In Search of the Miraculous, Give or Take

fatherdaughter_44-05 robinme_a cluster_ver1

1 The dreads and the gargoyle
2 Serial killer dream
3 Celestial body
4 Robin’s suicide
6 Dreams, no bullshit
7 Howard, The lesser of 5 evils
8 Psychic phenomena via parent-child constellation
9 Psychic phenomena via parent-child synchronicity

1990  –  2012 Monday Sept 17, 1990

I woke this Monday morning and once again not more than 3 feet tall, inches from my ear, originating from somewhere within my digestive tract but undigested and indigestible stood the gargoyle, somewhat perched on my left shoulder.

Kay, my wife lies next to me sleeping soundly

The dreads and the gargoyle

Before the gargoyle made his appearance I woke with the “dreads” only — a suffocated feeling stuffed with doom and helplessness. Monday mornings were and still are the worst. They have more angst than the other mornings of the week but every morning bares weight. I’m impressed when I’m on my feet stumbling away from an empty pillow where moments ago I was pinned; the simple act of getting out of bed felt heroic.

He first came to my shoulder earlier this year. I woke in the morning and perched on my shoulder, long last, was a representative of the dreads. Lying on my side, one side of my face consumed in pillow I opened an eye to see a figure, a shadow, maybe at first I sensed something, seconds later I realized the gargoyle. He dawned upon me. He held a list.

I’m not the only one that has the morning dreads to be sure. There’s got to be a ton of us who wake with their version. Those in the profession call it clinical depression. Our malaise — feeling like shit — doesn’t necessarily hinge on how well or bad life is going. Something is embedded at the core: a DNA of suffering. Circumstances have given that DNA cause; could be a bi-polar disorder, borderline personality disorder, a whatever disorder coupled by bad parenting, bad luck or a combination of them all.  Thus to the rescue comes my gargoyle. Gargoyles are accustomed to this kind of work. Over millenniums they stood guard above church portal vomiting torrents.

In pre-gargoyle times I woke with unarticulated dreads. Now the gargoyle gives my dreads a voice, a spokesperson so to speak, a stand-up comic working me for laughs, there on my shoulder to lighten things up, wasn’t going for belly laughs, a chuckle, a snicker would do.

Keep in mind Jackie Mason, hailed as the ultimate Jew, belting out his material in his usual mischievous, melodious, burbling Yiddish style to a packed nightclub of hungry, ready for fun dolled-up Jews and Christian derivatives.  And keep in mind the gargoyle.

(To clarify if need be: I did dream of the gargoyle. He did make it to my shoulder. His spiel, his dialogue I wrote as if I was the voice of the gargoyle a cappella Frits Pearl and Gestalt therapy. Frits would say to a patient, “Speak as the ocean in your dream. What does your ocean have to say?” What does my gargoyle have to say? )

For openers: he read through the list, crumbled it, stuffed it in his mouth, chewed, swallowed, gulped, smacked his lips and feigned gagging

Thus spoke the gargoyle.

 “Enough already. Enough is never enough. Every time you get enough, “poof,” what happened, it’s not enough. You don’t have enough money to pay the mortgage, enough for the electric, enough for the phone, taxes, the living, the sick, the dying. Enough? You got enough? Poof, not enough. Enough is only enough when it’s too much. Too much is enough. Anything less than more than enough isn’t enough. So forget it boychic. You’re a born looser, a serial failure, a schlemazel, a schlemiel, a schmendrick and last but not least a smuck!  You don’t have more than enough and from where I’m standing you’ll never get it. So enough already. You have 21 days to discover a cure for anything. Anything.  Forget about it. You’re out of time. You’re middle age, can’t afford health insurance. What a mess, an altacocker without health insurance. Name one respectable altacocker who doesn’t have health insurance. What we got here is a kosher anomaly — a kvetch up to his pupik in schmaltz, the only living breathing Jew from Sullivan High School that hasn’t made it to big macher status. Fifty years old and bupkis — not a pot, cornisht, empty, nothing, zilch. A Jew with no pot. That’s it!  No bagels for you my friend, No maza ball soup — well maybe a cup of maza ball soup without the balls. Wait! What I want to know is where  — where is your God-given Miami Beach Arizona nest egg with a view? Bubbeleh, bubbeleh, bubbeleh, don’t look so flummoxed. So big deal, you got a mane like a lion. Lions drown in tar pits, why shouldn’t you?  Fascinated with the homeless? Right? Can’t take your eyes off them. Right? Enough! That’s when enough is way too much. When it comes to the homeless. Stay with me on this boychick, huddled, groping, tangled, sleeping under cardboard boxes men, women, children — human shards — they shiver, starve, defecate, yes shit and piss and go meshugana on that concrete. You boychick are only a checkbook away from the pavement. A cashmere v-neck sweater away from a killing chill.  What a punum brags your mother as she squeezes your cheeks to death. How can a good-looking Jewish boy like you blow it she asks.  Take a look in the mirror. Is that the punum of a failure? You looked so good coming out of the gate — a winner. What happen she asked? What happen I ask? Maybe your father’s got the answer — but he stoops, he limps, a fragile caricature  of you — you a verklemptverblunget  caricature of him.  Give your father a kiss, here give a hand, help lower him into his grave for crying-out-loud.  Arthur Murry, Carmen Miranda, Gene Kelly  — they have the answer. Dance the light fantastic. Keep moving, justify your existence.  Don’t stop. Once you come to a halt you’re hospitalized, then you’re dead, they bury you. So bubbala, boychic, whatever, embrace your tsuris, worship your tsuris, keep dancing cha cha cha, hold onto your tsuris no matter what. That’s all you got is tsuris. You’re going to take your tsuris to the grave with you. Is that devotion to tsuris or what? cha cha cha.”

