by Marinus Jan Marijs
In “Jung on synchronicity and the paranormal” by Roderick Main (London: Routledge, 1997), there is the following story:
Even after the beginning of his association with Freud in 1907, Jung’s preoccupation with the paranormal continued. Initially, Freud was highly sceptical and dismissive about the entire field – an attitude expressed most vividly in his exhortation to Jung to make the sexual theory ‘a dogma, an unshakeable bulwark’ against ‘the black tide of mud … of occultism’ (Jung 1963: 147–8). It is true that this resistance eventually mellowed to the point where he was actually encouraging Jung’s experiments and even attending séances himself (Charet 1993: 196–7). ‘In matters of occultism’, he wrote to Jung on 15 June 1911, ‘I have grown humble … my hubris has been shattered’ (in Jung 1963: 335).
However, he was still not willing to expose the full extent of his interest publicly, nor would he accede to Jung’s demand that the theoretical basis of psychoanalysis be broadened to take account of spiritualistic phenomena that were inadequately explained in terms of sexuality. On one occasion, this tension between Freud and Jung resulted in an argument that had both an interesting psychological context and an even more interesting parapsychological outcome. Earlier in the evening Freud had, as he afterwards wrote in a letter to Jung, ‘formally adopted you as an eldest son, anointing you as my successor and crown prince’ (in Jung 1963: 333).
Later in the evening, however, in the course of an argument about paranormal phenomena, a seemingly unaccountable detonation went off in Freud’s bookcase. When Freud dismissed Jung’s parapsychological interpretation of this event, Jung predicted that the same thing would happen again, and so, to Freud’s consternation, it did (Jung 1963: 152).
Freud’s letter to Jung continues by remarking of this phenomenon, by which he admitted to having been impressed, that it ‘then and there [i.e., immediately after his ‘anointing’ of Jung] … divested me of my paternal dignity’ (in Jung 1963: 333). Whether or not consciously realized at the time, this incident symbolized the inevitable divergence between the two psychologists. One of the main causes of this divergence was the significance each attached to paranormal phenomena.
Parapsychologists nowadays think that raps or knocking sounds are produced by telekinesis and that they do express tensions that have built up in a person who is in the proximity of the disturbance.