Dreams which seem to foretell the occurrence of future events have been reported throughout the course of human history, with some reports reaching as far back as the ancient Greek and Roman eras.  Case surveys seem to indicate that these and other kinds of precognitive experiences are most often about emotionally traumatic events such as death, illness, and crisis situations (as seen in our previous blog post on premonitions relating to the Pearl Harbor attack). But a small proportion of experiences (around 30%) have been found to be about positive events, as well (Table 1). Sometimes these are tender ones which can be about that special someone in our lives.
Table 1. Event Themes in Precognitive Experiences (% Cases)
One example of such an experience comes from a personal account recently sent to the Psychical Research Foundation by a man named Bruce, describing a dream that he'd once had:
There was this little Indian girl that I was totally infatuated with back when I was in college in 1982. I used to go out of my way just to try and bump into her between classes or during breaks, but it was very hard since she was a nursing student and I was in engineering. But I did manage to have a few light “Hellos” with her from time-to-time.
One night I had this wonderful dream about her. I dreamt that I was in the library with my friend Paul and I went outside to get a drink of water from the fountain. As I was bending down for a drink, I noticed coming up the adjacent hall was the Indian girl. She walked right up to the fountain where I was standing and took a drink. I said, “Hello, how are you?” She replied and said “Hi.” I asked her how her day was going and she said, “Oh, terrible! I just got out of a big exam and I have a terrible headache!” I asked her if she wanted a Tylenol, as I always carry a few with me. Her eyes lit up and she said, “Wow, yes! Please!” So I gave her one and she took it with another sip of water. Then she asked me if I was going back to the main building – which I really wasn’t, but I said, “Yes, I am.” And then she asked if I wanted to walk with her to the building. So we walked together to the main building. We didn’t take the normal route, but instead we took the long way there from outside, and we tromped through the snow to the next building...and then the next. I walked her upstairs to class and said good-bye. And then I woke up. I was in a good mood that morning, since the dream had been a nice one.
Later through the day, with my many classes and labs, I forgot all about that dream. Around 4:00 I was in the library studying with my friend Paul. I was thirsty, and since we weren’t allowed to have coffee in the library, I told my friend I was going out to the water fountain. Well, as I was sipping the water I noticed down the adjacent hall that Indian girl walking up. She saw me and came to the fountain and took a sip. I said hello and she replied. I said, “How’s your day going?” and she said, “Oh, terrible! I just got out of a big exam and I have a horrible headache!” Then chills ran up my spine as the dream came back to me. I then asked her if she wanted a Tylenol, and she said the exact words back to me as in my dream. She also asked me (as in my dream) if I was going to the main building and if I’d walk her there.
I couldn’t believe it! Word for word, and each expression on her face was an exact replica of the dream, like I was living it over again. And as we walked, I let her choose the way, wondering if we would take the easy route or go outside. Sure enough, we went outside and tromped through the snow. This dream freaked me out for years; it was the most real of all my dreams and to every detail.
The realistic nature of Bruce's dream is consistent with a survey finding obtained by Louisa Rhine in the 1950s , which indicated that 60% of dreams relating to future events tend to reflect a realistic scenario. As time went on, Bruce continued to occasionally have vivid dreams about other people in his life, including a previous girlfriend of his, whom he hadn't seen in 25 years. The morning after he dreamed about her, he'd received a text message from her on his phone, stating that she'd also had a dream about him that same night!
Many young girls fantasize about "the man of their dreams" - the guy they hope to meet and eventually marry someday. Is it possible in some instances that they really can (and do) dream about the future man in their lives? This seemed to be the case for a woman in Indiana, and her personal account appears in the pages of Louisa Rhine's classic book ESP in Life and Lab: Tracing Hidden Channels [8, p. 115]:
When I was nineteen, I had a dream that was so real I related it to my Mother the next morning. In my dream I saw a young man, tall, fair, blue-eyed, and with curly black hair. I told Mother he was the man I would marry, although I didn't know who or where he was.
About six months later, while at my work at the cabinet factory, I had an experience I shall never forget. The table I worked at was against a wall with a doorway into another room at my left, so there was much traffic past my table and I very seldom paid any attention to who passed through the doorway. As I worked I always faced the wall so that I never saw who was coming down the hall in back of me. That morning was the same as any other until I had the strangest feeling of a force drawing me to something. I didn't know what. Then two men came past me through the doorway and I looked up just in time to see their backs vanishing into the other room. One back was my boss's, but I didn't know the other one.
That evening while setting the table for supper, I said, "Mom, I saw my man today." Then she asked if he had blue eyes and curly black hair. I told her I didn't know as I only saw his back and he was tall and wearing overalls and a cap. But a few days later I saw his face. He looked just like the young man in my dream, except he had his cap on and I couldn't see his hair until later, and it was black and curly. Three months later we were married.
A case involving another kind of precognitive experience relating to a future spouse was later described to Louisa Rhine's daughter, Sally Rhine Feather, which she mentions in her book The Gift: ESP, the Extraordinary Experiences of Ordinary People, co-written with author Michael Schmicker. The case involved a woman named Carolyn, who'd had a number of intuitive experiences throughout her life, and one of her earliest ones was about her future husband Stanley [9, p. 135]:
One day, when Carolyn was a teenager, a boy she had never seen before, and about whom she knew nothing, rode by on a bicycle. She surprised her girlfriends - and herself - by announcing, "I'm gonna marry that boy someday." Sometime later they met at school, but it was not until years later they became engaged. They now have been married over thirty years.
A number of other psychic experiences relating to that special person in our life are described in Chapter 6 of The Gift, which is specifically devoted to "ESP and Romance." As the authors point out in that chapter: "We know from life and lab that ESP occurs most often between emotionally close people, so it is not surprising that we frequently find ESP bringing information about this intimate area of our lives" [9, p. 120]. Perhaps in some sense, psychic experiences are meant to help keep us connected to the ones we care about, even when spatial (and temporal) boundaries sometimes keep us apart.
The PRF wishes everyone a very pleasurable Valentine's Day!
 Dodds, E. R. (1971). Supernormal phenomena in classical antiquity. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 55, 189 - 237. (See Section II, in particular)
 Saltmarsh, H. F. (1934). Report on cases of apparent precognition. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 42, 49 - 103.
 Saltmarsh, H. F. (1938). Foreknowledge. London: G. Bell & Sons, Ltd.
 Rhine, L. E. (1965). Comparison of subject matter of intuitive and realistic ESP experiences. Journal of Parapsychology, 29, 96 - 108.
 Stevenson, I. (1970). Precognition of disasters. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 64, 187 - 210.
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 Rhine, L. E. (1954). Frequency of types of experience in spontaneous precognition. Journal of Parapsychology, 18, 93 - 123.
 Rhine, L. E. (1967). ESP in Life and Lab: Tracing Hidden Channels. New York: Collier Books.
 Feather, S. R., & Schmicker, M. (2005). The Gift: ESP, the Extraordinary Experiences of Ordinary People. New York: St. Martin's Press.