How Dreams Work

By: Lee Ann Obringer & Yves Jeffcoat  | 

Premonitions in Dreams

The science of dreams is obviously not a clear-cut one. While many believe our dreams mean something, there are also many who don't. But what about dreams that have foretold future events? Has this simply been coincidence? Below are some examples of dreams that have reportedly done just that.

  • In "Lucid Dreaming," Stephen LaBerge reports that a man took his small son camping near a lake in a small valley near their home. He took the son to the water's edge to take a bath but realized he had forgotten the soap. He left the boy standing by the edge of the water and saw him picking up pebbles and throwing them into the water. When he returned with the soap, his son was lying face down in the water, dead. The man awoke and immediately realized this was only a dream. A while after that, some friends invited him and his son to go camping. Although it didn't occur to him immediately, the setting was similar to the setting he had seen in his dream. At one point during the camping trip, he took his son to the lake to take a bath but realized he had forgotten the soap. He sat the boy down and was leaving to get the soap when he saw the boy reach down and pick up pebbles to throw into the water. His dream immediately jumped into his head, and he snatched the boy up and took him with him.
  • There is an investment group made up of people who have precognitive dreams about stocks. Phenomena Magazine: Precognitive Stock Market Dreamers (November 1, 2004) reports that Dr. Arthur Bernard, a psychologist who teaches dreamwork and a member of the group, had a very successful experience. He had a recurring dream about an obscure biotech stock called ICOS. In the dream, he saw the stock suddenly explode in value. Because of the intensity of the dream, he felt sure that this dream was precognitive. He bought about 40,000 shares of ICOS at $4 per share. He sold his shares in 1998 at $28 each, amounting to an approximate $1.6 million profit.
  • Science Frontiers Online: Precognitive Dreams (Nov-Dec 1998) reports that M.S. Stowell, in her doctoral dissertation, interviewed several people who claimed to have precognitive dreams. Of 51 presumed precognitive dreams, Stowell was able to prove that 37 had indeed come true. One report from a woman named Elizabeth told of a dream about a plane crashing on a highway near an overpass. Elizabeth was driving her car on that highway at the time and could see that the plane was going to crash there as she drove under the overpass. In her dream, she just escaped the plane. Within a few weeks, a plane crashed on the highway she had dreamt about.

Ongoing Dream Research and Therapy

Research in various areas of dreaming is ongoing, particularly in the areas of REM sleep and lucidity. One study in lucid dreaming involves trying to get the dreamer to communicate with observers while he or she is dreaming. Stephen LaBerge, who is at the forefront of lucid dreaming research, has successfully achieved communication through eye movements, but of course this type of communication is very limited. His ongoing work involves dreamers wearing a glove that incorporates movement sensors to record hand movements during sleep. By using sign language, they hope be able to get reports of dreams as they are occurring.


One day, perhaps we'll all be able to control our dreams or even share our dreams with others while we sleep.

For more information on dreams and related topics, check out the links below.


Originally Published: Jan 27, 2005

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