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Cambray, J. (2002). Synchronicity and Emergence. Am. Imago, 59(4):409-434.

(2002). American Imago, 59(4):409-434

Synchronicity and Emergence

Joseph Cambray


Scientific reconsideration of C. G. Jung's difficult, fascinating, and peculiar idea of synchronicity, which he believed to represent an acausal connecting principle, has become possible with the advent of recent developments in understanding the self-organizing features of complex adaptive systems (CAS). In particular, the question of acausality in “meaningful” coincidences, especially those observed in the clinical setting, can be reassessed in terms of the concept of emergence, which explores holistic phenomena supervening from interactions among component agents.

That the present moment is a timely one for reexamining synchronicity is borne out by the response of Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer to a questionnaire published in the January 2002 issue of the Journal of Analytical Psychology (JAP). The questionnaire is part of an ongoing dialogue between psychoanalysts and analytical psychologists that JAP has fostered for the past six years. Designed for comparative purposes, this questionnaire bears some resemblance to one published in Psychoanalytic Dialogues (Fosshage and Davies 2000), which consisted of responses by analytical psychologists, though the subject of synchronicity was not addressed there. For the JAP special issue, arrangements were made with eight psychoanalysts, representing a spectrum of orientations, who agreed to prepare answers for publication. Mayer, a training analyst in San Francisco, was the only respondent to express an interest in, as well as knowledge of, Jung's writings on synchronicity.


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