[up] [home]

Psi Communication Through Dream Sharing

By Montague Ullman

Paper presented at the Parapsychology Foundation Conference on "Communication and Parapsychology," held August 9-10, 1979, in Vancouver, Canada. Dr. Ullman, a psychiatrist in private practice, is a former President of the American Society for Psychical Research in New York.


While awake our view of ourselves is one in which we see and stress our autonomy, our individuality, our discreteness. We define our own boundaries and we try to work with them. What I'm suggesting, and which is not at all novel, is that our dreaming self is organized along a different principle. Our dreaming self is more concerned with the nature of our connections with all others. There is some part of our being that has never forgotten a basic truth, that in our waking lives throughout history we seem to have continuously lost sight of. The history of the human race, while awake, is a history of fragmentation. It's a history of separating people and communities of people in every possible conceivable way-geographically, nationally, religiously, politically.

Our sleeping self, I am proposing, is connected with the basic truth that we're all members of a single species and that while dreaming our concerns have to do with what has happened in the course of waking experience that interferes with, damages, impedes, obstructs or enhances these connections. While asleep, we seem about to drastically alter the way we experience space and time. While awake, we move through our lives in a sequential, linear moment-by-moment fashion with a point representing birth and another point the present moment. But when we go to sleep and begin to dream we create pictures of what's going on in our psyche from a point that, in terms of space and time, seems to be outside of our waking organization. We are able to recall events going deep into our past. The amount of information that can be gathered from the past is often greater than anything we're able to recall while awake. With this information available we can project much more accurately the implications of a present concern. If parapsychological data are valid, this scanning process does not seem to be limited to the individual.

We experience the dream as a series of images that move in relation to each other and seem to develop in some kind of a sequential pattern. Where do these images come from? We have to go back and define how we look upon the substrate. If the substrate has to be broader than the individual, then, to use an analogy, we're talking about some kind of psychic black hole of highly condensed information about ourselves and others that, under the conditions of sleep, we seem able to tap into and extract what we need to know about ourselves and others that is relevant to our immediate life situation. We have no way of processing that much information as quickly as is necessary under the conditions of dreaming, unless we process some of it all at once in terms of an image, and then process the images sequentially to capture all the information that's available to us. The dream is this first transformation out of an undefined information source. At times we come upon information that we have no right to know about in terms of waking causality and the natural space and time order of events.

When we awaken, this information undergoes a second transformation into what Shakespeare referred to as "words, words, words." Each of these transformations involves information loss. The dream has no way of capturing all the information in that original source. The waking state has no way of capturing all the information in the dreaming source. It is simply a remembrance, but a rich and significant one. Without going into all of the interesting qualities of our dream life, I'm going to emphasize what I think are the most important.

In the first place the imagery of our dreams comes out of feelings that reflect what is really going on in our lives at that time. Honesty is a quality of the images we create. Secondly, the images are concerned with the issues of connectivity, how human beings are connected with each other. Dreams deal with events that interfere with these connections. They reflect our concerns with maintaining and preserving these connections.

Dreams take as their starting point a recent emotionally intrusive event in our lives. At some time during the night the feeling residue of this event seems to trigger a backward scanning into the deepermost recesses of our remote memory system to retrieve those aspects of our past experience that are emotionally related to the current situation. As we have noted, the pictures that we come up with and that are experienced as our dream are honest reflections of our feelings at the moment and of their connection to events in our past. In effect, we have taken a series of true-to-life photographs of the relational field we find ourselves in at the time we are dreaming. It is a field that includes much more information about ourselves than is readily available to us in the waking state. The existence of psi in the dream suggests that, under certain circumstances, the scanning process extends beyond our spatial borders to pick up information clairvoyantly or telepathically and beyond our temporal limits to pick up information precognitively.

