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Brenner, C. (1957). Facts, Coincidence, and the Psi Hypothesis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 38:51-53.

(1957). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 38:51-53

Facts, Coincidence, and the Psi Hypothesis

Charles Brenner, M.D.

In the past decade there have been numerous articles recommending the usefulness and appropriateness of analysts' assuming that it is possible to have unconscious knowledge of future events (psi hypothesis). Some of these articles have appeared in reputable and widely circulated psycho-analytic journals. As yet no word has appeared in print to question this proposal that what used to be called 'occult' be adopted by psycho-analysts as part of their working armamentarium of scientific hypotheses. Lest this silence appear to express consent, it is proposed in the present article to discuss certain practical and methodological problems involved in the application of the psi hypothesis to psycho-analytic therapy and theory. As an example for discussion, a recent article (Eisenbud, 1955) has been chosen in which an account is given of a clinical experience with an analytic patient which its author considered to be an instance of unconscious foreknowledge. The author treated the incident as such in his therapeutic work with the patient and published it as a paradigm of the value or usefulness in analytic practice of assuming that such foreknowledge does exist.

As a preface to consideration of the validity of this proposal one may consider first of all on what basis the author concluded that he was dealing with a psi phenomenon. In order to do this it will be necessary to review the pertinent facts on which his conclusion was based. These are as follows.

We are told that the patient awoke early one morning 'with a strange feeling of certainty that when he went out to the park he would somehow see a strange bird called the worm-eating warbler.

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