Monte Ullman (1916-2008)
The Little Prince
Montague Ullman, popularly known as Monte, had a stately bearing befitting that of a Nobel laureate. His dignity, his superior intellect, his accomplishments, his empathy were evident to all who knew him. But there was another equally engaging prism to this multifaceted doctor, teacher, healer, dream worker, scientist, parapsychologist. As Monte’s companion and colleague for the last five years of his life, reflected in that prism I saw Monte as the Little Prince, embodying the classic story by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Like the Little Prince, Monte was an explorer who set out on a journey to learn about the invisible parts of life. He had the innocent wonder of a shy little boy in search of truth, using his imagination, memory, creativity and honesty – all his keys to dreaming – to write scholarly papers.
Where did this little Monte Prince live? As in the story of the Little Prince, he lived on a planet that was scarcely larger than a house – a house of dreams, but he was in search of something much larger than a single planet. He referred to this incomprehensibly vast realm that had many more planets than anyone could count, as the Implicate Order. Like the Little Prince, when scientists would only listen to him if he behaved and dressed as they did, Monte wore blue jeans and broke from the establishment proudly claiming his independent status as “a recovering psychiatrist.” With all the right credentials and insights advancing far beyond traditional psychoanalytic theory, he created a new way of thinking about the dream. He fathered the process of dream sharing and the sense of oneness it produced.
For those of you who hadn’t the great pleasure of knowing Monte, he was a life force in the world of dreams. There was no substitute for his insight. In his last paper, “The Dream: In Search of a New Abode” (2006), he had the prescience to connect the theories of physicist David Bohm to dreaming consciousness. Like the dream, Bohm’s implicate order was an order of wholeness that includes all that exists in a state of interconnectedness which actually mirrors what Monte had accomplished in his dream-sharing approach.
Monte frequently said that in a dream sharing group, there was a true sense of communion. The human connection he experienced in each and every group produced in him overwhelming feelings of connectivity for his dream of species survival had come to life. Every dream group was the “best one ever,” so said Monte.
He remained devoted to his
Saturday groups to the end and held a special place in his heart for the
Dream Group Forum (Drömgruppsforum), a national society formed in
often referred to our society as dream deprived and credited the Swedes for
opening the door to his concept of dream sharing.
He felt that
Monte taught us the power of love and the secrets of what is important in life through our dreams. His soul-stirring influence on those whose lives he touched is testimony to his great wisdom, his incredible kindness and extraordinary contributions.
And for all of his brilliance and wisdom, he was a terrific tease with a wonderfully zany sense of humor. Once when we were watching David Blane, the street performer, on TV, Monte decided he was going to outperform Blane’s levitation technique so he dramatically elongated his body and stood very, very tall on tip toe. One foot might have been about a quarter inch above the ground, while he cleverly concealed the other. I feigned wonder and whispered in awe, “How did you do that?” Grinning like a Cheshire cat, he said, “It’s a secret!”
Monte was so modest he never wanted to take credit for anything. I would often tell him how much people loved him and what a contribution he was making. Invariably he would reply, “Oh – go on.” After some two years, I told him I figured out what that meant. He bashfully said, “Yeah, okay, so what does it mean? I said, “It means you want more,” and he burst into gales of laughter. He secretly treasured those compliments.
Monte was a happy, charming spirit who loved to laugh and never forgot to be human. His enormous compassion affected dreamers in every walk of life. One by one, each person I had spoken with after Monte passed revealed a profoundly intimate soul-connection to him, be it his gardener, his health-care aides, his barber, his dry-cleaner, his dream workers, his esteemed colleagues – friends he hadn’t seen or spoken to for decades – even people he knew only peripherally – and his family who are so very proud of him. Grown men wept, words fell short and the world wobbled for each of us had suffered an inexpressible loss. He lived his theory of species-connectedness as his presence on earth elicited every loving emotion on the scale of human feelings. They are reflected in these tributes:
My father was a special man. He had the gift to heal.
