Synchronicity is a concept developed by Swiss analytical psychologist, Carl Jung, to describe the occurrence of a meaningful coincidence of outer and inner events that are not themselves causally connected. Jung believed that in the same way events may be connected by causality, they may also be connected by meaning.
For example, if a passenger of an aeroplane sneezes immediately before the pilot is forced to perform an emergency landing, these two events are a coincidence of events that has no meaning; it is simply a chance occurrence of a kind that takes place all the time. However, if someone were to buy a blue dress and, by mistake, the shop delivered a black one on the same day that a relative died, this would be a meaningful coincidence. The two events are not causally related, but they connected by the symbolic meaning that society gives to the colour black.
Jung thought that synchronicity was a principle that could go some way towards explaining his concepts of archetypes and the collective unconscious. For him, it encapsulates a governing dynamic which underlies the entire human experience, be it social, emotional, psychological or spiritual. Because, as Jung puts forward, archetypes are the link between the psychical and the psychic world, it can be said that synchronicity provides access to the archetypes located in the collective unconscious.
The classic example of how synchronicity can play a definitive role in our lives and where logical thinking falls down was first outlined by Jung in his 1952 paper, titled Synchronicity - An Acausal Connecting Principle. In this, he describes how he was treating a woman stuck in a strictly rational way of thinking and was struggling to make any headway when one day she told him about a dream she had had involving a scarab beetle. Recognising that the scarab beetle represented rebirth, he was about to devise a way in which to explain it to her on her terms when, lo and behold, a scarab beetle hit the window. Only after showing the woman the beetle was the ‘desired hole in her rationalism punctured’ and the ‘ice of her intellectual resistance broken’, allowing her at last to undergo a psychic renewal.
In this case, it was only after the unmoving rationalism from the conscious attitude had been compensated by a powerful irrational event of the synchronicity, could the woman’s process of transformation finally begin to move. From this, Jung concluded that the symbols which appear in people’s dreams frequently relate to psychic events, and that ‘symbolic parallels cannot be explained without the hypothesis of the collective unconscious.
That being said, one thing in particular that Jung continually goes back to is the acknowledgement that sometimes the improbable is nothing more than that, which is to say, without any specific purpose or meaning. It is only when coincidences stack up and a message becomes practically irrefutable that it is worth paying attention to them.
While the concept of synchronicity has come under scrutiny since it was first published, the idea that it can lead to greater conscious awareness in everyday life is still popular. This becomes especially true when viewed from the perspective that exploration into coincidental occurrences in your life can open your eyes to symbols that serve as a reminder of something within yourself which you have neglected or is underdeveloped.
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