From: Lands of Darkness: Psychoanalysis and the Paranormal - Edited by Nick Totton. February 2003. Karnac Books

Montague Ullman:

Dream telepathy - experimental and clinical findings

Over the course of my life I have had close encounters of four kinds with the paranormal or what has come to be known as psi phenomena.1 In 1932, at the age of sixteen, I happened on the subject of what was then called "psychic phenomena". Impressed with how many great names were associated with the study of mediumship (William James, J. W. Crookes, Sir Oliver Lodge), several college friends and I embarked upon seances of our own at weekly intervals and lasting almost two years. The striking physical effects we encountered left their mark on each of us over the many years we remained in touch.2

That was encounter number one. It left me with a lifelong interest in the "paranormal" and an openness to it. Encounter number two was more fleeting and personal and lacked the consensual quality of my youthful experiences. It took the form of very occasional dreams that seemed to me to be either telepathic or precognitive. Here is one such dream that Jung might have considered a good example of synchronicity:3

The setting was late in 1945. 1 had just returned from military duty overseas and was enrolled as a candidate in a psychoanalytic program. The dream occurred early in my own analysis. In it I was watching an opera and was surprised to see a classmate of mine, who I shall refer to as Nat, appearing as one of the dancers on stage. Nat was a big, heavyset man weighing well over two hundred pounds. I knew him only casually as a fellow student. He was older than most of us, probably around fifty. I reported the dream in my next analytic session. The phone rang just as I completed my account. As he usually did, my analyst picked up the phone but the conversation went on for an unusual length of time, accompanied by sounds of laughter reaching my ears. With obvious surprise he then related the content of the call: "That was Nat and he was excited about the fact that he had been accepted for a part in a ballet and had his first performance last night when he danced on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House."

I had known Nat was in analysis with my analyst, but by no stretch of my imagination could I have conceived of him as a ballet dancer. As an acausal coincidence it was loaded with meaning for me. Prior to its occurrence and very early in my analysis I had revealed my interest in parapsychology. I did not know for sure but sensed this would not be greeted favourably by my analyst who I knew to be a Marxist. To touch lightly on the dynamics of what was going on at the time I had a need (neurotically so) for both his approval and to be seen as special. I had the uncomfortable feeling that the exposure of my interest in the paranormal would result in my being seen as special, but not in the way I wanted it to. What better way of demonstrating the soundness of this interest than by participating in a precognitive dream scenario where both of us were vying for the analyst's attention at the same time.

Encounter number three was clinical in nature and occurred sporadically in the course of my psychoanalytic practice which ranged from 1946 to 1961. The dreams of my patients were of interest to me, not only for their ability to expose the deepest emotional currents at play, but also because of the historical associations of altered states of consciousness, such as dreams, with the occurrence of psi effects. One of the earliest investigators was F. W. H. Myers whose classic study (1903) explored the connection of psychic events to what he referred to as the subliminal level of awareness.

It was Freud (1963) who embellished this simple model with his speculations concerning the dynamic import of telepathic commu­nications in their relevance to current conflicts, and the way in which unconscious processing left its imprint on the telepathic message. Surprisingly enough, or perhaps not, these early specula­tions of Freud were picked up by only a few of his followers, notably Stekel (1921) 4 until the forties when a number of psychiatric contributions appeared. These focused on the psycho­logical factors conducive to the occurrence of psi effects. Most came through in the dreams of patients and did so under conditions which highlighted problematic aspects of the transference.

Certain criteria emerged which proved useful in identifying a dream as presumptively telepathic:

1. The corresponding elements between dream and reality should be:

a) Unusual, i.e. not ordinarily occurring in dreams, or in the dreams of the particular patient.

b) Non-inferential, i.e. elements the patient could not ordinarily infer from his knowledge of the therapist or his experience with him.

c) Intrusive. This is included not as an absolute criterion, but when it does occur it is generally a reliable indicator of a paranormal event. It refers to the quality of standing apart and appearing as strange, unfamiliar or intrusive to the dreamer.

2. The relationship between the events in the therapist's life and the telepathic mirroring of them in the patient's dream should occur in close temporal relationship, usually a matter of several days.

3. The criterion of psychological meaning. The correspondence provides a unique strategy of defence employed by patients under conditions where the knowledge gained in this way reflects problematic aspects arising in the course of therapy.

The circumstances under which telepathic events appear in dreams have been variously described. Almost all writers empha­sized the role of transferential and counter-transferential factors. As a result of either irrational needs on the part of the patient or the sensing of some negative quality in the therapist, the patient may, through the telepathic manoeuvre, succeed in exposing a particu­larly vulnerable area in the therapist. Servadio (1956) emphasized the patient's frustration and the blockage of communication. He saw sleep as favouring telepathic transmission by virtue of its regressive release of archaic mechanisms. Eisenbud (1970) was among the first to demonstrate the therapeutic usefulness of actively working with the telepathy hypothesis. Ehrenwald (1955) wrote extensively both on the criteria as well as the possible role of paranormal factors in the major psychoses. Ullman (1980) noted some of the characterologic and communication difficulties of the consistent telepathic dreamers.

