A Gorilla, an Ice Cream Cone, and a Volkswagen – Telepathy?

Talking with my wife Judy about dreams a few days ago, I partly remembered a fascinating dream from years before that may have been telepathic.  I knew my memory was not quite complete, though: maybe I had notes somewhere?  Yes!  Here it is, and it’s fascinating.

One day as I was teaching my Altered States of Consciousness (Psychology 137) class at UC Davis, I was lecturing on dreams as an altered state.  I lecture from rough outline notes to remind me of things to cover, but most of the particulars of what I say are created on the spot.

Talking about the qualities of dreams as a state of consciousness, I was making the point that dreams are not random ramblings, they are organized, there’s a world, a plot, actions fitting the plot, etc.  As I was lecturing it occurred to me that this statement was rather on the abstract side, I really should give the students an example to illustrate this.  So while continuing to talk, I sort of “opened” my mind (I remember a “reaching upward” aspect) to try to come up with an example of disorganization, to contrast with organization.  One almost instantly came to me, so I mentioned that you don’t just have random, disconnected elements in dreams, like a gorilla, an ice cream cone, and a Volkswagen, things in a dream generally go together.

ice cream cone w out bkgrnd






Gorilla w out bkgrnd



Volkswagen BeetleStudents often came up to ask and tell me things at the end of class.  In this case, one of my students, an excited and rather indignant young lady, came up to me and demanded to know, “Where did you get that dream of a gorilla, an ice cream cone, and a Volkswagen?”

I told her I had just made it up, I’d never used anything like it before.

“Well,” she indignantly replied, “I used to have this recurring, scary dream about how I and my family were at home, and we started thinking about going out for some ice cream.  But then we found out this gorilla was loose on our street, so we all went to hide.  Strangest of all, my father decided to hide under the Volkswagen in our garage – and we’d never owned a Volkswagen!”

What could I say, but that it just came to me, from I don’t know where….

Isolated instances seldom prove anything, but I’ve known there is lots of evidence, both spontaneous cases and laboratory studies for telepathically obtained information to influence dreams.  So I had made a semi-conscious request for information, while most of my consciousness was involved in talking, lecturing, part of me “reached up” wanting an example of organization in dreams.  My lecturing on dreams up to this point may well have stimulated this student to think about her recurring, frightening dream, so it was probably on her mind with a substantial emotional charge.  Need on the “receiving” end, me, emotional charge on the “sending” end, her.  A classic example of the situation in thousands of “spontaneous” instances in everyday life that look like telepathy…

gorilla ice cream cone volkwagen collage



  1. I just love when things like that happen.

    This brings to mind Carl Jung’s anecdote in which he attended a small dinner party and in an attempt to illustrate a point in psychology, he imagined a hypothetical situation. The way he described it, as he related the hypothetical story, the faces of the others at the dinner table fell ashen (to paraphrase his description as I recall it). As he later found out, he was precisely describing the situation of someone at the dinner table. I believe this was documented in his book, Synchronicity, An Acausal Connecting Principle.

    Me, I have the utmost admiration for Jung, but somehow I feel that his concept of “meaningful coincidences” trivializes what’s really going on.

    siempre pace, amore e luce.

    1. I suspect Jung’s “meaningful coincidence” phrasing was an attempt to get people to think about this sort of thing without using words like “psychic” or “miraculous” or “telepathic” which would trigger automatic rejection in too many people’s minds. A number of my colleagues in parapsychology have tried this for the same reason, talking about anomalous cognition, e.g., instead of ESP. Maybe that works sometimes, but other times it doesn’t get past people’s defenses…. I believe fear of psychic stuff is much more widespread than we acknowledge. One way to lessen conscious fear, which is unpleasant to experience – I hate it! – is to convince yourself the thing that threatens you doesn’t exist. A tricky way to go, though…

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