- Mental Health
Dreaming: Your Subconscious is a Genius and Why You Should Fear It
I am convinced that our collective subconscious is incredibly powerful.
Awhile back, in a series of similar dreams that I experienced for a few months, I noticed everyone in them aside from myself spoke in a different tongue. I was even able to find writing in books and notes or posters in my dreams with a different language, presumably of the same language. At first, I thought it was gibberish. However, I grew curious, because I started noticing continuities of the language between my dreams. So I started writing down what I heard or read after waking up and I realized something extraordinary: the “gibberish” was a very coherent, complex and original language complete with original ideas in punctuation, grammar and tonal emphasis. My mind had created an entirely functional and complete language without me even realizing it.
The word “subconscious” in today’s casual usage sums up to most peoples the repressed empty mind space theories of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, or perhaps the pseudoscientific synopsis behind the Leonardo DiCaprio film, Inception . The word carries a bit of a loosely defined definition in academic and scientific circles, and has lost some significance because of this, but it should remain a very important consideration in everyday life and psychology. Often used in new age theories to explain how “tapping into it” can unlock advantageous states of awareness, often through meditation or lucid dreaming, the word has also come to be associated with such faux aspirations and has been further diluted as a word in the scientific community. However, based on philosophical and personal experience, I can tell you that the subconscious is very real and plays a very big role in your everyday life. Our subconscious, it would seem, is a lot more intelligent than we are and capable of incredible mental prowess.
As with my new age counterparts, I believe there to be significant connection between our dreams and our subconscious. I have found in my own personal dreams, after analyzing them myself, that my own subconscious’ intellect and creativity far surpasses my own conscious’. I have also learned that it is of a very aggressive nature, and although I am not yet aware of its goals I have concluded thus far that they are directly oppositional to whatever my own conscious mind’s may be.
While I have not read enough of modern psychology to know whether this is entirely true for everyone, I believe I am knowledgeable enough to find similarities between my own conclusions concerning my own subconscious and the majority of most peoples’ as well, specifically in it being more intelligent and creative than their bearer’s conscious.
Allow me to utilize Carl Jung dichotomy of the subconscious, as I find quite useful in explaining my own conclusions on it through dream analysis. Jung separated the subconscious into the collective and the personal segments. The personal subconscious is where we tucked away repressed and forgotten memories. The collective subconscious is where our minds calculate complex thought patterns without our realization or approval.
Now, we have all experienced dreams before. They are often very personal to us because they show us things that cause us to be nervous. Sometimes we are naked in them, or sometimes others are naked that we know. Sometimes they are sexual and profane. Sometimes they can cause you to sweat, your heart to beat, and you wake up with an image of a ghastly figure imprinted into your mind. Sometimes they are very enigmatic and nonsensical. They follow certain patterns of everyday life except without explanation to causation, yet in these dreams we play along as if this was not a concern. We may seemingly “jump” from one location to another and not question the validity of it. It is almost as if our minds adopt an entirely different system of thought process. Well, in some ways, it does.
You may often wake up remembering a significant amount of your dream, but forgetting it as the day goes on. This is because the dream borrowed knowledge from your personal subconscious. When we are awake, our brains jump around a lot. The whole 10% brain usage myth is not true, but like most myths, it does play off some truth. Our brains are not accessible 100% in every area at all times. We use 100% of our brains, but not all at once. While we are awake, our brains rarely make any connection to the subconscious. The subconscious is, more or less, asleep. When our conscious goes to sleep, our subconscious awakes and takes over. The deeper stage of sleep you are in, the more likely your subconscious will take over as well as the more dominant it will be against your conscious.
It is for this reason that while we are awake we may have trouble in remembering our dreams, even if they were last night (if you would like to remember these dreams for your own personal analysis, keep a pen and paper next to you when you sleep: you can often still remember a good majority of these dreams right after you have them). We are often still able to recall the emotions they produced; melancholy, happiness, sadness, devastation, nostalgia, anger, or fear; this is because our conscious is not entirely asleep and still registers these emotions and imprints them into our memory.
Not all of our dreams go forgotten. Sometimes we can remember dreams very vividly. This is often, though not always, because we are lucid dreaming. Despite popular definition, this does not always mean we are in direct control of our dreams, it just means our conscious and subconscious are creating dreams in a cycle whereas they are both dominant. This usually occurs between stages 2-4 out of the five stages of sleep, when we start to experience Rapid Eye Movement (R.E.M.). For people who get eight and a half hours of sleep, this will usually occur in a pattern of two hours into sleep, four and half hours into sleep, and seven hours into sleep.