That’s the gist of his routine. It would vary from dream to dream. It wasn’t so easy to come up with fresh material based on my gestalt he’d tell me. There are some life events even he would have the decency not to touch no matter how big the laughs.



Serial killer dream 1967 – 1988
When my daughter was about a year and half I began to have this dream. No one else appeared in the dream except a fuzzy out of focus figure hovering nearby, standing slightly behind me off to my right side.  I had committed a crime, some thing heinous, terrible. The dream never revealed what it was.  I woke drenched in guilt and apprehension. This dream occurred every few months.

Several years later the dream divulged my crime. With the same hazy figure floating behind me I had this awful epiphany. I committed the worst, the unforgivable and immutable. I killed someone. Who? Never saw the victim. Never knew in what manner I killed but there was no escaping the verdict of murderer and the fear, anxiety and guilt experienced in the dream and upon awaking. Judgment day will come. I will pay the price. Murderer.

About the 11th year the dream offered up a self-synopsis of the killing. It occurred to me within the dream that my crime was a familiar one, a crime of killing that I had committed in the past, had repeated again and again and will repeat in the future. The dream expressed a history of its self; included its passage of time, predicted its future and reflected its status quo. I will spend eternity as a serial killer dreamer in limbo, never apprehended except by my own guilt. I will go on killing ad infinitum until I go numb with guilt.

Time came when my serial-killer dream surfaced not during sleep but mid-day when I was overwhelmed with grief, during my daughter’s funeral service, it leaped out of the blue, slapped me breathless, the blood in my veins came to a halt. I knew then I would never have the serial-killer dream again. I got the message. I understood, finally, but way-way too late. I was too late, too late to intervene, too late to find the courage, strength, will to extract myself from myself, to be there for Robin, my daughter, the shadowy figure besides me, the victim in the dream. And as I said, then my dream life took off. But I was right — no more serial killer dreams. The victim was laid to rest. I blew it big time.  Judgment time now holds its enduring prosecution. The future holds no daughter.

Celestial body

She gave a yank at the bottom of the sheet covering Kay and I. Startled I abruptly flew from sleep to a sitting position yanking the sheet back. I woke to see floating pin-points of bright lights, a constellation, a milky way cluster of stars set against a black chunk of universe giving shape and dimension to a young women standing before me at the foot of the bed.  Everything in the bedroom was vivid, clearly detailed, highly saturated. I sat up in bed stunned, fixed on the vision sparkling before me.  In no way was I going to take my eyes off this galaxy of her. I wanted to take in her stunning visitation as long as she remained before me. If I turned away for one second then turned back just as quick she might vanish. “Hold your gaze, hold your gaze, don’t look away,” my Astonishment demanded. Am I dreaming? The details of the room were glaringly visible, too extensive to be a dream. Dreams leave out all kinds of stuff — nothing was.  I did a quick peripheral scan of the room, still holding her in sight.  A deep blood-red mahogany Victorian dresser with socks and underwear hanging from an open drawer substantiated realty. Howard this is real — the unreal is real! No dream. She waved at me, her elbow held near her waist, her open hand floating back and forth with a slow gentle motion. Before I could respond — as if I was capable of responding — she disappeared. Was it a hello wave or a goodbye wave? Or both. One more hour of sleep before I had to rise to get the day going. As I went back to sleep my Astonishment warned: “When you wake you’ll think she was a dream. She is not a dream. When you wake you’ll think you were dreaming — you are not.  As time passes you’ll convince yourself that this awesome cosmic-lit galaxy of her was naught but a dream. Don’t give into your denial. Trust in the miraculous. Don’t succumb to the entropy of memory. Keep the miraculous.

