“But in all this, I see no proof whatever of the existence of real spirits, and until such proof is forthcoming, I must regard this whole territory as an appendix of psychology” (Jung, 1997, p. 59).
I believe that Jung’s (1997) theories of the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious help to explicate his view of paranormal phenomena. Jung’s belief in the exteriorization of psychic phenomena from these unconscious domains forms the basis of his stance on the paranormal.
Jung (1997) hypothesized that below the level of conscious awareness exist two different arenas, a personal unconscious and a collective unconscious. According to Jung, the personal unconscious is the container of all the memories, sensory perceptions, and repressed content that is singular to the individual, but not currently in the individual’s awareness. The personal unconscious is also the location from which personal, affective complexes (self-organizing systems; Saunders & Skar, 2001, p. 11), that have been lost to the conscious mind, must be reclaimed for psychological healing to take place. In contrast, Jung (1997) described the collective unconscious as an “impersonal” (p. 56) realm from which emerge archetypal (predispositions to typical life experiences; Saunders & Skar, 2001, p. 11) psychic or material entities that are innate, instinctual, and mythological in context.
Jung (1997) likened the occurrence of paranormal events to the impersonal, unitive, microphysical world of physics, where space and time are relative. He conceptualized psychic phenomena, such as extra-sensory perception, telekinesis, and precognition, as originating from the impersonal, unitive, collective unconscious, which Jung described as also being beyond space and time. With this understanding, Jung postulated paranormal phenomena as occurring to fulfill a conscious need, not by an act of will of the individual, but rather in the releasing of the will, especially in the case of mediumship. To use Saunders and Skar’s (2001) wording around self-organization that seems to apply to Jung’s view of the paranormal, “It is an emergent property arising out of the dynamic” (p. 7).
Jung, C. G. (1997). Jung on Synchronicity and the Paranormal. Psychology Press.
Saunders, P., & Skar, P. (2001). Archetypes, complexes and self‐organization. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 46(2), 305–323. https://doi.org/10.1111/1465-5922.00238