Poorbaugh, C: The Nightmare of Astrology


Cindy Poorbaugh


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Astrology lives and thrives, though in the “occult” stratum of society, and is practiced widely, if not exclusively, on the psychological level of “magical causality,” as Jung describes in Synchronicity, An Acausal Connecting Principle. The dichotomy between the two kinds of thinking—symbolic perception of correspondences between physical reality and psyche, and the scientific principle of isolating factors in order to find abstract laws—creates an unresolved argument for him in this essay. He appears to fail in his attempt to use astrology statistically rather than symbolically to prove that synchronicity is not a philosophical assumption, but an empirical fact.

In my paper, I will propose that Jung’s choice to use astrology and to include the details of his ‘failed’ experiment creates a rich dialogue that demonstrates something more essential than the dilemma between the symbolic and the experimentally verifiable. Charles Poncé writes about astrology as a “nightmare,” and I would like to use his idea to link the collective perspective with individual psychological experience—the problems within the conscious symbolic function, and its insistent natural life in the psyche as a whole. How does astrology’s role demonstrate the problem of the symbolic stance in our current psyche?

Presenter Bio:

Cynthia Poorbaugh MFA, LP is a Jungian analyst in private practice in New York, and Cold Spring, NY. She is a faculty member and supervisor for the Jungian Psychoanalytic Association, a faculty member of the Blanton-Peale Institute, and a member of IAAP, and IAJS. She serves on the Board of Trustees for the C.G. Jung Foundation of New York, and teaches for the Foundation’s Continuing Education program. She has presented papers on the interface of analytical psychology with art and astrology at psychoanalytic training colloquia and international conferences, most recently in 2017, Holism: Possibilities and Problems, the University of Essex, UK. Her area of interest in teaching, writing and research is the relationship between Jung’s archetypal theory and astrology, and how astrology illuminates key facets of Jung’s theory and the symbolic attitude in our current culture.

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

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