That morning I chose not to say anything to Kay about the cosmic visitation. Kay went off to the creamery to ladle (with the help of two other cheese makers) 2 vats of fresh goat curd into plastic molds. I went into the office in the barn to call our specialty food shops in the city for their weekly orders.  Later that afternoon while at lunch in the kitchen I told her.

“Oh my God, she exclaimed, do you know what day it is? Do you? Do you? I had no idea. “No. I don’t know.“  “Robin! It’s Robin’s birthday!”

Was never good with numbers, dates, history, math. I spent my life neglecting Christmas, Hanukkah, birthdays, can’t recall my father’s birthday, my mother’s, my brother’s, my wife’s, and yes my daughter’s. I came to ignore celebrations, my parents making little of them and then there were the math traumas in grade school that turned me against numbers and dumb to their consequences. Wouldn’t you think that her suicide being 5 months fresh, after grieving daily for 5 months I’d be attuned to my daughter’s upcoming birthday? Robin committed suicide Jan 29 and 5 months later comes her birthday June 25 and I have no recall. Appears my conscious-self is unconscious — my unconscious-self conscious.

Was Robin’s celestial appearance a psychic moment, a phenomenon there at the foot of the bed or only a dream. Is her visitation any less miraculous if she was only a dream — albeit a spectacular dream — albeit a lucent dream, a dream acutely aware of its self. Is my dream-making apparatus capable of such an awesome cosmic production and if so why? Why bother? What’s the message here? What’s the point. Why carry on so after her passing?

Most likely my subconscious held her birth date while my conscious played dumb as usual. I Iet it slip by as I so often have, was about to do again.  Just as my subconscious through dream tried to alert me to the increasing danger my daughter was in, to my apathy and guilt, now, not tolerating further anomie, my subconscious makes the move, pulls out all the stops, bells and whistles, makes the decision for me, celebrates her birthday in spite of me, coming up with a magnificent cosmic-lit display to knock my socks off. Is that it?

Or is this it — as I am told to believe by the psychic voice warning me not to treat her cosmic appearance as a dream — Robin pierced the impenetrable.  She was there, ethereal, from the other side, at the foot of the bed on her 21st birthday giving a yank at the sheet, a yank at my sleep — a yank I keenly felt and woke to.

Might Robin’s paranormal cosmic-lit celestial self tap into my circuitry? Her spirit as numen haunts my hypothalamus mixing it up with cellular memory to speak to me through dream. “She’s okay now, there’s a place for her without enduring the fruitless palliatives of talk-psychiatrist, in-out patient therapy, in-out hospital, in-out group, this-med that-med and the pain-deadness of being alive.” Was it a hello wave or a good-bye wave or both?

“Hey wake up Dad, it’s my birthday. Get your ass out of bed and celebrate my birthday.”

Robin’s suicide

On January 29, 1988, Friday morning Kay and I take United Airline flight 429, leaving 10AM from LaGuardia, Air Port, NYC to O Hare airport Chicago.  We’re on our way to see Robin Blume, my 21-year-old daughter before she went off to Menninger Clinic in Houston Texas, to be treated for the eating disorder anorexia and/or bulimia.

She’s seen a psychiatrist for 3 years, tried various medications and spent time as an in-out patient at Chicago’s Michael Reese hospital; none of these palliatives gave her long-term relief. Her depression got worst as she got older. Bob, her step father, Gail, her mother, Dr Kreche, her psychiatrist, Kay and myself were all looking to Menninger for an answer. During that time eating disorders first began to be sighted in the media. There was minimal psychiatric expertise available, no strong conviction on a treatment’s efficacy. Menninger was known to be at the forefront of psychiatric treatment. We all had hope. Robin by then had none.

As our plane taxied up to the gate we heard from the loud speaker. “Would Mr. and Mrs. Blume on your way out please see the stewardess at the front exit,” Puzzled we did. “Your brother Phillip is here to meet you. I’ll take you to him.”  We never made plans for Phil to meet us at the airport. I had no idea what was about to play out. I might have if I have had any inkling of what those serial-killer dreams where about.  The stewardess led us to a storage room filled with tall cardboard boxes where Phil waited. She left shutting the door behind her. “Robin committed suicide.” Not one beat. Not a beat between the word suicide and an explosion implosion of me-I-self attacking the stack of packing boxes, fist pounding on a box lid over and over again in sync with the screams of a hundred “Nos.”

