The Collective Unconscious or the Collective Unknown?
No one really knows why we dream however, in an attempt to understand the process, there have been hundreds of theories over the centuries. One thing is for sure: things do not happen in nature just for the heck of it. There are very real and tangible reasons the human species, as well as numerous other species, dream. We just don't know what they are. Some theories suggest the brain is using this time to file away permanent memories while tossing out unneeded information. Other theories suggest we must dream in order to fulfill primal desires. What science does know is that if a human is kept from dreaming then bad things happen. Hallucinations, psychotic behavior and the like. So, we have to dream. The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung had an interesting theory.
According to Carl Jung, our dreams are pathways to the Collective Unconscious. Specifically, he wrote "In addition to our immediate consciousness there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals.' In other words, Jung believed that we were all linked both genetically and spiritually. Jung's theory has been interpreted in many ways over the years. You can see one interpretation, currently playing at your local movie house, in the film Inception. In the film the collective unconscious is used as a pathway into other people's dreams and, in the case of this work of fiction, used to plant the inception of an idea in someone's mind. Inception combines the theory of the collective unconscious with the fact of lucid dreaming. I use the word 'fact' as I have been blessed with the ability to lucid dream and it is difficult to deny the existence of something that 50% (a rough guesstimate) of all humans have experienced. Being conscious in a dream world is an exhilarating experience that every informed human needs to put on their 'to-do' list.
I don't know why people dream. There might very well be a collective unconsciousness but, to me, it is the collective unknown. As a chronic insomniac I do know that dreaming is an integral part of sleeping as it is one of the first things your mind does when it finally drifts off to sleep. Therefore, being able to enhance your ability to fall asleep and dream can only have positive effects. After all, if you really have to dream, why not dream big?
I have written extensively over the years about the process of falling asleep and have sorted my journal into four areas of interest.