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Do Coincidences Save Lives?

Some coincidences involve an uncanny timing of events that delay the time of death or disability. Following are some of those many stories.

 Clinic Painter (eponymous vase)/Wikimedia Commons

User:Bibi Saint-Pol, own work, 2007-07-21Source: Clinic Painter (eponymous vase)/Wikimedia Commons

Pediatrician Harley Rotbart collected many such stories in his physician-contributed anthology called Miracles We Have Seen: America’s Leading Physicians Share Stories They Can’t Forget. One striking example from this collection involved Father Carl. This beloved priest finished rounds on his hospitalized parishioners in a suburban Boston hospital. He then got into an otherwise empty elevator, pressed the button for the lobby, and collapsed from a massive heart attack.

But somehow the elevator didn’t go to the lobby—instead, the doors opened on the second floor, the floor housing the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU), where the cardiologist in charge of the unit was waiting at the elevator to go upstairs to make his rounds. The cardiologist immediately took charge of the unconscious priest and set about the necessary treatment. Had the elevator not deposited him on just the right floor with just the right person, Father Carl would have died.

During an evaluation of her cancer, physicians scanned the brain of politician Jennifer Kitchen of Craigsville, Virginia, for metastasizes. They found an aneurysm that would soon burst and disable or kill her. 

Janet Payne of Kinkcora, Prince Edward Island, Canada, was approaching a stoplight with her three children in the back seat. Although the light had turned green, she stopped a few yards from the intersection to adjust the seat belt of one of the children. She turned back to drive and saw a truck speed through the intersection that would have hit her had she proceeded through.

One of our study patients at the University of Missouri-Columbia research (see this Psychology Today post) reported that she was in her car at an intersection when the light turned green. At that moment, the phone rang. It was her brother who rarely calls and whom she thinks of as her guardian angel. She looked up to see a truck barreling through the red light. It would have hit hurt had she not paused to answer the phone.

Psychologist Chris Mackey of Geelong, Australia, has several reports of people being saved from suicide by coincidences.

A man was in a hidden quarry about to lose consciousness from carbon monoxide poisoning when the cellphone next to him rang. He answered it and gave enough of a reluctant hint of where he was to be found in the nick of time. He then felt he was meant to live and made a full and lasting recovery from depression.

Another man had a gun in his mouth, about to pull the trigger, when he looked out the window to see a blackbird looking at him. The bird took flight and smashed into the window and died. The man thought that the bird had died so he could live. He went to rehab for his drug addiction, recovered, and began living normally.article continues after advertisement

Chris also wrote about a personal example in his book The Positive Psychology of Synchronicity about a coincidence associated with his own psychiatric hospitalization for depression. “I very rarely experienced any synchronicity at that time. When I was at my absolutely lowest ebb, I was on the threshold of developing a suicide plan. I sat in a bleak hospital corridor, thinking that if nothing changed in the next five minutes, I would shift my focus to how I could end my life. Within a couple of minutes, a nurse approached me to fetch me to answer a phone call from a good friend who lived interstate and only rarely called. The timing seemed so uncanny—synchronistic assistance from the outside—that it completely stopped any further thought of taking action to end my life. I still believe it’s quite possible I would not be here if not for that phone call.”

Each of these is a single instance that statistically minded people can attribute to the unproven Law of Very Large Numbers: In large populations, any weird thing could happen. (To read a critical evaluation of this “law,” please see Sharon Rawlette’s Psychology Today post on the subject.)

However, consider the experiences of Executive Coach Katrin Windsor of Boulder Colorado.

“I once missed a train that crashed. I once had a big tree fall on me, but strangely it fell in such a way that I stood in the opening of its big branches and it didn’t touch me!? I once hiked with my husband and two sons in Yellowstone. John and Bryan walked 20 feet ahead of Dan and me. Suddenly a big tree fell right between us and didn’t touch anybody!? I once missed a Guided Volcano Jeep tour in Sicily. We missed it by 1 minute and watched the Jeep we were supposed to be on leave without us. So we sat down at the Tour Office restaurant and ordered a plate of pasta. In the middle of chowing down our pasta, ambulances and sirens and helicopters arrived, and suddenly the Jeeps we missed returned with three dead tourists because the volcano became active and started spewing big rocks!?”

Some people will invoke the Law of Very Large Numbers. Others might attribute this remarkable string to God or the Universe. As a psychotherapist, I look for personal responsibility in my patients as well as in coincidences. Janet Payne attributes her stopping before the intersection at a green light to a strong intuitive feeling to not proceed and to fix the seat belt of her child.article continues after advertisement

To the question of explanation, Katrin Windsor replied, “I frankly have no clue as to why I have been so lucky, except that it obviously is not my time yet to go. My last lucky accident was when I had a bike crash in Denver in December and miraculously fell between two parked cars into an empty parking spot, so I didn’t bounce off a parked car and back into the busy street, where cars would have had a hard time avoiding me. My take from that most recent accident is that I’m clearly here to channel spirit. It does feel like Fujoli is my way which is connecting people to their aliveness.”

