Synchronicity 3

There is anecdotal evidence of clocks stopping during highly emotional times – when someone is ill, or there is a death or an accident. This happened to the first analyst I worked with – the grandfather clock that her elderly mother had wound once a week for many years and to which she was deeply attached, stopped at the exact moment of her death – time had run out.

Another person writes:

‘I was away visiting a friend when one morning I found my watch had stopped. It was not long after that I received the shocking news of my father’s passing. The timing seemed to correlate with the stopping of my watch.

I returned home, soon after, to find all the clocks in my house had stopped, though at different times. Nothing could explain it and I am left wondering about these unexplained coincidences. Was my father trying to send me a message?’

Similarly, there are many accounts of meaningful coincidences in happy emotional situations such as finding future partners, or where a number of people who are deeply loved all share the same birthday. Various research studies suggest that people with high rates of sensitivity and intuition, and those who practice mindfulness are more open to such experiences, which are inevitably dismissed by those who defend against such happenings.

This is a famous light hearted example:

‘French writer Emile Deschamps claims in his memoirs that, in 1805, he was treated to some plum pudding by a stranger named Monsieur de Fontgibu. Ten years later, the writer encountered plum pudding on the menu of a Paris restaurant and wanted to order some, but the waiter told him that the last dish had already been served to another customer, who turned out to be de Fontgibu. Many years later, in 1832, Deschamps was at a dinner and once again ordered plum pudding. He recalled the earlier incident and told his friends that only de Fontgibu was missing to make the setting complete—and in the same instant, the now senile de Fontgibu entered the room, having got the wrong address.’

Jung wrote after describing some examples: “When coincidences pile up in this way, one cannot help being impressed by them – for the greater the number of terms in such a series, or the more unusual its character, the more improbable it becomes.” Jung’s thinking is very much aligned with his work on the collective unconscious and the deep connections between people through an invisible network. If a number of coincidences occur then there is a possibility that the deep unconscious is drawing one’s attention to something or someone. There is a form of signalling taking place. Jung saw the collective unconscious ‘more like an atmosphere in which we live than something that is found in us. It is simply the unknown quantity in the world’.

He continues:

‘it does not by any means behave merely psychologically; in the cases of so-called synchronicity, it proves to be a universal substrate present in the environment rather than a psychological premise. Wherever we come into contact with an archetype we enter into relationship with transconscious, metaphysic factors which underlie the spiritualistic hypothesis as well as that of magical actions.’