented with different stimuli on the tape from nonsense syllables to meaningful names and phrases, hoping that they would stimulate a dream. We also kept diary notes oriented to recording any emotionally charged events in our lives. We met weekly at my home, Laura driving up with her prize-winning dogs. There was much excitement as we compared dreams and diary notes. The results were encouraging enough for us to stay with it for several years. They also paved the way for the more formal dream-telepathy studies I undertook at Maimonides.
We never did succeed in quantifying the mass of data we accumulated although Laura Dale made a valiant attempt. It wasn't in my nature to do it nor do I think we would have captured what was the essence of the experience, namely, the subtle and subjective factors at play.
At Murphy's invitation I joined the Board of the ASPR in 1948 and remained a trustee until 1986. At the time I joined, George H. Hyslop was president, later succeeded by Murphy. The situation in psychical research has changed considerably since those early days. In the forties the ASPR was the only agency oriented to both research and to the maintenance of the scientific image of psychic research in the minds of the public. It flourished under Murphy's leadership. In the late forties he encouraged Laura and me to set up a Medical Section of the Society so that those psychiatrists who were gathering examples of paranormal dreams could meet to share their experiences. The participants in this endeavor, which lasted until 1953, included, in addition to Laura and myself, Jan Ehrenwald, Jule Eisenbud, Robert Laidlaw, Geraldine Pedersen-Krag, Gotthard Booth, Adelaide Smith and, from time to time, invited guests. Among the latter were Fritz Wittels and Hyman Spotnitz.
The decade from 1950 to 1960 was one in which I was involved with the three major interests in my life - the exciting new approaches to psychoanalytic thinking and practice, a growing interest in dreams, and my efforts to bring my interest in the paranormal into the mainstream of my life. By day I was busy with my practice and research projects at Bellevue Hospital with stroke patients (a study of symbolic and behavioral changes in patients with strokes), and later at the old Skin and Cancer Unit of Bellevue with a study of suggestion and warts. In the latter half of the decade I began what turned out to be a ten year federally funded project at the Skidmore College of Nursing with the goal of integrating psychiatry into a collegiate nursing program.
In 1953 Aserinsky and Kleitman monitored sleeping subjects in a sleep laboratory electroencephically and electrooculographically. They discovered what we now know as the REM stage of sleep associated with the dreaming cycle. A young graduate student, William Dement, participated in the work. Several years later he came to New York to intern at the Mount Sinai Hospital. About that time I conceived of the idea of using this monitoring technique to collect the dreams of sleeping subjects in a controlled dream telepathy experiment. Could a sleeping subject produce telepathic dreams relating to target material being "sent" by an experimenter under circumstances where we could now collect all the dreams of a given night and compare them to the targets which were either free hand drawings or striking photographs?
With Dr. Dement on the scene I arranged for a meeting with Eileen Garrett sometime in 1959. Robert Laidlaw had introduced me to Eileen some years before and I had had several experimental sessions with her at my office where, in her self-induced trance state, one or the other of her controls would speak. On the occasion referred to in 1959 Dement outlined the sleep monitoring procedure and I presented the design of an experiment for exploring ESP in dreams. Eileen responded favorably. She placed two rooms of the Parapsychology Foundation at the disposal of Karlis Osis, Douglas Dean and myself and provided the necessary funds to buy an electroencephalograph and hire a technician to run it through the night. Douglas arranged the intercom system so that we could awaken the subject (generally a friend, student or colleague I could dragoon into cooperating) at the time of dreaming.
Our plan was to awaken the subject after each dreaming episode as noted on the electroencephalogram and then ask for a report on any dreams. These were recorded on tape and later transcribed. We were guided by our subjective impressions as to whether any interesting correspondences had occurred between what we had chosen as target material and the dreams. Eileen Garrett was our first subject and she produced a spectacular hit as well as an unusual electroencephalogram, the latter never dipping much below the level of the Stage I REM dreaming phase of the sleep cycle. Later, Gardner also volunteered as a subject. The repeated awakenings made return to sleep difficult for him and nothing noteworthy occurred. I was generally the sender during these sessions and initially I preferred working with free hand drawings made in the course of the night. Later, prepared targets of photographs were used and chosen randomly. We were impressed with the number of striking correspondences that were obtained over the two year period we worked together.
The early exploratory work with Laura Dale, followed by the efforts of Karlis Osis, Douglas Dean and myself to use the REM monitoring technique as a way of capturing a good yield of the night's dreaming, thus facilitating an investigation into dream telepathy, played an important role in my decision to give up private practice in favor of a full time position in a hospital and the opportunity to shape a research program devoted solely to the pursuit of that elusive quarry, the paranormal dream. I remain grateful to Eileen Garrett and the Parapsychology Foundation for setting me on that course.
