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Vigilance Theory and Psi. Part I: Ethological and Phylogenetic Aspects

The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research

Volume 80, October  1986,  Number 4, pp 357-373



In this paper, the aroused state of REM sleep associated with dreaming in humans is discussed in the phylogenetic and ontogenetic perspective. Dreaming is viewed as a mammalian phenomenon characterized by bidirectional vigilance, that is, vigilance operations that are at the same time selectively directed towards significant environmental stimuli (external direction) and towards the biologically triggered dream imagery that it must attend to (internal direction). A link is postulated between the vigilant state of dreaming, which is especially prominent in ontogeny, and telepathy. It is proposed that telepathy is a little understood form of communication that may have originated in the intrauterine period of mother-fetus symbiosis and may have developed as an emergency channel between mother and young in the early postnatal period when spatio-temporal gaps have to be bridged in order to survive. This thesis is discussed in the light of findings in the parapsychological literature.

Historical, early literary and anthropological sources, as well as large, crosscultural collections of spontaneous cases, all point to the affinity between dreams and the paranormal (for surveys, see Tolaas & Ullman, 1979; Van de Castle, 1977). The well-known experimental work at Maimonides Medical Center (Ullman & Krippner, with Vaughan, 1973) and other laboratories (for a survey, see Tolaas & Ullman, 1979) has also provided statistical evidence for the possibility of incorporating telepathically transmitted material into dreams (for a recent discussion, see Child, 1985). Given the strong affinity between psi and dreams, the typical dreaming state, or REM sleep, becomes a topic of major interest for parapsychology. Potentially, any progress in our understanding of the future and function of REM sleep may also throw new light on the nature of psi processes. In this article, I will try to explore the possible nature of the link between REM sleep and telepathy or GESP in the phylogenetic and ontogenetic perspective. Our knowledge of various aspects of REM sleep is rapidly increasing, whereas psi still remains an enigma. It therefore goes without saying that a certain amount of speculation must be allowed for.


Starting in the mid-1950s, Ullman, in a series of articles on the physiological (Ullman, 1956, 1958), psychological (Ullman, 1959a, 1962), and social dimensions of dreaming (Unman, 1960), developed what has come to be known as the "vigilance theory of dreaming." The theory was also explored in relation to psi occurrences in the clinical setting (Unman, 1959b), under experimental conditions (Ullman & Krippner, 1970; Ullman & Krippner, with Vaughan, 1973), and, most recently, in relation to the healing or growth potential of dreams (Ullman & Zimmerman, 1979).

The main points of vigilance theory may be summarized as follows:


During the day, environmental stimuli impinging on the reticular activity system (RAS) are the main factors modulating the degree of arousal. While asleep and dreaming, however, the situation is quite different. Then the main source of stimulation modulating arousal is endogenous, generated by the cerebral cortex, which is in a state of arousal. Initially, this state of brain arousal is brought about by corticopetal impulses mediated through the RAS, which determines the degree of arousal. The cyclical periods of typical dreaming sleep, or REM sleep, may therefore be said to contain an inherent arousal mechanism. If afferent stimulation rises above a critical threshold, the RAS will wake the dreamer up. The model outlined here is in keeping with several neurophysiological theories of dreaming sleep (Hernandez-Peon, 1965; Jouvet, 1962).


As for the psychology of dreaming, a brief summary statement may provide an idea of the main points of the vigilance stance: Dreaming is a vigilant state in which the signalling function of verbal language is taken over by endogenously generated imagery, an exquisite tool for self-communication. Starting from a recent intrusive event, that is, a recent event that challenges our value systems, social status, or defense mechanisms, the dreamer engages in a longitudinal scanning process of related past events. The dreamer's vigilance needs are engaged in the continual assessment of the dreamer's safety as monitored by his or her capacity to express feelings in metaphorical imagery. If the dreamer is able to cope with the tensions unfolded in the dream imagery, he or she may go on sleeping or dreaming. But if the affective intensity exceeds a critical threshold, the arousal mechanism inherent in the dream state is triggered, and the dreamer wakes up.

From this outline, it can be seen that the vigilance theory assumes isomorphism between the physiology and the psychology of the dreaming state.


