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  • Writer's pictureBernard Beitman, MD

The Manic Psychiatrist’s Experience of Synchronicity

What happens when a brilliant psychiatrist becomes flooded with coincidences?

James Williford, MD (Used by permission of James Williford)

Altered states of consciousness like meditation, psychedelics and mania are often associated with an increase in coincidences. James Williford is a psychiatrist, who at age 23, began to experience manic episodes. Coupled with his high intelligence and theoretical understanding, he provides a unique perspective on synchronicity. During his first episode, he wanted to listen to some rock music and “for some reason” picked Synchronicity by the Police. This is an example of human GPS—getting where you need to be without knowing how.

He was astounded to find that the lyrics correlated with the thoughts going through his mind. He looked at the jacket notes and found that Carl Jung, who wrote extensively about synchronicity, had influenced the lyrics. Jim then became a student of synchronicity, deeply gratified that he was not alone in these experiences. Through repeated manic episodes he observed that the volume of the patterns entering his awareness and the frequency of the coincidences between those patterns and his surroundings were directly proportional to the intensity of his mania. The more intense the mania, the more synchronicities. In the depressed states, his mind was devoid of patterns. He learned that deep in our unconscious are progenitors — general patterns waiting to create specific patterns tuned to our current environment. These progenitors include personal patterns which Jung called complexes and archetypes which are more universal. These progenitors match archetypes and complexes to current personal needs. An intention, for example, activates specific patterns suited for the current situation. During the manic episodes, he used his mind’s eye to look at the past, present and future. Like a video with occasional sound, he could be telepathic, clairvoyant and predict the future. One day he needed a comb and saw, in his mind’s eye, a yellow comb in the drawer of a desk in an office he had not been in. He walked down the hall, pulled open a drawer and found the yellow comb he had seen in his mind’s eye. He realized that he had entered the collective mind and began exploring how it operated through the unconscious. He had involuntarily become a psychonaut. To listen to Jim describe his experiences and understandings, please click here.

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