For most of my adult-juvenile life I never considered suicide as an option for myself, my family or friends — life above all else. Robin’s last 2 years of High School was spent living with us, us being myself, Kay and her 2 children, Eric and Gwyneth in our home in Irvington, NY.  During her senior year Robin swallowed an entire bottle of aspirins. As I waited in the kitchen for Robin to come down stairs with Kay to leave for the emergency room I stood at the kitchen counter eating what was too be dinner. I’m chewing away and my daughter just swallowed a bottle of aspirins. What an oblivious dork. Feed the anxiety. Feed the denial.  “She was just trying to get our attention. Right?  She really wasn’t that serious. Right?” She wouldn’t have told us she swallowed an entire bottle of aspirins if she meant it. Right?

Four years later she meant it. She made dam sure she meant it.

Robin Blume, 21 years old, on Jan 31, 1988, at 1 o’clock in the morning got out of bed, walked downstairs to the back door, walked across the yard to the garage adjoining the alley, entered the garage and meticulously covered the garage windows with duct tape so no light could escape to the outside.  With the garage lights turned on she meticulously taped every single breathing opening to the outside. She taped along the interface where the bottom of the garage door sits on the cement floor. The back door to the entrance to the yard she taped as well. Sitting in the front seat of the car she placed along side her a favorite doll from her childhood, Lou Lou, a letter addressed to her family and a letter to Randy her brother. She had with her 2 cassettes, one Pink Floyd and one Roxy Music. No note for dad.

You’d think Robin’s psychiatrist, Dr. Kreche would have alerted Robin’s mother and stepfather to the tell-tail signs of a child prepping for suicide.  Gail, her mothers berates herself for not picking up on those signs which seemed so obvious in hindsight: Robin began giving away stuff, to her friends her jewelry and books, to Randy her stuffed animals.  The  week before she took her life she joined her family for dinner every night, not like her, she usually ate in her room behind closed door. She was attentive with everyone, even talkative, not her usual behavior. Gail and Bob thought that her appointment at Mayo Clinic might be responsible for her mood change.

I met with Dr. Kreche 3 months after Robin’s death, my question to him was after 3 years of treating Robin why hadn’t he had some indication that Robin was suicidal. I’m sure they had to discuss it. Ho w did it get by him? Why hadn’t he cued the family in on what indicators of suicidal behavior to be on the alert for? I don’t recall his answers. He was stunned by her suicide, never expected it.  A year later he left Chicago for California, the reason he uprooted his abode and practice rumor said was because of his failure to intervene.

Talk about failure to intervene. What about my colossal failure as a parent? How many nails did I drive into her coffin?  More than one given I was and wasn’t a father from the day she was born.  Can’t help thinking of Robin envisioning Kay and I on a jet on our way to Chicago while she prepared to kill her self with carbon monoxide poisoning. Would she have gone thru with it if we had not come. Did she do this to get my undivided attention? Death was her note to me.

About those serial-killer dreams. Would it have made a difference if I understood their message early on, when Robin was 2 or 3 years old — when I really could have made a difference? Would she still be alive today? Would I have heeded the dream’s message or would I continue to stuff my face with food. (Silence) (Silence) (Silence) We know the answer to that, don’t we, Howard.

(An aside)

After many-many shots of vodka, after running barefooted down an empty suburban street at night trying to out pace my daughter’s suicide, after looking at my daughter lying in a casket, her skin so quietly pale against a yellow ochre wall while my mother-in-law, her face wretched with fury, agony, screams at me, “see, see, now are you happy, you did this, you, you’re responsible for this, you killed her, her father.” After Robin’s funeral service, after drained, squelched, exhausted, a hollow vessel, I’m in the back seat of my brother’s car on the way to the airport and to Interlaken New York. Mia, my brother’s 5 year old adopted Korean daughter, as soon as we were seated, reached for my hand taking a firm grip with her warm little fingers and did not let go for forty minutes, until we exited the car. No one told her to hold my hand. Mia looked straight ahead for the entire drive, concentrating with all of her childhood to console, she born with the impulse of a care giver. Kay sat in the front seat, my brother drove. Phil had a CD of a comedian he recently saw on TV. He asked my permission to play it: “You’ll really appreciate this guy, your sense of humor.” First time I heard Jackie Mason. My brother was right, I appreciated. With Jackie Mason on one end and Mia on the other I laughed — one octave above the grief. Borsht Belt Jewish humor from an ex-rabbi, soothing, healing like chicken soup, have a bowl, it can’t hurt, won’t kill you. Most likely it was then the gargoyle burrowed into my dreams taking the grasp of a child’s hand along with.

