Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche CW 8

Here I would like to call attention to a possible misunderstanding which may be occasioned by the term “synchronicity.”

I chose this term because the simultaneous occurrence of two meaningfully but not causally connected events seemed to me an essential criterion.

I am therefore using the general concept of synchronicity in the special sense of a coincidence in time of two or more causally unrelated events which have the same or a similar meaning, in contrast to “synchronism,” which simply means the simultaneous occurrence of two events.

Synchronicity therefore means the simultaneous occurrence of a certain psychic state with one or more external events which appear as meaningful parallels to the momentary subjective state—and, in certain cases, vice versa.

My two examples illustrate this in different ways.

In the case of the scarab the simultaneity is immediately obvious, but not in the second example.

It is true that the flock of birds occasioned a vague fear, but that can be explained causally.

The wife of my patient was certainly not conscious beforehand of any fear that could be compared with my own apprehensions, for the symptoms

(pains in the throat) were not of a kind to make the layman suspect anything bad.

The unconscious, however, often knows more than the conscious, and it seems to me possible that the woman’s unconscious had already got wind of the danger.

If, therefore, we rule out a conscious psychic content such as the idea of deadly danger, there is an obvious simultaneity between the flock of birds, in its traditional meaning, and the death of the husband.

The psychic state, if we disregard the possible but still not demonstrable excitation of the unconscious, appears to be dependent on the external event.

The woman’s psyche is nevertheless involved in so far as the birds settled on her house and were observed by her.

For this reason it seems to me probable that her unconscious was in fact constellated.

The flock of birds has, as such, a traditional mantic significance.

This is also apparent in the woman’s own interpretation, and it therefore looks as if the birds represented an unconscious premonition of death.

The physicians of the Romantic Age would probably have talked of “sympathy” or “magnetism.”

But, as I have said, such phenomena cannot be explained causally unless one permits oneself the most fantastic ad hoc hypotheses.  ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 849-850