Handbook of Dreams - Research, Theories and Applications. Edited by Benjamin B. Wolman. Consulting Editors Montague Ullman & Wilse B.Webb. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1979

 

Extrasensory Communication and Dreams

by Jon Tolaas and Montague Ullman

 

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

 

As far back as we have written records, there have been accounts of the unusual phenomena occurring in connection with dreams. The ancients typically believed that dreams were divinely inspired experiences providing counsel and instruc­tion for their waking lives. In the oldest dream book extant, the Egyptian papyrus of Deral-Madineh dating back to 2000 B.C., there arc examples of divine revelation. The Egyptians practiced dream incubation, i.e., sleeping in temples in a deliberate effort to induce divinely inspired dreams which would supply answers concerning the state of health and the future of the dreamer. Oracular dreams even affected affairs of state (Woods, 1947). So-called para­normal phenomena often seemed to have an affinity for dreams. Woods (1947) notes that the Egyptians tried to communicate with others through their dreams, believing that homeless spirits carried the message. This suggests that there was some familiarity with the idea of telepathic communication.

 

In Judeo-Christian and Islamic scriptures the divinely inspired dream is a well-known theme. Van de Castle (1971) notes that there are about 70 refer­ences to dreams and visions in the Bible. One well-known dream, possibly suggestive of telepathic influence, is the dream of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:1-35). The king awoke one morning and was unable to remember a dream he felt was oracular in nature. His dream interpreters were frustrated. When Daniel was consulted, he turned to God in prayer, and Nebuchadnezzar's dream was revealed to him in a night vision. He then related the dream to Nebuchad­nezzar, who recognized it as his own.

 

In contrast to the Egyptians and the Jews, Orientals did not attribute dreams to the interference of gods, but to the dreamer's own soul. In ancient Vedic literature (1500-1000 B.C.) dreaming is seen as an intermediate state of the soul between this world and the other. In the sleeping state the soul leaves the body in "breath's protection" and roams in space, where it sees both this world and the other.

 

This belief, which seemingly gives credence to telepathy, was introduced in Greece as early as 500 B.C. (Van de Castle, 1971) and is well-known in European folklore (Tylor, 1871). The Greeks, however, were more inclined to the tradi­tion of the divine message dream, a tradition favored by their Eastern neighbors (Dodds, 1957). They distinguished between oracular dreams without symbolism and symbolic ones whose divine message had to be unraveled by professional interpreters.

 

Most of the dreams that have come down to us from antiquity are prophetic or precognitive, only a few of these available dreams lending themselves to a telepathic explanation. The word telepathy (from the Greek roots tele, or distant, and pathe, or feeling) was coined in the nineteenth century by F. W. H. Myers (1903).

 

With Democritus and Aristotle there began what may be called the naturali­zation of the supernatural dream. Democritus (460-370 B.C.) is credited with the first physical theory of dream telepathy (Dodds, 1971). His view of telep­athy is derived from the thesis that everything, including the soul, is made up of innumerable, indivisible, minute particles called atoms. These atoms con­stantly emit images of themselves, which in turn are composed of still other atoms. He postulated that the images projected by living beings, when emotion­ally charged, could be transmitted to a dreamer (percipient). When the images reached their destination, they were believed to enter the body through the pores. Images emitted by people in an excited state were especially vivid and likely to reach the dreamer in an intact and undistorted form because of the frequency of emission and the speed of transmission. The importance he assigned to the emotional state of the agent or sender is certainly in keeping with both present-day anecdotal and experimental findings.

 

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) rejected the notion of a divine origin of dreams. In his essay "On Divination In Sleep" (Woods, 1947) he discussed veridical dreams and took issue with Democritus' atomist thesis. The topic of his essay is pre­cognitive dreams, but his theory appears to be primarily applicable to instances of telepathy. He compared what happens in telepathic transmission with the ripple effect created by a stone thrown into water. Waves are propagated through the air of the night and "nothing hinders but a certain motion and sense may arrive to souls that dream ...." There are motions during the day­time as well, but the night is more tranquil so that the motions are not so easily dissolved. Besides, "those that are asleep have a greater perception of small inward motions than those that are awake." Aristotle and Democritus thus made the paranormal dream an object of scientific inquiry and postulated a physical carrier for the information.

 

For the most part their ideas were neither accepted nor further developed by later thinkers. Stoics like Poseidonius (135-50 B.C.) again relegated oracular dreams to the divine sphere (Dodds, 1971). Still later the Roman orator Cicero (104-43 B.C.) tried to demolish both the arguments of the Stoics and Demo­critus. In a caustic comment on Democritus, he writes, "I never knew anyone who talked nonsense with greater authority ..." (On "Divination," quoted from Woods, 1947). In Artemidorus' Oneirocritica (about 200 A.D.), the main source of dream philosophy in antiquity, there is no more Democritian "nonsense."

 

In the Middle Ages the Icelandic sagas were a rich source of prophetic dreams (Turville-Petre, 1958; Glendinning, 1974). The old Norsemen seem to have had a pragmatic attitude to such dreams, acknowledging them as an integral and useful part of reality, but they offered little in the way of explanation or theory. Thinkers like Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, and Pascal, among others, addressed the subject of dreams, but made no significant contribution to our understand­ing of those dreams that challenge our concepts of time and space.

 

In 1819, Weserman published what is probably the first report of experiment­ally induced dream telepathy (reviewed later). His ideas did not arouse sufficient interest to spur further efforts by contemporary investigators. There are scat­tered references to paranormal dreams in many later sources, notably in the writings of the German physician C. G. Carus (Meier, 1972). Not until the foundation of the Society for Psychical Research in 1882 in England, did dream telepathy become an object of genuine scientific inquiry.

 

Comment

 

The evidential value of historical material of this kind cannot be assessed. Such reports, however, do convey the thread of persistent belief in the link between dreaming and the paranormal. Throughout the ages and in a wide variety of cultural settings, man has been fascinated by dreams that seem to convey tele­pathic or precognitive content.

 

 

PRELITERATE SOCIETIES

 

In preliterate societies, we find either the belief that the dreamer's soul can quit the body and go for a nocturnal excursion, or that human souls from without can visit the sleeper and appear to him in his dream. The Maoris thought that the dreamer's soul could travel to the abode of the dead and talk with its friends there (Tylor, 1871 ). The Ibans of Borneo conversed with their special protectors, the spirits of the deceased, who came to visit them in their sleep (MacDougall and Hose, 1912). These two beliefs are not incompatible and can exist side by side, as was the case with some North American Indians (Devereux, 1957;Tylor, 1871, Wallace, 1958). These beliefs suggest that dream telepathy was considered something natural and useful. The Melanesians on the Trobriand Islands also believed in induced telepathic dreams. A suitor could cast a spell over his be­loved and induce her to dream a dream that would make her "desire the ex­change" (Malinowski, 1927).

 

Comment

 

Many of the anecdotes on record are insufficiently corroborated, and many of the ideas and beliefs are often quite esoteric. Nevertheless, there is sufficient evidence to suggest some factual distillate. Freud (1933) suggested that telep­athy might be a kind of prototypic language, a language before language. So-­called primitive peoples may have preserved some of this archaic means of communication. To our knowledge no experimental work has been done on dream telepathy with non-Western subjects. Three researchers, Foster (1943), Rose (1956), and Van de Castle (1970, 1975) have tested such populations using ESP cards. Foster obtained significant results (in one of two conditions) in tests administered to Plains Indian children, as did Rose in tests given to aboriginal subjects in Australia and New Zealand. Van de Castle obtained results at chance level testing Cuna Indians. However, the results were signifi­cant when the subjects were differentiated by sex and dream content scores.

