Vol. 1, Ep. 11 "Dreamlike" (2008)


Are Dreams Contagious? (Episode 11)

 When we dream we sink into our personal unconscious, coming closer and closer to our true selves, the collective unconscious. It is in states like this that we are especially open to "communications" from other egos.

 The collective unconscious is the reservoir of our experiences as a species, a kind of knowledge we are all born with. And yet we can never be directly conscious of it. It influences all of our experiences and behaviors, most especially the emotional ones, but we only know about it indirectly, by looking at those influences.

 There are some experiences that show the effects of the collective unconscious more clearly than others: love at first sight, déjà vu, near-death trauma and the immediate recognition of certain symbols and myths, could all be understood as the sudden conjunction of our outer reality and the inner reality of the collective unconscious. Grander examples are the creative experiences shared by artists and musicians all over the world and in all times, or the spiritual experiences of mystics of all religions, or the parallels in dreams, fantasies, mythologies, fairy tales and literature.

 Personality theorists have argued for many years about whether psychological processes function in terms of mechanism or teleology. Mechanism is the idea that things work in through cause and effect: One thing leads to another which leads to another, and so on, so that the past determines the present. Teleology is the idea that we are lead on by our ideas about a future state, by things like purposes, meanings, values, and so on. Mechanism is linked with determinism and with the natural sciences. Teleology is linked with free will and has become rather rare. Freudians and behaviorists tend to be mechanists, while the neo-Freudians, humanists, and existentialists tend to be teleologists. Carl Jung believed that both play a part, and he added a third alternative called synchronicity.

 Synchronicity is the occurrence of two events that are not linked causally, nor linked teleologically, yet are meaningfully related. Often, people dream about something, like the death of a loved one, and find the next morning that their loved one did, in fact, die at about that time. Sometimes people pick up the phone to call a friend, only to find that their friend is already on the line. Once, a patient was describing a dream involving a scarab beetle to his therapist when, at that very instant, his therapist turned into a very similar scarab beetle and flew out the window. Most psychologists would call these things coincidences, or try to show how they are more likely to occur than we think. Jung believed they were indications of how we are connected, with our fellow humans and with nature in general, through the collective unconscious.