Synchronistic climates

Part of the job, when researching an interesting phenomenon, is to build up a phenomenological pool: collect typical examples, interesting special cases, and fringe phenomena that may or may not be relevant in conjunction with our focus of interest. With synchronicities, there is an additional category in that pool to which we might pay some attention.

Causal agents, their stand-ins, and the impression of meaningfulness

In the literature on synchronicities, that phenomenon is usually defined as a coincidence of two or more events which invokes a “sense of meaningfulness”, and where the events in question — crucially for the point I want to focus on — are not causally linked. In one respect, that last clause is a sensible requirement. For if there were a causal link between those events, that would suffice as...

Sense of meaning and surrender of choice

There is an often overlooked connection between the impression of something as meaningful — a “sense of meaning” — and a willingness to give up one’s own freedom of action and choice. Is that an ingredient in synchronicities, too? (After all, the feeling of meaningfulness is a necessary ingredient in the phenomenon as such.) 1. In his analysis of the history of advertising, Tim Wu explains the...

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.

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...

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...

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.