Telepathic dreams occurred sporadically in my practice under varied circumstances. They came about when my own agenda interfered with effective contact (my counter-transference) or when the patient resorted to the telepathic manoeuvre in the interest of her own transferential needs. Both may be involved, as was the case with one patient who consistently responded to my personal and somewhat distracting need to have case material whenever I was about to write or lecture on the subject of telepathic dreams, while at the same time she established her own special status as a telepathic dreamer. Used manipulatively in this way, her secret knowledge was made known to the therapist while being in a position to disclaim any responsibility.

The inhibited, obsessively organized individual who tends to use language in the service of distancing mechanisms rather than facilitating contact is more likely to fall back on this manoeuvre. Telepathy appears as one way of maintaining contact at critical points in the management of contradictory needs for distance and inviolability and at the same time serving the inextinguishable need for closeness and safety.

In the following example, a dream containing unusual dream elements corresponded to a real event in my life. In this instance, the dream and the real-life event occurred on the same night (Ullman, 1980). A forty-two-year-old female patient, a seamstress, reported the following dream:

I was at home with my boyfriend John. There was a bottle on the table containing part alcohol and part cream. It was sort of a white foamy stuff. John wanted to drink it. I said, "No, you can drink it later." I looked at the label. It read "Appealing Nausea." I meant to drink it when we went to bed, although we seemed to be in bed at the time.

She then reported another dream fragment from that same night:

I had a small leopard. It was very dangerous. I wrapped him up and put him in a large bowl. Mother told me to take him out or he would die.

On the evening of the night the patient had these dreams, my wife and I attended a lecture at the New York Academy of Medicine on the subject of animal neuroses. The speaker presented a movie showing how cats can be made to develop an addiction to alcohol. Once the addiction developed and the alcoholic cat was offered the choice of a dish of milk or a dish of half-milk, half-alcohol the cat showed a preference for the alcohol-milk mixture.

"Tracer" elements such as the half-alcohol, half-cream mixture and the small feline creature suggest the possibility of telepathy. To establish the likelihood of this, one has to invoke the criterion of psychological meaning based on an elaboration of the underlying dynamics. The analysis of the dream did support the telepathy hypothesis. The scene in the movie, witnessed by the therapist, provided visual metaphors that appropriately expressed dynamics that were surfacing at the time in therapy. These included her feelings about the omnipotence of the therapist in relation to her, suggested by her identification with the animal being manipulated by the experimenter; her own despair about change, suggested by her identification with a leopard, an animal that cannot change its spots; and her ambivalence about relinquishing control and revealing the more sensual side of her character, suggested by her intent to drink an alcohol mixture aptly labelled "Appealing Nausea" at bedtime, while also being wary about it.

My first three encounters, while personally very meaningful, were essentially anecdotal in nature. Not undertaken in a spirit of scientific inquiry, there was no rigorous effort to rule out other possible causes, or chance itself. Such experiences carry conviction for the one involved, but have generally been of no great interest to science. Many well documented instances of this nature have been collecting dust for years in the files of the British and the American Societies for Psychical Research.

In consideration of this reality, the next logical step was for me to consider the possibility of an experimental approach. In 1960, in the course of my last year in practice, I received a grant from the Parapsychology Foundation to conduct a pilot study to apply the then recent discovery of the connection of rapid eye movements (REM) to dreaming and how the possibility of near total recall of the dreams of the night lent itself to a dream telepathy experiment. The results were of enough interest to influence my decision in 1961 to terminate private practice and accept a full-time hospital appoint­ment, making it possible for me to set up a sleep laboratory in the hope of establishing a quantitative result under conditions where all other possible causes were excluded.


The formal studies were initiated at the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York in 1964 under the direction of Dr Stanley Krippner. The subjects were young adults selected on the basis of their ability to recall dreams and their interest in the experiments The subject's sleep was monitored electroencephalographically and he was awakened at the estimated end of each REM period to report his dream. An agent or sender spent the night in a separate room attempting to telepathically influence the subject's dreams by concentrating on the selected target picture at intervals throughout the night, and particularly when signalled that a REM period for the subject had begun. The target, generally an art print, was randomly selected by the agent from a pool of targets in opaque, sealed containers after the subject was in bed. Only the agent was aware of the target chosen for the particular night and he remained in his room throughout the night acoustically isolated from both subject and experimenter. The dream protocols were transcribed from the taped reports. Copies of them, along with copies of the targets used for any given experimental series, were given to three independent judges who assessed correspondences on a blind basis.

The specific hypothesis under consideration stated that a S's (subject's) dream protocol for any given experimental night would reflect the influence of telepathy by. the appearance in the S's dream of correspondences to the target material viewed by the agent. Twelve 5 x 8 prints of famous paintings were selected as experimental targets. On a given night one of these was randomly selected and opened by an agent in a room at a distance from the subject. The latter remained in the sleep room throughout the night. His or her sleep and REM pattern were monitored by an eight-channel Medcraft Model D EEG in the adjacent control room. All verbal communication between the S and E (experimenter) was mediated through an intercom system and recorded on tape. Twelve different subjects were used in the first study, each sleeping one night in the laboratory. In the morning associative data from the S was added to the record of the dream reports. At a later point the transcripts made from the tapes were sent to three independent outside judges who had not been connected with the experimental procedure in any way. The judges also received the twelve potential target pictures and were asked to rank the targets in order of their closeness to each individual dream protocol, first for the dream material alone and then for the dream plus the associative data. The judges were also asked to express a confidence rating for each rank. The subject judged his own dreams against the targets in a similar way.