Because our subconscious and conscious are working together, we can often easily recall these dreams while we are awake, both in description of events and in the emotions they incited. These are the dreams we often like to relay to our friends. Sometimes we may find out after telling them to our friends that they were not that interesting after all. However, this is only because the origins of the emotions came partially from your subconscious and cannot be relayed merely through description.
The collective subconscious comes in when our dreams start to become dominated by our subconscious over our conscious. Sometimes in our dreams, we may find ourselves initiated into the dream already with knowledge that we did not have before we went to sleep, or perhaps knowledge we know not be true, but we do not realize it until we wake up from the dream. As an anecdote, I once experienced a very complex dream whereas my collective subconscious completely erased the knowledge of the past year of my life yet, simultaneously, was able to incorporate knowledge from that past year into the previous years of my life in such a way that that knowledge had been intertwined, reasonably, to stem from my previous years’ experiences. In other words, my mind was able to take experiences from one part of my life, delete that part, and then create a false past with them intertwined into the part of my remaining life. Sometimes dreams can even create new people with new personalities that we do not actually know in real life, but our brain tricks us during dreaming to think exist and were always there.
While we are busy dreaming, our conscious is, if not dormant, busy processing memories from the past few days, feeding them into our personal subconscious. Our personal subconscious is busy registering these memories. This evolutionary advantageous adaption serves to get rid of the clutter of our daily lives so our brains can digest new information better. When you are sleeping, and not dreaming, you actually are not doing very much to benefit your body. You are burning about ten calories an hour and your muscles, assuming you got any exercise that day, are growing, but that is about it. True resting only happens when you are dreaming. This is why someone on the “uberman” sleep cycle (a sleep pattern whereas you sleep ten minutes every two hours for a total of only two hours of sleep per day) is just as well rested as someone who sleeps eight and a half hours a day. The fewer amounts of sleeping sessions you get the more wasteful sleep you experience. For someone who only gets one session of sleeping, in the recommended eight and a half hours, you are only dreaming about ten to twenty percent of that time. The person on the uberman sleep cycle is experience dreaming almost constantly while in sleep. This is why taking naps can be a good thing, and partially why some European schools perform on average better than those in the United States (that break they get in the middle of the day serves as a nap and rest time that in turn makes their brains function better and healthier overall, and make it so they need less sleep).
Meanwhile, our collective subconscious is doing some seriously amazing things. Remember earlier how I was talking about how in our dreams we somehow find ourselves from one location to another and it all makes sense somehow, or how I opened up talking about the language my mind made, or perhaps that scene in Inception where DiCaprio explained how you never realize how you actually end up in a dream? ( Okay, so they may have got something right)
All of that is our collective subconscious. Our intelligence pales in comparison to it, our creativity even more so. This part of our brain is still, for the most part, vastly unexplained by science (probably because psychology as a field gets very little respect in both the real world and the scientific community, so no one is ever keen on funding it).
While we are dreaming, this part of our brain is doing complex mental exercises, solving logical contradictions, erasing our memories and knowledge and replacing them with new ones, developing languages and creating art for our dreams. Think of it as the ultimate film director. The best one ever, at that. Why do we have it? Well, while our personal subconscious is more or less an evolutionary advantage, this role that our collective subconscious plays in dreaming is more or less what we would call and evolutionary side effect, meaning it developed as a result of evolution but has no actual advantage, at least not yet known to science. For one, we have the most amazing dreams amongst the animal kingdom. At some point in our course of evolution as we ourselves became intelligent and able to understand symbolism our subconscious just had to one-up us. In this respect, the subconscious is like a preview into the next step of human evolution. Most animals dream of simple things that produce simple emotions. Dogs and cats often experience running, attempting to catch something or to get away from something, producing, respectively, anxiety and fear. However, their minds are not capable of the theatrical experience that ours can do.
On a personal note, seeing that my own subconscious seems to be aggressive and oppositional to my personal beliefs and goals, it may be reasonable to theorize that with the given intellect and social capacity humans have that we need something to balance out our resulting fluctuating egos. In my case, because my subconscious is like a nemesis to me, it seems to accomplish this to some degree.
As humans, our specimen of average intellect carries a subconscious more intelligent than our most intelligent person, more creative than da Vinci. Our collective subconscious is worthy of awe, fear, jealously, but also a desire to tap into. If you have read this far, I would assume you have some interest in the subject of dreaming, and I would recommend you keep a notebook for your dreams. This way you can record and analyze your dreams. Perhaps we all are creating coherent languages without even realizing it.