In the 1960s, Snyder (1965, 1966, 1969) advanced the so-called sentinel thesis of REM sleep function. Whereas the emphasis of Ullman's thesis is on dreaming as a human phenomenon, Snyder's closely related thesis stressed REM sleep as a mammalian phenomenon. According to Snyder, the cyclically appearing bouts of arousal (REM) interspersed in the sleep of all mammals and birds studied to date, except the spiny anteater (Allison & Goff, 1968), provide the animal with an anticipatory warning system so that it may wake up and cope with approaching danger (e.g., predators). The beauty of the mechanism lies in the fact that the critical reactivity of the animal is enhanced during REM sleep, so that if it wakes up, it is readily able to flee or fight. Thus, even very vulnerable animals may obtain a certain minimum amount of sleep because they are able to put out "sentinels" to warn them of approaching predators.

Similar ideas have been advanced by Drew and Batt (1972), Karmanova (1982), and Rivers (1923). According to Karmanova (1982), the origin of REM sleep may be traced back to an aroused state that provides warning functions to poikilotherms. In these animals, this clearly distinguishable state of arousal is observed during or against the background of sleep (see also Watson, 1979).

Tolaas (1978, 1979-1980) has attempted to unify the vigilance and the sentinel theses and extend them to accommodate the host of new findings linking REM sleep in animals and humans with adaptive learning, informational processing, and memory consolidation (Bloch, Hennevin, & Leconte, 1979; McGrath & Cohen, 1978; Tolaas, 1979-1980; Webb & Cartwright, 1978). Briefly, in this view, unprepared learning, or the learning of new and different tasks for which a species is not prepared, appears to require REM sleep for memory consolidation, whereas learning of routinely mastered tasks is REM independent.

It seems reasonable to view this fact in the light of the intrusiveness characteristic of recent events that trigger the vigilant scanning process we call dreaming. Also, REM sleep duration increases during periods of intense new learning. We might speak of species-specific ranges of REM sleep duration that approach the upper limits at times of stressful, new learning, probably reflecting the species' vigilance needs for the assimilative dream process.

The suggested unification and extension of the thesis presupposes some kind of species-specific dreaming in animals as well. Needless to say, most researchers shy away from this possibility, others touch upon it and then leave it (Hobson & McCarley, 1979), and still others consider it likely (Ruckebusch, 1970). Snyder (1966) considers the hypothesis of animal dreaming, but it is a minor concern. He believes that dreaming in infants and lower animals may take the form of "an amorphous riot of sensations entirely without subjective accompaniment" (Snyder, 1966, p. 133). What form it may take is anyone's guess, but it does seem curious if an immensely complicated phenomenon like human dreaming should not have evolutionary antecedents. In the evolutionary perspective, we may say that an organism is always what it ever was, but we are likely to see shifts in the relative importance of structures and functions. According to Snyder, whose focus is animal sleep, REM sleep serves a preparatory learning function.

Ullman's concern is human dreaming, and here we see that vigilance operations are directed towards "psychological safety," or the continual assessment of the affective intensity of the dream drama that is unfolding. The shift is from a concern with environmental threats to threats of a social nature relating to connections and disconnections with others. No matter what the nature of the threat is, the dream state contains an inherent arousal mechanism, the end function of which is awakening. In the case of humans, awakening means evoking waking consciousness when the affective intensity exceeds the individual critical thresholds.

All mammals must dream because dreaming is a biologically triggered state. But in giving itself over to dreaming, any animal becomes more vulnerable to external threats than it is in any other state for two main reasons. First, it must attend to the unfolding dream imagery, and second, in doing so, the tone in skeletal muscles drops to extremely low levels, which makes fight or flight impossible even if it should wake up in time to counter an attack. The drop in muscle tone is understandable in light of the fact that the drama (in the Greek root sense: action) is removed from the outer stage of goal-directed and tone-dependent actions to the inner stage of absorbing, visualized actions that the dreamer has to live through. As a consequence of this, two closely related survival needs arise: need for "sentinels" scrutinizing the environment for potential dangers while at the same time shutting out irrelevant stimuli, and a need for an inherent anticipatory arousal mechanism providing the dreamer with the necessary critical reactivity immediately on awakening. This is precisely what REM sleep and dreaming appear to do.


Species that are born with a relatively immature central nervous system (CNS) at birth, such as cats, dogs, and apes, spend relatively more time in REM sleep than species whose CNS is well developed at birth, such as lambs, cows, and horses (Jouvet, 1969). Shortly after birth, young mammals spend most of their time asleep, mostly in REM sleep or REM-like sleep (Ellison, 1975), and these sleep phases are distributed throughout the 24 hours. The amount of REM time decreases in the course of development according to a "maturity law" (Verley & Garma, 1975), so that there is a greater reduction of REM time in the species born helpless than in the precocious ones, but the helpless ones, such as dogs and humans, always retrain the "great dreamers."