The means of the judges' ranks and ratings were entered on twelve-by-twelve tables and subjected to a two-way analysis of variance (for targets and nights) according to the Scheffe method. The rankings made by the Ss were handled similarly. The rankings were also evaluated by binomial expansion, with hits including ranks of #1 through #6 and misses including ranks from #7 to #12. The ranking of the subject was significant at the 0.05 level when evaluated by the binomial expansion method.

The approach varied somewhat as illustrated in the following studies.

I. The first screening study

For this study, twelve volunteer Subjects (Ss) spend one night each at the laboratory. Two staff members, one male and one female, alternated as Agents (As), attempting to influence Ss' dreams by means of telepathy. Target materials were famous art prints, randomly selected for each night once Ss had gone to bed. On the following morning, Ss were asked to match their dream recall against the entire collection of target pictures, selecting the art print which most closely corresponded to their dreams and ranking the others in descending order of correspondence. Three outside Judges (Js) followed a similar procedure; statistically significant data emerged from Ss' rankings and from one of the J's evaluations.

II. The first Erwin study

Dr Erwin, whose target-dream correspondences were the most direct in Series I, was paired with the male A from the screening study for a seven-night series.

III. The second screening study


Twelve different Ss and two As were utilized in another twelve-­night series.

IV. The Posin study

Dr R. Posin, who participated in Series III, was paired with the A she had worked with during her night in the laboratory.

V. The Grayeb study

T. Grayeb, another S from Series III, was selected for this sixteen­-night study. Without the knowledge of S, A concentrated on a target during eight nights of the study; for the other eight nights there was neither an agent nor a target. The condition was determined randomly once S had gone to bed.

VI. The second Erwin study

Dr W. Erwin was again paired with the A from Series II for an eight-­night study. The art print was accompanied by a box of "multi­sensory" materials on each night to enhance the emotionality of the target. For example, Daumier's painting, Advice to a Young Artist, was accompanied by a canvas and paints to enable A to "act out" the artist's role. No S evaluation was accomplished for this study.

VII. The Van de Castle study

Dr R. Van de Castle, an S who had produced several direct target-­dream correspondences in a telepathy study at another laboratory, was allowed to select his own A from the laboratory staff during the eight-night series. He selected a total of three As: one for a single night, one for two nights, and one for five nights. At the completion of this study, I had the opportunity to explore in greater depth the dreams he had with themes of aggression and sex, which had a greater telepathic impact. This would be in line with the evidence from both anecdotal and clinical services that paranormal events are linked to affective processes.


After a careful examination of our methodology and data Child (1985) summarized the statistical results of the entire range of experiments performed on paranormal dreaming (several on precognitive dreaming were included) at the Maimonides Medical Center (see Table 1).*

Table 1

Summary of Maimonides Results on Tendency for Dreams to Be Judged More Like Target Than Like Nontargets in Target Pool






z  or  t  resulting from judgments












GESP: Dreams monitored and recorded throughout night; agent "transmitting" during each REM period

A. 1st screening





z = 0.71b

z = 1.33°

Unman. Krippner, & Feldstein (1966)


B. 1st Erwin





z = 2.53b

z = 1.90b

Ullman et al. (1966)

C. 2nd screening





z= -.25b

z = 1.17b

Ullman (1969)

D. Posin





z = 1.05c

z = 1.05c

Ullman (1969)

E. Grayeb





z = -.63c

z= 0.63c

Ullman. Krippner. & Vaughan (1973)


F. 2nd Erwin





t = 4.93a


Ullman & Krippner (1969)

G. Van de Castle





t = 2.81a

t = 2.74a

Krippner & Ullman (1970)

H. Pilot sessions





z = 4.20b

z = 2.21b

Ullman et al. (1973)

Precognition: Dreams monitored and recorded throughout night; target experience next day

1. 1st Bessent





t = 2.81a


Krippner, Ullman. &  Honorton (1971)

J. 2nd Bessent





t = 2.27a


Krippner, Honorton. &  Ullman (1972)


K. Pilot sessions





z = 0.67c


Ullman et al. (1973)

GESP: Dreams monitored and recorded throughout night; agent active only at beginning or sporadically

L Sensory bombardment





z = 3. 11b

z = 0.00c

Krippner. Honorton.  Ullman. Masters &  Houston (1971)


M. Grateful Dead





z = 0.61c

z = 0.81c

Krippner, Honorton. &  Ullman (1973)

Clairvoyance: Dreams monitored and recorded throughout night: concealed target known to no one

N. Pilot sessions





z = 0.98b

z = 0.00 b

Ullman et al. (1973)

GESP: Single dreams

O. Vaughan. Harris,  Parise





z = 0.63c

z = -.32c

Honorton, Krippner &  Ullman (1972)

Note: GESP = general extrasensory perception. Italics identify results obtained with procedures that preserve independence of judgments in a series. For some series, the published source does not use the uniform measures entered in this table, and mimeographed laboratory reports were also consulted. Superscripts indicate which measure was available, in order of priority.

a ratings. b Rankings. c Score (count of hits and misses)



*Reproduced from Child (1985) with permission from the American Psychological Association.

