More on synchronicities and the world-person direction

In my previous post, I have contrasted interactions that run in the person-world direction (actions and behavior) with those that run in the world-person direction (perceptions); and I have noted that interactions of both kinds can be taken over by unconscious forces: behavior can be disrupted or hijacked, and similarly (though perhaps more rarely) so can perceptions. Synchronicities can be seen as world-person-directed interactions which are thus hijacked: something unconscious in a person’s psychology directs their attention towards coincidental events in the external world — events which might have been simply overlooked otherwise, but now are taken in by the person and interpreted as meaningful in some subjective way.

There are two distinct elements to this: first, attention and awareness are captured; and secondly, what is perceived is taken as meaningful (rather than “just a coincidence”). We can tell that an unconscious force (a “break-in” from the unconscious) is in play when a subject loses conscious control over these elements. Persons generally have control over where they focus their attention; but occasionally it can be forcefully pulled away from whatever they want to focus on towards perceiving something  else in the external world. Persons have some power over their interpretation of events, too, and yet sometimes they have difficulty dismissing something as mere coincidence, and start to ask themselves whether it “means something”.

Neither of these two elements is readily explained; and both run counter to our everyday self-understanding (which is of course one in which we are in control of both attention and interpretation). In contrast, disruptions in the person-world direction are intelligible to that self-understanding on an analogy: just as an action may originate from a person’s will, but then be constrained by something in the external world (such as, e.g. another person’s actions), it may be restrained by something in their own psyche (e.g. “an inner voice” that may hold us back). From that analogy, we can understand psychological dynamics as “outside” the person’s will in a way similar to how external events are “outside” (and the analogy can be enhanced if we go a step further and personalize the psychological dynamic, thus likening it to other people’s actions in the external world). But in the case of world-person interactions, the disrupted and the disruptor are on the same side of the equation: both the conscious attempt to focus attention and the unconscious force that pulls it away are psychological factors (and thus they are both “inside”), and again, so are both the consious attempt at interpretation of the events as “just coincidence” and the overriding experience of them as “meaningful”.

By Leif Frenzel

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.

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