What for Dreams?

“Consistent with evolution and evidence derived from neuroscience and reports of dreams, I suggest that dreams reflect an individuals strategy for survival,”

 A passage from Scientific America, author, Dr. Jonathan Winson, previously associate professor emeritus at The Rockefeller University. What am I doing hanging around with Dr. Jonathon Winson? I’m looking for a hint of the miraculous gleaned from authority, scrutiny and discipline held forth in field and laboratory, from neurons splayed out Rorschach like.

Paraphrasing Dr Winson:  150 million years ago a primitive mammal, a marsupial began to dream for the very first time much the way we do today. The marsupial dreamt to protect his ass. We dream to protect ours. Paraphrasing me: 150 million years of nucleotides playing musical chairs, fine tuning brain waves — beta, alpha, delta, theta — evolving into a breathing living generator of varying discrete degrees of frequency and amplitude. Impressive.

In 1979 Dr. Jonathon Winson became an associate professor at Rockefeller University where he began groundbreaking research on memory processing during waking and sleeping states. He nailed the actual site in our brain wherein our dreams reside. Professor Winson gave us the unprecedented, unfolding physiology and neurology of dreaming.

According to Winson’s research when an animal is involved in an activity that pertains to its survival such as a rat searching for food, the hippocampus, a part of its brain where memory is stored produces brain waves called theta rhythms. Theta rhythms code the day’s survival activity in the hippocampus, leaving coded neurons in distinct locations within the hippocampus where they’re available to be called upon again to replay the exact same survival activity.

Theta rhythms are found in one other mode —  REM sleep or by its other title “dreaming.”  Winson mapped the external stimuli of potential dream content — the survival activity — in the hippocampus of a rat, neuron by coded neuron. During REM sleep those same coded neurons from the exact same location in the hippocampus fired. They played out again reprocessing and enforcing crucial information most important for the rat’s survival, like the whereabouts of food or a safe haven from predators. Basic primitive stuff this survival; five prehensile digits, an erect spine, twenty-twenty vision and dreams all contribute to it. Rats dream, who would have thought? Rats survive, right?

 “Whisper dreams in my ear and I’ll follow you anywhere.   Dr. Montague Ullman

In my quest for an insight into the miraculous I can trust, we now turn to Dr. Montague Ullman, now deceased, his most recent job, Emeritus clinical professor of psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Ullman is a synthesis of psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and parapsychologist, his curriculum vitae cuts a broad, consistent, deep swath through our dreams life.  Trained in neurology and psychiatry he graduated from New York University of Medicine: psychoanalytic training at the New York Medical College: psychosomatic research in dermatology.   At the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. he helped develop one of the first fully operational community mental health centers in the United States.

Dr. Montague Ullman has been called the dream merchant. I’d call him the Jonny Apple Seed of dreams. His interest in dreams began with his residency in psychiatry, continued on thru 15 years of clinical practice and more than 20 years of innovative work with experiential dream sharing groups.

Ullman took the exclusivity out of dream work, devoting much of his career to extending dream work beyond the consulting room, out into the community where he schooled small groups in how to help each other understand their dreams and ultimately get on with one’s life with minimal damage to self and others, possibly have a satisfying, expressive, creative, passionate, kind-hearted life; yes, all that from dream work. Ullman saw dreams as a natural healing system much like our immune system. The immune system takes on physical healing; dreaming is there for our emotional healing, that being the repair of our relationships to other people and our selves. One of the reasons Ullman believes dreams can heal is that they are honest, at times painfully so.

Dreams, no bullshit.

Dr. Jonathon Winson in search of dreams embedded in coded neurons, Dr. Montague Ullmam in search of dream metaphors among us dreamers. Both speak of dreams as a survival mechanism.

Our mammalian ancestors dreamt in image only without embellishment of metaphor. An accurate rendering of their daily activity is a prerequisite if they expect to survive. We’ve inherited that same prerequisite, recording our events as if seen thru the lens of a camera — an honest witness subject to no manipulation, alteration or bias, telling it like it is, a resolute, accurate rendering of our emotional state in metaphor.