Including in his assessment a critique of the various efforts at replication, he concluded:

What is clear is that the tendency toward hits rather than misses cannot reasonably be ascribed to chance. There is some systematic­ - that is, nonrandom - source of anomalous resemblance of dreams to targets. [Child, 1985, p. 122]


The experiments at the Maimonides Medical Center on the possibility of ESP in dreams clearly merit careful attention from psychologists who, for whatever reason, are interested in the question of ESP. To firm believers in the impossibility of ESP, they pose a challenge to skill in detecting experimental flaws or to the understanding of other sources of error. To those who can conceive that ESP might be possible, they convey suggestions about some of the conditions influencing its appearance or absence and about techniques for investigating it. [Child, 1985, p. 128]


There is empirical evidence suggesting that, in some instances at least, forms contained in the target material come through more clearly and recognizably than the content itself. This applies to complex targets as well as simple targets where the form itself is the predominant feature.

There are two experimental techniques which may have a possible bearing upon the perceptual aspect of telepathic effects as this relates to similarities based on form. Each of these techniques limits information input, but in different ways. Tachistoscopic presentations limit exposure in time. Work with the stabilized retinal image limits information ordinarily collected and maintained through the play of eye movements about an object under fixation.

There have been a number of experiments beginning with the awakened interest in the Pötzel phenomenon demonstrating that cues occurring outside of conscious awareness can produce perceptual illusions as well as influence cognitive problem-solving activity. Ericksen (1958) suggests that what occurs following the subthreshold presentation of a stimulus is not a registering of the stimulus at an unconscious level, but simply a fragmentary partial perceptual response. It takes the activated state of dreaming to bring to bear upon this unidentifiable percept a number of response systems, which then clothe it with an identity approximating the original stimulus. What is occurring is the very reverse of the usual dynamic explanation in terms of unconscious perception, repres­sion, and reappearance through the channels of censorship and dream work. The appearance in the dream is based not on a lowered threshold for unconscious perception, but rather on a lowered threshold during the REM state for the activation of a number of relevant response systems which have the additive effect of establishing at least some of the features of the original stimulus.

Klein (1959) agrees that for discrimination to occur there must be some degree of partial registration in awareness. He does insist that subception is a real effect, that fragments or aspects of the image register in this way and that they can be recovered directly through intentional recall and indirectly through associations and dreams. An interesting effect noted in subception studies is the alteration in figure ground relations with the loss of the ability to make that particular distinction. Tachistoscopic display of the Rubin double profile results in two opposing shapes confronting each other. Of importance from the standpoint of telepathy, as we shall see, is that in the face of experimental cut-off of information the object is fragmented, shapes are abstracted and autistic processes shape the percept.

Similar effects are noted in connection with the work of Evans (1967a,b) in his observations on fragmentation phenomena asso­ciated with binocular stabilization. He notes that under conditions of stabilization when a pattern disappears it does so in parts and the parts drop out in a non-random fashion. He talks of levels in the hierarchy of the visual system and suggests, as an explanation of the fragmentation phenomena, that when the information supply is limited, as in stabilization experiments, not all levels of the hierarchy are activated. As a consequence only parts of the pattern are seen corresponding to the level of the hierarchy reached. Evans also notes the characteristic stabilization fragments after repeated tachistoscopic exposures (Figure 1).

The fragmentation of images noted by Warcollier (1938) (Figures 2-4) and Sinclair (1930) (Figures 5-7), in their efforts to effect transfer of information at a distance, resembles in remarkable ways the fragmentary percepts obtained through the two experimental strategies described. Note the fragmentation of complex forms into simpler forms (Figures 2 and 5) and the emergence of simple forms out of more complex imagery (Figures 3, 4, 6 and 7). It is also of interest to note the emergence of similar forms when similar targets are used by two different investigators. Compare Figures 3 and 6, and 4 and 7. These findings suggest, by implication, that the neurophysiological pathways involved in the processing of tele­pathic transfer may be the same as in normal visual perception.

In our own experimental work correspondences in form were noted under a variety of circumstances.

A. Explicit correlation between target and dream when simple forms were used as targets (Ullman, 1966)6

Example 1

At 3:40 am a circle was drawn as the target by experimenter (Figure 8). At 3:53 am the subject awakened and reported the following dream:

I feel as if I was sort of floating to sleep at the time. I had an image of a, oh, it wasn't really like a dream, it was sort of like being on a round, like the bottom half of a large tube, such as if you would be going into the Holland Tunnel or something, sort of like a road. As I was travelling, there seemed to be people there but it didn't seem to be like a typical dream, sort of falling asleep. I caught an image and I was conscious of just having started to fall asleep. I was on a road shaped like the curve of a trough.


Earlier as I was falling asleep before I turned around, I had an image of a something that's very positively shaped, like a door stop except it was upside down and there were several smooth round shapes, as if I was going through these passages, these round smooth shapes, the shape as I meant it only like a rounded doorstop, sort of like the fin of a car but it was upside down and it wasn't connected with the car. It was just like that.

Figure 8. Example 1-circle.