 

ANECDOTAL MATERIAL

 

The founders of the Society for Psychical Research faced the formidable task of defining and classifying a wide range of unexplainable phenomena and setting standards for observation and reporting. In 1886, three of the founders, E. Gurney, F. W. H. Myers, and F. Podmore, published their historic work, Phantasms of the Living. Among the 1300 pages of case histories, the book contains 149 cases of dream telepathy. Myers defined the term telepathy as "the extrasensory communication of impressions of any kind from one mind to another." These men were astute investigators and were very exacting in their search for evidentiality. In the 1880s, however, less was known about the vicissitudes of memory and dream processes than today, so that not all the material they collected would meet modern evidential standards.

 

Nevertheless, Phantasms of the Living is still an invaluable source book. A typical example in this collection (Gurney et al., 1886) follows:

 

My brother and father were on a journey .... I dreamt ... I saw father driving in a sledge, followed in another by my brother. They had to pass a cross-road on which another traveller was driving very fast, also in a sledge with one horse. Father scented to drive on without ohserving the other fellow, who would ... have driven over father if he had not made his horse rear, so that I saw my father drive under the hoofs of the horse. Every moment I expected the horse to fall down and crush him. I called out: "Father! Father!" and awoke in great fright. (vol. I, p. 202).

 

It was later discovered that the dream corresponded in great detail with the actual event.

 

Characteristically, the theme of this dream is one of imminent danger to some­one close to the percipient. The common pattern that emerged from a review of the 149 cases of dream telepathy indicated that:

 

1. Over half of the dreams concerned the theme of death.

2. Another large group was concerned with the occurrence of an emergency.

3. A smaller group focused on trivial matters.

4. In the majority of cases, the agent-percipient pairs were either related or friends.

5. The percipients generally had no special psychic experiences or abilities before the dream in question, so that these dreams were rare and puzzling experiences.

 

We find the same common features in the major modern surveys of uncor­roborated spontaneous cases by Rhine (1962), Sannwald (1059a, b ), Prasad and Stevenson (1968), and Hanefeld (1968), and in a survey of 300 cases by Green (1960). Surveys of the frequency and modalities of psychic experiences by Brockhaus (1968) and Palmer and Dennis (1975) and analysis of corrobated cases by Dale (1951) and Dale et al. (1962) produced results in keeping with the pattern described above. Others who have published related material are Flammarion (1900), Prince (1931), Stevens (1949), and Priestley (1964).

 

There are, of course, obvious reasons why dreams of death and serious ac­cidents might occur more frequently. Dreams with high anxiety content or any very disturbing feeling tone would tend to be more readily recalled, re­corded, and possibly reported to others. It might also be that dreams of death are so common that chance coincidence alone would explain the high incidence of apparently veridical dreams dwelling on this theme. The authors of Phantasms of the Living considered this objection and distributed a questionnaire to 5360 persons asking if they had had a vivid dream of the death of someone known to them in the past 12 years. Only one of every 26 persons queried had had such a dream, a fact that spoke against the chance hypothesis. (For discussion, see Ullman et al., 1973, p. 12.)

 

The frequency analysis of manifest dream content (Hall and Van de Castle, 1966) also indicates that the subject of death does not occur frequently in dreams. If chance or coincidence can be discounted, then dreams involving danger to or the death of someone known to the dreamer may reflect the basic nature and function of telepathy as an emergency communicative mechanism somehow linked to the dreaming state. This notion is discussed in a later section.

 

Referring to the high proportion of reported paranormal experiences occur­ring between friends and relatives, Honorton (1975) notes that this would be expected because of the greater probability of confirmation than if the occur­rence involved remote acquaintances. Furthermore, unless the relationship permitted "some degree of intimacy, it would be unlikely that either would be sufficiently uninhibited to share unusual personal experiences." These considerations aside, there may be more basic issues involved having to do with the biological significance of closeness and intimacy. The prototype of closeness is, of course, the early mother-child relationship. In the postnatal period closeness ensures protection and a chance of survival for a number of species, man included. It is also the basis of growth and personal development. If psi[1] abilities manifest themselves early in life, and there is reason to believe that they do (Schwarz, 1971), they would exert their effect within a matrix of closeness and intimacy, a fact which may he related to the incidence of para­normal phenomena occurring between parents and children as well as friends and relatives in later life.

 

It is difficult to assess the true incidence of telepathic dreaming because of the variability of factors involved in their being reported. Cultural factors such as the low priority given to dreams and general skepticism concerning what might appear to be the occult, would also tend to lower the incidence of such reports.

 

Another factor at work may be the failure to recognize the telepathic compo­nent in a dream. Rhine (1967) distinguishes between realistic and unrealistic telepathic dreams, the difference being that in the latter the message is carried by the meaning of the fantasy, not by the exactness of the imagery. Where this is the case, many such dreams would probably go unnoticed.

 

Analyses of anecdotal material strongly suggest that the dreaming state is particularly favorable for the occurrence of paranormal phenomena. In the cross-cultural surveys quoted, dreams (precognitive or telepathic) account for 64.6% of the 7119 cases reported by Rhine (1962), 63% of the 1000 cases reported by Sannwald (1959a, b), 37% of the 300 cases analyzed by Green (1960), 52.4% of the 900 experiences of Indian school children reported by Prasad and Stevenson (1968), and 38% of several hundred cases collected by Hanefeld (1968) and considered to he paranormal.

 

Most of the paranormal dreams on record are precognitive (Van de Castle, 1977). In addition to the sources already quoted (Green, 1960), Saltmarsh (1934) reported 281 cases of precognition, of which 116 occurred in dreams. Based on intensive studies of his own dreams, Dunne (1927) became convinced that precognition occurred in dreams, and went on to develop a multidimensional theory of time to account for the phenomenon. Two experimental attempts at testing the theory by Besterman (1933) produced inconclusive results. In a third series, Dunne himself served as subject. Of the 17 dreams he forwarded to Besterman in the course of four months, four were suggestive of precognition (Besterman, 1933). Stevenson (1960, 1965) and Barker (1967) published re­ports describing the precognition of two disasters. Stevenson reported ten cases of precognition related to the sinking of the Titanic, eight of which in­volved dreams. Barker collected 35 cases of precognition of the Aberfan coal slide in 1965, 25 of which occurred in dreams. From a collection of 1300 dreams from one person, collected over a period of many years, Bender (1966) reported a 10% incidence of precognitive elements. Tenhaeff (1968) reported on precognitive elements in another collection of dreams from a single individ­ual. Priestley (1964) provides a number of interesting anecdotal accounts of precognitive dreams called to his attention following a television broadcast.

 

SHARED DREAMS

 

Shared dreams form an interesting subcategory. They are defined by Hart (1965) as "those in which two or more dreamers dream of each other in a common space-time situation, and independently remember more or less of their surroundings, their conversation, and their interactions within the dream" (p. 17). Numerous examples have been reported by Hart (hart and Hart, 1933; Hart, 1959), in which he and his wife seemed to experience such shared dreams. More recent examples are given in accounts by Faraday (1975) and Donahoe (1974). Dream telepathy in a group setting was observed by Randall (1977). He worked in a group setting where there was an unusual degree of rapport and where telepathic correspondences seemed to occur among the group members.