The pictures we form in our dreams are remarkable in a number of respects. We project ourselves out of our accustomed space-time ordering of events and seem able to view the entire range of our existence from a point outside our waking system. Whatever that perspective is, it is outside space and time as we experience those categories while awake. Furthermore, the images we come up with tend to be metaphorical. rather than literal or direct reflections of our situation. While asleep, we transform our primitive imaging capacity into the distinctly human capacity for metaphor. We will refer to the metaphor of the dream image as the oneiric metaphor, in contrast to the metaphor of waking speech. The reason our dream images take this form has been dealt with elsewhere.1,2 In brief, it derives from the vigilance hypothesis of dreaming, which holds that the dream images we form are primarily self-confrontational and function as emotional regulators of the state of arousal during the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) or dreaming period. While asleep we exist in a state of social isolation. It is important for us while in this state to assess what it is we feel in terms of the relative safety in remaining asleep. Metaphors express feelings and the metaphorical images of the dream mobilize and express a level of feeling appropriate to the nature and importance of the particular issue we are grappling with. The intensity of the feelings aroused by their metaphorical expression determines the outcome of the REM stage. Awakening occurs when the feelings mobilized cannot be contained within the sleep state and necessitate the return of the waking state and the protective social cushioning we experience in that state.

When psi effects occur during dreaming they will influence this monitoring process and if intense enough will produce awakening. Our model suggests that psi can enter the dream by way of metaphorical expression as well as directly.

What follows in this presentation is a consideration of the implications of these features of the dream for psi research. The views of the human condition awake and asleep are quite different and experimental strategies might be more productive if both dimensions of our existence were taken into account. In this paper I will discuss a beginning investigation along these lines. My other three types of close encounters with psi in dreams (spontaneously, clinically and experimentally) have convinced me of the validity of this approach. Each of these experiences sheds a different kind of light on the paranormal dream but, taken together, they suggest that the properties of the dreaming phase of our existence are largely unexplored in their potential significance for the manifestation of psi. More specifically, the occurrence of psi in dreams suggests experimental approaches that are qualitatively different from those in general use.

Psi events seem to register changes in the same emotional field that the dreamer is preoccupied with. Were the focus of investigation to shift to this field, then efforts might be devoted to identifying and developing a psi favorable field. A psi effect that occurred within such a field would be spontaneous and unpredictable. Subject, agent and target could not be specified in advance. The subject, agent and target status would be identifiable only after the fact and would be derivative factors from an even larger field, all operating beyond the control of any one individual. Psi would then enter the dream as another means at the disposal of the dreamer for learning about and managing the state of his emotional connectedness to significant others. Psi derived imagery, as well as more intrinsically personal imagery, would be set in motion by the existence of the social disconnect that characterizes the dreaming state.

In our dreams we are presenting and transforming imagery. Let us look more closely at the oneiric image and explore some of its features that may have a bearing on the occurrence of psi. Imaging itself is a concrete mode of presentation that relies on form, color and, in general, the transmission of information at a sensory level. The transformation of the simple or literal image into a visual metaphor extends the range and heightens the informational impact of the image at a feeling level. In lower animals, if imagery does occur, and there is some indirect evidence that it does,3 the literal image probably suffices to monitor the level of arousal during the REM state. In humans, with sources of potential threat arising more in connection with more subtle changes in an emotional field, rather than the recall of actual danger in a physical field, the image transformed into metaphor serves as a more versatile adaptive mechanism for registering such effects. We have generally relied on the literal reflection of psi perceived events in dreams as a mode of detecting them. The possible relationship of psi events to the metaphorical transform is still to be explored.

The attributes of the oneiric image possibly related to psi events include

(1)   The source of the images in feelings. It is our feelings which mobilize the information we need either from our past or, paranormally, from external sources, to shed light on a current predicament. The feelings are then reflected back as metaphorically expressive imagery. The feeling tone now conveyed by these developed images assess emotionally the relevance of the matter before us to our immediate future.

(2)   Our dreams are future oriented and serve as indicators of what lies ahead emotionally as a consequence of certain recent events in our life. Psi events, especially as manifest in dreams, seem to have a predilection for future events.

(3)   Our dreams are fundamentally concerned with the assessment of damage to, repair of, and enhancement of our connections to significant others. The same concern with connectedness may be said to hold for many manifestations of psi.

