C.G. Jung Letters, Vol. 1: 1906-1950

Answers to Rhine’s Questions November 1945

As suggested by Jung (Rhine, 18 Sept.1945) R. submitted the following questions:

  1. What do you think is the proper relation of parapsychology to the general science of psychology?
  2. What is your view of the mind-body relation, and to what extent is parapsychology of help on this question?
    3• What, in your judgment, has parapsychology taught us regarding the character of the human psyche?
    4• To what extent do you see a useful reiation between parapsychology and psychiatry?
    5• Can you interpret the experimental findings of parapsychology in extra•sensory perception and its apparent reach beyond the limits of space and time as we think of them, in terms of your views of the human personality?

1) I consider parapsychology as a branch or discipline of general psychology, more especially of the psychology of the unconscious.

2) The psychology of the unconscious has much to say about the mind-body relation (psychogenic disturbances of the physiological functions). Parapsychology is apt to demonstrate the existence of phenomena of a psychic nature, which influence material objects or create physical bodies in a place where no such or similar matter was before. Thus parapsychology may elucidate the problem of how the living is shaped and continuously reshaped through the unconscious psyche.

3) Parapsychology has shown above all that the psyche has an aspect of a relative-temporal and relative-spatial character. It has shown, moreover, that the unconscious psyche has a faculty to influence matter detached from bodily contact and to assemble matter beyond the reach of the body to such a degree that it appears as a physical body
perceptible to our senses as well as to the photographic plate.

4) I see, for the time being at least, no “useful” connection between parapsychology and psychiatry. It is as yet a merely scientific problem, but as such of the highest importance. Parapsychological phenomena appear not infrequently in the beginning of psychoses, perhaps less frequently during the course of such diseases.

5) I can explain extra-sensory perception only through the working hypothesis of the relativity of time and space. They seem to be psychically relative, i.e., what one calls absolute space, for instance, only exists in the world of macrophysical aspects. In the microphysical world the relativity of space and time is an established fact. The psyche, inasmuch as it produces phenomena of a. non-spatial or a non-temporal character, seems to belong to the microphysical world. This would also explain the obvious non-spatial nature of psychic existences such as thought etc. and the fact of precognition. In so far as the psyche is an energic phenomenon, it has mass, but mass of microphysical extension or weight. From this fact we can derive material effects of the psyche.

As the relativity of time and space includes the relativity of causality, and as the psyche partakes of relative time-space, it also relativizes causality and therefore enjoys, in so far as it is microphysical, an at least relative independence of absolute causality. (Chinese philosophy says that as long as things are in the North-East, i.e., before they have risen, they can be altered. When they have entered the East, they take their unalterable course.)

The fact that the future can be occasionally foreseen does not exclude freedom in general, but only in this particular case.

Freedom could become doubtful only if everything could be foreseen .

Viewed from the psychological standpoint, extra-sensory perception appears as a manifestation of the collective unconscious.

This particular psyche behaves as if it were one and not as if it were split up into many individuals. It is non-personal. (I call it the “objective psyche.”)

It is the same everywhere and at all times. (If it were not so, comparative psychology would be impossible.)

As it is not limited to the person, it is also not limited to the body.

It manifests itself therefore not only in human beings but also at the same time in animals and even in physical circumstances. (Cf. the oracle technique of the I Ching and character horoscopes.)

I call these latter phenomena the synchronicity of archetypal events.

For instance, I walk with a woman patient in a wood. She tells me about the first dream in her life that had made an everlasting impression upon her.

She had seen a spectral fox coming down the stairs in her parental home.

At this moment a real fox comes out of the trees not 40 yards away and walks quietly on the path ahead of us for several minutes .

The animal behaves as if it were a partner in the human situation.

(One fact is no fact, but when you have seen many, you begin to sit up.)

The bread-knife is still in my possession.1 The table is gone.

~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 363-364.