Thursday, May 29, 2008

We Share More Than We're Aware

A Jar of Honey Blood For Your Dreams

The Collective Dream Experience

I was speaking with the spouse tonight. I mentioned how that around sunset I sometimes long to be able to fly.

My spouse responded with surprise, asking, "Fly, why would you want to do that?".

"Yes fly", I answered, "I'd love to lift up above the trees and capture a bit more of the sunset".

"Oh", my spouse said, "That's interesting".

"Haven't you ever had dreams where you can fly?", I asked.

"Yes", replied my wife, "rarely, but many times over the years".

We were both standing in the driveway during our conversation, and I lifted my arms up a bit to shoulder height, and asked, "Someone would be running toward you, and you'd start to take off?".

"I've had dreams like that", she said.

"They would get to your feet just as you take off, but you relax, and you soar high above them", I said.

"Exactly, my dream.", my wife responded.

And then I added, "But they can't get you like they could in the past, when you had the same dreams when you were younger, because you're older now, and you're a more experienced flier".

"I have had those very same dreams", my wife admitted.

My wife and I had not only had the same type of dreams, but experienced the same sequence of dream experiences by progressively becoming better at flying over the course of decades.

How is that possible if dreams are just semi-nonsensical neural processing taking place with the brain of a separate individuals?
The Origin of Common Dreams

Dreams may solely result from internal subconscious processing on an individual level, but I find such a shared subconscious experiences fascinating. Just how is it that different individuals can share the same rich dream experiences? Answers for this question have been formulated over the centuries.

The phrase "collective subconscious" has been employed in an attempt to define a boundary, and an origin for the shared dream phenomena. The source of the collective subconscious, it has been proposed, is sourced in the exposure of individuals to common cultural symbols while in a conscious state.

Just as many bird species have brains already hard wired to build nest, and therefore also possess other related abilities (e.g., locating the right sized materials, and location for building a nest), the human brain is also primed to recognizing speech, and facial expressions.

It is this preprogrammed set of abilities which predisposes the human experience onto a common path. Infants acquire a fear of falling even before the development of language for example. Later in life the fear of falling may be expressed during the dream state as a dream about falling. Dreams of this type may be far more likely at certain periods of brain development, and may be an expression of our neural programming.

Yet, despite these predispositions within the human brain to process common experiences in common ways through similar dreams, I still find it hard to understand how a dream experience can be so similar from one individual to another.

Some have proposed that part of the "collective subconscious" lay outside the three dimensions which we trust as the source of all incoming experience. Some have argued that a portion of what we experience during our dream states are a form of collective interface.

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