Denise Phillips, PhD

(212) 780-9852

43 East 10th Street
New York, N.Y. 10003

A TRUE-LIFE TALE OF SYNCHRONICITY
What does it mean when a python suddenly shows up in a New York psychologist's office?

DENISE PHILLIPS PhD*

DO YOU BELIEVE IN COINCIDENCES? HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED about the mysteries of your personal consciousness in relation to the universe? Have you ever had an experience that defies the laws of cause and effect-that in essence defies logic? As a psychotherapist in private practise working to investigate and heal people's emotional patterns, believe, as did psychiatrist Carl Jung, that synchronicity (meaningful, not random, coincidence offers the promise that if we change our inner selves, the patterns of our outer lives will change. The concept of synchronicity opens a window, allowing us to hypothesize that people and events are sometimes here because we have drawn them to us, and that what happens in our lives seemingly by chance or coincidence is not necessarily an accident. HERE'S A STORY FROM MY OWN EXPERIENCE OF SYNCHRONICITY. I had a client seeking therapy for recurring panic attacks precipitated by unpleasant encounters with one of his professors at medical school. During our initial session, he mentioned that he also was deathly afraid of snakes and was hypervigilant about them. I said, "We live in New York-how often do you encounter snakes?" He replied, "You'd be surprised-they tend to follow me wherever I go." "Really," I responded, with a hint of incredulity. His response was, "I wish you would believe me." During the 15th session, the client reported feelings of intense passivity and fear when dealing with his professor. As I was about to discuss how the professor reminded him of a significant adult in his childhood, 1 observed-incredibly-a huge snake on my bookcase. My client was facing away from the bookcase and had not seen the snake. I wondered at first if I was hallucinating. Then for a moment, I thought my client had tricked me with his tales of fear about snakes and somehow planted the snake as an elaborate practical joke. But it quickly became clear to me that the snake (which I later learned was a python) was real and...
...This snake escaped and found its way to my office at the exact moment my client who was haunted by snakes arrived for his afternoon therapy session. When my client called to finish our session, I told him about sitting with the python for three hours and how the calm police officer had rescued the snake (and me). The happy postscript is that the client later mentioned that the story had stayed with him, and was having a deep effect. He said it somehow gave him courage, that the absurdity of the event was inspiring him not to feed such fears to his mind. Perhaps, as Jung would explain, he was beginning to change the reality of what he attracts in the world. WHEN IT WAS ALL OVER, I MYSELF WONDERED WHAT THE DEEPer meaning was in this experience. Perhaps the serpent made its way to my bookshelf to help my client gain control over his deepest fears. Perhaps it shows that the power of our thoughts, both negative and positive, has a vibrational force field that gives rise to synchronistic events. Synchronicities come from forces that we inexplicably attract-wild coincidences not confined to the usual logic we think governs our lives. Perhaps some kind of bridge exists between the inner and outer worlds-between our thoughts and external reality. Facing our fears can help heal us, private thoughts and external reality. Facing our fears can help heal us, and the universe conspires to help by repeatedly presenting patterns until we work through them. Thinking all this over, I was reminded of an old Cherokee Indian tale in which a man tells his grandson, "There are two wolves fighting within me. One of them is angry and hateful; the other is fighting within me. One of them is angry and hateful; the other is generous and compassionate." When the boy asks, "Which one will win, Grandpa?" the old man answers, "The one I feed."
DENISE PHILLIPS, whose doctoral degree is in clinical psychology, has a private practise in New York City.