Psychic Energy, according to Carl Gustav Jung, can be expressed as a form which performs psychological work either by actual or potential forces. The distinction between psychological and physical activities can be understood through these examples- psychological activities include perception, memory, sensory inputs and outputs, thinking, etc., while physical activities include the process of breathing, digestion, perspiration, etc. The invention of EEG i.e., Electroencephalogram in the broad field of clinical neurology was done by a German psychiatrist named Hans Berger in 1921. Before the late 1980s when his main clinical researches began, he pursued mathematics and astronomy and was also a disguised spiritualist and sort of a psychophysical fanatic throughout most of his life. Here I will attempt to associate and draw parallels between the lives and inventions of Hans Berger’s electroencephalogram with Carl Gustav Jung’s theoretical developments in the field of psychology along with their respective encounters with the ‘psi-phenomena’ or ‘psychic energy’.
In 1892, Hans Berger encountered a strange phenomenon during his training exercise in the military. He was thrown off of the horse he was riding onto a cannon drawn horse’s path wherein he automatically inspected the end of his life but thankfully for him, the horses had halted just in time. Miles away from the incident his sister had sensed a feeling that his brother, Hans might be in some kind of danger and hence requested their father to make an instant telegram to check with Berger. After this incident, Berger was left in contemplation as he pondered whether this coincidence was perhaps mental telepathy and somehow based on the principles of natural science. Therefore, right after the completion of his military service, he returned home to Jena in order to study medicine with the sole goal of finding out the physiological basis of this ‘psychic energy’ he had encountered.
In general terms, mental telepathy can be understood as a phenomenon that extends in spatial and temporal planes wherein there is a limitation set in the consciousness for the ‘psychic’ event to be proven as the annulled space-time barrier. In Jungian notions, synchronicity is a notion that occurs in archetypal situations wherein the corresponding points are related to danger, risks, fate, etc., and are harnessed through the forms of precognition, or telepathy. An innate archetype can be defined as a pattern, wherein emotions arise in terms of sensations of fear, danger, or risk which become universally recognizable human patterns that invoke the same notions or sensations in everyone. Just like Hans Berger whose study inspired by the telepathic ‘psychic energy’ led him to discover the ‘brain mirror’ from the brain’s recording of electrical currents and eventually to the human EEG, Carl Gustav Jung who had also grown up questioning the validity of telepathy later found himself developing his own unique theoretical systems that further explained to him his, and often his patients’ ‘para-psychological’ occurrences.
In the psi-phenomenon or para-psychological phenomenon, which is often used as the terminology to describe instances like telepathic occurrences within and by the psyche i.e., the mind’s sudden awareness of impressions via the common channels of the senses like for example, the ability to perceive, to hear, to touch and of intuition. Hence, the ‘psychic’ event is not a mere result of the course of perception instead- the event perceived i.e., the perception is channeled through sensations while the focus or the object of the perception itself is the ‘psychic’ event. However, it is an event that is incomprehensible by essence as within the limitations of our physical or physiological processes, the occurrences of such events cannot be anticipated. In the case of Hans Berger, after the incident’s occurrence in 1892, there seemed to be absolutely no going back from the sensations that arose in Berger that led to his instant assumption of mental telepathy which further led him to the gate of his starting point in psychophysics career. In the psychotherapeutic treatment of neuroses and psychoses, the electrical impulses were observed by Berger as occasions of heightened emotional tensions that don’t necessitate from the conscious part of the mind.
Another way to explain this phenomenon, perhaps could be expanding and laying emphasis on the ‘acausal parallelism’ which in Jungian notion can be seen as an idea emerging after his use of I Ching (The Book of Changes)- a Chinese esoteric exploration into divination that is represented by the symbol of yin and yang and led Gustav Jung to further question the connection between the internal ‘psychic event’ and the external ‘outer event’. ‘Acausal Parallelism’ emphasises that A and B are independent variables yet connected in time and space i.e., they happen simultaneously without being a cause of one another, as illustrated in the I Ching of the Eastern esoteric philosophy. This is where Jung’s idea of synchronicity is formulated with his suggestion that coincidences worked in this ‘acausal’ manner. However, I would argue that a great deal of synchronicity is also rooted in ‘psychophysics’, as Jung was looking for connections between his ideas and physics- i.e., a meeting point which became clear and came to light after one of the dinner table discussions delivered from Albert Einstein at Jung’s about his theory of relativity. It was after this discussion, that Jung was convinced that both relativity of time as well as space ould be possible, which he later expanded on his work of The Interpretation of Nature and Psyche with the help of physicist Wolfgang Pauli. This collaboration was possible at the time due to the accepting nature of Wolfgang Pauli and Modern Quantum Mechanics that was emerging during 1950s. The community was ready to accept acasual effects in physical phenomena with an increasing emphasis on number of possibilities in the universe as opposed to concentration on just ‘facts’. Therefore, physicists had proposed this notion acausal events where possible based on the idea that there could also be no exchange of energy between the two physical bodies. Also, a contrasting idea was also noted by Carl Jung during his exploration of Astrology that at times an individual’s unique personal expectations were mirrored in the results- a notion that again the contemporary modern quantum physics community is starting to take as an actual possibility i.e., that an observer can have effects on an experiment merely just by the act of observing- a subjective bias. I Ching could be argued as the esoteric precursor to the idea of synchronicity whilst the nature of accepting quantum mechanics after Einstein or ‘psychophysics’ could be the reason why Jung was certain there could exist several ‘connections’ across theories when it came to ‘synchronicity’.
To conclude, the ‘psychic energy’ inevitably results in the conscious realization of a ‘psychic’ and peculiar event within the structure of the physical premises of the human body. While the idea was empirically approached by Hans Berger, the same idea was theoretically approached by psychoanalysts like Carl Gustav Jung, while others like Alfred Adler from Depth Psychology completely rejected the existence as well as the notion of telepathy itself based upon an assertion that the psi-phenomena is nothing except an atonement of neurotic apparatus. However, it is noted that even philosophers and polymaths, like Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Arnold Geulincx, explored the “anomalous phenomenon” of telepathy, spiritual ecstasy, and visions in depth.
C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages108-109.
Millett, D., 2001. Hans Berger: From Psychic Energy to the EEG. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 44(4), pp.522-542.