A barrage of coincidences can challenge world views by their existential significance and the fear of the immensity they imply.
They may also induce the brain to try to expect a meaning in everything, which may lead to heightened “associative thinking,” compared to the normal state of mind. The person sees coincidences everywhere and misses elements of real life.
Having not attended a high school reunion in 20 years, Kathy Meyers felt compelled to attend her 45th reunion in July 2015. After renewing old connections, why did she start experiencing a long series of coincidences? They occurred as many as five times a week. Some made her laugh. Others were right time, right place. Many others were in what she called the “give me chills” category. She began to question her sanity or at the very least her long-held belief system.
So, was it a coincidence that one of those series of coincidences led her to re-discover Carl Jung and synchronicity? Then, led her to discover my website? She thought about contacting me for a consult. She did not need a standard psychiatric evaluation since she was happier than she had been in a long time. Many people told that her joy was contagious.
Then in April 2016, what compelled Kathy to attend an Ohio State University spring football game even after she was warned there would be 100,000 people and parking would be a nightmare? She randomly selected gate 18 out of 30 to enter. She started talking to a family of five who were waiting in line in front of her. They had driven to Columbus the night before from Virginia (to watch a practice game?!?) Neither parent had graduated from Ohio State, both were originally from Cleveland, Ohio, and were now living in a rural area of Virginia. They wanted their three kids to experience a big college stadium. Kathy thought OK, with 3 kids to pay $5 each to drive this far to watch the Buckeyes, maybe there is something else. She asked if they were from Charlottesville (because that is where I live). No, they lived about 90 minutes to the northwest. She explained that she had been having a bunch of weird coincidences and was considering scheduling an appointment with someone doing Coincidence Studies. That was when the man said, “Oh, you mean Dr. Bernard Beitman, the Yale-educated psychiatrist studying coincidences?” The man had heard me interviewed on the radio. Then his wife said to Kathy, “Is that another one of your weird coincidences?” Gate 18 out of 30!? Out of 100,000 people!? Kathy finds a man from Virginia who knows about me! How does one estimate the low probability of that happening? She took this as a sign to drive from Ohio to Charlottesville to consult with me.
We met for 90 minutes each of 3 consecutive days. We discussed her many coincidences, large and small.
She returned to Ohio more confident in her intuition, more willing to engage others in conversation and connection, and more willing to follow the “compels” that helped to produce coincidences. She decided to put an end to her miserable marriage. The many coincidences had become teachers for her, urging her to individuate, to become herself.
As was Kathy’s experience, a barrage of coincidence makes it difficult for coinciders to step back and analyze. A third person can be helpful—a relative, a friend or a professional person. Kathy’s series was so overwhelming that she needed someone who could help her categorize her coincidences, see the themes, and help her come to some conclusions.
She is one of the first clients in a new discipline—coincidence counseling.