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Telepathy and Dreams


Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York, 11219

Experimental Medicine and Surgery: Drugs and Dreams - Transactions of the fourth symposium of The Carl Neuberg Society for International Scientific Relations, March 29 and 30, 1967. Vo1.27, 19-38, 1969,  No. 1-2. Brooklyn Medical Press Inc.  New York

It is of some interest to note that within the past year two psychiatric journals (1, 2) have devoted entire issues to the subject of ESP. The controversy over the integrity and relevance of parapsychology as a legitimate area of scientific concern has been with us ever since the early proponents of the field began organizing and presenting their data in the form of what they hoped would be proper credentials; namely, statistical reliability. What then accounts for the current resurgence of interest and for the sudden transformation of background noise generally regarded as interfering with the flow of scientific information into sharply focused, challenging and, on occasion, roughly debated issues?

There have been periodic onslaughts mounted for the purpose of wresting from the Scientific Establishment a degree of recognition, a sense of identity, and the collaborative efforts necessary to integrate the new findings into the scientific world view. In the 1880's, with the founding of the Society for Psychical Research in England, reliance was placed on the collection of an impressive number of carefully documented, well-attested-to accounts of spontaneously occurring telepathic and clairvoyant events. Despite the painstaking efforts at establishing evidentiality, this attempt failed, as anecdotal accounts proved to be too fragile a support for propositions as challenging as those under consideration.

A regrouping of forces took place under Rhine, based upon a laboratory approach and the application of statistical methods. Over the years other laboratories became involved, both in this country and abroad, and a considerable number of well-controlled experiments were reported, in some of which staggering odds against chance were found.

Two critical reviews (3,4) of the best data put forth by parapsychologists both prefer the hypotheses of fraud or self-deception rather than to credit the data with any innovating or even inexplicable implications. The fact that the possibility of fraud has emerged as the single most cogent reason for refusing scientific credibility is in itself an acknowledgment of the difficulty in refuting the data on their own terms. Criticism has centered upon the relevance of statistical techniques; the techniques themselves, particularly the criteria of randomness; the absence to data of a single absolutely fraud-proof experiment, and the failure to produce a replicable experiment. All of these arguments, with the possible exception of the replicable experiment, have been refuted by parapsychologists, to the extent that they are refutable. The hypothesis of fraud will have to be subject to a twofold refutation - the weight of even stronger evidence that parapsychologists will be called upon to produce and the plausibility of considering the existence of collusion, dishonesty and self-deceit on a scale of enormous proportions among men with proper scientific credentials by way of training and experience.

In the 1940's, a minor skirmish was fought on clinical grounds when psychiatric writers attempted to focus on the occurrence of telepathic elements in the dreams of patients undergoing therapy (5). At the time, this produced little more than a ripple of interest, subject as it was to many of the same limitations as the anecdotal data. These contributions did add, however, a unique dimension to our understanding - a point that will be later considered in greater detail.

What is the situation today? The critics, by virtue of number, power and the inherent and understandable conservatism of science, have been successful in denying scientific respectability to parapsychology. Those of us working in the field can take some solace in the fact that they are a bit more hard pressed. There are a number of reasons for this. More and more, current activity in parapsychology is taking place within academic settings and subject to academic standards. Secondly, the research is moving away from a reliance on demonstration by statistical methods alone and is moving toward the utilization of recognized physiological and psychological tools; i.e., the use of shielded cages by Russian investigators testing hypnotic effects at a distance (6), the noting of extrasensory correspondences through plethysmographic recordings (7), and the use of the electroencephalograph to monitor dreams in an ESP experiment (8). As a third point it may be noted that a number of distinguished men of science have declared themselves either in favor of accepting the evidence or at least of taking it seriously. Admittedly, the issue can not be decided on the basis of personal testimony, no matter how high the source. In this case, however, the important thing is not the testimony itself but the fact that these men have been able to offer, based on mastery of their own fields, seminal ideas concerning possible mechanisms and models. A few such allies, working from within the Scientific Establishment, may be mentioned. Perhaps the most insistent and dedicated spokesman for humility and openness in grappling with parapsychological data is Gardner Murphy. In his own view, "The systems of relationships known as science are far from complete, and . . . there are many things which are patently 'impossible' from existing standpoints, which become reconceptualized and assimilated into science as time goes on" (9). Murphy himself has been instrumental in teasing out of the cumulative data ways. in which they do correspond with certain existing psychological laws and principles; e.g., the law of positive motivation, the law of perceptual structure (referring here to such findings as salience and decline effects) and the principle of dissociation.

