Synchronicity is a concept that has fascinated thinkers across disciplines for decades, and few have delved as deeply into its nature and implications as the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. According to Jung, synchronicity refers to meaningful coincidences that defy rational explanation, but that feel infused with a sense of significance or destiny. But how do we recognize such coincidences, and what role do they play in our lives and psyches?
Jung himself was driven to explore the concept of synchronicity by his encounters with analysands who described unusual coincidences that seemed to be tied to their inner experiences and conflicts. For example, a patient might think of a long-lost friend just before they receive a call from them or while discussing a dream scarab a similar insect flies through the office window. These events felt charged with meaning and often served as powerful catalysts for psychological growth and transformation.
But what makes a coincidence truly synchronistic, as opposed to just a random or arbitrary occurrence? Jung argued that synchronistic events are characterized by their emotional intensity and their association with archetypal situations, such as death, illness, or relationship crises. In such contexts, our consciousness is often altered, and our usual defenses and rationalizations are temporarily suspended. This creates an opening for the unconscious, with its symbolic and mythical dimensions, to break through and communicate with us in a language of images, dreams, and omens.
From a theoretical physics perspective, synchronicity can be seen as a manifestation of non-locality, or the idea that seemingly separate entities can influence each other instantaneously, regardless of distance or time. This concept challenges the classical view of causality and suggests that the universe operates on a web of interconnectedness and interdependence, where every event is part of a larger pattern or order. In this sense, synchronicity can be seen as a bridge between science and spirituality, as it points to a deeper level of reality that transcends our limited senses and rational faculties.
But how can we discern whether a coincidence is truly synchronistic, or just a product of our own biases or wishful thinking? Jung emphasized the importance of personal experience and intuition in such matters, as well as the need for critical reflection and testing against external reality. For example, if we have a dream of a friend who we haven’t seen in years, we might interpret it as a sign to reconnect with them, but we should also consider whether there are other possible explanations, such as recent news or memories that triggered the dream.
Ultimately, the meaning of synchronicity is not something that can be fully grasped or measured by our rational minds alone. It is a phenomenon that invites us to expand our awareness and sensitivity to the mysterious and numinous aspects of life, and to connect with the deeper patterns and archetypes that underlie our personal and collective existence. As Jung put it, synchronistic events are those in which an inner subjective event is mirrored by an objective one, the coincidence being so striking that it is difficult to regard it as merely accidental.
HERE’S THE DREAM WE ANALYZE
“My son jumped into the sea in a dockyard against my wishes and didn’t resurface.”
BECOME A DREAM INTERPRETER
We’ve created DREAM SCHOOL to teach others how to work with their dreams. A vibrant community has constellated around this mission, and we think you’ll love it. Check it out.
GIVE US A HAND
Hey folks — We need your help. Please BECOME OUR PATRON and keep This Jungian Life podcast up and running.
SHARE YOUR DREAM WITH US
SUBMIT YOUR DREAM HERE FOR A POSSIBLE PODCAST INTERPRETATION.
INTERESTED IN BECOMMING A JUNGIAN ANALYST?
Enroll in thePHILADELPHIA JUNGIAN SEMINAR and start your journey to become an analyst.