Another interesting property of imagery as experienced during sleep that may be relevant to psi is the absolute and unquestioning sense of reality associated with it, regardless of how bizarre or unreal it may seem to us from the vantage point of the waking state. All the images we put to use in our dreams are, in a sense, derived primarily from the "outside." That is to say, they are social in origin and exist somewhere external to ourselves as a kind of pool of available social imagery created by the social habits of human beings. While dreaming, we experience these images in their external, real, outside or objective attributes. At the same time, we experience them as internal, inside and subjective. In fact, the distinction between outside and inside, object and subject seems to disappear. Our relation to the image while asleep enables us to experience it as inside and outside at the same time. We have shifted from dualistic outlook to a non-dual level of experience. Once awake, we experience the image as inside only and also less real. We have assumed a dualistic position which removes us from the feeling of reality formerly connected with the image. The image now strikes us as derived from a memory source and seems like a pale reproduction of some former reality. Perhaps that is not the case at all, but a necessary illusion to maintain our dualistic mode of operating while awake. We drain the images of their objective reality and salvage only those attributes that support our sense of our own discreteness and separateness from the world about us. In our sleep subject-object, observer-observed, inside-outside come together. Perhaps that is a crucial condition for psi effects to occur. Instead of being something mysteriously different from the ordinary imagery that appears in our sleep, these effects may be of the same order and origin as our visual images, but more extended in their spatial and temporal range (as that range is experienced while awake). In this connection it is of some interest to recall Penfield's experiments in electrical stimulation of the exposed temporal lobe during brain surgery.4 Under these circumstances there is not simply recall of an earlier memory, but the re-emergence of the memory in its original form as a. real experience. It is experienced as "inside" but real ("outside"). A past context reassumes - or perhaps never lost - its realness. It has the flavor of the inside-outside or subject-object unity of the dream, but it occurs while awake and has some of the flavor of the nondual mode that characterizes dreaming. It is as if the electrical stimulus disrupts the absolute control of the dual mode.

What we are proposing is that the imagery display in our dreams is more complex than the re-emergence of stored memories. The images seem to retain their connection with their source which, in the dual mode, is experienced as external to the bodily boundaries of the individual. They are experienced as real, as existing outside of the dreamer's conception of himself and as defining the relationship independently of the dreamer's wishes. In principle then, psi events would not pose a special problem of transmission or communication, but would simply represent an extension of the imaging process to a larger range of available social imagery than the dreamer usually draws upon. The nature of psi-related imagery suggests that this may occur accidentally or, more often, as a response to considerable emotional turbulence.

There is evidence from clinical and laboratory sources that interest in and a positive orientation to psi interactions favor the occurrence of such events. Our ordinary memory field is also determined by interest and attention. The extension of these attitudes to psi events brings them into what we experience as our memory field. Just as our normal memory is selective for certain events that depend on interest and emotional charge, so is our "memory" for psi events. In both instances an aspect of the source is from outside the self. In a non-dual mode this is not experienced as outside or inside, but as both. In a dual mode memory is experienced as inside and psi events (in the waking state) as outside. Our way of experiencing, of being in the world, is what creates the dilemma that psi poses for our waking orientation. What we experience as a separate and unique kind of event, namely a psi effect, is simply a widening or deepening of an "external" source of available social imagery that can become the building blocks of our dreams. Together they help us confront ourselves during the cyclically recurring periods of dreaming with pictorial renditions of the emotional cross currents of our lives. This suggests the possibility that, through our interest in and involvement with the psi dimension of reality, we increase the likelihood of our encounter with psi under circumstances in which we move closer to a non-dual existence.

Imagery then appears to be more than a mode of registering, incorporating and recalling new data. Our images never seem to lose their linkage to the outside. Playback during dreams and electrical stimulation of the brain calls our attention to these "outside" or real connections. It is this sense of reality in the dream, for example, that rivets our attention on them and enables them to serve as expressive self-confrontations. While dreaming we are concerned with issues of connection, continuity, affinity and wholeness. The creation and deployment of the visual metaphor is a remarkably powerful way of revealing, at a feeling level, just where we are in relation to these issues and the impact of recent events in our lives upon them. In our dreams we give visibility to the emotional components of the interpersonal fields of greatest importance to us. The potential for psi events is probably intrinsic to this field but hardly ever actualized because of our underdeveloped sense of the reality of psi.