Speaking from the vantage point of modern physics, Pascual Jordan (10) draws an analogy between the physical concept of complementarity and the psychological concept of repression. In both instances, one aspect of an event comes to the fore at the expense of another. Jordan believes this to be of importance because of the way in which the empirical facts of parapsychology are linked with those of the psychology of the unconscious. He also feels that any attempt at explanation within a three-dimensional framework of reality is doomed to fail and that more complex conceptual models will have to evolve.

In an essay dealing with mind as physical reality the biologist, J. B. S. Haldane (11), suggests the possibility that phenomena such as telepathy may have a factual basis in quantal events that are shared by several brains.

The neurophysiological model of mind and brain developed by Sir John Eccles can, in his opinion, assimilate the data of parapsychological research (12). He considers that if psi[1] capacities exist they provide evidence of slight and irregular effects capable of influencing unstable neuronal states in a way that would be analogous to the operation of will or other psychic states upon the nervous system.

Going back a bit farther, to 19-10, it is of historical interest to note that Dr. Hans Berger, who first succeeded in recording the electrical activity of the brain, reported on successful experiments in telepathic transmission which he conducted (13). He drew an analogy to radio telephony and thought that transmission could occur when two brains were suitably attuned.

The dean of American neurologists, C. Judson Herrick, likewise identified the unknowns involved in psi phenomena as no different in principle "from those presented by every mental and intentionally controlled act of whatever sort . . . The way to learn the true facts about psi phenomena is to explore them by carefully controlled observation and experiment, with every safeguard against error, delusion, and fraud that ingenuity can devise and with a mind receptive to the possibility that the explanations sought may be found only after revision of current physicalistic theory of space, time, and causality" (14).

Freud, while never explicitly committing himself to a belief in the reality of telepathy, did on a number of occasions (15) seriously consider the telepathy hypothesis as an explanation for certain dynamic correspondences observed by him and called to his attention. He further implicated the role of unconscious factors and distortion as these might influence a telepathic exchange. Freud's attitude is a consummate example of openness, courage and caution in charting a course for himself between the hostile skepticism of his colleagues and his refusal to disavow the reality of his own observations and experiences. It is of interest to compare his attitude toward matters of this kind with that of the two other founding fathers of the psychoanalytic movement. Jung displayed an uncritical acceptance as part of his general immersion in mystical speculations (16). Adler (17) eschewed everything connected with it as either quackery or self-delusion.

It might be well to conclude this sample array of distinguished protagonists with the words of a philosopher of science addressing an audience of parapsychologists:

"Tolerate the strident critical voices of hard-boiled, pragmatic and satisfied scientists without too much concern, and continue your own painstaking search for an understanding of new kinds of experiences, possible in terms of concepts which now appear strange (18)."

The strident voices of the critics have identified problematic areas that are of equal concern to parapsychologists themselves. These are essentially four:

1.    Although not all parapsychologists agree on the issue of replicability, the fact is that were a replicable experiment to appear, capable of being carried out by a variety of investigators, the major obstacle in the path of acceptance would have been cleared away;

2.    Perhaps as a corollary to the replicability problem there is considerable difficulty in identifying and thereby controlling the many variables influencing success or failure;

3.    Psi events appear to be so elusive, so unpredictable in their appearance, so essentially capricious, that alternate hypotheses will always appear more reasonable; and,

4.    The absence of models and theories of any heuristic significance or of any conceptual value in bridging the discontinuity between psi phenomena and the ordinary subject matter of science.

