Electrical Breakdown

“Electrostatic-discharge” by Ian Tresman

Jack had been burning the candle on both ends—work, school, family, financial decisions. His mind was not the agile, clever, high speed machine he had come to rely on to process the several threads of information streaming through his life. His thoughts seemed to be plodding through muck and molasses.

A few simple ordinary life challenges faced him on a winter’s morning. They seemed insurmountable. He needed some kind of help.

He went to gym to get rolling into the day. 

After the workout, he started his car. He heard the ominous clicking that signals a dead battery. After 45 minutes, a tow truck arrived and successfully got the battery started. The technician thought that Jack must have left the lights on. Jack was pretty certain he had not left the lights on but who knows. Like Jack’s brain, there was no energy in the battery and both needed a jump start.

He went to his office and did a lot of paper shredding. The shredder suddenly died.  He must have overdone it. Just as he had overdone information processing.

He took the hints. “Time to relax your mind—meditate, get away from the computer screen, stop stressing your brain with information overload.”

The next day Jack took the car to his local mechanic to fully check-out the battery. “No problem” said the mechanic. “Seems like a young battery and powerful enough for a large truck.” 

Jack then purchased a new shredder.  He took the new shredder, still in its box, to the mail room where the dead shredder stood. He impulsively plugged the old one into the wall socket and, to his great surprise, the shredder lights came on. 

The dead battery recovered.  The shredder recovered. So could Jack. Exhilarated, he continued his mind-resting and within a few days regained normal brain activity.

Base rate analysis

  • Jack’s exhausted brain.  This was not the first time. Probably happened at least twice a year
  • Dead battery.  Once in 3 years.
  • Dead Paper Shredder. First time with this shredder which was about 2 years old.
  • All three at the same time—on the same day? Very low probability.


  • You can recover too, Jack. Take care of yourself.


Three electrical devices very important to Jack—his brain, car battery and shredder—each stopped working around the same time. This confluence of events reflects the close relationship between human brain and electrical machine.  Three possible explanations:

  1. Jack had absent mindedly left the lights on. But when he started the car again, the headlights did not come on. He had not turned them off when he discovered the dead battery.  He overdid the paper shredding. Maybe all the machine needed was a rest to cool down although, after he had stopped on the day the shredder died, he waited a few hours to see if the machine would start up again. It did not.
  2. Jack’s brain slow-down directly influenced the functioning of the two machines—this would be a parapsychology cause involving psychokinesis (mental effects on physical objects).
  3. Jung would explain it as an acausal connecting principle—synchronicity.  In this use of the term synchronicity, he meant a cause outside the realm of current scientific principles. That could have been psychokinesis or, as Jung also believed, activation of archetypes in the collective unconscious.

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