The Use of the Experiential Dream Group as a Psi Facilitating System

Based on the point of view developed above it seemed essential to address the task of working out a waking approach to dreams that could help both to stimulate and to identify psi effects. The goal was to take into account the nocturnal and the diurnal dimensions of human existence and the varying degree of openness to psi that characterized each state. In recent years I have been developing and exploring a small group approach to experiential dream work as a way of bringing people into a close, honest and helpful relationship to the images they create at night. The question to be explored was whether or not, in bringing people closer to their dreams, we could at the same time generate psi effects and bring them closer to their recognition.

The Experiential Dream Group

The process involved in experiential dream group work is not given in detail in this paper. In brief, it rests on the principle that an interested and concerned social response system is necessary to help the dreamer connect with the images he has created. The group carries out this task by assuming the role of a helping agency, rather than as an outside authority with access to specialized knowledge about the dream. In its way of functioning the group follows the natural contours of the dream. These include

(1)   Respecting the dreamer's authority over his own dream.

(2)   Respecting the privacy of the dreamer and the private realms touched on by the dream.

(3)   Respecting the uniqueness of each dream and of the dreamer. In practice this means:

(1) That the dreamer controls the process and is the final judge of any meanings given to the image.

(2) That the dreamer controls the level of self-disclosure he feels comfortable with and is not pushed beyond that level.

(3) That no a priori categories of meanings are superimposed on the dreamer. Only the meanings felt by the dreamer to be true are true.


Experiential dream work generates emotional closeness among the participants. It is expected that this developing rapport in combination with the natural psi facilitating effect of the dream itself, would result in an increasing number of identifiable psi occurrences among the members of the group. It represents, in effect, a two-pronged approach that attempts to generate psi through sharing waking and dreaming experiences. We rely on the orientation and interest of the group in psi to capture psi events in the non-dual mode of the dream state and then to heighten the possibility of interactive psi events among members of the group through experiential dream work and the sharing of dreams. The emotional set of the group and the challenging novelty of each dream heightens the expectancy level to the possibility of psi occurring in dreams and prevents the process from ever lapsing into a stereotyped or repetitive pattern. The procedure lacks any formal experimental design features and maintains an air of challenge, curiosity and spontaneity. At the same time deep and significant motivational patterns are exposed and shared.


Every member of the group has had prior exposure to the experiential group approach to dreams. Meetings of the group occur weekly for approximately one and a half hours. There has been a nucleus of five[1], although at times as many as seven or eight have participated. Dream diaries are kept by each member. The dreams of each week are typed, copied and distributed at each meeting. Time is set aside to review and compare the dreams of others to his or/her own dreams as well as to look for correspondence among the dreams of others. From this point on the process evolves quite informally. It may move into an experiential process around a particular dream or we may begin by pointing up and exploring what strikes us as interesting correspondence. We tend to move into the experiential work with a dream if someone feels some urgency to get help from the group with a particular dream; otherwise, we would be more involved in checking each other's dreams for correspondences, noting any correspondences between the dreams of others and events in our own lives and any correspondences between our dreams and paranormally apprehended events in our own lives.

In the process of exploring such correspondences we might shift into the experiential mode to deepen our understanding of the imagery in question. The experiential work exposes any correspondence at a metaphorical level; the dream sharing any correspondences at a literal or manifest content level, and the dream recording any psi correspondences between the dreaming and waking life of the dreamer. We are engaged in a collective fashion in a process that maximizes the psi retrieval aspects of dreaming. Just as the Toronto group' seemed to get physical effects with a table through their collective expectations that, somehow or other, they could get Philip's ghost to produce such effects, so we developed a collective set with regard to the occurrence of ESP effects. A light and informal spirit prevailed and excitement mounted whenever we seemed to be in pursuit of a suggestive correspondence. Our judgments of correspondences remain purely subjective. No blind or objective judging procedure has been introduced. No target is stipulated in advance nor are percipient-agent relationships designated in advance. While this leaves wide open the possibility of reading the likelihood of extra-chance factors into the correspondences, we note it was our hope that some of them would be striking enough or occur often enough to survive this bias. At any rate, at this exploratory stage no design features for blind judging have been introduced.


Since there was no advance structuring of what kind of correspondence to look for, we were using a wide net to capture correspondences along a variety of axes, such as, for example:

(1)           Correspondences among the dreams of two or more group members.

(2)           Correspondences between the dream and the lives of one or more members of the group other than the dreamer.

