Analyzing the ‘library angel’


Bernard Beitman is a visiting professor at the University of Virginia and former chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He attended Yale Medical School and completed his psychiatric residency at Stanford. He took a look at me  library angel post from a couple of days ago, dissected it, making some interesting points.

We’ve written about Dr. Beitman on a few occasions because he is one of the few academics who not only takes synchronicity— meaningful coincidences—seriously, but is developing an interdisciplinary study of coincidences.

“I am a kind of invisible father of coincidence studies,” Beitman told a reporter for Epoch Times.

Part of what that means is that he categorizes coincidences. Initially, Beitman divided coincidences in the following five categories:

  • Synchronicity – when a thought is mirrored by a meaningful exterior event;
  • Serendipity coincidences – finding what you need right when you need it;
  • Seriality – a string of similar events that are noted
  • Simulpathity – feeling another’s distress at a distance
  • Instrument – synchronicities or serendipities that motivate you to make a change or changes that work out to your benefit.

Now he has a different means of grouping coincidences.

Form:  Most come in pairs, usually a mental event surprisingly matches an event that is taking place in the environmental. Some come in a series of three or more like a string of butterflies.

Process: Or how they happen. Like “sitting down next to a stranger”, or “doing something different” or through public and personal media  or through encounters with nature.

Explanation:  Many people think they are caused by God. Others believe they are nothing more than random events.  I have noticed that some coincidences are unknowingly created by the person or persons involved. Better classification will produce specific explanations for the various types instead of broad generalizations.

Use:  Coincidences can help with decision making, psychological understanding, interpersonal relationships, creativity, spiritual development, employment, scientific discovery and health. They can also be funny, or inconsequential. They can also lead to negative consequences.

When Dr. Beitman read my ‘library angel’ synchronicity, he took an interest in it because the library angel phenomenon is something that he has experienced himself. It’s not surprising, though, that he also went about categorizing the two coincidences in a series of e-mails.

Essentially, he took away the angel’s wings! Here’s why.

“I’m thinking about this-Rob’s two synchros are more mind-matter matches (synchronicity) than library angel, to me. Your Ecuador time travel find is more library angel–finding needed information rather than matching mind with book.


“I have thought  about it more. It is a perfect example in the range of the problem of similarity between mind and context. He got an exact match. The trouble with some coincidences is that the similarity is stretched, more in the mind of the beholder than actual.

Still later…

“There is more to Rob’s coincidences.

1) the smarty pants was psi like.
2) the second was influenced by his having a book of the same name. So he more readily could pick it out. Why you had it in your book shelves, etc., is another question.”
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I had considered these two synchros as ‘library angels,’ because they both involved books. But Beitman seems to be suggesting that a library angel synchro is one where you are actively researching a matter and the appropriate book falls off the shelf at your feet, or some similar unlikely situation. But wouldn’t that be also be serendipity?
That’s the problem I have with categorizing coincidences. There seems to be a lot of possibly overlaps among categories. That’s why Jung lumped all psi phenomena under the  umbrella of synchronicity. For example, incidents of telepathy or precognition can also be seen as meaningful coincidences. That said, I think it’s great that Dr. Beitman is attempting to shift synchronicity into an accepted academic study.
As followup,  Beitman said he agrees that there are cross-overs in categories with coincidences. Some of them fit all of the categories.
He also notes: “The reason for library angel is related to the meaning of angel as a messenger. Maybe Rob is right to call each of his synchros library angel if there is a message for him in them. Not sure what the smarty pants message was and i think the second one was more a confirmation than information.
I appreciate Bernard’s perspective, especially since most academics might say something like: “It was bound to happen sooner or later. Chance events.”




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3 Responses to Analyzing the ‘library angel’

  1. I agree with you that there are too many overlaps to categorise many synchros / coincidences. The important factor is that it is relevant to the person concerned and, that standard description, meaningful.

  2. Shadow says:

    Each to their own opinion. Synchronisities happen to me all the time, many accurate. Is the ‘form’ they come in important?

    • Rob and Trish says:

      I don’t think the form makes one more significant than the other. It sill comes down to what it means to you.