That’s the basic understanding of the unconscious. Now, we can really focus on the question: do dreams reveal information locked within the unconscious mind? It depends on who you ask really. If it’s a psychoanalyst, they would likely say yes. If you ask a neuropsychologist, they would likely say no. But, let’s bring up the reasons why each side believes they are right.
The psychoanalyst side would argue yes because dreams have seemed to yield relevance to real life and personal experience. While admittedly, every single person and their dreams are different, there have emerged similarities in experiences.
People have dreamed of people, places, and moments of significance, which in some cases are recurring. Some also dream about things which they do not understand, but have later been revealed to be linked to their past in some way (sometimes in life-altering ways.)
While it is agreed upon that the unconscious may exist, because of its nature, it’s difficult to scientifically measure and test it. Still, if it holds information, it remains possible that this information may leak into dreams, where our conscious mind is inactive and cannot interfere with the information of dreams.
Now, as to what that information may mean (if it is indeed coming from the unconscious), is up for debate.
The neuropsychologist side argues that due to a lack of significant, replicable, and consistent evidence, that psychoanalysis is not scientific. Interpretation of dreams is a form of psychoanalysis. Dreams hold no predictable patterns and set ways of interpretation.
However, what can be said, without a doubt, is that the brain conducts physiological changes when sleep occurs, which have a general pattern which can be monitored. The brain can also be diagnosed when something is amiss with its physical and chemical make-up. These hard and documented facts can withstand investigation from critiques.
Honestly, that battle between psychoanalysis and neuropsychology is one-sided. One side has already proven itself, while the other must still fight to be recognized.
I think that the unconscious mind exists. I have my reasons which are mostly in the form of questions yet unanswered: why do I do certain things that have no reason to be done when nothing is irregular about me? Why can I recall sometimes, against my own will, things which I don’t readily recognize and yet cannot trace to any part of my documented past?
These are only a couple of questions that remain unanswered. And if the unconscious mind exists, then dreams do not seem like a crazy way of receiving information from it. After all, let’s think about it with the information we do know.
When we go to sleep, and we lose active control of our bodily functions. The brain takes over without us having to think about it. Our brain develops consistent patterns in which we reach sleep, however, there remain incalculable firings in the brain synapses which make dreams possible. While dreams are illogical due to these firings, still, certain types of dreams are experienced by many humans. In fact, some humans can control their dreams but once they control them, they no longer run into unexplainable randomness. It is, at that point, imagination and not spontaneity. Only when we are not in control do certain instances recur, and seem to hold significance to the individual (regardless if others think so.)
Let me only convolute this extremely invigorating and unexplainable topic. There are many things I do not know. There are many things science still cannot explain. But experiences happen. And I know what I feel without anyone having to tell me. And sometimes, when I say “I can’t tell you why” it’s because I consciously cannot. And other times, when I have a dream that feels familiar but didn’t look it, it just might have been; but it just wasn’t for me to know.
Links to Research Material
That concludes this edition of Metaphysical Monday. What should we discuss next? Be sure to leave your suggestions on the “Get Meta” page located in the menu, under “Blog Features” at the top of the blog!
I leave you with a few questions to ponder on: What would it take to validate, scientifically, psychoanalysis? Must we leave dreams and the unconscious in the realm of the unknown? How might the arguments in the field of psychology change if dreams could be recorded? Leave your thoughts below.
If you’d like to respond with a counterargument, I implore you to publish a post on your blog and link back to this post (and also leave a link in the comments.) These again, are only my thoughts but everyone has an opinion. Feel free to share yours.