Again, some will invoke the Law of Very Large Numbers while others will invoke some form of divine intervention. In the study of coincidences, resolving questions like these are central to its purpose. See this Psychology Today post from Sharon Rawlette about personal explanations for meaningful coincidences. 

Meaning or Random in Coincidences–Two Psychiatrists Debate

Ralph Lewis, MD wrote the lead article of the April, 2020 issue of Psychology Today on Coincidences. He took a very main stream position. The mind is fully the product of the brain. Humans evolved accidentally perhaps by complexity and chaos theory. Random events produced what we experience as human beings on Earth. In this episode of Connecting with Coincidence radio show we debate the place of coincidences in the fabric of reality–no meaning in the universe or meaning to be discovered?

Dr Coincidence Speaks!

dr coincidence
Dr Coincidence

Is the world ready for Dr. Coincidence? Ready or not, here he comes.

On November 1, 2018 Dr Coincidence made his first major public appearance on the radio show CC with BB, Connecting with Coincidence with Dr. Bernie Beitman, MD. He told stories about how he got started with coincidences, talking about finding his lost dog, Snapper, his simultaneous choking with his father 3000 miles away, and imagining hitting the first pitch of a big baseball game for a home run and then doing it.

He describes his research into chest pain and panic disorder and his hopes for Coincidence Studies, comparing it to Freud’s and Jung’s organizations.

The intersecting patterns of coincidences are composed 2 basic components: mind and thing.

“Mind” refers to the unobservables within you, that no one else can see—your sensations, feelings, images and thoughts. “Thing” refers to objects outside of the mind, observable by another person. These two elements create 3 species: mind-thing, mind-mind and thing-thing. Mind can intersect with things and with other minds. Things can intersect with other things.

In the last segment he describes the wide variety of things that mind can coincidentally intersect with, the mind-thing coincidences:

Helpful person
Inanimate Objects
Environment mirrors psychological conflicts
Animals reflecting your emotions
Plants comforting
Machines responding to human emotions
Seeing the future

To listen to the show, click here

Synchronicities Imply That Meaning Exists Outside of Us

Cynthia Cavalli

Francesco Ronchetti and I had composed 7 songs based on stories from my book Connecting with Coincidence. They needed a sound engineer to make them radio ready. Mark Graham looked like our man here in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Early on, Mark told me he had a disabling disorder in which he could not stop vomiting. As a child physicians had no name for it. Then he saw a paper by David Fleischer, MD calling it Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome. Dr. Fleischer and I had collaborated on this disorder 25 years earlier at the University of Missouri-Columbia. I had some idea how to treat it.

This is a low probability coincidence involving 600 miles between Charlottesville and Columbia, 25 years since the collaboration, and a rare medical disorder. Did it mean that I should become Mark’s psychiatrist? We had to get the songs finished. Now they are. I asked for Coincidence Counseling from the multi-talented Dr. Cynthia Cavalli. Should I become Mark’s psychiatrist?

Dr. Cavalli’s husband offered this analysis:

“Seizures occur when rhythms go awry. So here you were looking for someone to put your stories to music – another way to say it could be you were looking to “rhythmicize” your stories – and you found someone who was out of rhythm in a very unusual and specific way that coincided with an area of your – also unusual and specific – expertise. You were both qualified to offer help to each other in a strangely unique and specific manner!”

Seems like all kinds of meaningful threads weaving in and out of this story – and we may have only scratched the surface!

Dr. Cavalli applies both rational and emotional-intuitive thinking in her work. She believes we can talk with Fate and Destiny to modify our journeys through life. She believes that meaning is out there, separate from us humans, and that meaning connects our psyches to the world around us. She advises us to “honor the transitions” between sleep and wakefulness, right before eating, and when entering the forest. Pause and drink in the moment and let thought-feelings come in to you. Transitions free us from rationality, open the mind to new possibilities. You can find different things in different states of mind.

To listen to Dr. Cavalli analyze the CVS coincidence and how she uses synchronicity in her consulting work, please click here.

Synchronicity Statistics: Finding the Place of Probability in Coincidence Studies

The study of coincidences requires a basic education in probability. Why? Because the lower the probability (or the higher the improbability), the more likely that there is a hidden cause or explanation. How do we determine the probability of a coincidence? When is it possible to explain a coincidence by probability alone?

Gary Schwartz, PhD

In most coincidences, multiple influences produce the outcome. I call these influences vexing vectors. They are vexing to human minds because it is difficult to keep several of them in mind at the same time. One cause for one effect is easier.