(3)           Correspondences, telepathic or precognitive, between the dream and events in the life of the dreamer.

The correspondences at this stage in the evolution of the group are no more than suggestive. When noted, they would provoke interest and further exploration with the goal in mind, not of pinpointing their evidential value, but as a way of maintaining a high level of excitement about and engagement with work we were doing. We were inviting psi occurrences, so to speak, in a relaxed, playful way, rather than with a quantitative concern with the evidentiality of the data. Our hope is that, if the group can continue to generate enough data, the qualitative results would speak for themselves.

Example 1. Dream to dream

On April 9, 1978, 1 had the following dream:

"There were preparations for a large scale dinner meal for 150 people. Some people felt the meal would be stereotyped and wanted more variety than could be arranged for so many."

The same night Barbara had this dream:

"Food is laid out on several tables-varied gourmet foods. It seems as though this has been done in Tom's honor. I am there as his guest. I am sampling foods and they are delicious. It occurs to me that this is wasted as far as Tom is concerned as he is a picky eater. I then see an image of Tom with a sort of webbing (iridescent) going out from him all around. This is to symbolize the way his eating pickiness is related to many other areas of his life. I wake up thinking how true this is."

While references to food are not uncommon in dreams, they were not particularly characteristic of Barbara's or my dreams.

The suggestive points here are:

(1) The dreams occurred the same night.

(2) They both involve or imply a large scale meal.

(3) In each case there was some kind of complaint or implied complaint.

Example II. Dream to reality involving the group

In this instance the correspondence was a bit more unusual. It linked a dream occurring on the morning the group met to an unexpected event involving the group later that day.

Barbara's dream of Dec. 1, 1977:

"It was just like a scene. I didn't have the feeling of being inside. There was a man talking to me from behind a counter. There were bare shelves. Nothing was finished off. There were three pair of eyeglasses. All had the right lens removed, like a monocle. One pair had very small hexagon lenses, down low like Thomas Edison. Also a jeweler's eye piece. There was something about an Oriental who sounded Italian giving an explanation or directive."

Shortly before (half an hour) the group was to come together for its regular weekly meeting at the American Society for Psychical Research, I ran into John Cutten, the former Executive Secretary of the SPR. He was visiting and had spent the night at the Society. I hadn't known he was in town. I extended an invitation to join our research group meeting and he accepted. His ears perked up on hearing Barbara recount her dream. He confided that the left lens of his eyeglasses was a dummy so that, in effect, he had only one lens. He also remarked that he had recently given a talk to foreign students, among whom were several Chinese students. One of them asked him why there were more haunted houses in England than anywhere else.

Barbara was listening to his account with growing interest and then commented: "England has always had a certain fascination for me. I feel somehow that their attitude and their history is more connected with psi. I visited England three years ago and it is as if one were surrounded by old souls. Psi is in one's consciousness more than here."

Barbara then amplified some of the elements of her dream: "The man was someone of great wisdom, a guru type with knowledge to give me. The glasses were smoked. You couldn't see very much with them, but it was as if you had second sight. The monocle-like three pair of glasses and the jeweler's eyepiece were all connected. The man could see whatever he wanted to see. I connect the hexagonal lens with Edison, the inventor who shed light."

She added more about England: "I watched the British jubilee and saw the Queen of England. The old buildings there were revered. I admired the places I visited, places where people had lived so long ago."

Barbara was questioned about the events in her life prior to the dream. "Last night an incident occurred in which I was teased about being a witch. My supervisor said to someone in my presence: `She dreams of what goes on in your head.' I was very eager to get back to our meetings after the Thanksgiving vacation. Last night I was also thinking about the research on schizophrenia that I'm doing and the relevance of the right brain-left brain work."

In the dream Barbara had no feeling of being in the store, yet she was aware of the counter in front of her and the man on the other side. In the actual situation, as it turned out, Barbara was seated at a table directly opposite Mr. Cutten.

Here, of course, the most striking feature was related to the unusual eyeglasses in the dream and, in reality, with a number of less striking supporting features. Barbara has been the one in the group most consistently involved in presumptive psi effects.

What follows are a few more examples which, in themselves, may seem trivial but which alerted us to the kinds of correspondence to look for, as well as helped to maintain our level of interest and excitement about the project.