It is with these problem areas in mind, particularly the first three, that the experiments to be described were undertaken. Our immediate concern was the dreaming state as a possible conveyor of telepathic events. One of the earliest investigators to call attention to the facilitary influence of altered states of consciousness was F. W. H. Myers (19), whose work remains a classic in the field. He spoke of sensory and motor automatisms by which he meant events emerging from a subliminal level of awareness and intruding into ordinary life, assuming either a sensory form such as an inner vision or inner audition, or a motor form. Myers gives many examples of what he termed veridical hallucinations and includes elaborate documentation of the facts presented. It was Freud who embellished this simple model with speculations concerning the dynamic import of telepathic communications, their relevance to current conflicts, and the way- in which unconscious processing left its imprint on the manifest character of the telepathic message. Surprisingly enough, or perhaps not, these early speculations of Freud were picked up by only a few of his followers until the 1940's when a host of psychiatric contributions appeared. These spelled out, as well as it was possible to do within the limitations of the clinical situation, the internal and external psychological factors conducive to the occurrence of psi effects. Most of the effects noted came through in the dreams of patients and did so under conditions which highlighted immediate problematic aspects of the patient-doctor relationship. Certain criteria emerged which proved useful in identifying a dream as presumptively telepathic. These may be outlined as follows:

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 rather because 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 in the patient's dream should occur in close temporal relationship. This generally refers to a period within 24 hours although occasionally striking correspondences may be noted at longer intervals.

3.    The criterion of psychological meaning. Can the correspondences be understood as a unique strategy of defense employed by patients under conditions where the knowledge gained in this way is utilized in the service of both establishing and defending against contact with the therapist?

The circumstances under which telepathic events appear in dreams have been variously described. Almost all writers emphasize the role of transferential and counter-transferential factors. As a result of either irrational needs on the part of the patients or the sensing of some negative quality in the therapist, the patient may succeed through the telepathic maneuver in exposing and needling a particularly vulnerable area in the therapist. Servadio (20) has emphasized the feeling in the patient of frustration and blockage of communication. He sees sleep as favoring telepathic transmission by virtue of its regressive release of archaic bridging mechanisms. Eisenbud (21) was among the first to demonstrate the therapeutic usefulness of actively working with the telepathy hypothesis. Ehrenwald (22, 23) wrote extensively both on the criteria as well as on the possible role of paranormal factors in the major psychoses. Ullman (24) noted some of the characterologic and communication difficulties of the consistent telepathic dreamers.

Telepathic rapport seems to occur in the clinical setting under conditions in which there is a temporary loss of effective symbolic contact between therapist and patient at times when the patient considers such contact to be vital. Anxiety or other deflecting negative emotions in the therapist act as predisposing influences. By means of the telepathic maneuver the patient does succeed in exposing the counter-transferential block and releases a contradictory message to the therapist. He makes his own awareness of the therapist's secret known to the therapist and at the same time remains in a position to disclaim any responsibility for so doing. The inhibited, obsessively-organized individual who tends to use language in the service of distance mechanisms rather than to facilitate contact is most likely to fall back on this maneuver. Telepathic contact appears as one way of establishing contact at critical points in the management of the contradictory needs for distance and inviolability and, on the other hand, the inextinguishable needs for closeness and contact.

With this background we can now be more explicit concerning the choice of the dreaming state for the design of an ESP experiment. As might be surmised, this in part derives from the apparent frequency and importance of dreaming and other altered states of consciousness in the anecdotal and case history literature. The clinical setting implicates the dream as the state most frequently associated with the telepathic message. 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. 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, oriented (in the human at any rate) more to the detection of threats to the symbolic system linking the individual to his social milieu rather than of threats involving his state of bodily intactness. We have, in the dreaming state, the possible advantages of an altered state of consciousness combined with a state of high arousal and one in which basic motivational systems are activated.