The best constitutional predictor of REM time appears to be the length of the gestation period (Allison & Cicchetti, 1976). The longer the gestation period, the less REM time. What this finding may reflect is the fact that, comparing two closely related species with regard to length of gestation and brain development as measured by the Jerison quotient (Jerison, 1973, 1982), we find that the species with the more highly developed brains tend to have shorter gestation periods (Tolaas, 1983), presumably reflecting their greater need for postnatal learning.

The best ecological predictor of variability in the amount and kind of sleep appears to be the vulnerability of a species - defined as its relative exposure to predation - and the safety of its sleeping site. The more vulnerable the species, the less REM sleep it has (Allison & Cicchetti, 1976; Allison & Van Twyver, 1970; Webb, 1975). It is important to bear in mind that regardless of the length of the sleep period, REM sleep phases are regularly distributed throughout, so that even very vulnerable species have bouts of arousal during sleep.

In summary, the most helpless species at birth are also the ones with the most developed, mature brains. They are also the greatest dreamers, presumably because dreaming is linked to adaptive learning needs. The species most vulnerable to attack also spend the least amount of time in dreaming sleep, and are typically prey animals such as antelopes, rabbits, and guinea pigs, who have little developed brains.

It may seem paradoxical that big predators with no natural enemies other than humans should need any arousal mechanism at all, because they are relatively safe. Probably this fact is best seen from an evolutionary perspective. The origin of REM sleep goes back to a time when they may have had natural enemies. Besides, these highly cephalized, large predators have helpless young that are completely dependent on their parents for food and protection during a very long period after birth. Their helplessness may be, so to speak, "transferred" to the parents.


Telepathy in mother-child pairings and telepathic pairings that may be said to be modeled after them, for example, nurse-patient and teacher-pupil relationships, are quite common (Green, 1960; Rhine, 1953, 1954, 1962; Schwarz, 1971). The impressive number of mother-child pairings may, of course, be due to reporting bias, because people who know each other well are more likely to discover possible telepathic experiences and perhaps report them. On the other hand, it may reflect the original. telepathic bonding and throw interesting light on the biological significance of intimacy and symbiosis.

With regard to content, the association between psi experiences and major crises, such as death and serious accidents, is well known (for a survey, see Tolaas & Ullman, 1979). This may reflect the fact that such experiences tend to be more readily recalled, recorded and possibly reported to others. On the other hand, knowing that about 50% of such experiences refer to dreams (Van de Castle, 1977) and that frequency analysis of manifest dream content (Hall & Van de Castle, 1966) does not point to death as a very common theme, this seems less likely. Discounting chance or coincidence, we may be faced with a pattern reflecting the original biological function of telepathy, a prototypic message related to emergencies and REM sleep. Fodor (1949) and Peerbolte (1964) view the symbiotic relationship between mother and fetus as the original matrix of psi, but they do not consider the important fact that during this stage the fetus spends most of its time in REM sleep. (In Fodor's case this is understandable because the article was published before the discovery of REM sleep.) This fact is also curiously overlooked in the general psychiatric literature. From the 29th gestational week, we know that the human fetus spends much time in REM or REM-like sleep (Bakan, 1977-1978), or what Meddis (1975) terms "superwakefulness." Does the fetus also dream? What we may say about this question is that there is no a priori reason why it should not dream. Contrary to what many people believe, intrauterine life exists in a very rich environment, and the fetus is able to pick up stimuli from the mother's body as well as from the environment mediated through her body. From the 12th gestational week, the fetus is listening all the time and is able to distinguish between the tastes of saccharine, which it likes, and lapidol, which it dislikes. It is very sensitive to light stimuli, for example, sun rays, from the 16th gestational week. These are only a few of the observations made possible through sophisticated, modern technology (Verny & Kelly, 1981).

