This ‘Dream’ Man of Firsts

Mena Potts - University of Pittsburgh

Mena E. Potts, PhD, a University of Pittsburgh Competency program trainer, is the founder of the Dream Center for Education and Research, a past board member of the International Association for The Study of Dreams, and a Research Associate of the Psychohistory Forum. Dr. Potts may be contacted at

With the June 7th death of Dr. Montague Ullman, a renowned psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, we have suffered the loss of a towering figure and leading authority in the psychology of dreams and dreaming. Monte’s death was a deep personal and professional loss for me. Its impact was cushioned by a dream I had a month before his passing; he was in a hospital bed with tubes and an oxygen mask—I felt he was dying. That dream marked his departure, while a dream in the late 1970s presaged our meeting later in the 1980s.

Monte’s peerless achievements in the field are punctuated with firsts: he was the first full-time director of the Department of Psychiatry at Maimonides Hospital, he was the first to develop a community mental health center in New York, he was the first to develop a sleep laboratory at Maimonides in Brooklyn, New York, he was the first to conduct ground-breaking, scientifically-controlled laboratory experiments in dream telepathy—along with Dr. Stanley Krippner—and he was the first to originate the Experiential Dream Group Process in order to move dream work out of the consulting room and into the community. Monte’s grassroots, dream-work movement has spread to Sweden, Finland, Taiwan, and elsewhere. He is first in the understanding of dreams.

I came to know Monte by a rather labyrinthine path. In the mid 1970s I went to Zurich and studied dreams with Jungian analyst, Frau Dora Kalf, a member of Jung’s original group. I took courses at the Jung Institute and at Frau Kalf’s East-West Psychology Institute, during which I had a rare, all-day small group session with the revered Dalai Lama; both he and Kalf were spiritually inspiring and professionally motivating. When I returned I sought a doctoral program in the psychology of dreams, but could not locate one.

Later that decade I had a precognitive dream in which I had dreamed that a “Dr. Monet” or “Dr. Monte” could help me locate such a doctoral program. That dream led me to seek out Dr. Ullman’s assistance whose full name and nickname I did not know at the time. Dr. Ullman told me “no graduate degree program in dreams and dreaming exists,” but he offered to help develop a doctoral program through the Union Institute and he served on my doctoral committee with Drs. Stanley Krippner, Clark Moustakas, and others.

Dr. Ullman structured my experiential dream group internship, my internship at the Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis, and my psychic dream internship at the American Society For Psychical Research. Were it not for Monte, I could never have received the first doctorate ever awarded in the psychology of dreams. I am deeply indebted to him for all he gave to me and will cherish his memory. Through Monte I found what I could not locate within the walls of a university: the largest collection of dream knowledge and a wonderful methodology. I had found “Dr. Monet -Monte” and my personal cathedral of learning.

Monte was internationally renowned and singularly beloved, but fame and adulation could not turn his head or inflate his ego. Monte possessed gentility, decency, and humility, exhibiting love and caring in his relationships with his family and others. That’s how I will remember him. I was honored to have worked with Monte professionally, and privileged to have shared an endearing friendship with him for nearly three decades, as was my husband Dom. We miss Monte profoundly, will recall him fondly, remember his iconic contributions to dream work, and tribute his exceptional character and humanity as a stellar human being.
Robert Van de Castle
Remembering Monte

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Montague Ullman:
In Memoriam -
Clio's Psyche | Elovitz | Gilden | Lotto | Pannier | Potts | Van De Castle
 The Little Prince | Quantum Dreaming : The Dream: In Search of a New Abode
Lifwynn Lecture | Psi Dreaming | Monte Ullman: Selected Works Relevant to Cosmic Dreaming