There are additional reasons for choosing the dreaming state. Were a psi effect to be detectable under these circumstances the problem of replicability should be relatively easy, dreaming being an universal phenomenon. With the advent of current physiological techniques for the monitoring of dreaming it became possible to design a laboratory approach to the study of possible extra-sensory effects occurring in dreams. No longer dependent upon spontaneous recall occurring in the morning, we could now work with a near total yield of dream recall and compare the account so obtained with whatever had been selected as the telepathic stimulus or target. The essential feature of the design was. of course, the steps taken to insure that no knowledge of the target could reach the subject by any ordinary channels of communication. A Dream Laboratory was established at Maimonides Medical Center early in 1963 and a series of systematic studies were undertaken to test the hypothesis that telepathic transfer of information from agent to subject could be experimentally demonstrated in the dreaming state. Four studies have been completed and will be briefly summarized.

Experimental Study 1

The method and procedure used in the first two studies have been reported elsewhere in detail (25, 26, 27). The specific hypothesis under consideration stated that a subject's (S'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" by 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 sleep and REM pattern was monitored by an 8-channel Medcraft Model D EEG in the adjacent control room. All verbal communication between the S and the experimenter (E) 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 subjects 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 Scheffé method. The rankings made by the S's were handled similarly. The rankings were also evaluated by binomial expansion. with hits including ranks of #11 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. Neither the ranks nor the ratings of the judges were statistically significant; however, on six of the nights where subjects worked with the male agent their ranks received significantly higher ratings than those of subjects working with the female agent (F=6.47 ; P > 0.05).

Example 1

The randomly selected target. Animals, by Tamayo is shown in Fig. 1. 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 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 1 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, 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 that."

Excerpts from S's 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 . . ."

Experimental Study II

The best of the twelve subjects in Study #1 and the better of the two agents were paired in a seven night study similar in design to the first one. A total of twelve nights had been planned but the subject became ill on the eighth night and had to discontinue. The subject's ranks for dreams and associations were significant at the 0.05 level (F = 4.41) and his ratings were significant at the 0.01 level (F = 8.19). Three judges ranked transcripts of each night's dreams and associative material against all seven potential targets. The ranks were significant at the 0.001 level (F = 18.14) and the confidence ratings given to these ranks were significant at the 0.01 level (F = 10.86). The ranking and rating were also significant based on the dream material alone (F = 8.30; P < 0.01; F = 5.50; P < 0.05, respectively).

Example 2.

The randomly selected target The Sacrament of the Last Supper by Dali is shown in Fig. 2. It portrays Christ at the center of a table surrounded by his twelve disciples. A glass of wine and a loaf of bread are on the table while a body of water and a fishing boat can be seen in the distance.


Excerpts from S's first dream report: "There was one scene of an ocean . . . It had a strange beauty about it and a strange formation."

Excerpts from S's second dream report: "I haven't any reason to say this but somehow boats come to mind. Fishing boats. Small size fishing boats . . . There was a picture in the Sea Fare Restaurant that came to mind as I was describing it. It's a very large painting. Enormous. It shows, oh, I'd say about a dozen or so men pulling a fishing boat ashore right after having returned from a catch."

Excerpts from S's third dream report: "I was looking at a catalog . . . it was a Christmas catalog. Christmas season."

Excerpts from S's fourth dream report: "I had some sort of a brief dream about an M.D. . . . I was talking to someone and . . . the discussion had to do with why . . . a doctor becomes a doctor because he's supposed to be an M.D., or something of that nature."

Excerpts from S's fifth dream report: It had to do with doctors again . . . The picture . . . that I'm thinking of now is the doctor sitting beside a child that is ill . . . It's one of those classical ones . . . It's called "The Physician."

Excerpts from S's sixth dream report: "I was in this office - a doctor's office again . . . We were talking about Preston . . . He's a psychiatrist. A supervisor I had. Before he became a psychiatrist he was a pathologist."

Excerpts from S's seventh dream report: "The only part that comes to mind is the part where I'm in a kitchen and there is a restaurant that I was planning to go to."

Excerpts from S's eighth dream report: "I was sampling these different articles that looked like spices. Herbs. Grocery store. Place to eat. Food of different types."

Excerpts from S's associations: "... The fisherman dream makes me think of the Mediterranean area, perhaps even some sort of Biblical time. Right now my associations are of the fish and the loaf, or even of feeding of the multitudes . . . Once again I think of Christmas . . . Having to do with the ocean - water, fishermen, something in this area . . ."