Example III. Dream to dream

Barbara's dream of March 18, 1979:

"I have to take a driver's test-not the basic operator's test, but an oral one. Jim and I are in my car with him driving to get to the place to take it. We have to cross a sort of bridge onto an island. He drives on, but is not square on it and as he leans out the car tips off into the water with him in it. I have just stepped out and am standing on a landing. The car is completely immersed. I wait for Jim to come up (I know he will in a minute) and when he does I give him a hand and pull him out. We have to get someone to get the car out and I still have to take the test. I view all this as more of an inconvenience than a catastrophe. There is a little house with a phone in it and a hen's nest. The phone apparently connects with a house nearby. A sign on the post says: `For assistance pick up phone and wait for answer. Do not come to main house unless invited. Crotchety old woman. Do not gather eggs.' I pick up the phone and there is recorded music and recorded sounds of a chicken (made by a human being) on it-I am still waiting for an answer as I wake up."

My dream of March 19, 1979:

"Getting back something very valuable, perhaps jewels, and fleeing with someone from pursuers. I find a taxi and am impatient with the person getting out. We help him out. We go to a house. Someone seems to know where we are going. I am afraid he will tell the pursuers. We stop the car because of snow and find ourselves at a crowded bar. There was a screen where porno movies were going to be shown, but none were shown. We were going to start out again. There was something wrong with the brake shoes and someone volunteered to fix them. In the morning I was surprised to find we were on an island."

Both dreams involve an island and trouble with a car.

Example IV. Dream to dream

Barbara's dream of March 22, 1979:

"Sometime during the night-remembered on the way to work. Woman in the apartment on the second floor has done a painting called `leg.' It is shaped sort of like a ham. It has skin and inside is filled with wires or veins or both. She believes this has some beneficial effect and is trying to influence a woman to try it instead of psychiatric treatment which I am advising. I am very curious to see it and its purported effects." '

My dream of March 22, 1979:

"Something about a Grant Wood painting. Something about a degenerative disease. Going to see the doctor who took Dr. Friedman's place. He was a stumblebum who had trouble understanding why we were there and seemed confused. There were EEG records when we wanted EKG records."

Both dreams involve the subject of painting in combination with an ailment of some sort.

Example V. Dream to reality event in life of a group member

My dream of March 28, 1979:

"I'm working as a doctor and examining three patients. I take the first one. She has a sore throat. I examine her chest and have a hard time getting her to breathe right. On percussion there is dullness over left upper lobe. I went to a nurse on the operating room for a prescription blank to give her something like 'phylopenicillin.'

I'm visiting Jesse. He is in his pajamas and so am I. He is practicing medicine and I'm surprised how carefully he has kept notes and has studied pharmacology. Then I leave and his aunt helps me find my coat."

Barbara reported the following events that occurred the night before my dream: "Tuesday night I received a call from my former mother-in-law, whose name is Jessie. She has had great difficulty over the past seven years with chest infections. I had suggested to her in the fall that she take Vitamins C and E. She told me Tuesday night that she had been taking them and that I was right. She hadn't had a chest cold all winter. I did speak with three people that night-Jessie and her two younger sons."

Jesse is an old friend with whom I have not been in touch for a number of years. He had been ill recently. He is not a physician.

The correspondence lies in the name of Jesse and the fact that both Barbara and Jesse were "practicing medicine without a license."

Example VI. Dream to dream

Barbara's dream of March 13, 1979:

"Nelson Rockefeller and Megan Marshak, they are cousins to each other and cousins to me also. At the time of his death we had an appointment to play basketball. Cartoon 'Doonesbury' has a new character. A very political pig named Rigg."

My dream of March 15, 1979:

"I'm at some camp or resort. Arthur Schlesinger is telling me that he just played tennis with Jim Terry. I say that I taught Jim how to play. Schlesinger asks who plays better. I say I think Jim can beat me. Barrack scene with three cots, presumably for Schlesinger, Terry and myself. I remember that I forgot to take my travel alarm clock."

Both dreams involve important political personages in connection with a sport and, more specifically, tennis in my dream and a veiled reference to tennis in Barbara's dream (Rigg-Bobby Riggs).