He was able to listen to and solve problems with ease. His gentle soft voice was
soothing and so heartfelt in his words. Magic was an early passion, in
particular, Houdini who really captured his imagination. This led to séances as
a teenager which brought back the spirit of
Dr. Bindelof and triggered his
interest in the paranormal. But his dream work was his ultimate passion. Holding
workshops and teaching his own method of how to analyze dreams was his goal. Not
too many people achieve their goal in life and he was able to do just that. My
father was such a quiet and unassuming guy who possessed so many fine qualities;
he never bragged or boasted. He was always honest and truthful. He had a wicked
sense of humor. He worked hard to provide for his family and in the end, his
dream did come true. (From Monte’s youngest daughter, Lucy Bain, who lives in
“I just got the news. I am almost without words.” (Gunnar)
“He always had time for me. He helped me with the adoption of my son with the Russian authorities. They broke the mold when they made Monte.” (Ted Chaiko - handyman)
“I instantly broke down in tears when I received the sad news last night.” (Bob Van De Castle)
“Monte was a happy man. He was so at peace with himself. He had a great appetite and never complained. (Myrna Rodriquez - Health Care Aide)
“Monte has been very important for us in
“Monte has left us and we are poorer without him. His
contributions to psychiatry, psychology and parapsychology are a marvelous,
stunning. incredible legacy that reflect his wisdom, his insight and his
critical acumen.” (
“Monte taught me so much about wisdom, compassion, imagery, love, laughter, kindness, truth, and love of humankind.” (Linda Raab)
“Monte was one of the truly great human beings I have known in my life. His kindness, wisdom and vision were inspirational.” (Patrice Keane - ASPR)
“It was a gift for us to know Monte, as delightful a spirit as I’ve ever known and whom I can imagine is smiling kindly down on us at this very moment.” (Sally Rhine-Feather)
“I loved Monte. I feel as though I’ve lost a
brother.” (Jan Tolles -
“Thank you Monte, for changing my life by your dream research and work which gave me the reassurance I needed to accept my extraordinary dreams, despite familial, societal and religious discouragements.” (Goshengolly)
“He was an inspiration to us and helped find the path to dreaming. I cherish those great memories of Monte.” (Dale Graff)
“I have lost a very dear friend to whom I am deeply grateful. He has enriched my life, my soul, my very capacity for seeing, and I cannot mull over a dream without an awareness of Monte. That myriad ties have formed around the globe through the sharing of dreams is as fitting a tribute to Monte as I can imagine.” (Deborah Hillman)
“If this were my dream” is an important and famous
contribution of Monte’s work, but the real and unfailing safety I always felt in
Monte’s groups was because of its full structure.” (Gloria Sturzenacker)
“Monte’s groundbreaking research and pioneering explorations and work in the field of dreams, dreaming, and psi have made the paths wider for those following their dreams and the wisdom therein.” (
“What a loss that Monty is no longer in life.” (Elisabeth Bratt-Neuberg)
“He will be dearly, deeply missed but through his well said and researched words, he’ll be around forever.” (Roberta)
“I feel like the earth is less solid and the air is harder to breathe … (Judy Kaplan)
“He was a very important and very influential person
in my life and career.” (
“One Swedish pupil said: My life changed when I met
him and his method: I sat for half an hour thinking of what he has meant
personally and professionally for me.” (Kerstin Andersson)
In 2006, the IASD (International Association for the Study of Dreams) honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his research and contributions to the field of dreams. IASD’s support of Monte’s method at the 2008 Montreal Conference for CEU credits may be one giant step for dreaming consciousness in granting his life-long dream of incorporating the value of dreaming into an educational curriculum. How miraculous it would be if the Ullman Method of dream sharing were introduced in higher education: in the college graduate school curriculums.
He also wanted to expand his method beyond the dream community to children. Just days before he passed, at the suggestion of Bill Stimson, I encouraged Monte to speak of his feelings about dreams and education.
This is what he said:
"I would like to see more activity on the parts of adults in managing children in their dream life by bringing it down to their level and helping them see that dreaming is a way of thinking while they're sleeping through creating active imagery -- getting something across by collective imagery. It's a unique language.
“Adults can bring out the fact that children have dreams and can talk about them and begin to reflect on what's going on in them. In other words, we're offering a free education to children about taking the pictures in their dreams seriously, because they're meant to have meaning.
“Dreaming is a language that helps to bring feelings
to the surface. It's a pictorial elocution, a way of talking in pictures.”
I thought – who can better understand a picture than a child? Children’s minds are so fertile. Grownups overlook the little details that children pay strict attention to. As written in the Little Prince "Only children know what they are looking for." Monte managed to tap into the child in all of us.
Monte Ullman was a humanitarian to his very core. Our
humble mentor who tenderly fathered our dreams and taught us to share and fed
our hearts, left his physical body on