We don’t spend our days preoccupied looking for food or afraid of becoming food. Our days are spent in interpersonal relationships with people. That’s where our survival mechanism kicks-in and our dreams are spun from says Dr. Montague Ullman, where our emotions are in play, in our zeitgeist with lover, friend, family, parent, child. With my daughter Robin.

 “The essence of being human is being connected with other humans and the schisms we have setup have kept us from realizing that vision when awake, a vision that has never been lost while we are asleep.  Dreams never give up on us. They are with us every night urging us to face issues that restrict and discourage us, that limit our inventiveness. They remind us of the responsibility we all have to free up our emotional life. They are in their way, our personal spokesmen for a saner living.”   Dr. Montague Ullman

I can’t remember taking her around in a big warm hug to comfort her. I can’t recall Robin sitting on my lap.  As a grandparent via my wife’s grandchild Justin I’ve been given grandpa status, given a second chance to comfort, to appreciate, given the opportunity to be there for a child from day-one. I taught him to toss and catch a frisbee when he was 5. Today at ten years Justin and I play a mean game of frisbee.  Can’t recall a time I ever did the likes with my daughter. Remorse for what never was, for what’s not recalled. I’ll check with Robin’s mother to see what she remembers, afraid of what she will say.

Robin dressed in a white and pink dress with a waisted ribbon wearing white shoes all of 6 years old stands outside holding an umbrella.  In a drizzle she waits for me. I never show.

That’s what Gail, my ex-wife tells me.  I never showed.

 “I can’t believe I just didn’t show up without calling?”

Gail’s not sure. Maybe I did call. But I cancelled often. “Robin was always so disappointed.”

“Did I ever give her a hug, hold her, comfort her,” I ask.

“No. She didn’t either,” she said. “We were both too self absorbed. You were her favorite, though. Her father. She put you up on a pedicel.”

This is all too painful to hear. I want to vomit, cut off an arm, a leg, tear Robin loose from the void. Gail’s memory must be faulty, colored by guilt. My memory full of holes. (Silence) (Silence) (Silence) You frigging selfish blind stupid frightened helpless lame SOB.

Several months after Robin’s suicide Gail invited Kay and I back to Chicago to go through Robin’s things, letters, photos, artwork, souvenirs, school yearbooks. “To take back with you,” she said, “I thought you’d like to have them around for keepsakes.” The word “keepsakes “sucks, suggests something of sentimental value, mementoes, items collected on a vacation at Disneyland. Instead I’ll go with affirmations, affirmations of a daughter’s short life painfully lived and a father’s neglect.

Gail handed me a paperback book with worn cover. “This is really for you. There’s Robin’s underlining you should read.”

The book, “The Wounded Women “ “Healing the Father-Daughter relationship,” author Linda Schierse Leonard, Ph.D. a psychologist and a philosopher who trained as a Jungian analyst at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich and has been in practice for nearly thirty years. The underlines were made with yellow marker and red ballpoint. Robin’s selections were troubling to read, more than troubling, painful, too close a  fit.  “The daughters of these eternal boys grow up without an adequate model of self-discipline, limit and authority, quite often suffering from feelings of insecurity, stability, lack of self-confidence” … “Don Juan men who run from women to women…. the lack of commitment she experienced with father … it is also possible for both father and mother to be eternal youths and then there is little stability, structure or authority provided by both parent …”

1. Adolph Hitler

2. President W. Bush

3. Bennie Maddow

4. Kenneth Lay

5. and Howard, the lesser of 5 evils.

Dr. Ullman breaks evil down into 2 categories each with 2 sub categories.


1. Perpetuated for the glorification of the leader and/or state such as genocide: Holocaust. Rawanda. Darfur.

2. Perpetuated for the higher good: he considered Hiroshima and Nagasaki as such. Lets toss in the invasion of Irag. I’d put that one at the head of the list.


1. Death and destruction is not the goal since the object has value. Large scale but impersonal:  Enron, where thousands of people lost their life savings yet were left exhaling and inhaling except for those driven to suicide.

2. Dr. Ullman prefers not to call this one blatant evil: abuse is more like it.  “It refers to the common garden variety of things we do to each other and to our children that are hurtful to others as well as to ourselves.”

I got away with ‘murder’ and my dreams called me on it.

“The truth-finding capacity of dreams arises out of an incorruptible core of being that registers deviations from the truth. Regardless of what games we play with the truth, that core comes to life in our dreams throughout our life.”  Dr. Ullman

Hitler got away with mass bloody hideous slaughter — what about his dreams?

