This article was originally published in the June 2021 edition of The Echo World
Have you ever had a shared dream with another person? Dreams that had so many matching details that you could not find any ‘rational’ explanation for them? If so, you are not alone! History is replete with examples of shared dreams as well as many research papers that delve into their potential existence. Yet are shared dreams just wishful thinking and coincidence or are they a real phenomenon?
One of the most notable shared dreams from history was between Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II and Daniel, outlined in the Bible’s Book of Daniel. Upon hearing that the king had forgotten an important dream, Daniel asked God to show him it in his sleep. When Daniel received the dream, he brought news to Nebuchadnezzar that was interpreted to mean that the Babylonian empire would fall, and three other kingdoms would rise afterwards. Much to Daniel’s relief, the dream matched the king’s – the price of getting it wrong was certain death. Another lesser-known instance of a shared collective dream stems from the work of 19th Century Russian doctor and neuroscientist, Marie de Manaceine. She recalled how a group of a few hundred soldiers had slept in an abbey and experienced frightening shared dreams about a long-haired black dog. The dreams were so terrifying that many of the men left the abbey screaming and subsequently refused to sleep there again.
Even serious-minded analysts like Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud discussed so-called telepathic dreams. In a 1922 paper entitled Dreams and Telepathy Freud noted: ‘…I have never had a telepathic dream,’ but if they did exist, they ‘…would not necessarily alter our conception of dreams.’ Jung of course believed in the existence of telepathic dreams and his ideas of archetypes, and the collective unconscious, have been used to explain why these shared dreams occur. Others have tentatively linked such dreams to recent breakthroughs in quantum physics such as quantum entanglement or what Einstein called: ‘Spooky action at a distance.’
In the Ullman-Dale experiments, psychoanalyst Dr Montague Ullman and prominent member of the American Society for Psychical Research, Laura Dale, wrote down their dreams and logged their daily experiences to evidence telepathic dreaming. It was found that some of their dreams matched one another and were even prophetic. For example, in 1955 within a month of one another, they had both dreamt of a meeting in Atlantic City, in a hotel, whilst one mentioned a boarding house, and the other saw a boardwalk in these dreams. Spurred on by such successes, Montague Ullman and Stanley Krippner claimed further evidence for telepathic dreaming after they conducted experiments to psychically communicate a series of pictures to the minds of dreamers who then attempted to draw them upon waking. The results seemed encouraging and suggested that telepathic dreaming existed, but such data has since been difficult to replicate.
There are many less fantastical explanations for apparent ‘shared’ dreams. With a global population of 7.67 billion dreaming 3-5 dreams on average per night, it might not be a huge feat for some of the dreams to match up by chance alone. According to some studies, dreams may also have similar contents because dreamers want to feel more emotionally connected to someone they know, so they may fill in or ignore gaps in information from dreams. Similar dreams are additionally inspired by the same shared waking life experiences. Since dreams have been shown in some scientific experiments to contain information from our everyday waking lives, this may sometimes be the most rational explanation for the occurrences. In one such experiment, dreamers were asked to wear rose-coloured glasses throughout the day, which subsequently affected the colours that appeared in their dreams so that more red-orange objects were seen.
Nonetheless, occasionally we may have dreams whose shared details cannot be so easily explained. Take the case of my brother Sam and our own shared dream experience. Unlike dreams where geographical location can seemingly be a factor in shared dreams, we were in separate cities. I had told my Mum over the telephone about a dream where I was in a park that I used to play in as a child. On a wooden post in this park was written: ‘Dad loves Dan and Sam.’ At this time, I had been estranged from my Father and neither myself nor my brother had spoken to him for a good number of years. I had told my Mum about the dream because the day after my dream my Father had liked a ‘post’ on my Facebook page and it represented the first communication between us in many years. After telling my Mum, she went quiet for a moment and then explained that my brother had also had a dream about Dad contacting us that same night. He had mentioned it to her over the phone.
When thinking of this dream, several questions arise: how did my dreams know the future? Where did the dreams come from? How is it that both myself and my brother received the same dream at the same time? And how is it that we both decided to tell our Mum about the dream? Was the dream guided by some intelligent force and what is the nature of this power?
When we talk about dreams with people more regularly, we may start to find that the occurrence of shared dreams is much more common than we think and find our own ways of answering the questions above. Perhaps it is a shame that we may be missing out on such profound experiences because we simply do not talk about our ‘trivial’ dreams. So, don’t just take my word for it – start writing down your dreams on your phone or in a dream journal or notepad by your bed, and then start sharing!
By Daniel J Taylor
In my waking life I studied international journalism and international relations in Liverpool. I attended The Arthur Findlay College in London where I studied mediumship. My most important education however occurred whilst sleeping! You can contact me at email@example.com and follow me on Instagram @Dream_Prophecies. God(s) Bless.
Copyright © 2021 Daniel J Taylor