 

Comment

 

Interesting though the spontaneous case reports may be, they do not provide hard evidence for the reality of extrasensory effects in dreaming. Despite great care taken to verify them, loopholes can generally be found that raise questions concerning any paranormal explanation. The interest and value of the anecdotal reports lie in the meaningful patterns that may appear from their analyses. The real-life context, especially as noted in cross-cultural surveys, serves as a source of ideas for experimental research and broadens the theoretical framework within which such research is conducted. These accounts strongly suggest that the dreaming state is the psi-conducive state. Psi correspondences in dreams were found to be more complete and less fragmentary than in reports of waking psi experiences (Honorton and Krippner, 1969).

 

EXPERIMENTAL STUDIES: HISTORICAL PRELUDE

 

Weserman (1819) is credited with the first published report on experiments with telepathically induced dreams. Serving as agent himself, he attempted to project his "animal magnetism" into the dreams of friends who later re­ported their dreams to him. Weserman claimed to have been successful on five occasions.

 

G. B. Ermacora (1895), an Italian psychiatrist, attempted to induce telepathic dreams in a rather strange experimental arrangement. His star subject was a medium in Padua, Signorina Maria Manzini, who had a trance control called Elvira. When Signorina Manzini went into a trance, Dr. Ermacora would suggest to Elvira the specific topic of a dream she was to induce telepathically in Ange­lina, Maria's four-year-old cousin. The latter would then relate her dream in the morning to the medium, who, in turn, informed Dr. Ermacora. There were, indeed, striking correspondences, but judged by modern standards, the experi­ments were seriously lacking in precautions against sensory leakage. They re­main only of historical interest.

 

EXPLORATORY STUDIES

 

In the early 1950s, Wilfred Daim (1953), an Austrian psychotherapist, attempted to transmit a target to a sleeping percipient. The target material consisted of a geometrical symbol and a color in random combination. Target-dream corres­pondences were reported in 75% of 30 trials. At about the same time, explora­tory dream telepathy studies were being initiated by Ullman and Dale (Ullman and Krippner, 1970). These studies were designed to explore possible para­normal correspondences between recorded dreams and events in each of their lives. The results were encouraging and led to a series of exploratory studies using the all-night REM monitoring technique to determine the onset and ter­mination of recurring dream sequences (Aserinsky and Kleitman, 1953). This technique freed the investigator from relying on the uncertainty of spontaneous dream recall in a dream telepathy experiment.

 

Pilot studies along these lines were initiated in 1960. Two rooms were used. The subject or percipient went to sleep in one, and an agent or sender and EEG technician remained in a second room. A variety of target materials was used including free-hand drawings, pictures taken from magazines, movie clips, and three-dimensional objects., The subject was awakened after several minutes of REM sleep and reported his dream over an intercom to the experimental team.

 

The working hypothesis was that the agent's preoccupation with the target material during the night might bring about the inclusion of such material or aspects of it in the manifest content of the subject's dreams. The following is an example of the kind of correspondences that occurred:

 

A dentist was serving as subject and Ullman as agent. The target material during the first part of the night was a toy model of a yellow Citroen car, and during the latter part of the night a picture showing an Oriental garden bordered with diamond-shaped stones and monk who was meditating at one corner. In the second dream of the night, the subject mentioned a road that was yellow in color and referred to a tractor-like vehicle. There were references to diamond shapes in four of the subsequent dreams.

 

Subjects differed widely in their sensitivity and ability to incorporate tele­pathic stimuli. Of particular interest was the fact that three disbelievers in ESP, so-called goats (Schmeidler, 1945), did not succeed in incorporating target material. When the correspondences did occur, they came about in a number of different ways, varying from direct incorporation to the selective incorporation of certain elements of form or color as well as correspondences based on symbolic relationships.

 

Comment

 

These studies pointed to the usefulness of the REM monitoring technique as a way of experimentally approaching the subject of dream telepathy. The results supported the working hypothesis that psi effects could be incorporated into both manifest and symbolic dream content. Further refinement of the design was indicated:

 

1. To eliminate all possibilities of sensory cues relating to the target reaching the subject.

2. To arrange for the independent blind outside judging of possible corre­spondences between target and dream.

3. To work out appropriate statistical techniques to evaluate any matching process.

 

In 1962, with the establishment of a Dream Laboratory at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, it became possible to pursue the work along these lines.

 

FORMAL EXPERIMENTAL STUDIES

 

Formal experimental studies involving standardized EEG-EMG-EOG monitoring began at Maimonides in June, 1964. Two formats were used; each will be illustrated in detail. The first one involved a screening study of 12 subjects (Ullman et al., 1966) and two agents, one male and one female.

 

Correspondences between target material and dream reports were evaluated by each of the 12 subjects and three outside judges who independently ranked the pool of 12 targets for correspondences to each dream protocol. A dream protocol consisted of all the dreams of a single night. Confidence ratings were also obtained. The dream material was matched alone and in combination with the subject's postsleep associational material. There were seven males and five females in the study. They had no history of ESP, but expressed a positive attitude to the possibility of its existence. Each subject slept in the laboratory for one night. The targets were postcard-size reproductions of well-known paintings. They were selected on the basis of emotional content, vivid colors, simplicity, and distinctness of detail.

 

The subject met with the agent prior to the application of the electrodes. Once the subject was in the sleep room, they had no further contact. The agent remained in a room 40 feet away from the subject's room. He had with him one of 12 randomly selected art prints from the 12 prepared for the experi­ment. He familiarized himself with the picture and wrote his associations down. He would continue to concentrate on the picture whenever the experi­menter signaled to him that the subject was going into a REM phase. The same target was used throughout the night.

 

The subject was awakened toward the estimated end of each REM period and asked to relate his dreams, which were taken down on tape and later trans­cribed. The agent would listen to the subject reporting his dream, but could not communicate with either the experimenter or the subject.

 

The transcripts of the dreams as well as the subject's associative data were sent to three outside judges along with copies of the 12 art prints used in the experiment. The judges, working blindly, compared all 12 targets to each dream transcript. A fourth judge compared all 12 dream protocols to each target picture. The mean of the three judges' ranks and ratings were analyzed by two-way analysis of variance (for targets and nights) according to the Scheffé (1959) method. Similarly, the rankings made by the 12 subjects were subjected to two-way analysis of variance. These rankings were further evaluated by the application of the binomial expansion theorem. Ranks from one through six were referred to as "hits" and the rankings from seven to twelve as "misses."

 

Evaluation of the mean scores for rankings and ratings did not attain statisti­cal significance, but the results were in the predicted direction. Analysis of the ratings of the fourth judge were significant at the .01 level. The rankings did not attain significance. Analysis of the subjects' rankings produced ten "hits" and two "misses," significant at the .05 level (two-tailed test). The ratings were higher for the subjects working with the male agent.

 

Example

 

A young female teacher served as subject. The randomly selected target picture was Tamayo's Animals. This picture depicts two dogs howling and flashing their teeth. Bones picked clean lie about in the foreground. A huge black rock can be seen in the background. The points of correspondence are noted in the following excerpts:

 

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 ...."

 

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 outer 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 known, 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 and other people were talking about this girl from Israel, and they were saying that she's not very nice to invite to eat because she's greedy, or something like that.