Within the first year of that transition in 1961 Gardner arranged a grant from the Scaife and Ittelson Foundations, administered through the good graces of the Menninger Foundation, which enabled me to set up the beginnings of a laboratory. We didn't really get moving along the lines of a systematic approach until Stanley Krippner joined our staff the next year with the responsibility to develop the research methodology. Stan had been at Kent State University and was ready to make a move. Gardner got wind of this and, knowing that I was looking for someone to head up the laboratory, sent him east to Brooklyn and the beginning of a productive collaboration. At a later point Charles Honorton joined our staff and took over from Stan when he left to join what is now the Saybrook Institute.
Stan was instrumental in working out what we felt was a foolproof design for the experimental approach we had in mind (a design which has withstood the test of time) to bring telepathic and precognitive dreaming into the laboratory. The results have been dealt with extensively elsewhere. They are admirably summarized along with the subsequent replication studies and a critique of the critics in a recent article by Irvin Child ("Psychology and Anomalous Observations," American Psychologist, 40, 11 [Nov. 1985], 1219-1230). All in all we felt we had made a successful start in subjecting the paranormal dream to laboratory investigation. The positive statistical studies we obtained in 9 of the 12 formal studies we conducted supported the hypothesis that altered states of consciousness, such as dreaming and hypnosis, can be associated with telepathic and precognitive effects. Subsequent to Stan's departure Charles Honorton went on, through his Ganzfeld studies, to further explore the relationship of altered states and psi.
In 1970 I had six months off on a sabbatical leave from my duties at the hospital and medical school (the Downstate Medical Center). Janet and I had planned a trip that was to include visits to the socialist countries for the purpose of exploring their version of psi research. I was to go on to lecture and teach in Israel, India, Japan and Hawaii. Unfortunately, two months into the trip, Janet became ill and we had to return home. I nevertheless did see what I wanted to in the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria. In Moscow Edward Naumov gave me an overview of what was going on there and arranged a lecture for me. I also spent time with Dr. Raikov and was impressed with his way of using hypnosis to facilitate the emergence of musical and artistic talent in young people. The most exciting feature of the visit to the Soviet Union was the week we spent in Leningrad where, through the help of Dr. Sergeyev, I met Nina Kulagina and witnessed several striking psychokinetic efforts performed by her in my hotel room.
Zdenek Rejdak was our host in Czechoslovakia. One evening, while in Prague, we witnessed, along with another parapsychologist from the States, Thelma Moss, some of the experiments of a Czech engineer named Pavlita, who purported to show it was possible to store psychic energy in special metal configurations he had designed and then later, to release that energy to produce telekinetic effects. We were shown how a small wooden object, a match stick, for example, could be affected by one of these metal objects and made to move. Being there as visitors we could not validate the effect for ourselves. The entire encounter was shrouded in secrecy and no details or explanations were forthcoming. This encounter was quite different from my meetings with Sergeyev and Kulagina. Sergeyev responded openly to my questions, shared the data he had and told us about the many interesting results he had had with Kulagina.
In Sofia, Bulgaria, I managed a number of visits at Dr. Lozanov's rapid learning institute and there, too, I was impressed with his ability to use relaxation techniques to expedite learning languages and school projects with greater speed and less stress than might be expected.
In addition to my interest in the work of the Dream Laboratory at Maimonides and the task of securing the funds necessary to keep it operative, my main professional duties related to the Department of Psychiatry and the development and operation of a community mental health center. The latter came into being in 1967 and was noteworthy for the many innovative community programs it launched in its approach to the challenge of preventive psychiatry. As these undertakings grew I found myself involved in administrative responsibilities that made it more and more difficult to pursue my interest in research and teaching, both of which I found more to my liking.
In 1974 the opportunity I had been waiting for to return to teaching arrived. It was an invitation to me and another psychoanalyst from New York, the late Adolfo Caccheiro, to train Swedish psychology students and other professionals in psychodynamically oriented psychotherapy. The students had taken their basic courses at the Psychological Institute of the University of Gothenburg and had now organized their own institute for training and clinical experience. I was more than ready for the change and responded eagerly to the invitation. I stayed in Sweden for a year and a half, feeling drawn to the country and to the students I worked with. In the course of teaching about dreams my present way of working with dreams in groups evolved. This was based upon an experiential approach that brought home to the students in a direct and personal way the creativity of the dream, the information embedded in the imagery, and the healing potential of dream work.
Ever since my return to the States in 1976 I have continued to visit Sweden in the fall and spring for about two months at a time to teach and supervise students. Gradually more of my time there was devoted to group dream work at various hospitals and psychotherapy training centers. The demand for this type of training developed far beyond my expectations. I soon began to train Swedish professionals as well as nonprofessionals in the technique of leading a dream group. There are now many who are well-trained and are leading groups in almost all the major Swedish cities. Over the past three years the work has spread to Norway and Denmark.
My travels in Scandinavia afforded me an opportunity to meet those who were engaged in psychical research there. Rolf Ejvegard has made valiant efforts to keep serious interest in parapsychological research alive in Sweden. He was and is still instrumental in maintaining a scientific point of view in his tenure as president of the Swedish Society for Psychical Research.