Vectors are lines of varying force that influence an outcome. The various forces creating coincidences include probability, personal responsibility, and the parapsychological including telepathy and clairvoyance as well as the mysterious. The mysterious includes God, spirits, quantum holograms, entanglement, complexity theory and many others.

In discussing coincidences conventional statisticians use probability in the following way: it happened so it has a probability, therefore it could happen, so probability explains it because there is a probability of it happening. This is circular reasoning.

Gary Schwartz is working on a Probability for Coincidences or, as he calls, it Synchronicity Statistics. He estimates how many lifetimes it would take for an ultra-low probability coincidence to come into existence. Some probabilities are so low that Gary calls them “astronomically improbable” in his new book Super Synchronicity. To listen to our probability discussion on my radio show Connecting with Coincidence, click here.

The Connecting with Coincidence Radio Show Library

The weekly radio show CC with BB: Connecting with Coincidence with Dr. Bernie Beitman, MD, now has its own on-line library. You can go to the library here.

Welcome to the only radio show in the world dedicated to coincidences, synchronicity and serendipity!

Episodes 1 and 2: The series begins with my 2 lectures on Coincidence Studies. The aims of this new discipline include developing categories for coincidences: form, process, use and explanation.

3) Psychologist Gibbs Williams discusses the psychodynamics of coincidences–how we sometimes create coincidences to solve psychological conflicts.

4) Authors Trish and Rob MacGregor’s provide us with a wide ranging discussion of psi and coincidences with a focus on precognition.

5) Occupational therapist Kathy Meyers discusses the overwhelming barrage of coincidences occurring after a high school reunion and how coincidence counseling helped her make sense of it all.

6) Jungian teacher Gary Bobroff discusses Jungian archetypes and coincidences emphasizing how archetypes are so much a part of the human psyche.

7) Psychologist Gary Schwartz introduces Super Synchronicity, the subject of his recent book and evidence for greater intelligence being involved in our lives.

9) Psychologist Frank Pasciuti describes some remarkable coincidences that took place during psychotherapy.

10) Director David Strabala takes us on a tour of how he made his movie What is Synchronicity?

11) Jennifer Palmer, central character of the movie Synchronicity and the Collective Dream, describes how her real life experiences and the events of the movies overlap.

12) Philosopher Michael Grosso tell us how coincidences and religion interweave and helps us recognize the value of being in control of our own thoughts.

Look for future shows at this same address!

Chi Whiz: Interpersonal Energy and Simulpathity

mind-to-mind connections
Can people really experience the pain of a loved one at a distance? Yes they can!

I call this category of coincidences, simulpathity, which is derived from the word Latin word simul (the same) and the Greek word pathos (suffering, feeling). The existence of simulpathity is supported by data from the Weird Coincidence Survey, published cases from psychiatrist Ian Stevenson and the collection of stories in my book Connecting with Coincidence as well as several other sources.

I think that simulpathity can be better understood by examining interpersonal energy between people in the same space?

Does interpersonal energy exist?

I don’t need a scientific measuring device to tell me when the sun is warm. Or to know the coolness of an icy wind. I register the warmth and the coolness by differences in sensation. Similarly, I don’t need a scientific measuring device to tell me that interpersonal energy exists. I feel the energy itself, especially with my patients during psychotherapy. I feel it on the skin of my face and body and the up and down sensation waves in my heart and the general glow and darkening of the energy surrounding me.

Scientists are studying the one way movement of energy from healers to patients. No one has developed a device that can measure the ebb and flow between people.

Interpersonal energy is distinct from nonverbal communications like facial expressions, body language and modulations in voice tone. Most people do not consciously register it, but are nevertheless affected by it. The four basic responses to the energy of another person are: feeling energized, rattled, neutral or drained.

Pay attention to interpersonal energy

Have you ever felt unusually energized around a certain person? Do some people drain you? Try paying attention to the ebb and flow of these unseen vibrations in your social life. At a gathering is there someone in the room who draws people to her like a warm fire on a cold day? Not primarily because of looks or conversation, but because of some vibrating positivity?

I ask myself about energy with each psychotherapy patient I see. My office is an experimental lab, a controlled setting, where I have the opportunity to experience and observe the varying effects different people have on me. I sit in the same chair. The patients sit on the same small couch. We look at each other from very similar angles–almost but not quite straight on. They talk. I listen. I get to feel their energy impact on me. And they feel my energy impact on them. We both feel the waxing and waning of connection.

When we are connected, I can almost see a tube of energetic intensity between our heads, between our minds. The tube is surrounded by lesser gradients of energy. The energies fluctuate.

High interpersonal energy

In a recent session, I helped a woman in her early 20s embrace her romantic feelings for women. In the following week several different young men asked her out for dinner. This many dinner date requests had never happened before. An anomalous week! Previously she had been asked, not for dinner, but to “come to my apartment” in early morning texts from drunk, sexually driven guys. She accepted some of these offers.