 

From the Subjects Associations: "It was about a banquet and we were 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 references to Black Wood in the second dream and Black Rock in the associations are suggestive of information conveyed concerning the sensory qualities of the picture. The voraciousness of the dogs comes through in the sequence describing the avariciousness of the friend at dinner. Elsewhere, Ullman (1975b) comments:

 

Presumably both the sensory image and the emotional message have a significance for the dreamer which could he tapped if the dreams were dealt with analytically. The level, nature, and degree of correspondence are probably determined by other still unknown factors, in addition to the way in which they lend themselves to the expression of the idiosyncratic needs of the dreamer. This factor of idiosyncratic choice of precisely what is extracted from the target picture and incorporated into the dream is quite puzzling. (p. 164)

 

The First Erwin Study

 

In the second format, the same subject was used on repeated nights. The highest scoring subject in the preceding screening study, Dr. William Erwin, was paired with the male agent from that study in a seven-night series, using the same basic experimental design and evaluation procedure (Ullman et al., 1966).

 

The rankings of the judges of the dreams alone and in combination with the associative material were significant (F = 8.30, p < 0.01; F = 18.14, p < 0.001, respectively; 1 and 35 degrees of freedom). Significant results were also obtained from the judges' ratings as well as from the subject's rankings and confidence ratings.

 

Example

 

The target picture was Chagall's "Paris From a Window," a colorful painting depicting a man observing the Paris skyline from a window. Certain unusual elements stand out very clearly: a cat with a human face, several small figures of men flying in the air, and flowers sprouting from a chair.

 

Second Dream Period: "Well, I was dreaming of bees. I guess it was bees. Sort of bees flying around flowers."

 

Third Dream Period: "I was walking. For some reason, I say French Quar­ter .... And I was walking through different departments in a department store ... talking with a group of Shriners that were having a convention. They had on a hat that looked more like a French policeman's hat, you know the French .... I said French Quarter earlier, but I was using that to get a feel. . . of an early village of some sort .... It would be some sort of this romantic type of archi­tecture-buildings, village, quaint."

 

Fifth Dream Period: "... The memory I remember is a man, once again walking through one of these villages, these towns. It would definitely be in the nineteenth century. Attire. French attire. And he would be walking through one of these towns as though he were walking up the side of a hill above other layers of the town.

 

Excerpts Front the Associative Material: "The thing that stands out is the dream where I described the village .... It's a festive thing ... the Mardi Gras­ish type .... Well, the area must be - I mean, just basing it on the costumes and all - the nineteenth century. Early nineteenth century ... either the Italian or French or Spanish area .... A town of this area .... It would be of the .. . of this village type .... Houses very close covering the hills."

 

A number of minor modifications in procedure were introduced in the experi­ments that followed in order to encourage the agent to be more involved with the theme of the target picture; a series of objects relating to the mood of the target picture were prepared and coded in connection with the target. Such props afforded the agent the opportunity to get involved with the target picture in a multisensory fashion. The subsequent studies arc briefly summarized.

 

The Second Erwin Study

 

As in the case of the first Erwin study, the results confirm the telepathy hypoth­esis (Ullman and Krippner, 1969). Analysis of the three judges' means for the correspondences between the targets and the entire protocol produced significant results (F= 6.43; p < 0.001 with 7 and 21 degrees of freedom). Judgings on the basis of the dreams alone were also significant.

 

To counter the allegation that dreams are so vague that any dream can correspond with any picture, a further analysis was made by a fourth judge. He compared the seven targets used for the first study and one target used for a pilot session with the eight transcripts of the second study. The target ratings were analyzed using the Scheffé (1959) technique. This analysis produced statistically significant data for the correct target-dream combinations, whereas the "control" combinations produced chance results.

 

The Hypnosis Study

 

Sixteen subjects were divided into two groups of eight subjects each, a hypnosis group and a nonhypnosis "relaxed" group. Each subject was assigned one of four agents and was asked (a) to generate waking imagery in the laboratory, (b) during or immediately after a rest period in the laboratory, and (c) to keep a dream diary at home. The judges' evaluations produced significant results with the hypnosis group in condition (b) and for the nonhypnosis group in condition (c). The subjects' evaluations were significant for the nonhypnosis group in condition (a) (Krippner, 1968).

 

The Second Screening Study

 

This was a 12-night screening study utilizing 12 different subjects and two agents. The results did not attain statistical significance, but were in the predicted direction. In contrast to the first screening study, no agent differences emerged (Ullman 1969b).

 

The Posin Study

 

R. Posin, a female psychologist, had done well in the second screening study and was singled out for an eight-night series. Both the judges' and the subject's results were at chance level although there were interesting correspondences (Ullman and Krippner, 1970).

 

The Grayeb Study

 

Miss Grayeb, a young secretary, was selected for a 16-night study on the basis of her results in the second screening study. For eight of the nights the agent concentrated on a target; for the remaining nights there was neither agent nor target. The condition was determined on a random basis. Results for both conditions were at chance level (Krippner, 1969).

 

The Van de Castle Study

 

Robert Van de Castle, a dream researcher as well as a parapsychologist, served as the subject for an eight-night series. Earlier he had produced highly signifi­cant results in a similar experiment at another laboratory (Hall, 1967). In this study more emphasis was placed on motivational and psychodynamic factors than in the earlier work. The subject was allowed to choose his own agent from among the laboratory staff. He worked with a total of three agents. A female psychologist served as agent for the first two nights. Ullman was the agent for the second session, and a female social worker for the remaining five nights. The fact that both women were young and attractive made for easier rapport.

 

After each experimental session the motivational and psychodynamic aspects of the dreams of the night before were explored with the subject.

 

The results were evaluated by the subject and one judge. The subject's rankings produced eight "hits" and no "misses." This distribution is significant at the 0.004 level (binomial method). The ratings were significant at the 0.003 level (Mann-Whitney u Test). The judge's results were also significant. The analytically oriented interview revealed that the telepathic effect was strongest in dreams with aggressive and sexual content (Ullman and Krippner, 1970).

 

The Vaughan Study

 

Four subjects were used in this study, each spending eight nights in the labora­tory. For four nights the agent concentrated on the same target [target condi­tion (a )]; for the remaining four nights a different randomly selected target was used each time the subject experienced a REM state [target condition (b)] . Three of the subjects evaluated their own results, which were significant for target condition (b). Evaluation by an outside judge was significant for one subject in target condition (b).

 

This study was designed to investigate the hypothesis that the telepathic stimulus may "build up" over the course of a night and come through more in one of the late REM periods or at the end of the series. However, none of the results in connection with target condition (a) attained significance, indicating that there was no "build up" effect. The agents reported being bored by trying to get involved with the same target for the four nights. The results seem to favor the "mutual-resonance" hypothesis, which postulates that a spontaneous resonance effect occurs in the brains of agent and subject in response to a novel stimulus (Honorton et al., 1971).

 

The Hypnotic Clairvoyant Dream Study

 

Sixty subjects were divided equally into high- and low-suggestible hypnosis groups. This was a clairvoyant study, and no agent was used. All the subjects attempted to incorporate the target material (art prints) clairvoyantly, either in a hypnotically induced dream or in the course of an imaginative daydream. The subjects evaluated their own material. Results were significant for the high-­suggestible hypnosis group (Honorton, 1972).

 

The First Bessent Study

 

In an eight-night precognitive study the British sensitive Malcolm Bessent at­tempted to dream about an experience that was to be structured for him the following morning, and only after all of his dreams had been collected. A dream theme would be randomly selected on the following morning from among the themes described in The Content Analysis of Dreams (Hall and Van de Castle, 1966), and a visual and auditory display relating to this theme would then be shown to the subject upon his awakening.

 

To determine whether the subject had precognitive dreams about his morn­ing's experience, three outside judges rated correspondences between each dream protocol and the written description of the waking experience. The mean of the judges' ratings were subjected to binomial testing. There were five direct "hits" out of the eight nights (CR = 3.74, p= .00018) (Krippner et al., 1971).