I have cited correspondences between Barbara and myself, not because they were the only ones that occurred among the dreamers, but because they were illustrative of the tendency for psi linkages to involve particular twosomes in the group. Although the underlying dynamics were not explored, the circumstances suggested that the linkages were related to transferential feelings that were evoked.


The approach described is only a beginning in the use of dreams as a psi retrieval mechanism under conditions which are in keeping with the nature of dreams themselves. This involves working along lines that link the dream to waking life and providing the kind of social support system that helps the dreamer get at the meanings embedded in the imagery. Work carried out in this manner results in emphatic and intimate bonding among the people involved and creates conditions that stimulate psi interactions among the participants.

Since dream images are metaphorical in intent, it has been of some interest to observe how the psi data relate to the metaphorical structure of the dream images. In the work on experimental dream telepathy there were many examples of how one or another property of the target would find its way into the dream of the percipient in a metaphorically amplified way, e.g., the bronze color of Gauguin's native women appearing in the dream of the percipient as the danger of becoming too sunburned or where the free hand drawing of an acute angle appeared metaphorically elaborated as canes in the shape of hockey sticks in the hands of men attending a cocktail party.' In Example II, the single lens and concern with single eyepieces and glasses with one lens were metaphorically conveying a different or second sight way of knowing. In Example V, the name Jesse had different metaphorical connotations for each of the two dreamers.

There are many problems to be overcome before this can be said to be a workable technique. Uppermost is the problem of dealing with the level of complexity of the data that are reviewed each week. This includes the dreams of all the participants during the prior week and the personal disclosure stimulated by the dream sharing. Secondly, the evidentiality of the data themselves will have to be established on a firmer basis.

In the anecdotal literature there is often evidence of the existence of a highly charged field involved in the psi event. The same is true, but for different reasons, in the field that characterizes the appearance of psi clinically. Working in the laboratory we are generally dealing with low level effects as far as the field is concerned, which is perhaps the reason the data appear so much less striking qualitatively. We have much to learn about the evolution of a psi conducive emotional field and the factors that determine the critical psi event. The approach we have described is one way of integrating the sleeping and waking dimensions of our experience in the interest of generating this field.


Psi has long been considered an unconscious form of communication that often undergoes some degree of distortion before reaching consciousness. There have been efforts to test the notion of unconscious psi effects, but these have generally been designed within the framework of the traditional agent-target-subject test situation. Assuming that psi is not only an unconscious process, but also a field effect, as Murphy and others have proposed, an investigative procedure has been followed in which the emphasis is placed on the generation of a psi facilitating emotional field. Dream sharing and experiential work with dreams in a group setting was used as the means of generating such a field. This paper reports on a pilot study that was designed to explore the use of dream work in a small group setting as a way of establishing natural psi linkages. The group has worked together over the past two years, meeting weekly, sharing dreams of the previous week and working with selected dreams through an experiential process designed by the author. Psi linkages were noted as they occurred spontaneously. Examples of such linkages are given.


1.    Ullman, M., "A Theory of vigilance and dreaming," in V.Zykmund (Ed.) The Oculomotor System and Brain Function. London: Butterworth, 1973.

2.    Ullman, M., "Dreaming as metaphor in motion." Archives of  General Psychiatry, 1969, 21, pp. 696-703.

3.    Vaughan, C. J., "The development and use of an operant technique to provide evidence for visual imagery in rhesus monkeys under 'sensory deprivation,'" Dissertation Abstracts. 26: 6191, 1966.

4.    Penfield, W., The Mystery of the Mind, Princeton University  Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1975.

5.    Owen, I. M. with Sparrow, M., Conjuring Up Philip. An Adventure in Psychokinesis, Fitzhenry and Whiteside, Toronto, and Harper and Row, New York, 1976. (Also Paper Jacks. Markham, Ontario, 1977.)

6.    Ullman, M. and Krippner, S., with Vaughan, A., Dream Telepathy: Scientific Experiments in Nocturnal ESP, Macmillan. New York, 1973.

[1]The core group currently carrying on this work with me now includes Patrice Keane, Barbara Shelp, Amy Kostant and Nancy Sandow. I want to acknowledge their helpful suggestions in the preparation of this report.