Example 2

This example used the same subject and was on the same night as Example 1. At 4:30 am angular shapes were drawn by experimenter (Figure 9). At 6:30 am the subject reported the following dream:

I had a number of dreams in sequence. But I don't remember them well. One was, we were standing around, some people were standing around, and they had in their hands canes shaped like hockey sticks, used upside down, the curved part up. But they were shaped more like free form than plain hockey sticks. And there was in the dream two of my wife's cousins-a married couple. We see them about twice a year and in the dream I was kind of indifferent to them or critical of them because of some opinions they had. And you made a comment, "Why are you so critical?" And I had other dreams I can't recall, there were a series of them. You sort of woke me up after I had them. I mean you asked me about the dreams after they had gone on for some time in the past. As a matter of fact, I remember waking up after the one with the hockey sticks and wondering why you didn't ask me whether I had been dreaming. I went back to sleep. That's all I can think of.

Inquiry the following morning produced this additional information:

[You mentioned hockey sticks?] Yes, I guess it was like a party, people were there and they had canes, but very nicely shaped canes like hockey sticks, they weren't hockey sticks actually but about the same size, long and the shape was very good for them. Now I think I know ... before I went to sleep I was thinking of the fact that Leah and I were invited to a banquet at the Waldorf given by this international society for the welfare of cripples, maybe that's why this came, and of course I don't like the idea of having to go formal and we were planning to go camping around that time but it seemed we were invited as guests. The hockey sticks were not all exactly the same shape. It has to do with disability, at the same time in spite of the disabilities these people get around pretty well.

B. Explicit correlation between dream and formal aspects of target when more complex target material was used

Example 3

The target picture showed a monk squatting before what the agent initially took to be a square blue patch of stone. Later, on closer examination, this appeared to be a garden. Along one border there was a diamond-shaped pattern in the pavement (Figure 10).


Figure 10. Example 3-monk.

4:20 am:

I was approaching a masonry wall with the stones put together very neatly. Someone else and I are seated in a cab of some large vehicle - it might be a tractor. We're coming up to this wall. I was with someone else. We were travelling in what seemed like the front of some very big vehicle parallel to the large wall. We came to a small diamond-shaped hole in the wall. One of us remarked "Look at that." The wall was gray.

5:24 am:

There was a figure of a diamond, a diamond shape was in it.

5:35 am:

We were in Alaska, my wife and I were together. It was about 7:00 o'clock in the morning and I said to her, "Well, it's very unlikely that you'll ever see the sun this low in the horizon again at such an hour." And she said, "Yes, I noticed that." It wasn't at all cold. We were walking along in what seemed to be a forest with only what seemed to be very few trees until we came to one large, very large tree, with thick branches, no leaves. It was at the time when it didn't seem to be cold, and Lillian pointed out to me that on the trunk of the tree there was a large diamond, like a trapezoid, that had been cut out of the centre of the trunk of the tree.

It should be noted that the first dream described a masonry wall with stones put together neatly. The three subsequent dreams all make reference to diamond shapes.

C. Implicit correspondences between dream and formal aspects of target when more complex target material was used

Example 4

The target was Bauhaus Stairway by Oskar Schlemmer (Figure 11).


Figure 11. Oskar Schlemmer, Bauhaus Stairway, 1932. Oil on canvas,
638 x 45. Collection The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Gift of Philip Johnson.

Dream no. 1:

... there was the experience of mounds. The feeling was of being surrounded on a field, a monstrous field, by sort of like anthills, but large numbers of them, and climbing over them. and around them back and forth. and not being able to find a way out. Then it changes to a feeling of wearing a conical hat, much like a wizard ... Everything was spinning around counterclockwise, whirling, whirling, turning, and it's going in the same direction, and in some respects I was forcing consciously, deliberately, helping myself in the process, as if I was doing a spin ...

Dream no. 2:

... I remember describing to you sensations ... and these were being in some sort of tunnel, some sort of windy, open plain, climbing up to a hill ... I thought of... Mt. Appelier. I think this was the first thing I had related, where I had felt I was going up a road, driving my car of some sort and looking back and forth, but still going upward, you know, ascending this mountain ... They weren't exactly anthills. Initially, they started off as bumps, sort of like ... a fez, but they were small and rounded off on top instead of squared off like a fez. It's like the little pies children make with a pail.


[The experimenter then asked "Please make a guess at what you think the target for the night was."]


[Subject] One of the elements that pervaded almost everything was this conical shape-pointed, conical, mountainlike, conical, hat-like cones ... I'd say some sort of form element, conical in shape ... It's the one thing that seems to unify all of the fantasy, and all of the dreams.

Example 5

The target was "The Dark Figure" - a painting by Castellon (Figure 12). This painting portrays four people, lone of them garbed in a sombre, dark-brown gown. There are four round hoops above the figures; the hoops are held in the air by distorted children's hands. In the background is a red brick wall.

First dream report:

... For some reason I've been thinking of a barrel ... you know, spinning around ... There was some kind of activity or motion going on. The barrel was spinning ... like spinning in a circle ... It was like spinning. A top. Clockwise, left to right ... Dark Brown wooden colour ... A red wheel spinning around.

Second dream report:

I thought I saw lights and these lights were arranged in almost a circular fashion ... You have a circle again and there was some movement there ...


