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Scarab

Dreamed by a patient of Carl Jung's; c.1925, as told by Jung.

A rose chafer; a golden beetle like an Egyptian scarab. Photo: dreamstime.com. Click to enlarge.


My example concerns a young woman patient who, in spite of efforts made on both sides, proved to be psychologically inaccessible. The difficulty lay in the fact that she always knew better about everything. Her excellent education had provided her with a weapon ideally suited to this purpose, namely a highly polished Cartesian rationalism with an impeccably "geometrical" idea of reality.

After several fruitless attempts to sweeten her rationalism with a somewhat more human understanding, I had to confine myself to the hope that something unexpected and irrational would turn up, something that would burst the intellectual retort into which she had sealed herself.

Well, I was sitting opposite her one day, with my back to the window, listening to her flow of rhetoric. She had had an impressive dream the night before, in which someone had given her a golden scarab--a costly piece of jewellery.

While she was still telling me this dream, I heard something behind me gently tapping on the window. I turned round and saw that it was a fairly large flying insect that was knocking against the window-pane from outside in the obvious effort to get into the dark room. This seemed to me very strange. I opened the window immediately and caught the insect in the air as it flew in. It was a scarabaeid beetle, or common rose-chafer (Cetonia aurata), whose gold-green colour most nearly resembles that of a golden scarab.

I handed the beetle to my patient with the words, "Here is your scarab." This experience punctured the desired hole in her rationalism and broke the ice of her intellectual resistance. The treatment could now be continued with satisfactory results.

SOURCE: Synchronicity by Carl Jung (2011 ed.) p.109-110. Date is a guess, based on Jung's claim a series of such odd cases in his practice made him start postulating something like synchronicity in the mid-1920s; he coined the term formally in 1930.

EDITOR'S NOTE

I find Jung's therapeutic tone amusing--"the treatment could now be continued with satisfactory results" indeed! He's not a psychotherapist here. Any shaman in the last 30,000 years would recognize what he's doing--well, not doing so much as going with the flow. I can call a shaman a shaman, since I'm not a 20th-century European guy in a suit. But Jung plays it deadpan. He wants to be respectable. While he writes books like this, about experiences like this. Good luck with that!



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