I engage critically with C. G. Jung’s late work on the idea of synchronicities, and related work from other authors at the time. My focus is on methodology, argument analysis and conceptual inquiry (rather than empirical or historical research).

Subjectivity and the inability to find causal connections

In Jung’s examples of synchronicities, at least three ingredients seem necessary - all of them rather subjective in nature: first, there is a perceived connection between two events; secondly, a subjectively felt need for an explanation of that connection; and thirdly, an inability to construe the connection as a causal relationship.

Mirrors: losing sight amidst the turmoil

The adventure is kicked into motion by an episode of emotional upheaval (and we know where that leads): a surprise meeting with Julia, an old flame, at the New Year’s party. Romantic memories awake, then confusion arises when she acts somewhat coldly but also, it seems, with some recognition, and finally deep disappointment fuels the mix at her husband’s appearance. This is too much: it all...

The wide and narrow senses of ‘synchronicity’

Two different senses of ‘synchronistic phenomena’ are operative in Jung’s work. In a narrow sense, there are what I call ‘synchronicities’ on this blog: occasions where two or more events coincide although there is a low probability for them to do so, and where at the same time there is a pronounced sense of a ‘meaningful connection’ between them. That sense of meaning is often perceived only by...

Reflective clarity for the phenomenological pool

When we become aware of a new phenomenon, it usually happens this way: you notice an occurrence, and then another one, and so on; soon you realize that it is a pattern; you give it a name; finally you collect instances and begin to investigate them: formulating explanations, making predictions, putting it all together in a theory of that phenomenon. Something like this presumably happened with...

Mirrors: smoky ones

Mirrors — those of the symbolic flavor, i.e. mirrors of the soul — don’t necessarily have to be visual. In one of Neil Gaiman’s short stories, a narrative work of art (i.e. a story-in-a-story) does the same trick that Oscar Wilde’s painting of Dorian Gray performs. Thus Gaiman removes the symbolic mirror one step further from literal mirrors.

Two faces of the synchronicities essay

When we try to understand the synchronicities essay, and related writings from Jung’s late period, we face a deep-seated complication: Jung himself thought of his project along the lines of a misleading analogy...

Mirrors: Wilde pictures

Imagine you sit model for a painting. When it is finished, you look at it with surprise and admiration: the painter is a true artist, and this is his masterpiece. It brings out something about you, your true personality; it shows things of which you were only dimly aware yourself. To use an old expression: it reflects your soul.

The unconscious is not (entirely) in the head

There is an air of mysticism about claims, often found in Jungian psychology, that the unconscious ‘arranges’ things in the external world. How can something psychological, something that is — so to speak — merely ‘in my head’, have real influence over physical objects and other people? Is that just a figure of speech, or should it be taken seriously? And if the latter — how? Let’s clear this up!

Leif Frenzel is a writer and independent researcher. He has a background in philosophy, literature, music, and information technology. His recent interest is Jungian psychology, especially synchronicities and the relationship between consciousness and the unconscious.