Experimental Studies III and IV

The two studies have been recently completed but not yet published. The third study was another screening device involving twelve subjects and two agents. Certain improvements were made in the design of the experiment and in the new Dream Laboratory (Fig. 3) where this and the subsequent study were carried out. 

The room in which the agent remained was located at a distance of 96 feet from the sleep room. The target selection was made by someone not involved in the experiment so that the experimenter had no knowledge of the range of targets from which the target for the night would be chosen. The experimenter would not know what target would be used on a given night.

In the fourth study, the best of the twelve subjects and the agent who worked with her in the screening study were paired in an eight-night series. Neither the third nor the fourth study produced statistically significant results. There were, however, a number of interesting correspondences evident upon inspection of dream protocols and targets selected on a given night. Two examples are given, one from each study.

Example 3.

The target selected and shown in Fig. 4 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.


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

Example 4.

The target selected (Fig. 5) was The Drinkers by Chagall. This painting portrays a decapitated man with a white face, black-outlined eyes and black lips. He is drinking from a bottle. His body (minus his head and neck) is clothed by a black suit; he is holding a knife. On the table, a golden plate can be seen.

S's first dream report: No apparent correspondence.

S's second dream report: "I don't know whether it's related to the dream that I had about a beer. About Ballantine beer. The words are 'Why is Ballantine beer like an opening night, a race that finishes neck and neck, or a ride on the toboggan slide?' The commercial is running through my mind, and this song . . . There's this big dinner party . . . A young woman had apparently come to the city with somebody else who had come to this dinner . . . and she was wearing what was supposed to be a cocktail dress, and it was black, and the shape of it was mostly nondescript, but it was studded with rhinestones . . . That table was really empty all the time. All it had on it was plates, empty white plates . . ."

S's third dream report: ". . . I had been in a restaurant next door, eating . . . and in this restaurant there was a separate section that was a bar, and in the dream I was at this place a number of different nights. The dream seemed to have some sort of time dimension because there was a bartender, a short fellow. There was another guy there, and the first night they sent over a drink for me . . . This girl wanted them to go or something . . . She had loads of makeup on, and lots of black eye shadow and black eye pencil lining her eyes, and black eyebrows and her lips were black too . . . And she wanted to know what I had done with my hair because I had my hair in a pony tail and it was very short in front, and she thought I'd cut it . . . That whole bar business and the restaurant and the booth are like a place I was at in Massachusetts . . . The most strange thing about the whole dream and all of its complications is the transformation of Carol . . . to this garish, very pasty, very thick makeup base, and this black lipstick and black eye business and black eyebrow stuff. I associate that immediately to the black dress with too many rhinestones on it in the other dream . . . The black business seems to leave the realm of something that I can say is a personal association . . ."

Post-sleep interview with S: "Before I was falling asleep, there was something about double-faced tape. In thinking about it, what I think of is not only the type of tape you use to mount things, you know, the kind that's sticky on both sides, but also what occurred to me is recording tape which is really double-faced also . . . Then I remembered as I tried to go back to sleep that Ballantine commercial song, and the whole commercial that I'd seen on TV came to mind. I remember . . . particularly about the black and white, the Negro and white, being integrated in the commercial ... I had left out one part of it which now seems to me very important in view of the night's dreaming. The end of the song is that 'There's more spirit to it' . . . that's why the beer is supposed to be so great. And ... I remembered thinking about a movie I had seen . . . a week and a half ago, 'Juliet of the Spirits' . . . One of the characters who comes to mind is . . . very kooky . . . she wears this wild black outfit that's really very outlandish and heavy makeup . . . Then the next dream was a very long and involved thing . .. And the most striking thing about that was when Carol's makeup sort of changed . . . All of a sudden she had this very pale, pasty, thick makeup on, and heavy black eyebrow pencil and shadow and liner on her eyes in black, and even her lipstick was black ... Color was in every dream. The most striking business, of course, strangely enough, was black . . . And then the only other color that sticks in my mind is . . . a kind of orangey-gold color . . ."


