Larry Dossey on his book “The Power of Premonitions”

Larry Dossey, the doctor turned author famous for his book “Healing Words” has always come up with some unconventional writings, with some groundbreaking observations, supported by strong case studies. After proving the power of prayers in his last book, in his latest book The Power of Premonitions he has documented some real cases of influences of premonitions on our lives. It is a book for both believers and non-believers that premonition is all about science and nothing else.

In this interview he has provided some self-made questions with some most helpful answers and we are happy that we can share these answers (with some editing on our end) with our readers with due permission of the honorable author.


What’s your book about?

Premonitions — knowing what’s about to happen.

What’s a premonition?

“Premonition” literally means “forewarning.” Premonitions come in all flavors.  Sometimes they provide information about positive, pleasant happenings that lay ahead — a job promotion, where the last remaining parking place is, or, in some instances, the winning lottery numbers.

Why did you write this book?

During my first year in medical practice as an internist, I had a dream premonition that shook me up and made me realize the world worked differently than I had been taught.  Then patients of mine began telling me about their own premonitions. Even my physician colleagues would occasionally open up and share their premonitions with me. So I decided this was a well-kept secret in medicine that needed telling.

The time is right for this book because science has come onto the premonitions scene.  There are now hundreds of experiments that confirm premonitions, which have been replicated by researchers all over the world. So there’s a new story to tell.  It’s no longer only about people’s experiences, but it’s also about science.

You talk about “evidence” for premonitions.   But isn’t the evidence just anecdotes and people’s stories?

This field used to be only about stories, but that’s changed.  There’s now a science of premonitions.  For the first time in history, we can now use “premonition” and “science” in the same sentence.

Take the “presentiment” experiments that have been pioneered by consciousness researcher Dean Radin.  Briefly, a person sits in front of a computer, which will make a random selection from a large collection of images that are of two types — calming or violent.  Calming images may be a lovely scene from nature; violent images deal with death, carnage, grisly autopsies, and so on.   The subject has some physiological function being measured, such as the electrical conductivity of the skin or the diameter of the pupil.  The bodily function begins to change several seconds before the image is randomly selected by the computer and shown on the screen.   Here’s the shocker:  the physiological change occurs to a greater degree if the image to be shown is violent in nature.  How is this possible?  How does the body know which image is going to be shown in the future?

Dozens of these studies have been replicated by various researchers.  They show that we have a built-in ability to know the future.  Somehow our unconscious mind knows the future before our awareness kicks in, and this awareness shows up in bodily reactions.

Another type of experiment is called “remote viewing,” in which people can consciously know highly detailed information up to a week before it happens.  These studies were pioneered at Stanford Research Institute and have been replicated at Princeton University and elsewhere.

How can we know when to take a premonition seriously?

If the premonition is extremely vivid — if it seems “realer than real” — take it seriously. Also, if the premonition is repetitive, as if clamoring for attention, pay attention. If the premonition involves images of death, it’s wise to take it seriously.  You might not get a second chance. If the premonition is accompanied by physical symptoms, it deserves sincere consideration.  If the premonition is health-related, pay attention. People can become very skilled in knowing when to take a premonition seriously. They develop a refined sense over time. Practice makes perfect.

The subtitle of your book is “how knowing the future can shape our lives.”  How can it?

Knowing the future can help you have a future. How?  Premonitions are often about survival.  They warn us of future dangers — health problems, impending accidents, disasters, and so on. But perhaps the main way premonitions affect our lives is by giving us a different way of thinking about our own consciousness, our own mind. I discuss experiments in which conscious can operate both into the future and into the past. This suggests that time does not limit what our consciousness can do. This raises the possibility that our consciousness is timeless.  This opens up the possibility of immortality and the survival of some aspect of our consciousness following death.

You say that most premonitions are unconscious?

Yes. Most premonitions occur in dreams.  Dreams by definition are unconscious (with the exception of so-called lucid dreams, in which one is aware one is dreaming). And many experiments show that people’s bodies react to future events even before they happen, without their being aware of it.

Is there a downside to premonitions?

Yes. Anything can be taken to extremes. People can become “psychic junkies,” pathologically obsessed with these matters. Premonitions can be false.  The mind plays tricks — sometimes dirty tricks.  Hallucinations happen.  Just like we can have false memories of the past, we can have false impressions of the future.

Skeptics say we can’t know the future.  When we appear to do so, it’s just a chance happening. What about this?

The skeptics have a point. No doubt some premonitions that seem to come true are nothing more than chance happenings or lucky hits. But to say that all the billions of people throughout human history who have experienced premonitions that turned out to be valid are deluded seems highly unlikely.

Skeptics often single out examples of premonitions that are silly or nutty, then generalize to condemn all premonitions.  This is irrational.

Most skeptics are poorly informed.  They simply ignore the experiments showing that people can sense the future, because these studies create huge holes in their arguments.

For many skeptics, experiments don’t matter. They will not be persuaded that premonitions are real, no matter how compelling the evidence is.  As one skeptic said, “This is the sort of thing I would not believe, even if it were true.”

What’s the Big Lesson from premonitions?

Premonitions are an incredible gift. Although they are an aid to our physical survival, their main contribution is in providing us with an expanded vision of who we are and what our destiny may be.  They show that we’re more than a physical brain and body.  Brains cannot operate outside the present or beyond the body.  But our consciousness can, as premonitions show.

Premonitions reveal that we’re not slaves to the body or to the present.  We can operate outside of time; something about us is timeless. The implications are quite wonderful, because they imply immortality. Not a small contribution.

Browse all books by Larry Dossey at

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