Montague Ullman, M.D.
September 9, 1916 June 7, 2008
Montague Ullman was born into a world where dreams were the realm of psychoanalysts. But he departed this world having empowered individuals with the tools to safely work with their own dreams.
Monte became an M.D. and psychoanalyst, but even then he followed a nontraditional path. While at Maimonides Medical Center as Director of the Department of Psychiatry, he and Stanley Krippner did groundbreaking research into telepathy in dreams, which is detailed in their book Dream Telepathy first published in 1973.
In 1974, after more than a decade at Maimonides, he resigned his position to teach psychoanalytic candidates in Sweden. His approach to teaching, which gravitated toward the culturalist wing of psychoanalytic thought based on the contributions of Sullivan, Fromm, Horney and Kardiner, led him to begin experiential dream work. His challenge was to emphasize the art of dream work rather than the clinical nature of an ongoing therapeutic relationship. His group process evolved over the next 18 months, with the safety features and discovery strategies built into the process from the beginning.
Although the group process started in a psychoanalytic setting, it didnt stay there long. He was invited to do a series of workshops at the Volvo plant in Gothenberg and soon began running lay as well as professional dream groups. His process consists of a number of distinct stages and substages, one of which is where group members take the dream and talk about it as if it were their own, the familiar If it were my dream projections. Other parts of his process include the dreamers response, a search for context, playback of the dream and orchestrating projections. The process is detailed for dream group leaders in his book Appreciating Dreams.
Monte continued returning to Sweden for more than two decades, during which time his work spread throughout the country and the Swedish Dream Group Forum was formed. He also pursued teaching experiential group dream work in the U.S., where he often referred to himself jokingly as a recovering psychoanalyst. He frequently said, Whisper dreams in my ear and Ill follow you anywhere. People whispered . . . and Monte followed, leading experiential dream groups around the world for many years.
The year 1974 was significant for another reason. That fall Monte attended a Conference of Scientists with J. Krishnamurti and David Bohm at Brockwood Park. He presented a paper on the transformation process in dreams. Monte developed the concept of a connection between the mystery of dreaming consciousness and Bohms approach to still unsettled issues in quantum theory that he pursued passionately until his death.
Monte was a Charter Fellow of the American Academy of Psychoanalysts, a Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, past president of the Society of Medical Psychoanalysts and a past president of the American Society for Psychical Research. He authored over 80 professional papers and several books. Dream Appreciation, the quarterly newsletter he published from 1996-2002, allowed him to share new thoughts and insights in a more informal way than refereed journals. There he introduced the concept that dream group members are midwives to the dream and wrote a series on dreams and art which was inspired by The Actors Studio.
In 2006 the International Association for the Study of Dreams presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his research and contributions to the field of dreams.
The titles and publications and awards only begin to do justice to a man who passionately committed his life to making dreams more socially acceptable and accessible. He believed that dreams are a tool not just for personal change but for social change, and that dreams help us get in touch with our interconnectedness with others and all that exists. He further believed that dreams are part of our survival kit not only as individuals, but with a greater goal in mind, namely survival of the species to which we belong.
Always a modest man, he was surprised at the IASD award and the overwhelming audience response to his talk. He didnt realize how many lives he had touched, including mineor how many people came to understand their dreams through his gentle process. He was a great thinker, a friend and mentor to many, and a true leader in the grass roots dream movement.
We have lost a great luminary, but his light is shining in another dimensions field of dreams.
submitted July 1, 2008: Wendy Pannier on behalf of IASD
Montes website, where visitors can leave a message on his memorial blog, is at http://siivola.org/monte/
MORE HISTORY -------------------------------------------
Dr Ullman's career spanned an early period in the practice of neurology, psychiatry and psychoanalysis, followed by a transition to community psychiatry, and the directorship of the Department of Psychiatry at the Maimonides Medical Center. He resigned in 1974 and, since then, has been engaged in extending dream work into the community.
Founder and director of the first fully operational community mental health center in New York City at the Maimonides Medical Center in 1967, he also initiated one of the first sleep laboratories in New York City at Maimonides Medical Center on 1961, a laboratory devoted to the experimental study of dreams and telepathy.
In more recent years Dr. Ullman had been in the forefront of the movement to stimulate public interest in dreams and to encourage the development of dream sharing groups. Working with a small group process that he felt was both safe and effective he has spent the past three decades leading such groups both here and abroad, especially in Sweden. There is now an organization in Sweden, The Dream Group Forum (Drömgruppsforum) formed year 1990 devoted to the training of others in this approach.
Dr. Ullman is past president of the Society of Medical Psychoanalysts, a Charter Fellow of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis, past president of the American Society for Psychical Research, past president of the Parapsychological Association, and a Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.
Dr. Ullman received his B.S. degree from the College of the City of New York in 1935, and was graduated from the New York University College of Medicine in 1938. Following the completion of his training in neurology and psychiatry, he entered private practice in 1946 after returning from military service. He completed his psychoanalytic training at the New York Medical College where he served on the psychoanalytic faculty for twelve years, starting in 1950.
In the sixties Dr. Ullman was engaged in psychosomatic research in dermatology at the Skin and Cancer Unit of Bellevue Hospital, and was associated with the Bellevue Stroke Study over a period of four years.
Dr. Ullman was also Charter Fellow of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and served as Clinical Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychiatry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University.