The efforts to transpose an in vivo type of experience into an in vitro experiment has posed a number of problems and has thus far met with only limited success. The statistically significant way in which targets and dream protocols were matched in the early studies, particularly the second one, was not found in the last two studies. Although the conditions and the design were in general "tighter" and the current laboratory more suitable for the purposes of control, it was not felt by those of us carrying out the research that these factors were the important ones accounting for the difference. A study utilizing the same subject and agent team as in Study II is now under way in the hope that the earlier results can be replicated. The reasons for the differences in results are to be sought in the many variables that are involved in this experiment. Some of these may now be briefly considered.

Limitations of the In Vitro Experiment:

Under spontaneous circumstances telepathic effects appear to occur when the emotional weight of a crisis situation overcomes whatever barriers or difficulties there may be blocking this form of information transfer. These are generally unique and solitary events in the life of the individual. By way of contrast, there apparently are individuals who profess to having more frequent experiences of this kind. There are some among the latter group, known as sensitives, who claim success in initiating experiences of this kind.

Neither the crisis situation nor the gifted sensitive are easily brought into the purview of the laboratory. The challenge of the experiment, the unique experience of spending a night in the laboratory, were as close to establishing a crisis effect as was apt to occur spontaneously. One of the purposes of the initial twelve-subject study was screening in the hope of finding a gifted subject. The subject selected from the first group of twelve did well; the one from the second group of twelve did not. Neither reported any prior ESP experiences in their lives. Aside from the fact that we were tapping superficial motivational systems and utilizing artificially generated targets, certain features of the spontaneous occurrence were captured in the design. These included the effort to embed the telepathic exchange in an altered state of consciousness and to link it to dreaming in the hope that any telepathic effects getting through might be magnified in the process through a tie-in with the motivational currents exposed during these recurrent states of internal scanning.

In the interest of establishing a simple and workable design, the subject-agent relationship (which one might suspect to be rather crucial) was, in the twelve-subject studies, structured along expediential rather than selective lines, with a male and female agent assigned to each six subjects. Some selectivity entered into the single subject studies. It is obvious, however, that there remains much to be explored by varying the relationship between subject and agent along lines of genetic closeness; intimacy, etc. We are at the same time seeking ways of involving the agent in more effective and more authentic responses to the target.

Limitations of the Judging Process:

In seeking to establish the independent assessment of correspondences through the use of outside judges certain intangibles enter into the picture. Although they are difficult to assess. they probably do not favor the results. The task of matching seven to twelve target, pictures against a dream protocol and repeating this seven to twelve times, is a tedious and oftentimes boring task. There are also differences is psychological sophistication among the judges. Inasmuch as correspondences were at times more symbolic than manifest and that some judges were more attuned to this than others, less than optimal results might stem from this source. Other difficulties were incidental to the fact that, despite certain precautions. some elements in the protocols were shared by more than one picture, leading to a wrong choice which might otherwise have been avoided. When there are many dreams in a night and when the protocols are very lengthy, good correspondences appearing in one or two dreams may be overshadowed by the sheer quantity of material to which the judge has to address himself. Slight or suggestive correspondences appearing in several dreams may assume salience by weight of number and amount over a more relevant and pointed correspondence appearing only once.


The anecdotal and clinical background attesting to the relationship between telepathy and dreaming initiated a series of systematic experiments based on the techniques now available to monitor dreams. The studies reviewed briefly represent one such attempt and, while the overall results are lacking in the kind of "coercive factuality" (28) needed to offset doubt based on the feeling of antecedent improbability that most men of science have concerning data of this kind, they nevertheless are not without interest and certainly warrant further investigation. It is in the nature of dreaming to combine states of high activation and dissociation and it is precisely this combination which empirically seems to facilitate telepathic transfer. That this is the case was apparently borne out by one of the studies. That the dreaming state alone is not sufficient is also obvious. Further studies will be directed at defining the way in which the structure and character of the subject-agent interaction and other variables influence the result.


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[1] Psi - a letter of the Greek alphabet used in a generic way to refer to parapsychological processes.