Visitation Dreams in the News

This is a news story from 2006.  Whether you believe it or not, is up to you, but it still illustrates the power that the concept of a Visitation Dream can have (if not the actual dream itself).

Ex-Candidate: Dream Led to Accusing Foe of Murder

Lanett Police say he was right, file charges

By Jay Reeves 

Associated Press Writer

BIRMINGHAM — More than five years ago, Rod Spraggins made a sensational charge at a candidate forum, publicly accusing a political opponent of murder with nothing to back up the allegation except, it turns out, a vision.

Now police say Spraggins was right.

 Read more…

 Share and Comment

August 24th, 2012 by kkovelant

Psychological Perspectives: Freud and the Freudians

The significance of the publication of Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams cannot be overestimated. Even if you disagree with Freud, you still need to address Freud, to explain your disagreement.

Hendrika Vande Kemp summarizes Freud’s continuing influence as follows:

Freudian theory contributed not only to the experimental, inductive tradition of American psychology, but also to the philosophical/experimental investigations of dreams and their clinical interpretations, harmonizing in his work two apparently incompatible traditions. Simultaneously, he ignored (or derided) those dreams and dream theories which had obvious transcendental and metaphysical implications (Vande Kemp, 1981, p. 88).

While Freud can be credited with “legitimizing” the study of dreams to a large degree, there are drawbacks to his approach as well. Entire libraries could be filled with critiques of Freud, but for now, two will suffice.

Harold Bloom (1996), for instance, accuses Freud of scientism (p. 105), and equating dreams with hallucination. “Freud is compelled pragmatically to regard the dream as an illness that he must cure (p. 93).”

James Hillman (1979) asserts that although Freud considered dreams “the royal road to the unconscious,” the interpretation of dreams has caused this road to “become a straight one-way street of all morning traffic, moving out of the unconscious towards the ego’s city (p. 1).”

For Freud, all dreams were a form of wish-fulfillment. As such, transcendental and metaphysical approaches to the study of dreams were dismissed.

Freud’s assessment of Visitation Dreams garners only a few paragraphs in The Interpretation of Dreams.

The frequency with which in the dream dead persons appear as living, act, and deal with us, has called forth undue astonishment and given rise to strange explanations, from which our own ignorance of the dream becomes strikingly evident. And yet the explanation for these dreams lies very close at hand. How often do we have occasion to think: “If father were still alive, what would he say to it?” The dream can express this if in no other way than by present time in a definite situation… What we consider a resistance to the dream – the objection made by our better knowledge, that after all the man is already dead – is in reality, a consolation, because the dead person did not have this or that experience, or satisfaction that he had nothing more to say (Freud, 1900/2005, p. 34).

Freud also suggests that the dead person in the dream might also represent “the extreme rejection; as the representation of a repressed thought” (p. 340), an idea which will later find further elaboration in the works of Carl Jung and Edgar Herzog. Freud’s later work, Mourning and Melancholia lays the groundwork for grief and bereavement theories of Visitation Dreams.

Continuing in the Freudian tradition, student and biographer of Freud, Ernest Jones links dreams of the dead to nightmares, and asserts that more often than not, our deceased visitors represent our parents. “[These dreams] are concerned with the deepest conflicts of love and hate, and originate ultimately in incest motives repressed from consciuosness in childhood” (Jones, 1957/1971, p. 68). Per Jones, to attribute any sort of ontology to dream states is to have an “untutored mind” (p. 65).



  • Bloom, H. (1996). Omens of the Millennium: The Gnosis of Angels, Dreams, and Resurrection. New York: Riverhead Books.
  • Freud, S. (1900/2005). The Interpretation of Dreams. New York: Barnes & Noble Publishers.
  • Hillman, J. (1979). The Dream and the Underworld. New York: Harper Perennial.
  • Jones, E. (1971). On the Nightmare. New York: Liveright.
  • Vande Kemp, H. (1982). The Dream in Periodical Literature: 1860-1910. Journal of the History of Behavioral Science 17(1): 88-113.



 Share and Comment

August 24th, 2012 by kkovelant

Psychological Perspectives: Before Freud

Oftentimes, it is assumed that Western “scientific” interest in dreams came with the publication of Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams in 1899. Yet, prior to Freud, there were the beginnings of a  dream studies movement. Like today, theories of dreaming were multitude, and covered a wide array of subject matter.  Scientific literature tended to be interested in biological causes of dreams, and experimental approaches to dreaming, hoping to rid the field of metaphysical attachments. Popular culture was more concerned with what might now be termed the more paranormal of dreams – dreams that came true, or clairvoyant and telepathic dreams.

Havelock Ellis

Havelock Ellis

Visitation Dreams were a source of scorn, for some early psychologists.  Havelock Ellis, for instance, writing in volume 2 of The Psychological Review (1899) writes:

The death of a friend sets up a barrier which cuts into two the stream of impressions concerning that friend. Thus, two streams of images flow into sleeping consciousness, one representing the friend as alive, the other as dead…[When the dreamer has a dream featuring interactions with the dead and believe it to be real,] the dreamer is in the same position as a paranoiac who constantly seems to hear threatening voices; henceforth he is absorbed in inventing a theory (electricity, hypnotism, or whatever it may be) to account for his hallucinations and his whole view of life is modifed accordingly (Ellis, 1899, pp. 460-461).

Ellis later expands his ideas (and his vitriol towards Visitation Dreams) into an entire chapter in his 1922 book The World of Dreams, comparing one who believes in such dreams to “savages” and “children” (Ellis, 1922/1976, p. 206). Interestingly, Ellis’s “bifurcation” model (above) has echoes in Freud’s Mourning and Melancholia, and in current grief and bereavement literature.

One approach to dreaming prior to Freud was that dreams were somehow reconstruction of memory (the correlation of dreams and memory is still a popular theory of dreaming today). Hendrika Vande Kemp, in her exhaustive survey of 19th Century dream literature, The Dream in Periodical Literature: 1860-1910 (1981), attributes the first systematized account of this process to Julius Nelson, in 1888. The correlation of dreams and memory certainly could explain the “two divergent streams of impressions” suggested by Ellis. This “memory” school of dream theory felt that a subset of hypermnesic (abnormally vivid or complete) memory could explain how dreams often told dreamers were to find lost valuables (money, wills, documents, etc.). The fact that this information frequently came from the dead in dreams was often downplayed (Vande Kemp, 1981, p. 95), or attributed to hyperaesthetic memory (Cobbe, 1872, pp. 341-342).


  • Cobbe, F. (1872). Darwinism in Morals, and Other Essays. London: Williams and Norgate.
  • Ellis, H. (1899). On Dreaming of the Dead. Psychological Review 2(5): 458-461.
  • Ellis, H. (1922/1976). The World of Dreams. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Vande Kemp, H. (1982). The Dream in Periodical Literature: 1860-1910. Journal of the History of Behavioral Science 17(1): 88-113.



 Share and Comment

August 10th, 2012 by kkovelant