Biologically speaking, the fetus is an inseparable part of a very vulnerable organism. During gestation/pregnancy, food gathering, which is linked to predatory threat and territorial fights, becomes a more demanding task than usual. Due to the developing fetus(es), the mother has to move more slowly and is probably less agile, hence food gathering becomes more difficult and risky, both for exposed herbivores and rodents and for predators, who have greater difficulties catching prey. Besides, food needs are increased. Enveloped in the womb, the fetus is apparently completely safe and carefree as food needs and protection are taken care of by the mother. Viewed thus, it should need no sentinel, particularly as it could do nothing if a predator attacks. Its life may be described as pure ingestion of food and psychic stimuli. However, it shares the endocrine milieu of a vulnerable organism. Thus, we may say that it is constantly exposed to the mother's mood shifts and more persistent emotional states during a period that is known to be stressful. Due to the shared hormonal stream, the fetus is bound to learn the "emotional alphabet" of the mother organism. Verny and Kelly (1981)[1] present a host of recent findings on the mother-fetus relationship that all point to the fact that the emotional dialogue between mother and fetus is far more subtle and complex than we may have tended to think, and it is not at all explainable in terms of orthodox physiology. They postulate some kind of extrasensory perception to explain the direct and immediate exchange of emotions between mother and fetus. They also take up the question of fetal dreaming, speculating that the fetus may be able to pick up the mother's dreams extrasensorially.

What we may say about the nature of fetal dreaming is that if it is linked to adaptive learning and memory consolidation of new and unsettling experiences as in mature individuals, there is no lack of material for dreams in intrauterine life. On the contrary, the fetus is, so to speak, invaded by emotional messages from the mother streaming through the placenta, or possibly taking the form of direct, extrasensory communica­tions. These messages are pushing for assimilation and cannot be "switched off." In reference to stimulation in intrauterine life, we also have to bear in mind the level of fetal CNS maturation. Is the fetus learning its emotional repertoire through periods of vigilant dreaming? Experimental evidence leaves little doubt that it has the capacity to learn emotional reactions (Verny & Kelly, 1981).

During pregnancy there is observable interaction between the sleep stages of the mother and the fetus. Sterman (1967) observed a progressive and specific increase in fetal motility in 61% of the REM sleep episodes of five young women during the last four months of pregnancy. This finding was later confirmed by Petre-Quadens, Hardy, and De Lee (1969). Because there are no neural connections between mother and fetus, and no blood corpuscles can pass from the one to the other, such observations have to be explained on a humoral basis. However, the exact hormonal triggering mechanism is not known. In the light of the great number of findings involving unexplained emotional exchange between mother and fetus (Verny & Kelly, 1981), we are at least justified in asking whether this period of symbiotic union could be the cradle of psi communication.

Several authors, notably Burlingham (1935), Ehrenwald (1971a, 1971b), and FitzHerbert (1960, 1971) have pointed to the early period of extrauterine mother-child symbiosis as the origin of psi, but none of them take up the unavoidable fact that during this period the newborn spends most of its time in REM sleep. At birth, when a whole new world literally opens up, the amounts of REM sleep decrease but still occupy at least 50% of the total sleep time. Why this decrease in REM sleep time? As mentioned earlier, REM sleep time is negatively correlated with vulnerability. Quite possibly, the decrease in REM time at birth may reflect an increase in vulnerability, the newborn being more exposed than the fetus.

We cannot discuss this question without considering the role of parental care in extrauterine life. Species with an immature CNS at birth, in particular, are absolutely dependent upon parental care for food and protection. These are also the great dreamers whose brains are in need of a long period of postnatal learning (Verley & Garma, 1975; Zepelin, 1983). In other words, the more helpless a species is at birth, the more REM sleep it needs. But such helpless species as, for example, cats, dogs, apes, and humans, are also the safest in the early postnatal period because they are well protected and cared for either by the mother alone or by both parents. Bombarded by stimuli, the newborn are therefore in a position to give themselves over to prolonged periods of dreaming, serving the assimilative learning needs. The inherent arousal mechanism of the REM state is directed towards the mother, the great protector and source of food. Arousals, which may or may not lead to full awakenings, would be meaningless unless they served to strengthen the bond to the mother/parent, that is, increase the chance of obtaining food and protection. REM sleep is associated with food needs as witnessed by sucking behavior and "fussing" in human babies (McGinty, 1971). As periods of REM sleep are interspersed in sleep around the clock, they may wake up at intervals and attract the mother's attention, as they actually do. Similarly, REM arousals allow the mother to scrutinize the environment for predators and other threats and to check whether the young are all right or not. In this way, the REM arousal mechanism binds them together. Being completely helpless is tantamount to being completely carefree at a time when rapid brain differentiation takes place and dreaming is a high priority. To a lesser extent, this is also true of precocious, less-cephalized species such as lambs, cows, deer, and guinea pigs. They are also well cared for, but in a literal sense, they "run the risk" of getting away from their parents, and as they are typically prey animals, the outcome is often given. During wakeful periods, communication between mother and young can take place through direct contact such as in feeding, brooding, licking, vocalizations, grimaces, and smells. Vocalizations can also bridge a communicative gap when the mother is away, but within hearing range, and when the young are awake. However, we have to bear in mind that shortly after birth, REM or REM-like sleep is the predominant mode of being and that the periods of REM sleep are distributed throughout the 24 hours. This fact cannot be overlooked, because the young are bound to be asleep and dreaming - sometimes at the most critical period when the mother is away and out of hearing range. At those times the helpless young are highly exposed to predation and other threats such as sudden shifts in air temperature, floods, fires, etc. Being helpless, their only way of overcoming possible threats is to bridge spatio-temporal gaps and reach the mother through some kind of unknown communication, which we may call telepathy or GESP. Is this where psi has its most important role in extrauterine life? The mother is naturally oriented towards the young, and for the young, awake or asleep, she is the world - the end point of the arousal mechanism.