What truths came from Hitler’s incorruptible core of being as he “played with the truth.”? From Enron’s Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling dreams as they played with the truth.  What truths from the muckymucks at Arthur Anderson, Bear Steams, Lehman Brothers, Citigroup, Morgan Standley, Goldman Sachs.  And what about Bernie Madoff dreams as he played with the truth and million upon millions of dollars of trusting investors. And there is our 43rd president, W. Bush, what about his dreams when he and his White House played with the truth. Does anyone of them have an incorruptible core to begin with? Or are they rancid through and through? Do sociopaths dream? Do psychopaths dream? Does the dreams of sentient evil condone evil?   If there is zilch altruism, zilch empathy the incorruptible core of being is a no-go, yes? no? anyone?

Psychic phenomena via parent-child constellation

I find it curious that a scientist or physician would ever consider the existence of psychic phenomena, that she or he would explore it without fear of tainting reputation, of being called a quack.

Dr. Ullman had no fear. Beginning as a teenager and throughout his career he experienced, observed and pursued the paranormal, from the telekinesis to the telepathic, possibly beyond. Besides developing one of the first fully operational community mental health centers at the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn he also pioneered a sleep and dream laboratory where he investigated the occurrence of dream telepathy.  The results are covered in his book “Dream Telepathy: Experiments in Nocturnal Extrasensory Perception (Studies in Consciousness) ”

As Dr. Ullman worked with dreams and the dreamer his belief in aspects of the paranormal accrued. He believed the dream was an appropriate medium for psychic phenomena. His studies and experience led him to believe that psychic phenomena most likely occur in dreams when:  “earlier unmet needs are experienced in dependency terms, as the parent-child constellation, or as problematic peer relations, most commonly in the form of male-female tensions.” 

A psychic event tends to take place in a “parent-child constellation.”  Robin my daughter and I, implies Dr. Ullman, are a likely coupling for igniting a psychic event. And there is a satisfying synchronicity in his descriptive use of  “parent-child constellation.”  and in Robin’s appearance at the foot of my bed on her birthday as a constellation of sort, as a stellar experience.  Are these grounds for the miraculous? Did Robin reach out to me one last time from some ethereal place be it in a dream or through the ether? If you give Dr. Ullman’s prerequisites for a psychic event any credence I’d say yes, a possible yes, at least it’s a foothold, a nod for further meditation. I hear a scoffer. Is that I, I hear?

What’s difficult to reconcile: in death all connections are pulled, no more brain waves, not even static. We among the living to conger up a psychic event have ciphers, prayers, Gods, Wee-Gee boards, séances, dreams, superstition, insanity. What do the dead have, a bus transfer?

When Dr. Ullman was sixteen he along with a group of teenage friends of like mind held a séance once a week for a year and a half, rarely missed a sitting. The results: levitating table among other psychic phenomena, the most intriguing, contacting a discarnate spirit, Dr Bindelof, a physician who had been dead for 12 years. The group of teenagers and Bindelof communicated through a series of written messages when pencil and paper were placed on the lower shelf of a night table. The messages were replies to questions the boys asked of Dr. Bindelof. A hoax?

A year and a half is a long time to carry on a hoax. Six decades later the group met to validate the experience and relate how it effected or transformed their life.  Documenting the year and a half of séances including their meeting 3 to 6 decades later Dr. Ullman put together compelling evidence to substantiate the experience — yours to interrogate: “The Bindelof Story, part one, two, three and four.” Their experiences classified as psi events (a term for parapsychology or psychic phenomena) is also known by its recent epithet EUE, Exceptional Human Experiences. I’ll go with that, Exceptional Human Experiences, give or take a grain of salt.

Dr. Ullman, as far as I know never considered the haunting of a dream, the possibility of the deceased visiting a dream. It’s unlikely he would rule it out since he has embraced a full range of human subjectivity. Still that would be a tough one to run studies on as Dr. Ullman did with dream telepathy, precognition and clairvoyance. How could he distinguish between a metaphorical episode from a dreamer’s memory bank from a visitation from an external ethereal source? They’d read like one in the same. Possibly are.

Possibly the overwhelming grief that I went thru when Robin committed suicide could have stirred up a nest of brain wave activity leaving me open for an EUE event. Given such stimulation I might have created my own private mini-séance during REM sleep wherein the father-daughter constellation materializes in a dream and Robin makes her appearance from the void or thereabouts. Now that speculation resonates.

“Enough already,” said the Gargoyle.

