Photo: MC

Title: Jung on Synchronicity and the Paranormal
Author: Roderick Main
Format: Trade Paperback
Publisher: Princeton University Press (177 pp. with index)
Date: 1997

Book reviews are usually about new publications, whereas Dr. Roderick Main’s Jung on Synchronicity and the Paranormal has been available for well over a decade. But considering this book’s unusual subject matter it might be appropriate that we’re looking back, so to speak.

After all, Jung says that the individuation process, where one becomes healthy and whole, is a lifelong journey. And at some point in one’s spiritual formation unconventional phenomena like synchronicity and numinosity can crop up, suggesting not just a linear but a holistic or, as Hermann Hesse put it in his novel Siddhartha, an upwardly spiraling universe of space, time and human experience.

Put differently, our take on life can sometimes defy a common understanding of things, and contemplation of the future, the past and, perhaps, heaven and hell can come to the forefront of consciousness. It’s at these times that the paranormal may become more than idle speculation and, indeed, a lived reality.

Jung on Synchronicity and the Paranormal contains a good number of selections from Jung’s massive body of work. Considering the book’s relatively concise format, it does a good job in capturing the scope of Jung’s thinking in the area parapsychology.

I’ve already spent many years studying and writing about Jung’s Collected Works, so I found Main’s Introduction (39 pp. with 5 extra pages of notes and references) most engaging. Not to say that I’m entirely bored of Jung, but it was nice to see some fresh new thoughts.

Of note are Main’s reflections on:

  • Causality and acausality
  • Jung’s understanding of the term “meaning”
  • Jung’s alleged leaps of reasoning
  • Jung’s view of time and eternity
  • Jung’s small-p political acumen

Also useful are selections from Jung’s work about telepathy and life after death.

Jung on Synchronicity might not satisfy those looking for the goofy and conflicted “everything’s okay” perspective, so often found in the New Age circuit. Nor is the book a mere repackaging of Jung’s work or another limiting tract of Jungian dogma. On the contrary, Jung on Synchronicity is an intelligent, forward-thinking book that further develops several paranormal ideas investigated by Jung.

As Jung himself writes:

The hypothetical possibility that the psyche touches on a form of existence outside space and time presents a scientific question-mark that merits serious consideration for a long time to come.†

Main has responded well to Jung’s challenge. Indeed, scholars and intelligent laypersons should gain much from this penetrating study.

† C. G. Jung, “The Soul and Death” (1934), cited in Main, p. 144.

—MC