Dreams are said to be the mind's way of making sense of the various types of input with which it has had to cope. It has certainly been proved that the human being needs sleep in order to function successfully. Indeed sleep depravation has a profound effect on the efficiency and the ability, and the function of dreams seems to be to balance the psychological and physiological activity within us. Mental and physical breakdown occurs very quickly without the relief of the dream process. During waking hours the focus of our activity is generally geared towards the external and conscious. We are continually taking in information which must be either used immediately or stored until we can categorise it and fit into some kind of pattern.
We have the ability to 'read' our fellow humans and situations. We are capable of assessing what is going on, making decisions and producing realisations and insights in the light of fresh information. Both the information and the insights are stored for later use, and can appear in dreams in an apparently random fashion. There are those people who do not believe that dreams have any particular function in our lives other than being some kind of repository for information received. It has been suggested that dreams are a kind of white noise or a background hum similar to that which emanates from any piece of electrical equipment.
On some levels this may well be true. They are a sort of self-clearing process which makes room each night for the next day's information. The question then arises, however, as to where the cleared material goes. It is a little like the housewife who spring-cleans, throws some of her rubbish away and stores the rest in the attic. What is left is then put to good use in the home. In the case of dreams, the rubbish, or what is not perceived as being needed is returned to the general tip or collective unconscious. The material which may be useful in the future is then put away to be drawn on at random, and the remainder is left available for easy access.
Another way of looking at this process is to think of the mind as being a huge computer . In the waking state we are continually feeding information, which is not filed in any particularly efficient way. Dreams perform two functions. One is the correct sorting ad filing of information. The second is the presentation of information necessary for the dreamer to function successfully within the world in which he/she lives. As this internal computer becomes more powerful it needs to spend less time and effort sorting the incoming information, and more time searching for relevant information to enable it and its manager to function more effectively.
Dreams tap into this information database of memory, experience, perception and cultural belief, and form new ideas and concepts. They also present with a way of solving problems which may seem impossible on a conscious level. When the limitations that the conscious mind places on the though processes are removed, the mind is free to roam wherever it pleases. Free, from inhibition, it will create scenarios and situations which defy explanation by the logical side of the personality. In looking for explanations we have to become more creative and open in the pursuit of knowledge. We can thereby tap into not only our own storehouse of images, but also into an even more subtle level of information available to everyone. This is the level that Jung labelled the Collective Unconscious.
The term 'unconscious' is taken to delineate many functions and aspects of Self. It is that aspect of pour being that scans our life experience, knowledge of which is retained in a level of memory to which we seldom have access. Information processing then becomes the development of a concept of reality in the understanding of what is probable and what would be severely out of the ordinary. Much of that which we call the unconscious forms a set of basic physiological and physiological functions - our way of surviving. It is also a collection of inherited norms of conduct, beliefs and ideas.
As the collective unconscious becomes more accessible to us, it becomes obvious that there are certain patterns which continually emerge. These basic patterns often have been adjusted to fit the dreamer's experience and sometimes need to be readjusted so that they can be made to fit better. Many dreams take place which enable us to have access to the basic patterns and many more enable us to make the very subtle adjustments necessary.
Reference: 10.000 Dreams Interpreted: Pamela Ball.