Synchronicity 2

In the last post Jung’s clinical example with the scarab beetle was used in the explanation of synchronicity. The additional meaning is that the scarab is a symbol of rebirth and Jung pointed out that that was what one would expect to accompany any process of psychic transformation such as the events that began with the female patient’s dream.  From this particular individual experience Jung realised that the implication was that synchronicity came from an archetypal foundation. As the patient described the scarab beetle in her dream so the actual rose chafer arrived at the window and together this allowed a numinous experience – mysterious and awe-inspiring.

Jung wrote:

‘Synchronicity therefore consists of two factors. (a) An unconscious image comes into consciousness either directly (i.e., literally) or indirectly (symbolised or suggested) in the form of a dream, idea or premonition. (b) An objective situation coincides with this content.’

Jung then describes his work with a depressed man whom he had helped recover, but who had then married a woman who seemed to scoff at the therapeutic work. This placed a burden on the patient who again became depressed, but did not contact Jung. One night after giving a lecture Jung lay awake for a long time:

‘At about two o’clock – I must have just fallen asleep – I awoke with a start, and had the feeling that someone had come into the room; I even had the impression that the door had been hastily opened. I instantly turned on the light, but there was nothing. … it was still as death. “Odd,” I thought, “someone did come into the room!” Then I tried to recall exactly what had happened, and it occurred to me that I had been awakened by a feeling of dull pain, as though something had struck my forehead and then the back of my skull. The following day I received a telegram saying that my patient had committed suicide. He had shot himself. Later, I learned that the bullet had come to rest in the back wall of the skull.’

Jung continues:

‘This experience was a genuine synchronistic phenomenon such as is quite often observed in connection with an archetypal situation – in this case, death. By means of a relativisation of time and space in the unconscious it could well be that I had perceived something which in reality was taking place elsewhere. The collective unconscious is common to all; it is the foundation of what the ancients called the “sympathy of all things.” In this case the unconscious had knowledge of my patient’s condition. All that evening, in fact, I had felt curiously restive and nervous, very much in contrast to my usual mood.’