Figure 12. Frederico Castellon, The Dark Figure, 1938. Oil on canvas, 17 x 268 Collection Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Sixth dream report:

... there was a photograph I was looking at and in this photograph there was a bunch of people standing, and out front there were four people in costumes whose picture we were taking ... They were just posing ... and looked pretty ridiculous ...

Post-sleep interview:

... All I remember at first, I think, was these wooden barrels, maybe three or four ... There was the iron rim going around the middle to hold the slats together, and ... going around and around, spinning like a top ... I also remember something about pale greenish-white lights ... They formed kind of like an arch as though they started to spiral or circle... swirling like whirlpools ... This photograph was a rather big one and it had these young guys in costumes ... Two summers ago when I went to that camp for retarded children, they asked me to put on skits and costumes ... There is a lot of circling and spiralling effects in my dreams, so any combination of effects like those I would look for in the target.

Example 6

The target was the painting Football Players by Henri Rousseau (Figure 13).


Figure 13. Football Players, by Henri Rousseau, 1908.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Collection.

First dream:

Semicircular. In the first one, I'm sort of near a balcony, only I'm inside the building and the balcony comes back into the building in a semicircular way. I suppose the balcony itself outside the doorway is some kind of straight routine type of balcony structure, but I'm inside the buildings (if you want to call it that), but it's more like a courtyard, and there's like a railing coming inside from the balcony along the floor of this stone courtyard, and 1 had the feeling as though it had vines on it or something. As you approached the balcony to look out, it seems to look over something like the mall in Washington - toward like the Washington Monument.


And then the second image I got was again standing in a kind of courtyard looking toward a sort of Roman courtyard - it's more of­ - it's a European kind of building, with a sort of terrace jutting out from the bottom of the building again, a semicircular quality like statues in a semicircle; the two ends of the semicircle are toward me and the semicircle goes back away from me, and there's like a fountain in the centre. That's all. Those two things came to me. Sort of half-dreaming, half-asleep way.

Second dream:

A floor in Bloomingdales where the houseware stuff is, and there's like empty book shelves on the left side of the room, on one of these - and these shelves are like painted black, and the wall behind the shelf (the whole thing) is like a black shadow box; and on it is this lone object shaped like a cylinder, sort of like a cheese box, only small, about five or six inches in diameter, and it's red lacquer, and it's spinning like a top - only it's not really - it's rotating around ... and now I remember that the semicircle of the balcony did the same thing, and also the inverted semicircle of the statues in the other thing.

Third dream:

Oh, I think of summer camp. I remember ... that you have to be able to tip over a canoe and right it again, something like that. These were obstacle tests.

Fourth dream:

I was peeling an onion and talking to somebody ... But before that, I was dreaming about my mother as a little girl standing in the doorway of a Victorian parlor, facing a niche of some sort, and this arch doorway was all surrounded with some kind of filigree-like curtains, or some twig design that they thought was very artistic around 1903 or 1904 or so. [Rousseau painted Football Players in 1908.]

Fifth dream: No obvious references.

Sixth dream:

Myself and two other kids ... Anyway, we were swimming in a swimming pool ... The scene shifts and it has something to do with the headmaster of a prep school, so I suppose that the swimming pool was at the prep school.

Excerpts from subject's associations:

There was an awful lot of movement ... I think it was kind of a counterclockwise motion-circular, revolving motion ... There was even a merry-go-round in it somewhere.

The points of formal correspondence rest on the repeated reference to semicircular quality, the arrangement of statues in a semicircle and a form that is spinning like a top (cf. the football). Other interesting areas of correspondence involve the reference to a camp or prep school and the Victorian setting.

D. Correspondence based on both form (square framework) and content (Madison Square Garden, boxing)

Example 7

The target selected and shown in Figure 14 was Dempsey and Firpo by Bellows. This target portrays two boxers and a referee in a rectangular boxing ring. One of the boxers has been knocked through the ropes into the audience.


Figure 14. Dempsey and Firpo, 1924, George Bellows.
Oil on canvas, 51 x 631 in.
Collection Whitney Museum of American Art New York.

Excerpts from subject's first dream report:

... something about posts ... Just posts standing up from the ground, and nothing else ... There's some kind of a feeling of moving ... Ah, something about Madison Square Garden and a boxing fight. An angular shape, as if all these things that I see were in a rectangular framework. There's an angular shape coming down toward the right, the lower right, as if you were seeing a filming that took up a whole block ... That angular right hand corner of the picture is connected with Madison Square boxing fight ... I had to go to Madison Square Garden to pick up tickets to a boxing fight, and there were a lot of tough punks - people connected with the fight - ­around the place and I had a hard time finding the people who were supposed to have the tickets for me, and a guard was in front of the gate to the office where these people were and I had to talk with this guard. I could have had an argument with him, but instead we got along and talked about it, and finally he let me through the gate into the inner office and I finally got the tickets.

Excerpts from subject's second dream report:

The machine is a strange shape. It's got two squares and stands about as high as a man and it's got two squares, as if cube forms connected by a vertical shaft ... I can't associate that shape with anything I know. It's strange, too, I'm unclear if there are two or three figures in the dream because there seems to be the presence of other people ... These people seem to have met in a social situation but they were there for some other purpose anyway, and they came together, but when they came together it was apparently the only reason that they came together. Now it seems to be clearer. There's another figure. It seems more clear that there's one older figure of an old man and two younger ones that I can remember, and there certainly is an awareness of a third person.