We can imagine that the danger would be perceived as an image intruding into the ongoing dream of the young and having the ability to disturb or trigger strong feelings of anxiety. No matter what form it may take, it must be on target and be able to evoke immediate response. We may speculate that the information needed to "interpret" or "decode" the relevant image may be acquired during waking hours, or more likely, be part of the genetic program and behavioral repertoire of the species in question. If the young have perceived an approaching danger and are alone in a situation where no cry can reach the mother, we may imagine that a telepathic "cry" can reach her. It wouldn't be actively or consciously "sent" in her direction, but because the antennae are always reaching out to her just as she is oriented towards her young, there is a good chance of telepathic/GESP union. But this would also depend on the mother's situation at the moment; for example, if she is engaged in territorial fights, is fleeing, or is in the middle of killing a prey animal, the "cry" may not register, or if it does, she may not be able to attend to it. No survival mechanism in nature is foolproof. We could not expect the "cry" to reach her as a structured message, but perhaps as a recognizable flare of an image, one of the components of the emotional alphabet that has been flowing between mother and child during pregnancy/gestation and therefore is rooted in a history of conditioning.

There is little experimental evidence of unexplained communication between mother and infant relating to REM sleep, but one finding is of great interest. During the early postnatal period, a curious kind of synchrony between the sleep patterns of mother and newborn has been observed. When the mother goes into REM sleep, she seems to trigger the same sleep stage in the infant (Bertini, Gambi, & Gagliardi, 1975). The only way to account for this kind of symmetry within the framework of orthodox science appears to be conditioning during pregnancy, but this is still an open question. Could it be that the mother and the young are monitoring each other in ways that we do not yet understand when one or both partners are asleep and dreaming?

In later life, major crises often appear in realistic, readily understand­able dream imagery as might be expected in light of the postulated original emergency function. However, many less dramatic instances of dream telepathy may pass unnoticed because it takes some elementary knowledge of dream language to detect them (Tolaas, 1986) as well as some interest in dreams and sensitivity to internal processes. Besides, telepathic dreams often touch on highly personal, intimate, and anxiety-provoking material (Ullman & Krippner, with Vaughan, 1973) and are therefore likely to be repressed, or the dreamer may choose to keep the experience to him- or herself. Or, the dreamer may simply not know where to turn with his or her report.

One of my own observations may be pertinent to the question of detection of telepathic stimuli in dreams. Results of free-response/forced­-choice dream telepathy experiments with outside controls (Tolaas, 1985) have made me think that we ought to pay more attention to the position of telepathically incorporated imagery in dream series and single dreams. The percipients in these experiments (young students, participants of dream groups, family members) are all trained to recall their spontaneous dreams. They not only record their dreams, but pick out the element(s) they feel may be telepathically transmitted. If possible, they make simple line drawings of the elements(s), which are then used as the basis for judging possible correspondences with the agent's target material (e.g., objects, geometrical shapes). From these experiments, it appears that if a percipient recalls more than one dream, the element bearing the closest resemblance to the target tends to crop up in the first dream. Moreover, if the percipient has only one long dream with several scene shifts, the element that comes closest to the target tends to appear in the first scene. Other elements may often be seen as variations of the theme and be much more difficult to detect/judge. Tentatively, I interpret this to mean that in a vigilant scanning process, one is more likely to pick up the "signal" the first time it appears on the horizon than later. This may also reflect the original emergency function assigned to telepathy/GESP in ontogeny and may also have relevance for the well-known problem of the decline effect in psi experiments. If psi is indeed need-determined and associated with a vigilant brain, we would expect a decline effect in typical quantitative experiments, such as card-guessing tests, after the initial period of high motivation and enthusiasm (for a discussion, see Ehrenwald, 1984).


