The word “coincidence” became a household word in American English following the simultaneous deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July 4, 1826. The pair died exactly fifty years after each had signed the United States Declaration of Independence.
Mainstream science holds that coincidences are simply random events and therefore meaningless. However, consciousness studies have found that each human mind is much more connected to other minds and its environment than current scientific thinking would have us believe.
Bernard Beitman, M.D., has experienced and studied coincidences for decades. In his book, Meaningful Coincidences: How and Why Synchronicity and Serendipity Happen, he examines coincidences through multiple lenses—Carl Jung’s “synchronicity” (meaningful coincidences), Horace Walpole’s “serendipity” (happy accidents), Paul Kammerer’s “seriality” (recurrence of numbers or events), and his own concept of “simulpathity” (empathic resonances across space or time). He also systematically categorizes coincidences into three types, explains the conditions likely to stimulate them, describes their benefits as well as limitations, and illuminates the spectrum of possible explanations.
Dr. Beitman explains how you will see patterns guiding your life decisions and learn to expect that coincidences are more likely to occur during life stressors, high emotion, and strong need, which helps you be ready to use them when they occur. Coincidences cannot help but fill us with wonder at the fundamental interconnection between inner and outer realms.
He analyzes the many uses of meaningful coincidences as well as their potential problems, emphasizing that synchronicity and serendipity, though most often positive, also have their shadow sides.
“I am open to the guidance of synchronicity, and do not let expectations hinder my path.” – The Dalai Lama
BERNARD BEITMAN, M.D., is Founding Director of The Coincidence Project, which encourages people to tell each other their synchronicity and serendipity stories. His book, Meaningful Coincidences: How and Why Serendipity and Synchronicity Happen (September 13, 2022) comprehensively describes their wide range of uses and explanations. The book serves both as a personal guide to using synchronicities and serendipities as well an introduction to the new discipline of Coincidence Studies.
He is the former chair of Psychiatry at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has a private practice in Charlottesville, Virginia.
His manual Learning Psychotherapy received two national awards for its unique interactive training program for psychiatric residents. He is internationally known for research in panic disorder and chest pain, and has edited several books about how to integrate pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy.
He went to Swarthmore College, Yale Medical School, and did his psychiatric residency at Stanford. He was captain of the baseball team in high school and college. He was scouted by the Oakland Raiders pro football team, tried out for the Pittsburg Pirates pro baseball team, and played rugby at Yale and in San Francisco.
The stories in his first book, Connecting with Coincidence (2016) illustrate how meaningful coincidences can be useful in most aspects of life.