‘‘Telepathy’’ is a word used to describe purported information obtained by one individual from another, supposedly through ‘‘mind-to-mind’’ contact. It is one manifestation of the events that parapsychologists refer to as potential ‘‘psi phenomena,’’ that is, anomalous (or unexplained) interchanges of information or influence that appear to exist apart from currently identified physical mechanisms. Other manifestations of ‘‘psi’’ include clairvoyance (reported anomalous perception of information), precognition (reported anomalous perception of future events), and psychokinesis (reported anomalous influence on objects or organisms). Considerable overlap exists, especially between telepathy and clairvoyance. For example, Carlos claimed to dream of a gift that Maria, who lived overseas, had decided to buy him for his birthday. Was this a possible instance of telepathy? Or could Carlos have had clairvoyant knowledge of Maria’s thought processes? Or was it merely a coincidence?
Anecdotal reports of telepathy in dreams are unreliable because one cannot guard against coincidence, dishonesty, self-delusion, or logical or sensory clues of which the dreamer was unaware. The Parapsychological Association, an international group of professionals in the field, insists that the term ‘‘psi phenomenon’’ be used only to describe events obtained under conditions in which all known sensorimotor channels for anomalous interactions have been eliminated.
A wealth of anecdotal and clinical material exists to support the possibility of telepathic effects occurring in dreams (Krippner 1974). However, an experimental approach to the topic did not become possible until psychophysiological laboratory technology became available. It was discovered that sleeping research participants, awakened from periods of rapid eye move-