Robert Van de Castle – 2004

Robert Van de Castle, PhD
2004 IASD Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Personal Profile

Among my most tangible contributions to the field of dreams and dreaming , I would consider my publications to be my primary achievements. The Content Analysis of Dreams, co-authored with Calvin Hall (Appleton – Century – Crofts, 1966) became a standard reference book and a “how-to-do-it” manual for investigators wishing to examine dream content in a quantitative fashion that could be statistically evaluated. This system has been utilized in hundreds of subsequent studies, despite an assessment by an early review from a University of Chicago dream researcher that, “It seems most unlikely that the Hall-Van de Castle system would be adopted carte blanche by anyone.” [Contemporary Psychology, 1967, p 607]

A survey chapter entitled “The Psychology of Dreaming” appeared in a loose-leaf compiled text book published by General Learning Press in 1971. A greatly expanded version, over 500 pages in length, entitled Our Dreaming Mind (Ballantine Books, 1994) became a widely used textbook for classroom teaching. It covered a vast range of dream topics including the history of dreams and a review of dream theories and research findings . This book was described as a “landmark” by Monte Ullman, a “masterpiece” by Henry Reed, a “superb compilation” by Jayne Gackenbach, and a “sweeping compilation unsurpassed in the literature for its scope” by Stan Krippner. It was so popular a book that it became an Alternate for the Book of the Month Club and the choice of the month for the Quality Paperback Book Club.  Having the authorship of this book recognized on my epitaph is something I have seriously considered, and I am currently planning on updating this book with a different publisher.

I have also published articles and book chapters covering a considerable range of dreaming topics such as sexual dreams, dreams of angelic figures, chronological factors associated with dreams of animal figures, and various topics involving paranormal dreams. Since 1991, I have served as the advisory editor for the State University of New York Press SUNY Series in Dream Studies. To date, 13 titles have appeared and two more are currently in preparation.

Another contribution of which I am very proud are my efforts to develop IASD as an organization that represents a “rainbow coalition” of dreamers from around the world.  I was honored to give the invited address first annual international ASD conference, a weekend event held in San Francisco in 1984 and accompanied this with an extensive slide show presentation. When I was given the opportunity to become the next ASD president and host the almost week-long second annual ASD conference at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in 1985, I introduced several new features that have become sort of “boiler plate” standards for subsequent conferences. One was an opportunity to participate in dream workshops led by experts. Others were to view a gallery of dream inspired art, to participate in a Dream Ball where different costume classifications were judged, to enter a Dream Telepathy contest modeled on the classic Maimonides protocol, and to attend a post conference session on lucid dreaming. Special efforts were made there to encourage media coverage so that the public could become better informed about the exciting new findings being introduced at our conference. I have attended and presented papers at most of the subsequent conferences throughout the years including those in Holland and Denmark . At the Montreal conference in 2008, I presented several papers, oversaw the telepathy contest with Rita Dwyer, served as MC for the Dream Ball, and was interviewed for two one hour TV shows . By a show of hands from those attending a panel on aging and dream recall, I realized I was the oldest member in attendance at age 80.

I have always felt that trying to familiarize the public with the fascinating realm of dreams was important if we ever hoped to gain wider respect for our field. At various times, I have discussed dreams on such national TV shows as Phil Donahue, Barbara Walters, David Letterman, Tom Snyder, and Mike Douglas.  I have also presented at two special weekend programs involving dreams hosted by Rita Dwyer at the Smithsonian Institution, spoke on the Voice of America radio show, and had articles appearing in prominent newspapers such as The Washington Post, USA Today, and a wide variety of popular magazines, such as Psychology TodayLadies Home Journal, etc.  I also co-published the “grass roots” Dream Network Bulletin for 18 months with Henry Reed.  I have offered talks and workshops on dreams in Belgium, Canada, Latvia, Mexico and Russia, and attended and presented papers at most of the IASD conferences throughout the years including those in Holland and Denmark.

In a different context, Henry Reed and I also pioneered our Dream Helper Ceremony in which a group of dreamers attempt to assist a designated “target person” with an undisclosed emotional problem through their combined telepathic dreaming efforts. Over many years, the “target persons” have quite consistently expressed extremely favorable reactions to this procedure and stated that the dreamers had correctly identified significant personal information that had not been overtly disclosed to any of the ”dream helpers.” I consider that I have made a contribution to the area of paranormal dreaming by continually emphasizing in many venues that a substantive data base has accumulated to confirm the existence of paranormal dreaming. I have been fortunate to have personally had the opportunity to participate as a dreaming subject in four sleep laboratory studies investigating the possible evidence for psi dreaming. The first experience was at the Institute of Dream Research in Miami Florida directed by Calvin Hall. I was also extensively studied at Mamonides Hospital in Brooklyn, New York by Stanley Krippner and Montague Ullman. I also served as a subject in my own sleep laboratory at the University of Virginia Medical Center. The results I achieved under these carefully controlled laboratory conditions, and during some nights at the University of Wyoming where David Foulkes was the investigator, were so personally impressive to me, that I felt I was scientifically obligated to attempt to publicize them as widely as I could, establishing a new paradigm for evaluating the parameters of the dreaming experience.