 

The Second Bessent Study

 

A target pool of ten slide-and-sound sequences was created for this study. On odd-numbered nights the subject was instructed to dream about the target, which would be randomly selected the following evening. On even-numbered nights one of the ten sequences was randomly selected, and the subject was exposed to the slides and the taped sound accompaniment. He was then told to dream about this target material.

 

Three outside judges working blindly and independently were exposed to the eight slide-and-sound sequences that had been selected for use. In addition, they read all 16 dream protocols and then rated all the protocols against all eight targets. When the eight odd-numbered or precognitive nights were inspected, it was found that the target for those nights received higher ratings than any of the other pairings for that target in five out of eight instances (p = .0012, one-tailed). When the eight even-numbered nights were inspected, it was found that the tar­gets for these nights had not received higher ratings than any of the other pair­ings for that target (Krippner et al., 1972a).

 

Extrasensory and Presleep Incorporation of Target Material

 

In this study, Honorton et al. (1975) attempted to compare extrasensory and presleep incorporation of target material in dreams. Forty agent-subject pairs were involved. The targets were two emotionally arousing and two emotionally neutral films. One emotional and one neutral film served as targets for each con­dition (ESP and presleep). There were two nights in each condition, beginning with two ESP nights to avoid stimulus residues from earlier sessions. On each of the two ESP nights the agent was shown a different film which the percipient attempted to dream about. On the two presleep nights, there was no agent. The subject was shown one of the two remaining target films each night before fall­ing asleep, and was then awakened at the end of each REM period for a dream report.

 

For the presleep conditions there was significant incorporation of both the emotionally arousing and emotionally neutral films, but the difference between the two target types was not significant. For the ESP condition, none of the stimuli was incorporated to a significant degree. Mean incorporation scores of field independent subjects, as measured by Witkin's Rod-and-Frame Test and Embedded Figures Test, were significant in the ESP condition for the emotion­ally arousing films (p = .008).

 

Of the thirteen formal experimental studies described above, nine yielded statistically significant results.

 

Replication Studies

 

Thus far, six replication studies have been reported. Two produced significant results (Hall, 1967; Ross, 1972), three produced nonsignificant results (Belvedere and Foulkes, 1971; Foulkes et al., 1972; and Strauch, 1970), and one produced equivocal results (Globus et al., 1968). Commenting on five of these studies, Krip­pner (1975, p. 177) notes: "All five studies represented the investigators' initial attempts to study this phenomenon, and it is difficult to predict what the results would have been had long-range studies been planned."

 

Keeling (1971) reported a study involving hypnotic dreaming and telepathy. He trained three highly susceptible hypnotic subjects to dream hypnotically and then had each subject serve in turn as agent while the other two served as percip­ients. The agent was given a one- or two-sentence description as the hypnotic dream stimulus, which the percipients were to incorporate in their hypnotically induced dreams. The overall results were reported as significant.

 

Rechtschaffen (1970) worked with two subjects under hypnosis, one serving as agent, and one as percipient in an exploratory telepathy experiment. The agent was given a suggestion to dream about the subject's dream. The experi­ment involved six pairs of subjects and a total of 47 pairs of dreams. Dream­-dream matchings produced significant overall results.

 

Interesting results of informal studies have been reported by Van de Castle (1971, 1977).

 

Comment

 

The experimental studies buttress the evidence from other sources for the oc­currence of extrasensory effects in dreams. Additional findings that have emerged from the experimental work thus far are as follows:

 

1. Orientation and expectancy on the part of the subject appear to be neces­sary for the incorporation of telepathic effects into dreams. When subjects were not informed that an agent was trying to influence their dreams telepathically, the results were at a chance level (Krippner, 1975). In another study a subject was asked to clairvoyantly dream about a randomly selected art print concealed in a box. Without his knowledge, an agent was at the same time concentrating on another target picture. The judges detected clear-cut target-dream corres­pondences for each of the clairvoyant targets, but not for the telepathy targets (Krippner and Zirinsky, 1971). A long-distance study gave similar results. This involved using as agents 2000 members of the audience attending six con­certs of a rock-and-roll group. On all six nights the audience was shown a six­-slide sequence on the screen and were told to attempt to transmit the picture to Malcolm Bessent, who was asleep at the Maimonides Dream laboratory 45 miles away. Without their knowledge, the dreams of a second subject were re­corded at the same time. The judges' evaluations produced significant results for Malcolm Bessent and chance results for the other subject (Krippner et al., 1973).

 

2. An analysis of all available first night sessions between 1964 and 1969 showed that males did better than females as subjects. They also did better when paired with a male agent compared with a female agent (Krippner, 1970). This is at odds with the various surveys of spontaneous cases (Green, 1960; Rhine, 1962; Sannwald, 1959a,b), which show that women far outnumber men in reporting ESP experiences. There is some evidence to suggest that the labora­tory setting is more anxiety-provoking to women (Lawrence and Shirley, 1970), which may account for their poor showing in the laboratory situation. These authors have also noted women to be more reluctant to report their dreams as fully as men do.

 

3. Distance did not seem to affect the ability of subjects to incorporate target material telepathically. Significant results have been obtained in studies involving distances of 98 feet, 19 miles (Krippner, Honorton, Ullman, Masters, and Houston, 1971), and 45 miles (Krippner et al., 1973).

 

4. Telepathic incorporation is more apt to occur with target material that is emotional in nature (Krippner and Davidson, 1970). When multisensory objects were introduced to enhance the emotional impact of the target, uniformly posi­tive results were obtained (Ullman and Krippner, 1969; Krippner, Ullman, and Honorton, 1971; Krippner et al., 1972b; Krippner and Goldsmith, 1971; Krippner, 1971; Krippner, Honorton, Ullman, Masters, and Houston, 1971).

 

5. The two Bessent studies based on proposals by Dunne (1927) and Jackson (1967) have provided suggestive evidence that precognitive dreaming can be demonstrated in an experimental setting.

 

 

DREAM TELEPATHY IN THE CLINICAL CONTEXT

 

Clinical interest in dream telepathy began with the advent of psychoanalysis. The initial impetus of Freud's writings on this subject (Freud, 1922, 1925, 1934, 1941) and a volume by Stekel (1920) was followed by confirmatory reports (Hollós, 1933; Deutsch, 1926; Roheim, 1932; Burlingham,1935; Servadio, 1935), as well as skeptical and critical ones (Zulliger, 1934; Hann-Kende, 1953; Hitsch­mann, 1924; Schilder, 1934, Saul, 1938). Contemporary interest in the subject was stimulated by the writings of Ehrenwald (1948, 1954), Eisenbud (1946, 1947, 1970), Servadio (1935, 1956), Meerloo (1949, 1908), and Ullman (1959, 1966, 1973). Devereux (1953) provided an anthology of the earlier psycho­analytic contributions and the controversies that ensued. Three review articles have appeared summarizing the psychiatric and psychoanalytic contributions to our knowledge of dream telepathy (Ullman, 1974, 1975a, 1977).

 

Despite a lingering skepticism, Freud interested himself in the "occult," particularly from the point of view of the understanding that psychoanalysis could shed on these phenomena. His exploration of reports of paranormal dreams led to a number of speculative hypotheses concerning their dynamics. He felt that such exchanges occurring at an unconscious level were subject to the same laws of transformation as other unconscious content before making their way into the dream.