Excerpts from subject's third dream report:

A hexagonal cube appeared. It's a cube with a number of sides. I don't know exactly how many, but something like six or eight ...

Excerpts from subject's fourth dream report: No obvious correspon­dence.

Excerpts from subject's associational material:

Well, the thing that came to my mind was as if this picture took place in a square frame ... I went to Madison Square Garden with some money to pick up tickets which had been ordered by someone in the office, and again there was this huge building-this was just the association to Madison Square Building or Garden - there was this huge building and there were all these wrestling and boxing posters around, and a bunch of kookie-looking people - most of them sort of looked like they could have been wrestlers, or old fighters or something - in line wanting to get tickets to these events, and I went upstairs and went to this thing called the Boxing Club or something where you get tickets ... I think if you hadn't brought it up, I think I might have forgotten about that Madison Square Garden.

This was an interesting synchronicity involving a past event (having gone to Madison Square Garden) and the choice of target for that night.

E. Correspondence based on emotional impact


Figure 15. Animals, 1941, Rufino Tamayo. Oil on canvas, 301 x 40 in.
Collection, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Inter-American Fund.

The randomly selected target, "Animals" by Tamayo, is shown in Figure 15. The painting depicts two dogs with flashing teeth eating pieces of meat. A huge black rock can be seen in the background. The points of correspondence between dream and target picture are noted in the following excerpts.

Excerpts from S's second dream report:

... the name of the dream was "Black Wood, Vermont" or something like that ... Well, there's this group of people, and they have an idea that they're picked out for something special ... and that these other people were threatening enemies ...

Excerpts from S's third dream report:

I was at this banquet ... and I was eating something like rib steak. And this friend of mine was there ... and people were talking about how she wasn't very good to invite for dinner because she was very conscious of other people getting more to eat than she got-like, especially, meat-because in Israel they don't have so much meat... That was the most important part of the dream, that dinner ... It was probably Freudian like all my other dreams - you know, eating, and all that stuff, and a banquet ... Well, there was another friend of mine, also in this dream. Somebody that I teach with, and she was eyeing everybody to make sure that everybody wasn't getting more than she was, too. And I was chewing a piece of ... rib steak. And I was sitting at the table eating meat, and people were telling me that this Israeli friend of mine was not nice to invite to a banquet because she was always afraid she wasn't getting enough ... I was invited because I'm polite and not demanding, but I just tried to keep my mouth shut in the dream. I tried not to say anything about her, even though in a way I was glad that she was finally being found out ... And the second one ... was about Vermont, Black Rock, Vermont ... Yesterday, I was at the beach, and I was sitting on one of the rocks ... and I felt like that mermaid from Black Rock ...

The content of dreams

Elsewhere (Ullman, 1973, 1986; Tolaas, 1986) it has been suggested that the screening of content for appropriateness for inclusion in the dreaming experience can be understood on the basis of a vigilance hypothesis. This view suggests that dream consciousness is an elaborate form of orienting activity designed to attend to, process and respond to certain aspects of residual experience, with an endpoint being reached in either the continuation of the sleeping state or its interruption and consequent transformation to awakening.

The affective residue which makes its presence felt in the dream operates reflexively or automatically as a scanning mechanism. Ranging over the entire longitudinal history of the person, it exerts a polarizing influence, drawing to itself and mobilizing aspects of past experiences that are related to it in emotionally meaningful ways. In a different context, Dewan (1969) has called this "emotional tagging" and has identified it as a device facilitating memory storage and consolidation. Here it is viewed as an energizing or mobilizing effect necessary to help the sleeping organism to fully assess the meaning and implications of the novel or disturbing stimulus and through the participation of a monitoring process either allow the sleep cycle to remain intact or to result in arousal.

The concept of vigilance in relation to dreaming suggests a survival function. The intrinsic emotional honesty of dream imagery is the means that serves this purpose. Just as other animals survive in the wild by being in accurate touch with their physical environment, we humans have to be in truthful touch with our human environment. We are a single species and our ultimate survival as a species is dependent on maintaining a level of genuine interconnectedness that can overcome the forces that lead to fragmentation. Dreams call to our attention anything in our waking life that either strengthens or undermines our ties to others or to unresolved residues from our past that shape our lives. Dreams have an advantage over waking life, in that whatever our unconscious has to say to us it can say it without pandering to our waking ego.

In connection with the issue of connectivity that I have found the writing of the late David Bohm (1987) on wholeness to be relevant, particularly his concept of the implicate order which consists of a seamless ground of interconnectedness that in turn gives rise to the discreteness of the manifest or explicate order. He likens the seeming discreteness of macroscopic entities to standing waves forming out of a fluid medium. From subatomic particles on up there is an intimate and durable relation to the implicate order that sustains them.

The dream's focus on interconnectedness suggests that the imagistic mode of the dream is closer to the implicate order than the discursive mode of waking consciousness (Ullman, 1987). The initial transformation takes place when what is unconscious (implicit) assumes the form of the sensorially apprehended images (explicit) that appear in the dream.