Another after-effect of my experience in Sweden was my enthusiasm for group dream work. The process I had developed there I found suitable, not only as a training instrument for professional therapists, but also as a way of making dream work accessible to the interested layman. On my return I joined two faculties, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Westchester Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, for the purpose of teaching therapists in training about dreams experientially in a group setting. In addition I developed private groups and leadership training groups open to anyone interested in this approach. The work in this country thus paralleled my work abroad.
As this work developed I became more and more convinced that serious and effective dream work could extend beyond the consulting room and into the community. Since dreaming is a universal and natural event, access to the resulting dreams should be universal. For this to occur it takes a proper naturalistic setting where the skills involved can be identified and shared and where metapsychological concepts are jettisoned in favor of an understanding of the basic phenomenologic features of the dream.
I succeeded Gardner Murphy as president of the ASPR in 1971. I sought to keep the Society on the same course that he had embarked upon. Difficult financial years followed so that increasing deficit spending made it hard to maintain all the programs we had started. In addition, many of the differences among members of the Board around the aims and goals of the Society, differences that had simmered under the surface during Murphy's term of office, were more out in the open and not always easy to contain. Laura Dale continued to do an excellent job as editor of the Journal. Karlis Osis managed to pursue his studies of apparitions, out-of-body experiences and spontaneous cases despite the dwindling financial support, and Marian Nester succeeded in developing a range of services offered by the Education Department, including the very well received ASPR Newsletter. The management of the administrative affairs of the Society were in the competent hands of Fanny Knipe.
In the early seventies the outlook for research in parapsychology was a most precarious one. The various young parapsychologists scattered around the country were having a difficult financial struggle to maintain their full time commitment to parapsychology. They had the hope that, by coming together, they might have a catalytic effect on each other and also work out the strategies necessary to solve the problems they were facing. I was asked to head the newly formed organization which was named the Gardner Murphy Research Institute. We met yearly with Gardner in attendance until the onset of his illness. Although these meetings deepened personal and professional ties and, in some instances, fostered conjoint studies, it never got much beyond that and was finally dissolved.
In 1980 I resigned as president of the ASPR and from the Board in 1986. The late Arthur Twitchell succeeded me as president, followed by Gertrude Schmeidler, whose deep and longstanding commitment to parapsychology served the Society well. She was succeeded in turn by Howard Zimmerman, an able administrator and someone dedicated to the exploration of the full range of implications of psychical research. Earlier, Howard's wife, Nan, had collaborated with me on our book, Working with Dreams.
As I look back it seems to me that I have had the good fortune to have had three very different kinds of encounters with psi phenomena. As an adolescent I was exposed to the range of seance room phenomena that characterized an earlier epoch of psychic research. As a psychoanalyst my interest was rekindled as patients related dreams that struck me as telepathic. This was the direct precursor to my efforts to approach the problem of the paranormal dream experimentally.
In more recent years I have in some ways combined what I learned from these three levels of experience in exploratory studies conducted at the ASPR, making use of a group approach to dream sharing which involved going beyond surface correspondences to get at underlying motivational dynamics and, through the pursuit of psi events over a long period of time, allow for incipient psi abilities to develop.
Murphy believed in casting a wide net in our search for understanding psi. He embraced the old literature as well as the new, the qualitative as well as the quantitative. It has always seemed to me that, because of our ignorance, we had much more to learn about the natural outcropping of psi before we could (if ever) capture its essence in the laboratory. We have to avoid letting our ignorance constrain our efforts at exploration. In the recent group experiment referred to above we sought to learn more about the natural human predicaments that bring about a psi event and how such an event registered in a dream.
I end with the hope that future researchers will move into the future not only with computers and other sophisticated technologies but also with the breadth of vision of such pioneers as Myers, James and Murphy.
Ullman, M. An Experimental Approach to Dreams and Telepathy, Methodology and Preliminary Findings. Archives of General Psychiatry, June, 1966, pp. 35-62.
Ullman, M. A Nocturnal Approach to Psi. Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association, No 3, Durham, N.C.: Parapsychological Association, 1966; pp. 35-62.
Ullman, M. Bio-Communication in Dreams. Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis 1,4 (1973), pp. 429-446.
Ullman, M., and Krippner, S., with Vaughan, A. Dream Studies and Telepathy: An Experimental Odyssey. New York: Macmillan; London: Turnstone Press, 1973.
Ullman, M. Parapsychology and Psychiatry. In A. Freedman, H. Kaplan and B. Saddock (Eds.), Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 2nd Edition. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1974; Vol. 2, pp. 2552-2561.
Ullman, M., and Zimmerman, N. Working with Dreams. Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher, 1979.
Ullman, M. Psi Communication Through Dream Sharing. In B. Shapin & L. Coly (Eds.), Communication and Parapsychology. New York: Parapsychology Foundation, 1980; pp. 202-220.
Wolman, B., and Ullman, M. Access to Dreams. In B. Wolman and M. Ullman (Eds.), Handbook of States of Consciousness. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1986. Ullman, M., and Limmer, C. (Eds.). The Variety of Dream Experience. New York: Continuum, 1987.