Every moment of every day is composed of an unimaginable amount of independent events that have come together in a truly unique way. Many of these events are predictable in their realization, in that they are connected by a causal chain of events. However, there are occasionally events that take place in which there is no probable causal chain of events that would make something happen. Carl Jung realized this, and determined that there must be a force in the universe that is responsible for all of these “random”, acausal coincidences. It is because of this that he coined the term “synchronicity”, and used it as a scientific “proof” of acausally linked events. Synchronicity is a valid acausal connecting principle that is based on testimonials, probability theory, and experimentation.
Causality is defined as “the way that we explain the link between two (or more) successive events” (Jung, 115). Synchronicity however, is “the parallelism of time and meaning between psychic and parapsychic events” (Jung, 115). This means that a synchronistic event is usually composed of two components, a normal and expected event (psychic) and an unexpected and otherwise coincidental or extremely unlikely event (parapsychic). One such example of a synchronistic event is of one M. Deschamps, who when a boy in New Orleans was given a plum pudding by M. de Fortgibu. Then, ten years later, M. Deschamps was in Paris and he ordered a plum pudding in a restaurant that he had seen. However, M. de Fortgibu also happened to be in that restaurant and had already ordered the plum pudding. Many years after that event, M. Deschamps was invited to partake of a plum pudding as a special occasion. As M. Deschamps was eating it, he made a remark about how the only thing missing from the event was M. de Fortgibu. Before he could finish the statement though, M. de Fortgibu walked in the door (Jung, 15). So, with this testimonial, the ordinary event that took place in all instances was the consumption of a plum pudding, and the unique and unexplainable event was the appearance of M. de Fortgibu. Another example of a synchronistic event that was experienced by Carl Jung firsthand took place between himself and a patient during a session. The patient was describing a critical moment in a recent dream where she was given a golden scarab. As she was telling him about this though, Jung heard a noise at his window behind him. He then opened the window to find that it was an insect that was making the noise, and that it also happened to be a golden scarab (rather a scarabaeid beetle, or rose-chafer) (Jung, 22). What made this event even more odd was the fact that such a bug would not normally be attracted to a dark room such as the one that the session was taking place. These are all considered synchronistic events because they combine a normal, expected event, and a more radical and unexpected and seemingly acausal event.
What distinguishes the above synchronistic events from other causal events is the fact that normal events can be explained or rationalized with a given probability. With synchronistic events it is said that all the individual events that coincide with each other at a given moment to create the synchronistic occurrence are at such unimaginable odds that it is not at all probable for such a thing to happen, for whenever a cause is even remotely thinkable, synchronicity becomes an exceedingly doubtful proposition (Jung, 45). For example, say that a man wakes up one morning and decides to check the balance of his bank account, and finds it to be $1,234,567. Then he goes to see a movie, and on his ticket stub there is a seven-digit code, and it just so happens that the seven-digit code on his stub is 1234567, the same as the amount of money in his account. It can then be said that the chance of that man receiving the ticket with that particular code is 1:10,000,000. Then, later that day, the man goes home and receives a telephone call. He then learns or otherwise notices that the number from which he received the call is the exact same number as the amount of money in his account. First of all, the chances of the telephone number being the same as the account balance are again 1:10,000,000. So, by combining the two probabilities, it can be said that the chances of all three of those numbers being the same are 1:100,000,000,000,000. At those odds, it is then possible to rule out a causal explanation for the two numbers being the same. The events can then be called synchronistic.
Aside from crunching numbers, there have been other tests conducted that aimed to prove the validity of synchronicity, one of which dealt with astrology and marriages. It should first be pointed out that within astrology there are certain zodiacal signs that are “naturally” drawn together, and therefore make good partners in relationships. Carl Jung used this information and spearheaded a study that took the standard horoscope and astrological predictions for marriages based on zodiacal signs and put them to the test based on 600 individuals, 300 male, and 300 female. In this test, Jung randomly mixed up the names and zodiacal signs of the test subjects and assigned couples together, carefully ensuring heterosexual matches. From those results, Jung calculated the probability of a successful marriage based on astrological constants. Based on his findings, Jung found that more often than not, classical marital conjunctions were more prevalent than any other combination (Jung, 64). It is because of this joining of a normal event, marriage, and a less orthodox occurrence, astrology, that Jung had come one step closer to verifying synchronicity as a standard connecting principle.
By taking into consideration testimonials, probability theory, and experimentation, Carl Jung has shown that synchronicity is a valid acausal connecting principle. Jung even at one point went so far as to say: “Synchronicity is not a philosophical view but an empirical concept which postulates an intellectually necessary principle” (Jung, 96). While some may agree with Jung, there are others that will never truly accept synchronicity as a scientific explanation, as it involves events that cannot be “proven” at this point in time. However, it should be noted that synchronicity is one way of explaining the otherwise unexplainable.
Jung, Carl Gustav. Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle. Princeton University Press. 1973.
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