While dreaming, experience is organized along lines of emotional contiguity rather than temporal and spatial contiguity. The affective scanning that takes place while dreaming can, on occasion, bridge a spatial gap and provide us with information independent of any known communication channel. Emotional contiguity, under conditions we know very little about, appears capable of integrating transpersonal as well as personal content into the dream. Anecdotal accounts have for a long time pointed in this direction and the circumstances under which they occur strongly suggest that in matters of life and death the vigilant scanning of one's emotional environment reaches out across spatial boundaries in a manner that has yet to be explained.


In the experimental work the correspondences noted could be classified as follows:

I. Correspondences based on form

A. Direct or explicit correspondences

1. With simple forms as targets (Figures 2-4, 7 and 8)

2. Abstracting simple forms from more complex targets (Figures 5 and 6)

B. Indirect or implicit correspondences (Figures 11-13)

II. Correspondences based on emotional response (Figure 14)

Psychiatric implications

When the individual by virtue of limiting psychological or emotional factors fails to maintain a sense of effective participation in the here-and-now, psi effects occasionally occur. In my experience patients who were more fragile and vulnerable in regard to their hold on reality had more often and more striking paranormal experiences. In 1949 1 wrote:

... Very ill individuals teetering on the brink but not yet over on the psychotic side often indicate remarkable psi ability in the course of analysis. ... once psychosis, or the complete loss of effective relationships with other people sets in, the indications at present are that at least in the experimental situation psi functioning is not remarkable, nor is it in the clinical situation in my own experience ... [T]he consistent clinical fact [is] that psychotics in their fantasies make elaborate pretensions at psi ability, sometimes quite openly, sometimes in a more disguised form. [Ullman, 1949]

In the light of this formulation paranormal ability comes into being as a last desperate level of relatedness when personality factors interfere with more effective contact. Once the individual has withdrawn from the struggle to maintain his sense of relatedness, fantasy takes over and there are delusions of telepathy rather than any genuine demonstrable paranormal ability. At a practical level there are clear cut technical and instrumental gains when there is explicit recognition of the telepathy hypothesis and its possible application in the therapeutic situation. Anyone sensitive to the occurrence of such effects would be in a position to recognize and handle counter-transferential difficulties more promptly and more honestly. The work of Jourard (1971) shows that self-disclosure is a powerful factor in accounting for the level of disclosure offered by others. Psi events make it possible to engage in a deeper level of mutual disclosure when such disclosure is relevant to the therapeutic situation. Eisenbud's accounts are of particular interest in this connection with the freedom he felt in disclosing his own interest in telepathy and the way that interest influenced the transferential dynamics not only with a patient (telepathy a deux) but at times with a third patient as well (telepathy a trois) (Eisenbud, 1970).

After a somewhat dormant period with regard to psychoanalytic interest in dream telepathy, a recent paper by Bass (2001) took note of the various ways collusion occurred between the unconscious of the patient and the unconscious of the analyst, amounting at times to presumptuously telepathic exchanges. He calls attention to the possible relevance of this to two basic concepts of quantum mechanics. The first is that observations made at a quantum level are, in some still mysterious way, dependent upon the arrange­ments made for the observation. One cannot objectively separate what is observed from the observer. The second draws upon the possible relation of telepathic transfer to the now established fact of nonlocality. When two similar atomic particles are once "en­tangled" and then separated, they undergo simultaneous and corresponding changes when a feature of one particle, e.g. spin, is altered. No known force can generate that instantaneously.7

There is one, perhaps somewhat tangential but nevertheless relevant, aspect to the work on telepathy. Those of us who have taken a public position espousing the reality of psi events are aware of a lost battalion of people who have had telepathic dreams that seemed both genuine and relevant to current issues in their lives and which left them confused and concerned often to the point where they questioned their own sanity. To share it with others would risk rebuff. People don't ordinarily go around having experiences like this. I have known of situations where the distress was severe enough for the individual to seek psychiatric help and were faced with the psychiatrists' failure to discern or consider the difference between a genuine telepathic experience and the claim of telepathic powers as a symptom of schizophrenia (so noted in the diagnostic criteria of schizophrenia in the American Psychiatric Association, DSM III). Instead of a fair-minded openness to the

reality of telepathy, they are met with a bias that confirms their fear of self-disclosure. Caught in this bind, such individuals ultimately gravitate toward fringe groups in search of the support they need. One hopes that greater knowledge and a deeper understanding on the part of the therapist of the nature and reality of psi will someday save these individuals from the pain and distress of a frustrated search for help and at the same time broaden the horizon of the helping profession itself.


1. Psi is a term used to denote the main areas of parapsychological research, namely, telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis.

2. For a detailed account of these events, see Ullman (1993, 1994a,b, 1995).

3. Jung used this term to refer to acausal meaningful coincidences linking external events to personal meaning.

4. Jung had an early and lifelong interest in the paranormal.

5. For a complete account of these studies, see Ullman et al. (1989).

6. Examples 1, 2 and 3 are from the pilot studies referred to earlier.

7. For a discussion of the possible relevance of quantum concepts such as complementarity, the uncertainty principle, the relation of the observer and observed and non-locality to dreaming consciousness and telepathy, see Ullman (1999).


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