 

The early writers alluded to stressed the libidinal and affective aspects of the telepathic contact (Stekel, 1920), the connection of the message with a re­pressed wish (Hollós, 1933), the facilitating influence of positive transference (Hann-Kende, 1953; Servadio, 1935), and the role of counter-transferential fac­tors in triggering a telepathic dream (Eisenbud, 1970). Burlingham (1935), Meerloo (1968), and Ehrenwald (1971a) speculated on the role telepathy may play in the early mother-child relationship.

 

Eisenbud (1970), made explicit use of the telepathy hypothesis in his inter­pretive exchanges with patients. He (Eisenbud, 1947) and others (Fodor, 1947; Coleman (1958) also noted that in the working through of the dynamics of these events, more than one patient at a time might be involved in a telepathic exchange.

 

When a dream having reference to the therapist is encountered in the clinical context, it must meet a number of criteria before it can be considered as pre­sumptively telepathic. Although no criterion is sufficient by itself, when taken together the criteria can lead to the strong, subjective sense that something other than chance or coincidence was at work. These criteria are:

 

1. The items of correspondence in question must he unusual; i.e., must be represented by elements that do not ordinarily appear in dreams.

2. The events in the life of the therapist that these elements have reference to could not have been known to the patient by any ordinary means. They could not have been learned through inadvertent behavioral or subvocal cues, and could not have been inferred based on the knowledge the patient could have had of the personal life of the therapist.

3. A close temporal relationship should exist between the relevant events in the life of the therapist and the patient's dream that depicts these events.

4. Judgments concerning correspondences must include, but not necessarily be limited to, correspondences apparent at the level of the manifest content.

5. The final criterion is that of psychological meaning. The intersecting points of correspondence, when subjected to analysis, must emerge as dynami­cally meaningful to both patient and therapist.

 

Clinical Example

 

An example of presumptively telepathic dream occurring in the clinical context is as follows:

 

The patient is a 40 year-old woman who had been under analysis for 15 months at the time of the occurrence of the dream. She had been divorced three years earlier, at which time she had also terminated a one-year analysis with another therapist. She felt that she had received some help, but that her basic problems concerning men were unchanged. She had a tendency to slip into rela­tionships with married men, and then to feel guilty and helpless in the situation and unable to extricate herself.

 

Her husband, whom she did not hold in high regard, had been a physician. This, plus her disillusionment around her previous analysis, made for a consider­able amount of caution and withdrawal in her relationship to the therapist (one of the present authors). Her strategy in the main was to attempt to convince the therapist that this was the way she was and that nothing could be done about it. In many devious ways she was out to prove that the therapist was well inten­tioned but inept, or not really interested in her.

 

The patient presented the following dream on awakening on a Saturday morn­ing:

 

I was at home with John. There was a bottle on the table that contained part alcohol and part cream. It was sort of a white foamy stuff. John wanted to drink it. I said, "No, 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.

 

The patient presented another fragment occurring the 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.

 

The patient was seen on a subsequent Tuesday and began the hour by remark­ing spontaneously that perhaps there was something to extrasensory perception. This was the first time that the term had come up in the analytic situation. She stated that on the previous Friday she had received a phone call from a physician whom she had known several years before, but with whom she had had no contact during the past two years. She had been thinking about him just before he phoned, and she could not recall the last time he had entered her consciousness. She did not attribute any real significance to this and made the remark in jest.

 

In connection with the dream, the only thing she could think of was that the alcohol-cream mixture reminded her of crème de menthe, a drink that makes her slightly sick. The label "Appealing Nausea" reminded her of her own revul­sion in connection with sexual activity. "When I get very excited, I get sick."

 

On the evening of the preceding Friday, the night the patient had the dream, my wife and I (the therapist) attended a meeting at the New York Academy of Medicine to hear a paper presented on animal neurosis. Part of the film showed the technique of creating a state of alcohol addiction in cats. One scene showed two cats being offered a choice between a glass containing milk and another containing milk and half alcohol. The alcoholic cat, in contrast to the normal cat, went straight for the alcohol-milk mixture, and completely ignored the glass containing the milk alone.

 

The most striking feature of the dream was the temporal coincidence between the unusual symbolism of a bottle containing part alcohol and part cream with the scene in the film showing a glass containing half milk and half alcohol. The second fragment seemed to supplement the first by introducing a member of the feline family, a leopard. Also suggestive were her introductory remarks indicat­ing her preoccupation with the possibility of extrasensory perception in con­nection with someone she hadn't seen for a number of years. Assuming the validity of the telepathic factors and integrating them into the analysis of the dream, the interpretation may be outlined as follows:

 

Her identification is with the leopard - the animal whose spots cannot be changed. She has not resolved the question of trust and hope in therapy. In the dream a physician is trying to get her to drink the mixture just as in the film the experimenter is responsible for the cat seeking out the mixture rather than the whole milk and just as, in reality, she looks with suspicion on the therapist's efforts to force her out of her withdrawal. The release and spontaneity associ­ated with the alcohol are experienced in a conflicting way as attractive and re­pulsive al the same time. The milk, which is normally sought after by a cat, is symbolic of her blandness and her dependency. In the second dream, the pa­tient, faced with the dilemma of protecting the leopard, attempts to do so by isolating techniques, but is warned by a parental figure of the dire consequences unless some of the control is removed. The patient is in conflict because the whole weight of her past experience has been to equate release and freedom with disaster and control and isolation with safety. The scene in the film provides an appropriate concept in the form of visual imagery expressing the idea that the therapist is as omnipotent in relation to her as the experimenter was to the cats, and that seeking sensual gratification under these circumstances would make her vulnerable to further hurt and exploitation. She is also making a statement about the detachment and omnipotence of the therapist as she experiences him.

 

The clinical setting, as well as the anecdotal reports, implicates the dream as the state most frequently associated with a telepathic event. There are aspects of dreams and dreaming that suggest possible reasons for this connection. Mo­tivational systems closer to the core of the individual come into operation in the dream, compared to waking hours. The spontaneous occurrence of telepathy in crisis situations suggests that, in some way, the mobilization of vital needs is implicated. Dreaming as a state of heightened activation suggests that a vigilance function is operative and oriented (in the human, at any rate) more to the detec­tion of threats to the symbolic system, linking the individual to his social milieu, than to threats involving his state of bodily intactness. We have, in the dreaming state, the possible advantage of an altered state of consciousness combined with a state of high arousal and one in which basic motivational systems are activated.

 

Comment

 

The psychodynamic context in which telepathic events are apt to arise may thus be related to both patient and therapist. Attention has been called to the facili­tating influence of the strong emotional bond generated in psychoanalytic ther­apy. From the patient's point of view, what might he called the telepathic maneuver seems to be a ploy called into operation (1) as a means of deflecting attention from himself when, in the context of a positive transference, conflict­ual material directed at the therapist begins to surface; and (2) as a reaction to what the patient senses as a withdrawal of interest on the part of the therapist, under which circumstances it then becomes a strategy for dramatically refocus­ing that interest back to the patient.

 

From the therapist's standpoint, a somewhat different constellation of pre­disposing factors appears to be operating. Interest in and belief in the reality of telepathic events seems to favor their occurrence. Several writers (Pederson-­Krag, 1947; Ullman, 1959) on the subject have noted the appearance of telepathic dreams in their patients when they themselves, pursuing their own interest, had further need for such material. There is also general agreement that temporary distractions and preoccupations, deflecting the therapist's attention from the patient, often becomes the focal point of a telepathic experience for the patient. Counter-transferential tensions are particularly apt to be unmasked by a telepathic maneuver on the part of the patient. Servadio (1958) notes this in connection with the thoughts the analyst may have that are prejudicial or inim­ical to the patient.

