Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

The Maimonides ESP-Dream Studies

Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

The Maimonides ESP-Dream Studies

Article excerpt

I remember September 25, 1967, as if it were yesterday. Charles Honorton telephoned me from Durham, North Carolina, telling me that he had decided to accept Montague Ullman's offer of a research position at our Dream Laboratory at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. I had joined Ullman in 1964, and several of our articles on ESP and dreams had been published (e.g., Ullman, Krippner, & Feldstein, 1966). Honorton had already gained a solid reputation in parapsychology with his studies involving the hypnotic preparation of percipients for psi tasks (e.g., Honorton, 1965) and psi and creativity test scores (e.g., Honorton, 1967).

After several years of pilot studies in the area of telepathy and dreams, Ullman had launched the Maimonides Dream Laboratory in 1962 where the monitoring of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep could be incorporated into a psi-task design. These studies paired a volunteer subject with a "telepathic transmitter"; the pair interacted briefly, then separated and spent the night in distant rooms. An experimenter randomly selected an art print (from a collection or "pool") and gave the print to the transmitter in an apaque sealed envelope, to be opened only when the transmitter was in the distant room. The experimenter awakened the subject near the end of each REM period and requested a dream report. These reports were transcribed and sent to outside judges who, working independently, matched them against the pool of potential art prints from which the actual print had been randomly selected. Statistical evaluation was based on the average of these matchings, as well as by self-judgings of the percipients at the conclusion of the experiment. Precautions were taken to prevent sensory cues or fraudulent subject/transmitter collaboration from influencing the dream reports or the statistical results.

One example of a finding in an experiment that obtained statistically significant results occurred on a night when the randomly selected art print was "School of the Dance" by Degas, depicting a dance class of several young women. The subject was William Erwin, a psyhoanalysts; his dream reports included such phrases as "I was in a class made up of maybe half a dozen people; it felt like a school." "There was one little girl that was trying to dance with me." An examination of the dream reports and the matched art prints indicates a similarity in this process to the way day residue, psychodynamic processes, and subliminally perceived stimuli find their way into dream content. Sometimes the material corresponding to the art prints was intrusive (for example, "There was one little girl that was trying to dance with me"), and sometimes it blended easily with the narrative (for example, "It felt like a school"). At times it was direct, at other times symbolic (Ullman & Krippner, 1970, p. 78).

Honorton joined us as we were concluding a study with a prominent psychologist and parapsychologist, Robert L. Van de Castle (1977), whose eight-night ESP dream study was accompanied by psychodynamically oriented, in-depth interviews with Ullman each morning (Krippner & Ullman, 1970). Not only did Van de Castle obtain the most robust statistical results of any of the percipients, but the interviews provided another dimension to the experience. For example, on one night the target was Rousseau's "Repast of the Lion," which depicts a lion feeding on its kill of a smaller animal. After a night filled with dreams about an attempted strangulation, karate chops, a suicide, and fighting dogs, Van de Castle surmised that the target would contain aggression, "but the aggression would have to be in some kind of disguise" (Ullman & Krippner, with Vaughan, 1989, p. 112). The psychoanalytic interview probed, not only the way aggression came into the dreams, but also why Van de Castle postulated "some kind of disguise."

Honorton (1972b) set to work completing a clairvoyance study with hypnotically induced imagery or "hypnotic dreams. …

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