She has begun to realize that she has an extraordinary magnetism. In bars highly accomplished male athletes and some aggressive women hit on her. She does not consider herself to be particularly beautiful or sexy looking. They are not attracted by her looks. Something else. She seems to have learned to “pump up” the bio-battery of her body and mind to generate energy that attracts people.

During our next session, she felt to me as if she were glowing. A warm, positive, life enhancing energy. Much stronger than in any previous sessions. She had allowed herself to experience sexual drives that had long been repressed.

At a party the following week, she saw a young man whose energy attracted many people, without much conversation. People seemed to like to be around him. She started talking with him, and they became partners for the evening.

They stood together talking in a corner of the porch of the house where the party was taking place. As people left most glanced over at them—something special was going on. Apparently the combination of their two energies attracted the curiosity of others.

Low interpersonal energy

A 30 year old man working as an accountant comes into my office weekly. Very nice young man. Intelligent. And very low energy. He had been depressed but is not now. He is functioning pretty well with his job and marriage. Yet I have difficulty being with him because he emanates so little interpersonal energy. I have begun to recognize that I convert the energy my patients give me into energetic help for them. We are a team; I need more than their reports. I need some charge. When I don’t get enough positive charge, I must find the more energy from within me.

Other therapists may not be like me. They may have more energy to give and also know how to manage low energy situations better than I can. Or perhaps they operate primarily on cognition.

Science and Philosophy

If scientific orthodoxy does not permit us to believe something, we have trouble believing it. While seeing is believing, believing is also seeing! If you do not believe it exists, then you are very unlikely to see it. I asked a group of 25 therapists if they feel energy from and with patients. About ½ said yes.

Do you register interpersonal energy?

The existence of fields of energy in us and around us have been recognized by philosophical systems around the world: prana (Sanskrit), ruach (Hebrew), pneuma and psyche (Greek), spiritus (Latin). Chi or Qi in Taoism refers to universal energy or life force both outside and inside the body. Hindus refer to Shakti as the surrounding feminine energy and Kundalini as its manifestation in the body.

None of these systems emphasize the existence of energy between people.

Interpersonal energy deserves more direct discussion and research. These same-space interpersonal energy exchanges seem to be related related to simultaneous feeling exchanges at a distance of simulpathity.

Two people I know consciously experience both interpersonal energy and simulpathity. Do these traits commonly co-exist?

HAPPY HUNTRODDS’ DAY A celebration of coincidence every 19th September


This post is from

There is a moment of awe that accompanies every coincidence. A fleeting second or two when your mind struggles with questions of what, why and how.

What just happened? Why did it happen? How did it happen?

But, perhaps the greatest gift of coincidence is its ability to provoke the same emotion and wonder when its story is retold in the years afterwards.

It was this gift that gave birth to Huntrodds’ Day in 2014.

Huntrodds Day Coincidence


Francis & Mary Huntrodds

Born separately: September 19th 1600
Married each other: September 19th
Died together: September 19th 1680

David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University, was on holiday in Whitby, North Yorkshire, when he came across a memorial to a married couple at St Mary’s Church.

The inscription described the remarkable story of Francis and Mary Huntrodds, who were born, married and died on the same day – their joint 80th birthday – around 400 years ago.

To honour the Huntrodds’ and their incredible legacy, David declared September 19th to be Huntrodds’ Day, a national celebration of chance, coincidence and serendipity.

Other family facts

– The Huntrodds’ had 12 children! (Their birthdays are unknown)
– Francis and Mary died within five hours of each other
– Around 3,000 married couples share the same birthday (and age) in the UK each year

Huntrodds Memorial Whitby Church

Tomb Inscription

Church of Saint Mary, Whitby, North Yorkshire

“Here lies the bodies of Francis Huntrodds and his wife Mary who were both born on the same day of the week month and year (viz) Septr ye 19th 1600 marry’d on the day of their birth and after having had 12 children born to them died aged 80 years on the same day of the year they were born ye September 19th 1680 the one not above five hours before ye other.

“Husband and wife that did 12 children bear, dy’d the same day; alike both aged were bout 80 years they liv’d, five hours did part (ev’n on the marriage day) each tender heart so fit a match, surely, could never be; both in their lives, and in their deaths agree.”

Dr Beitman Talk in New York this Thursday

Mid-Manhattan Branch of the New York City Library–6th Floor at 6:30 PM September 29, 2016

Dr Beitman will present the basic categories of Coincidence Studies in an attempt to better explain and use them.


Lava Records CEO Jason Flom will then describe several of his own amazing coincidences, showing how they have aided him in both his work and personal life.


Audience discussion will follow.