Psychics, faith healers and holy men...

Out of this world?  Keep them out of yours!
Exposing con-artist's methods and regaining your happiness


"Anyone who claims he can predict the future, tell you what someone else thinks or name a card in a  shuffled deck is either lying, fooling you or working with a stacked deck.
Anyone who tells you he has spoken with God  or can communicate with someone who has died is crazy, a dreamer or a con artist."
–Andy Rooney, columnist and 60 minutes regular

My husband heard an ad on the radio,  "If you don't know what to buy your loved one, ask a psychic who will be at the local mall to help out shoppers."  I was driving down the street and I saw three psychic boutiques within several blocks. A WCBS news report revealed that the city of New York was training welfare recipients to take jobs as psychics for $4.99 per minute. All you need is a home phone, the ability to speak and write English, and Tarot cards. One person responding to the ad asked, "What if I'm not a psychic?" "They'll train you," was the response.  The Washington Post informed us of Diane Forestell; she claims to be a pet psychic, people psychic and channeler through which spirits and a deity speak. Forestell claimed to discover, telepathically, why a female dog Heidi (whom she telepathically thought was a male) loves to goose people with his snout.  Why?  Because, the dog confessed to her "goosing humans is just so darn funny." 

Forestell charges $100/ hour. In an Associated Press article, Michael Leahy states: "What she (Forestell) sees now is the perfect convergence of public restlessness and spiritual famine - boom conditions for a psychic." Her client, Irene Morgan, says that that Forestell has a "gift that not many people will ever possess…We're so closed to things when maybe if we tried, we'd know more. We've got to look beyond ordinary things." Forestall was shown a photo of a California dog believed long gone. Not to worry, Forestell said, the dog is living with an elderly woman, possibly in Silver Springs.  The telepathic airways must have been scrambled. The dog had been euthanized. It doesn't faze her.

Why are psychics, fortune-tellers, spiritualists, tarot card readers, channelers, astrologers, faith healers, and holy men and women so popular: from the Oracles of Delphi, the  high priests of the ancient world, to the televangelists of today? What's their psychological attraction? What do they give you? At what cost?  What would motivate you or a friend to seek out those who  claim to have extra-ordinary powers with mystical realms? If you discover their seductive lure, you will also discover the way to regain trust in your own mind and in your ability to think. Let's uncover some powerful psychological reasons for the desire to seek out those who claim they have extrasensory, otherworldly powers.

Imagine I have a problem with my boyfriend.  He has been standoffish and he won't talk about it.  I have to find out whether he loves me or not. Is he cheating on me? He says no but his behavior leaves the question open. I am left with an unbearable  doubt. I don't know how to act.

Or let's say I was diagnosed with cancer and I want to know whether I will be one of the lucky survivors or not. Will I go through chemotherapy and radiation, lose my hair, suffer unpleasant side effects, only to die of cancer soon after?  I want to know my future so I can plan ahead.

Or what if my wife died and I feel  so guilty because I feel as though I put work first, not her. Now there is nothing I can do about it. Would she have forgiven me? What can I do? How will I ever know?

One  key to the psychic's and other con-artist's success is that they offer to give you something of incalculable value. They offer knowledge that you don't know how to get for yourself (e.g., whether a  boyfriend is cheating) or knowledge that is impossible to get (e.g., the outcome of cancer, the forgiveness of a deceased spouse). They offer knowledge to make choices in your life or knowledge that will  help you repair your self-evaluation.

Here's another key to their appeal. Suppose you have to decide what career path to take. Do you leave your secure job to go for the career you've always wanted? Do you spend your days taking care of your elderly mom or delegate some of the responsibility to professionals and to your siblings? Do you marry the adventurous gal of your dreams, or do you settle for a woman who is an outstanding upright, uptight, passionless citizen – a safe bet and dad's choice. How do you decide such life-determining choices?

If you ask a  psychic, you will get an answer, pay big bucks, act on that answer and buy yourself a temporary sense of security – but beware – it's absolutely a false sense of security.

You are offered something of high importance to you: knowledge and the solution to the choices you need to make. Psychics offer you a method of guiding yourself through the multitude of decisions facing you daily. Let's take a closer look at their underlying assumption.  If their philosophy of life could it speak, it would say, "There are the chosen, those of us who pretend to know by some mystical means, and  the unchosen, who don't have our alleged special powers. I am one of the chosen, you are the unchosen. Therefore you must come to me for the knowledge you need to live your life."
Notice how they portray themselves as superior to you. They become the authority whom you should rely on. It's a familiar refrain. How many children were brought up to "obey" their parents. It's a short  step from blind obedience to parents, teachers and nuns to blind obedience in some alleged mystical realm. Ayn Rand states this clearly;  "Faith in the supernatural begins as faith in the superiority of others."

It's like taking a math class. Instead of learning the method to solve equations, you turn to the answers in the back of the book and jot them down on your homework sheet. You obtained answers, but YOU have no idea how the answers were derived. You can have confidence in the answers only to the extent that you trust the text book writer. But let's say that the textbook inadvertently mixed up the answers. You end up with the wrong answers, but with the certainty that the authority, the textbook writer, whom you have chosen to rely on, could never be wrong. It's hard to doubt what you have chosen as the source of your knowledge.