Psychic phenomena via parent-child synchronicity

I am running flying zipping about stooped over with my arms stretched out like wings making buzzing sounds as I go. I’m a bee flitting from one flower to another, the flowers being an assortment of people, about 16 total, squatted on a carpeted floor.  I buzzed every one of them.

It was a Sunday afternoon, downtown Chicago, year 1973, at Oasis, an organization that grew out of the human potential movement.  I’m at a group session, can’t recall what the group leaders specialty is but I recall he is of celebrity status within the movement and better yet from Manhattan. The assignment that provoked my flight of the bumblebee was to quietly sit, imagine something and let it unfold. I chose an open prairie trail along side a railroad track where wild flowers grew in abundance, where bees went about their business pollinating them.  When I told the group leader my fantasy he had me play the part of the bee, other members of the group were flowers. After the explosive burst off bee energy I sat quietly on the rug taking deep breaths as the group leader revealed to me the message taken from my bee and flower metaphor

After the group I walked back to my film company, several blocks away from Oasis, to studio, offices and a space l call bedroom. Once there I began to go thru Saturday’s unopened mail. There was an envelope from my daughter Robin, then 8 years old. Inside was a folded sheet of drawing paper I opened. She had drawn 2 flowers, one on the left side of the paper, another on the right. On each flower Robin drew a face with a teardrop, one from each eye. In the middle between the flowers she wrote: “Today I am glad to wish you a happy fathers day. To my dad. I would like you to see more of me.  But you’re as busy as a bee.  Happy father’s day. To you lots of good luck. And happiness too. Love Robin.”

Right under my nose, the miraculous, Robin, my daughter

Any thoughts?

7 thoughts on “In Search of the Miraculous, Give or Take

  1. Hello Howard,
    I am haunted and deeply moved to tears after reading about your dreams and relationship with your daughter Robin, a beautiful and special person I considered to be my best friend during my last two years at Irvington High School. I also loved Robin–she was there for me during my high school years when I was also suffering and she was tender and empathic to me in a way not many other teens could be. Although I only knew her for two years, she touched my life and remains with me in memory and visits me often in my own dreams, which are lucid, and at times psychic. I regret that I was unable to share my condolences with you 20 years ago, when I first learned through other friends of her passing. She was beautiful inside and out and her memory remains with me still after all these years. I also dream about her and discovered your blog site and read it after having a recent dream about her and have shared similar visions and dreams. Thank you for your honest and moving blog/testimonial about her and your coming to terms with her passing. Please feel comfortable to respond to me at Hope all is well with you and family upon this Thanksgiving Week, — Nicole Donson (was called Nicki in High School)

    • Hello Nicole, Nicky, Robin’s close friend, I’m so pleased you discovered me. How? What did you Google to get to the blog? Robin and you must have been close in High School for you to have her as on-going presence in your dreams. I pulled out Sunnyside yearbook, found your page. There’s no coming to terms as you suggested. No resolution. Reading your yearbook page, Robin’s page, shifting through memory, suddenly there it is unexpected but expected, the wound bleeding.

      It must have been terribly difficult for you when you heard of Robin’s suicide. You dream a lot, that’s good. Dreams can be great entertainment, your very own reality show.

      A side effect of a med I had to take suppressed dreams. Since I stop taking the meds I began to dream again but not like I did in the past. Now I have to work at it but I haven’t; leaving my dreams on hold. Kay and I live in Chicago. Things are good bad good bad good bad — they’re okay Hope all is well with you. Thanks for your reply, letter, condolences, thanks for jumping right in and connecting.



  2. Hello Howard,
    In my search for your phone number I came across your amazing blog. It is really touching. Anyway, I wanted to reach out to you because Jakob, my son, is having his long awaited bar mitzvah in October (the 12th) and I would be so happy to you and your family come. I want to reach Phillip too. Perhaps you can help me with that. I need to get your postal addresses. Love, Shanna
    P.S. Rainer is still working at Leo Burnett as a creative director. Muddling through the advertising. I looked through your book. Lovely!

  3. Hello Howard,
    Just a short message. Sincerely sorry for your catastrophic loss. The post was a beautiful read – I hope you are healing, even if only slowly.

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  5. Dear Howard, I met a man from Chicago the other night and thoughts of my brief time there in 1971 paid me a visit. You were my upstairs neighbor that gave me solace during a difficult time. Then, a few years after that I came to visit you in your studio. You are the photographer and bird watcher; right? I’d love to hear from you. Barbara Schaefer

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