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Dreamed before 1961 by Steve, age 6, reported by his mom to the Rhine Institute

Children sometimes seem to be affected by coming events as well as those of the present, although if the episodes are dreams, it may be especially difficult to tell whether anything more than a nightmare is involved.

At four and a half, a little boy in Michigan dreamed on several different nights that a snake "got" him, and then one day to his terror he actually did come upon a snake in the yard. His parents thought it only coincidence, although no more snake dreams wakened them after the snake had been disposed of.

But again at six he began to have nightmarish dreams: this time he thought he "fell in a hole." For three weeks he wakened nearly every night, sweating and screaming in fright. Then, his mother says,

"One day he was playing in our neighbor's yard where there was still snow on the ground. I heard terrible screams coming from what sounded like a long way off. I hurried in the direction of my neighbor's basement. The screams sounded almost as if coming from underground.

"Then I saw the hole of an old septic tank with a rotted cover, and Steve up to his waist in the water and sinking rapidly. But my neighbor and I got him out, though the water was up to his shoulders before we finally rescued him.

"I thought dreams coming true were all a bunch of nonsense until this happened."


It seems arguable that this is a case of subliminality, not ESP. Steve, who played in those yards, may have unconsciously heard an echo or scented dampness or felt the old lid giving slightly, and conjured up a train of nightmares that turned out to be correct. At what point do we call perception extrasensory? Children can heard higher frequencies than adults; would a child detecting a burglar alarm or a dog whistle be exercising ESP? Not in our usual meaning.

Still, subliminal sensing wouldn't explain the timing. For weeks just before actually falling in, Steve had nightmares about it; not before, though the tank had clearly been there all his life.

And despite those nightmares, he fell in! He didn't avoid that spot, he didn't tread lightly over that lid. If his unconscious knew it was dangerous, why didn't it steer him away? Steve's behavior suggests his nightmares echoed his future experience of falling in a cesspit, not unconscious knowledge of the hazard. So I'd incline, here, toward ESP over a subliminal warning.

If, of course, one had an explanation for ESP at all.

--Chris Wayan

SOURCE: Hidden Channels of the Mind by Louisa E. Rhine, 1961, p. 139. Account untitled, author's name witheld; title & byline added to aid searching & indexing.

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