Dreams of death: why do they sometimes come true?


In December 1975, a woman named Allison woke up from a nightmare in which her four-year-old daughter Tessa was on the train tracks. When the woman tried to take the child to safety, she herself was hit to death by a train. Allison woke up in tears and told her husband about the nightmare.

Less than two weeks later, Allison and her daughter were at the station. An object fell on the rails, and, trying to lift it, the girl stepped behind it. Allison saw an approaching train and rushed to save her daughter. The train knocked them both to death.

Later, Allison’s husband told the dream researcher Dr. David Rybek about the incident. Devastated by the terrible loss, the man shared that the warning he and Allison received shortly before the tragedy gave him a kind of consolation. It “makes me feel closer to Allison and Tessa,” he wrote to Reibek, “because something I don’t understand warned my wife.”

There are many dream stories that warn of death, writes Sharon Rowlett, a philosopher and author of a book on coincidences and the role they play in human destinies. “It is very likely that you or someone you know has had a similar nightmare. But could they be a simple coincidence? In the end, a lot of dreams of death never come true – who is watching them? “

It turns out that at least one person has tracked such stories. Dr. Andrew Puckett himself was skeptical about the idea that dreams could predict the future. He began to keep a detailed diary of his dreams to prove that his “prophetic” dreams were nothing more than random products of brain activity.

For 25 years, from 1989 to 2014, he recorded 11,779 of his dreams. He took notes immediately upon awakening and before dreams could be “verified.” In 2015, Puckett published an analysis of his death dreams.

Seeing the death of a friend in a dream, the scientist woke up with full confidence that a prophetic dream

Puckett began his research by checking his own “database.” In it, he singled out dreams in which someone died. He searched for dreams that he saw before he received information about the death of a dreaming person. In the diary, there were records of 87 such dreams with the participation of 50 people he knew. At the time he analyzed, 12 out of 50 people (that is, 24%) were dead.

The research did not stop there. So, 12 people actually died in the end. The doctor looked at his notes and counted how many days or years in each case elapsed between the dream and the actual event. It turned out that for 9 out of 12 people the “prophetic” dream was the last of the dreams about this person. Puckett’s other dreams about them happened much earlier and, accordingly, further from the date of death.

The average interval between a dream about the death of a friend and the real end of his life was about 6 years. Obviously, even if the dream is considered prophetic, it is impossible to rely on the prediction of the exact date of death.

Most striking was the case when Puckett had such a dream on the night before the man’s death. At the same time, during the previous year, Puckett neither himself nor through mutual acquaintances maintained contact with him. However, having seen the death of a friend in a dream, he woke up with full confidence that the dream was prophetic. He told his wife and daughter about him and the very next day he received an e-mail with the sad news. At that time, the dream really predicted a real event.

According to Sharon Rowlett, this incident suggests that you can learn to distinguish between dreams associated with death. The former serve as a warning that death is real – it has just happened or is coming soon. The latter either say that death will occur after a while, or use it as a metaphor.

Further analysis of Puckett’s work and this topic in general can yield interesting results, Sharon Rowlett is sure. The challenge is to find enough people who are willing to record dreams over the years and provide the records for study.

About the expert: Sharon Hewitt Rowlett is a philosopher and author of The Reason and Meaning of Coincidence: A Closer Look at Astounding Facts.

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