 

The conditions outlined as favoring the occurrence of telepathic dreaming may, in each instance, be experienced as prejudicial by the patient. In one way or another the patient may sense the interest, need, and tension of the analyst as adversely influencing the relationship or as interfering with the maintenance of the analyst's clear focus on the therapeutic situation. The occur­rence of a telepathic dream under these circumstances constitutes a safe way of "needling" the therapist insofar as it both exposes the patient's awareness of the therapist's dereliction and at the same time does so in a way that leaves the ther­apist impotent to do anything about it unless he owns up to the manner in which his own preoccupations and concerns may at the moment obstruct the progress of the analysis.

 

Various generalizations have been proposed to account for the appearance of telepathy in the analytic context. Freud (1933), Meerloo (1949), and Ehrenwald (1971b) regarded telepathy as an archaic communication system available for use when other forms of communication were blocked.

 

Ehrenwald (1971a) implicated the early mother-child symbiosis as the nexus out of which telepathic exchanges evolved. He also suggested (1971b) that psi events tend to occur on occasions when, for external or internal reasons, we experience a shift away from a time-and space-oriented existence (a Newtonian frame of reference suitable for our everyday waking lives) toward a nonlinear form of consciousness, as in the occurrence of sleep and dreams. He likened this to a relativistic mode and referred to the change in level of adaptation as an existential shift. This can be transitory, incidental, and subtle in the course of our waking lives or occur in the form of sharp qualitative shifts, as in the case of dreaming or drug-induced alterations in consciousness. In either instance, the shift seems to favor the recrudescence of paranormal powers originating in an earlier relational context.

 

Ullman (1949, 1952) noted that patients who function on schizoid or obsessional levels manifest psi ability in the therapeutic context more frequently and more consistently than do other patients. It is as if having used language so long in the service of maintaining distance from others, they reach a point of no re­turn in their efforts to maintain meaningful communicative bonds with others, including the therapist. This appears to be the circumstance under which tele­pathic faculties are mobilized.

 

In his biographical reminiscences Jung (1963) revealed a life-long interest in the paranormal and recounted many incidents occurring throughout his life of both ESP and psychokinesis. In his effort to provide some kind of fit for these experiences, he boldly postulated the existence in nature of a second principle equal in importance to the principle of causality. He referred to this as the principle of synchronicity and defined it to mean that in addition to the exis­tence of a causal order which links external events to subjective impressions, there can exist another order effecting such linkages on the basis of meaning alone. Paranormal events were thus defined as acausal, meaningful coincidences. This principle became operative when, in a given context, there occurred a dove­tailing of external events with the realization of "constellation' of an upsurging archetypal impression. Jung thus sought to establish a dynamic link between a paranormal event and the emergence of a specific archetype at a given moment.

 

The role psi effects play in dream formation, the emergence of psi factors in the context of transference and counter-transference, the interpretive use of the telepathy hypothesis, the characterologic significance of psi abilities, and the possible role that psi plays in the evolution and manifestation of psychopathol­ogy are some of the areas were beginning explorations have taken place and where much more clinical and investigative work will have to be done before a full account can be given of the relevance of psi factors to psychiatry.

 

 

THEORETICAL CONSIDERATIONS

 

Quite apart from the question of the validity of parapsychological data in rela­tion to dreaming, there is a need for a holistic approach to the data we now have on the psychology and physiology of dreaming. In the absence of any unifying concept, the newer findings are apt to remain atomistic and perhaps more puz­zling than they need be. This particularly applies to any artificial separation of human and animal data. The mounting evidence supporting the reality of extra­sensory communication in dreaming makes it all the more incumbent to seek out a unified way of viewing the various manifestations of the dreaming phase of the sleep cycle.

 

A holistic view emphasizes the fact that parts relate to the whole on the basis of a system principle governing the whole (Angyal, 1941). Part functions and part structures are organized according to and are subordinate to the main sys­tem principle. In the case of dreaming, for example, our task would be to iden­tify the main system principle and then explore the way in which the findings of the various experimental studies contribute toward actualizing this principle. In what follows the concept of vigilance is explored as the organizing or leading system principle in relation to which the phenomenology of the REM state and dreaming can he ordered. The question being addressed is: What are the vigi­lance needs of the sleeping organism? This approach was first developed by Ull­man (1956) on clinical grounds and later considered in relation to the recent experimental work on sleep (Ullman, 1958, 1969a, 1973), and the investigative work on dream telepathy (Ullman, 1969b, 1972). A similar approach was taken by Snyder (1963, 1966) in his interpretation of the phylogenetic and evolutionary meaning of REM sleep. Tolaas (1976, 1978) reviewed these for­mulations and presented an expanded view of vigilance theory to accommodate the human and animal data as well as the pertinent data concerning extrasensory communication and dreaming.

 

Dreaming and Social Vigilance

 

Ullman (1973) conceived of dreaming sleep as repetitive cycles of heightened vigilance manifested along both physiological and psychological dimensions. He suggested that, while dreaming, the organism is involved in the process of assess­ing the impact of recent intrusive novel events in terms of the linkage of these events to past experience and their implication for the immediate future. Al­though clinically derived, this view seemed in keeping with later work interpret­ing the REM state as a state of readiness for the urgencies of waking life (Hernandez-Péon, 1966; Ruffwarg et al., 1966).

 

The vigilance process unfolds in two phases, an exploratory one to assess the implications of the issues being raised, and a reconstituted one where through internal rearrangements personality resources are mobilized to cope with the un­settling event. The dreamer may have the resources necessary to arrive at a creative resolution, or he may have to resort to habitual defensive responses. There are two possible outcomes to these operations. Depending on the degree of tension generated in the dream, either the dreaming cycle continues without interruption or awakening occurs.

 

For the human organism, the nature of the threat has shifted from a concern with physical danger to a concern with the safeguarding of his status as a social being. Man, as a species, has accumulated enough cultural artifacts to offer protection against most physical threats to his existence. His nighttime concerns have come to focus on his continuing sense of intactness as a social organism. Vigilance operations, accordingly, become more subtle, sophisticated, and social in nature. The content of the dream is defined by this fact. The intrusive events giving rise to the dream range from the trivial to the critical, but they all involve unexpectedness, unpreparedness, and a change in the status quo.

 

The initiating focus in a dream evolves from a recent event in our lives, having the qualities of being both intrusive and novel. The novelty either may be defined in terms of the qualities intrinsic to the external circumstance (as in the case of exposure to a totally unfamiliar life situation), or it may be defined by the existence of internal strategies of self-deception that limit our ability to cope with a situation that should ordinarily offer no difficulty. Since there tend to be many gaps and lacunae in our emotional development, the latter is the more frequent source of dream content. Our dreams then confront us with some of the unintended consequences of our defensive operations. Therein lie their therapeutic value.

 

One of the characteristics of dreaming is a backward scanning into remote memory stores in an effort to link the impact of a present situation to past ex­perience. The result of this information search is organized along lines of emo­tional contiguity rather than in temporal and spatial categories. The data pertain­ing to dream telepathy and precognitive dreaming suggest that this scanning process can, on occasion, bridge temporal and spatial gaps to provide information independently of any known communication channel (Ullman, 1972).

 

Dreaming and Survival Needs

 

REM sleep is regarded as the phylogenetically older phase of sleep (Snyder, 1966) and is found throughout the mammalian species. In the pre-REM era, Rivers (1923) suggested that the dream state in animals served to awaken the animal in the presence of danger, thus anticipating Snyder's sentinel thesis (1965, 1966).