The same applies with all mystics: they may tell you your future, or make your choices for you. They give you the answers, leaving you in doubt of your own mind, fearful of a world in which only special people have spooky powers, which you don't possess.  You become fearful of ever questioning their powers since you are relying on them to guide your own decision-making.

That  explains their lure: they offer you the incalculable value of knowledge and they tell you what choices to make in your life. Their advice becomes your standard of judging in life and takes the place of your  own first hand grasp of the facts and using your own mind.

How do they dupe even very intelligent people? The number of bright individuals seeking advice from psychics, consulting  astrologers or believing in "God's plan" for themselves often astonishes me.  What methods do the psychics use to take in otherwise intelligent, thinking individuals? Here are some of their deceptive  tactics that Smith and Walstad expose in their book, Sting Shift.

  1. They use "One size fits all" comments: "Honey, you look like you lead a hectic life. You've got a lot on your mind. You could use some time to yourself. I'll bet you've been hoping for something good to happen in your life." Notice that this general statement applies to almost everyone.  From the elderly woman in the nursing home who feels her life is hectic since she has so many doctors visits, has to remember to take many different pills and has to get to nursing home events on schedule – to the jet-setting executive. Are these psychic powers or simply general comments applying to everyone?
  2. Psychics will encourage you to talk and then rephrase your words – making you feel very understood and in awe of their "power".   You say: "I am so frustrated with my husband. He never does anything around the house yet he expects sex every night." The psychic responds: "You look like a woman who has the burden of work put on you and feels put-upon to give any more time to  your husband." Are these psychic powers or did you just tell her that!
  3. They observe you carefully and make comments based on what they see.  A woman with a mink coat walks into the psychic's boutique. The woman has newly polished nails, expensive jewelry and her hair done into a classy bouffant. The psychic says: "You seem like a classy woman who pays great attention to detail and likes the finer things in life."   Are these psychic powers or the result of careful observation?
  4. Psychics not only observe what you wear, but they observe your emotions. You are talking about your children. Your voice catches, your lip curls down, your brow furrows when  you mention your youngest son.  The psychic knows there is something important going on here that would generate such an emotional response. She says, "The spirits tell me that there is a problem  with your younger son…" Does she have psychic powers or simply the ability to carefully observe emotions?
  5. Psychics and "spiritual men" also create problems, then pretend to solve them .  A religious leader declares that sex is only for procreation. He knows so because some authority once said so. What do you do with your growing sensuality?  Repress it. What if you can't? Feel  guilty and confess.  Notice the clever use of unearned guilt and phony atonement. Keeps you hanging on though. Psychic powers or manipulation!

There are many other tactics used by the variety of mystical con-artists: finding out about you from outside sources, using tricks in seances or pompous ceremonies to convince you of their special powers, making you distrustful of your family  and friends, requesting that you not talk about the content of psychic readings with anyone (protects the psychic from outside criticism), using flattery (e.g., "my my, your questions are always so  perceptive"), telling you anecdotes of past successes and using theatrical techniques to wow you (e.g., attire such as long prestigious-looking, awe-inspiring, dark robes). In short, con-artists rely on your un-questioning mind. They hope you find it easier to rely on some authority unquestionably, rather than to think for yourself. They work to confuse you and they then offer their advice as the solution  to your confusion. Psychics, channelers, astrologers aren't the only people using these tactics. The mainstream mystics, although more socially accepted, equally claim special powers and use these methods.
Ayn Rand exposed mystic's psychology. Listen to a villain in her novel, The Fountainhead: "If you learn how to  rule one single man's soul, you get can get the rest of mankind. …The soul…It must be broken. Drive a wedge in, get your fingers on it – and the man is yours. You won't need a whip – he'll bring it to you  and ask to be whipped… This villain continues: "Men have a weapon against you. Reason. So you must be very sure to take it away from them…. But be careful. Don't deny outright…. Don't say reason is evil…Just say that it is limited. That there's something above it. What? You don't have to be too clear about it either. The field's inexhaustible. `Instinct'–`Feeling'–`Revelation' –`Divine Intuition' … If you get caught at some crucial point and somebody tells you that your doctrine doesn't make sense—you're ready for him. You tell him that there is something above sense. That he must not try to think, he must feel.  He must believe. Suspend reason and you play it deuces wild…You've got him. Can you rule a thinking man? We don't want any thinking men."
How  can you protect your mind? Start by learning to do the introspective thinking to make healthy choices for yourself. Recapture your confidence in your ability to deal with the world.  Your mind is not lacking special supernatural powers needed to make decisions, rather, the con-artist never had such powers. Protect your mind and happiness by knowing the con-artist's methods. Learn thinking and  communication skills to pursue your dreams and to deal with rough spots in your life.
Pet psychics, shopping mall psychics, mystics…I can see your future …and it doesn't look good…