Sometimes we get the feeling that our life isn’t a chain of meaningless coincidences. Some of the people we meet and some of the things that happen to us seem weirdly connected. Carl Gustav Jung took a firm position when it comes to situations which look a bit like coincidence, but are, in fact, so much more than that. Jung coined the term synchronicity in 1920 and assigned many years of study to what he called ‘meaningful coincidences’. One of the most well-known definitions given to synchronicity was published in 1952 in the paper ‘Synchronicity – An Acausal Connecting Principle’, a paper written in collaboration with the Nobel laureate for physics, Wolfgang Pauli.
In this paper, Jung names them ‘temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events’. He provides many examples from his own psychotherapeutic practice to show that inner psychological phenomena, if strong enough, can materialize in physical phenomena in the outside world. One of the most cited examples refers to a female patient with an inflated animus who tended to over-rationalize everything. She showed no signs of treatment progress although she had been seeing Dr Jung for a long time. Jung started feeling that he could be of no major help to her and confesses in his paper that he hoped for something irrational to turn up, something to stop the over-rationalizing hamster wheel the woman had been running on for so long. One day she brought into analysis a dream about someone offering her a golden scarab piece of jewellery. While sharing the dream, a scarab tapped at the window. Jung took the insect and offered it to the patient. That was the moment when the dream and the reality connected to such an extent that the patient finally became aware of what her unconscious was trying to convey to her: it was time to give up overthinking. Jung wrote that a shift in her perception occurred and the therapeutic path became smoother from there.
Many therapists mention similar examples from their practice. For example, G. met her Jungian analyst for the first time. She started talking about herself and a very significant person in her life – the priest from an Episcopal church where G. had been a teacher and a parishioner for twenty years. She told the therapist what a great shepherd Father Garcia was on the path of her becoming. When she mentioned the name, the therapist stopped. Father Garcia was his mentor when he was training to become an episcopal priest! G. and her analyst lived in a large city, had no connections to each other and still they were both highly influenced and initiated into spiritual matters by the same man. This ‘meaningful coincidence’ helped them to build a strong foundation for their therapeutic relationship and this bond that lasted for years and contributed immensely to G’s development both as a person and a psychotherapist.
Although there are many critics of Jung’s idea of synchronicity, those who experience such episodes know they are not mere coincidences happening in a vast and uncaring universe. They are meaningful, acausal and conceptually related events that happen at the same time, despite their extremely low chances of turning up simultaneously. Finally, they happen to teach us something about ourselves and to tell us it’s time we listened to our souls. If you’re one of those who is no stranger to synchronicity let us know! We love to hear the stories of the people who let their souls be heard.