REM sleep is a functionally normal, regularly occurring state. It is phylogenetically as well as ontogenetically primitive. Because it is also strongly associated with the paranormal, it seems reasonable to speak of it as the prototype of psi-conducive states. If this is so, we would expect other states known to be psi-conducive to bear some similarities with it. As for the main characteristics of the REM/dreaming state (for a survey, see Fiss, 1979), we may single out three main ones in addition to rapid eye movements: a drastic fall of tone in skeletal muscles, a high degree of brain arousal, and the spontaneous generation of mental imagery. These are also characteristics we associate with states and techniques that appear to enhance psi functioning, such as hypnosis, meditative states, Ganzfeld conditions, and progressive muscular relaxation (for a survey, see Honorton, 1977). Following Ehrenwald (1971b), these states may all be described as "existential shifts" characterized by some degree of muscular relaxation, reduced attention to exteroceptive input, and increased attention to internal processes involving mental imagery. Recently, Salley (1982) has suggested that some types of out-of-body experiences may bear some similarities to REM sleep physiology and involve active manipulation of this sleep phase.

Though I do not want to propound a simplistic right- versus left-brain dichotomy but rather a picture of synergy and relative hemispheric dominance, I think we are justified in characterizing the right brain half as the typical image-maker (Blakeslee, 1980; Edwards, 1979). Because dreaming is basically a visual experience, we would also expect the right brain half to play an important part in dreaming. In fact, evidence from a variety of sources involving both neurologically intact persons as well as persons with lateralized brain pathology seems to indicate that in dextrals there is right-hemisphere dominance (Bakan, 1977-1978). But there appear to be subject differences, and the evidence is still not compelling (Broughton, 1982; Pivik, Bylsma Busby, & Sawyer, 1982). Similarly, there are indications that the right brain may play a significant role in the processing of psi (Broughton, 1976, 1984; Ehrenwald, 1984; Stanford, 1977), but just as is the case with dreaming, I do not think the evidence can be characterized as compelling. We can only point to the possibility of common brain structures associated with spontaneous imagery.


Many researchers (Friedman & Fisher, 1967; Globus, 1966; Hartmann,

1968; Kleitman, 1963; Kripke & O'Donoghue, 1968) have suggested that the REM sleep cycle continues throughout the 24 hours and is part of a basic rest-activity cycle. Similarly, Kripke and Sonnenschein (1978) have noted a biological rhythm in waking fantasy occurring cyclically with a 70-120 minute periodicity. Testing this hypothesis, Manseau and Broughton (1981) found a similar cyclic daydreaming rhythm based on left and right frontal and parietal referential EEG recordings.

The stars are always in the sky but first become visible in the night, like dreams, when we can give ourselves over to our private images. This finding may be of special interest for our topic because reverie states and daydreaming states associated with spontaneous psi experiences (Rhine, 1962) may be peaks of the basic "image tide" that is flowing through our whole existence. Could such basic shifts also account for some of the elusiveness of psi? Could Ehrenwald's existential shifts be ripples on that same biorhythmic tide? It is important to remember that in ontogeny, REM periods are parts of a circadian sleep-waking pattern and only gradually come to be entrained to the nighttime. However, the basic rhythm may persist. Similarly, we may imagine that psi experiences generally come to be associated with REM periods during the night. Rather than REM sleep, we might speak of the dreaming state as a "third state" along with waking and sleeping (Jones, 1970).

In a comprehensive analysis of telepathic/clairvoyant experiences, Persinger (1974) found characteristic patterns. Marked increases were reported to appear between 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. (local time) with a major peak between 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m., that is, at a time of the night when we would likely find many people in the second REM period.

All these fairly well-established characteristics of telepathic/ clairvoyant experiences may be seen as reflecting the matrix in which they originated: the intrauterine and early extrauterine period 'of mother­-fetus/newborn communication.


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Eid Vigd. Skule, 670 Nordfjordeid, Norway

[1] For example, they found that the unborn child seems to be aware of the mother's persistent feelings toward it during pregnancy. But what is more, it also seems able to pick up ambivalent and largely unconscious feelings directed toward it. Thus, the newborn baby may refuse to suck the mother's breast, but be willing to suck someone else's breast or drink from a feeding bottle. If the mother in question is in good health, has had no diseases during pregnancy, and has sound and well-tasting milk, the only apparent reason for the baby's refusal to suck her breast is the fact that it has somehow picked up her ambivalence towards it, which was confirmed in subsequent interviews.