 

The latter holds that repetitive bouts of physiological arousal provide the necessary critical reactivity enabling the organism to cope with threats on awakening. There can be little doubt that a sleep stage which enabled the animal to adapt to external danger while still asleep, would have great survival value.

 

Tolaas (1976, 1978) raised a number of objections to Snyder's thesis. It does not account for the high proportion of REM sleep in the neonatal mammalian organism. It does not account for the loss of muscle tonus characteristic of the REM state, a finding which seems to be incompatible with preparation for fight or flight. Finally, the presence of a warning system interspersed in sleep presupposes some kind of synchrony between external dangers and the REM periods but says nothing about the response to dangers appearing between REM periods. Emphasizing the need of the organism to heed potentially threatening environmental stimuli, the sentinel thesis does not address itself to why there is such a need during the REM periods; nor does it account for the paradoxical loss of tone in the anti-gravity muscles combined with high cortical arousal.

 

Addressing these questions, Tolaas (1978) has suggested that while dreaming, the organism remains selectively aware of meaningful or threatening environ­mental stimuli while at the same time fulfilling another aspect of vigilance by attending to the dream imagery that is being produced. The pattern is one of interaction between two orientations - toward environmental stimuli and toward the dream imagery. Motor activity is inhibited in connection with this inward orientation. Tolaas suggests that when dreaming occurs, it must be attended to, a fact which then exposes the dreaming organism to possible physical danger and involves a need for an alerting mechanism.

 

It is implicit in this view that REM sleep is associated with imagery in infra­human organisms as well as in man. Writing about dream imagery in very young children, Doob (1972) suggests that dream imagery may occur even before the dreams can be reported verbally and hence "images may be as primordial as any nonphysiological function that can he postulated" (p. 313). This thesis can be extended to include animals as well as humans. Doob's point is that images are ubiquitous and reflect a human ability that has survived from an earlier evolu­tionary stage. Is this image-forming an exclusively human phenomenon? Through imagery the organism can confront the environment on a symbolic level and be in contact with its own past.

 

Beritashvili (1969) concludes from animal studies that when higher vertebrates first perceive food in a given place, they form an image or concrete representation of the food and its environmental location. This image, which is improved with every new perception of the object, is not obliterated but is preserved and is re­producible whenever a given environment or some component of it is perceived. It has been pointed out that Beritashvili's concept of image behavior is highly reminiscent of Totman's concept of cognitive maps (Cole and Maltzman, 1969).

 

Further studies are beginning to shed light on the representational processes of animals (Mason, 1976). In anthropoids the evidence of image behavior in Beritashvili's sense is very strong. These animals have good memories and do seem to remember selectively. Evidence suggestive of visual imagery in other species may he subsumed in four categories:

 

1. There is suggestive anecdotal evidence. Anyone who has observed a pet during REM sleep will have noticed movements and twitches of the limbs, tail, ears, and facial muscles. The animal seems to be acting out an inner experience very suggestive of dreaming. Such observations are in keeping with a reasonable interpretation of the REM phase in cats reported by Jouvet (1961).

2. Studies by Evarts (1962), involving implanted microelectrodes in the visual pathways and the visual cortex in the unrestrained cat, have shown unusually high rates of unit discharge during REM sleep similar to those in the active waking state. Similar findings have been reported by Huttenlocher (1961) and by Arduini et al. (1963) in the pyramidal tract.

3. As in humans (Kety, 1965), REM steep in animals is associated with a marked increase in cortical blood flow comparable to the level of the active wak­ing state (Kanzow et al., 1962).

4. A finding by Vaughan (1966) is also suggestive of visual imagery in monkeys. He trained rhesus monkeys to press a bar whenever images were flashed on a screen, to avoid shock. During REM periods, but not during non-REM periods, these monkeys were observed to press the bar as if they were watching internal imagery.

 

Snyder (1966) suggests that animals dream about their instinctual repertoire. If this is so, it is hard to see what functional role it serves. If animals do have imagery during REM sleep, that imagery might serve a bidirectional, orienting purpose, as alluded to earlier. It might reflect significant stimuli reaching the organism through sensory or extrasensory means. The imagery would have to be on target and intense enough to arouse the organism to take action. This would represent the environmental direction of the dreaming process.

 

The other direction of the process is concerned with the intrinsic role of spon­taneously generated imagery. More and more dreaming appears to be linked with learning. The all-inclusiveness of this term tends to complicate any discussion of the relevant data. However, some workers (Greenberg and Pearlman, 1974; Pearlman and Becker, 1971) have adopted the distinction between prepared learning, or species-specific learning that occurs quickly and involves little adap­tive change, and unprepared learning, or species-specific learning taking longer and involving extensive adaptive change. It this distinction is applied to the truss of apparently conflicting data oil REM sleep and learning in humans and animals, a meaningful pattern appears. Learning of novel, unmastered tasks (i.e. unprepared learning) turns out to require posttrial REM sleep in animals and is fre­quently followed by an increase in REM sleep in humans (Tolaas, 1978). Learn­ing of habitual reactions (i.e., prepared learning), on the contrary, appears to be REM-independent. Thus REM sleep or dreaming sleep is associated with species-­specific events/tasks involving surprise and unpreparedness. In the dreaming state the main concern of the organism is exploration of problems and hitches bearing on its relatedness with its environment, and not on manipulation of the environ­ment through motor activity as in the waking state. This explains the lack of tonus associated with REM sleep. However, the adaptive function of the dream­ing process needs protection through enhanced sensitivity to threats (predators, fires, floods, and so on) and an increase in critical reactivity. Therefore, vigi­lance operations point in two directions, toward the dream drama (internal direction) and the outside world (external direction) in a pattern serving emo­tional adaptation.

 

At hardly any other time in life is emotional adaptation and unprepared learn­ing as important as in the early postnatal period, when most of the time is spent in sleep and a significant proportion of the total sleep time in REM sleep, both in humans and animals. The young, who must pay attention to the dream imagery, do indeed need an alerting mechanism (enhanced sensitivity to threats). How­ever, this mechanism would be of no use if it did not help them reach the signifi­cant adult. This would certainly be true of the "great dreamers," i.e., those species who spend more time in REM sleep than others. Interestingly, these are the species whose central nervous systems are immature at birth, e.g.., rats, cats, rabbits, and humans, and who are consequently helpless (Jouvet, 1969). The `'great dreamers," when young, are unable to cope with physical threats by them­selves. In the absence of protective adults, an approaching predator may mean death, particularly if the young are asleep and dreaming, as they often are. Tolaas (1978) suggests that circumstances such as these may be the source and origin of the telepathic bonding between mother and infant. Once the dreaming young locates the threat, incorporates it into dream imagery, and interprets it as threat­ening, it may wake up and call the significant adult. But when the mother/parents are away gathering food and out of hearing range, as they often must be, the young organism asleep and dreaming would be the easy prey of an approaching predator. Dream telepathy may serve the important function of bridging the gap between a vulnerable dreaming organism exposed to threats and a protective adult, in most cases the mother, as fathers tend to leave the mothers long before the birth.

 

Extrasensory communication is not limited to the REM periods, nor is it likely that it is involved only in major crises; but as REM sleep is phylogenetically and ontogenetically more primitive than slow-wave sleep (Jouvet, 1969), dream telepathy may be conceived of as the original means of maintaining communicative ties in the early symbiotic period in all mammalian species when "ordi­nary" sensory channels are unable to bridge the spatial and temporal gap to the mother/parents.

 

 

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[1] Psi is a generic term to designate parapsychological phenomena.