Another Ladybug Moment


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Jung did provide some paradigmatic clinical experiences about synchronicity. His most famous example was of a young woman whose analysis was in a bit of impasse based on her resistance to the notion of unconscious process until she had a dream that included a golden scarab (as a piece of jewelry). In discussing the dream, Jung was alerted to a tapping sound at his window, which he opened. He caught a rose chafer, a Scarabaeid beetle, that he gave to the woman, apparently breaking through her resistance. (Joseph Cambray)

In this example, the psychic state is indicated by the patient’s decision to tell Jung her dream of being given a scarab. The parallel external event is the appearance and behaviour of the real scarab. Neither of these events discernibly or plausibly caused the other by any normal means, so their relationship is acausal. Nevertheless, the events parallel each other in such unlikely detail that one cannot escape the impression that they are indeed connected, albeit acausally. Moreover, this acausal connection of events both is symbolically informative (as we shall see) and has a deeply emotive and transforming impact on the patient and in these senses is clearly meaningful. (Jung’s requirement that the parallel events be simultaneous is more problematic. For present purposes, it is sufficient to know that Jung does also allow for paralleling between events that are not simultaneous.1 Thus, the patient’s dream, rather than her decision to tell the dream, preceded the actual appearance of the scarab by several hours. Yet, Jung would certainly have considered the coincidence between the dream and the actual appearance synchronistic even if the patient had not decided to tell the dream at just that moment.) (Roderick Main)

The occurrence of synchronicities is seen as permitting a continuing dialogue with the unconscious and with the larger whole of life while also calling forth an aesthetic and spiritual appreciation of life’s powers of symbolically resonant complex patterning. . . . Although Jung himself did not explicitly describe this later stage in his principal monograph on synchronicity, it is evident from many scattered passages in his writings and from the recollections and memoirs of others that he both lived his life and conducted his clinical practice in a manner that entailed a constant attention to potentially meaningful synchronistic events that would then shape his understanding and actions. Jung saw nature and one’s surrounding environment as a living matrix of potential synchronistic meaning that could illuminate the human sphere. He attended to sudden or unusual movements or appearances of animals, flocks of birds, the wind, storms, the suddenly louder lapping of the lake outside the window of his consulting room, and similar phenomena as possessing possible symbolic relevance for the parallel unfolding of interior psychic realities. . . . Central to Jung’s understanding of such phenomena was his observation that the underlying meaning or formal factor that linked the synchronistic inner and outer events—the formal cause, in Aristotelian terms—was archetypal in nature. (Richard Tarnas)

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