You may laugh, but that type of exchange is not uncommon and there lies the nub of the belief among many. That being labeled as a "psychic", "medium", "clairvoyant" or variations on that theme, apparently endows the holder with the capabilities of all seeing and all knowing about everything, including past, present and future. A bit like a "spiritual slot machine" - you put in your coin, ask a question and out pops the answer!
I'm sorry to disillusion those who hold those beliefs, but if "psychics" really knew everything about everyone, that had ever been or ever will be, not only would they know next week's winning lotto numbers, but they would probably be sipping cool drinks on the beach of their own private islands, watching the progress of their share portfolios, and not working on readings for other people. Although life on Fantasy Island would have some down side - watching a film or reading a book wouldn't have the same enjoyment because they'd know the ending, but they might invent new pastimes - such as telling people the score of the football final just as the game started!
The other pole of belief is that held by the skeptics. "If I can't see it, hear it, touch it, smell it or eat it then it's a load of bunkum". Governed by five senses, anything from the "sixth" just doesn't exist for them. Funnily enough, their arguments are usually along the lines of "if psychics could tell the future, then they'd know next weeks lotto numbers and they'd be basking on a beach....". The truth of course lies somewhere in between these two poles of view.
For a start, let's get one thing clear - everyone has some psychic ability, even skeptics! Some people use it and aren't aware of it - they put things down to a "hunch", "feminine intuition" or "co-incidence". Some people have become so wrapped up in work/home/fear/money/problems, that they have blocked themselves to anything outside of their own little treadmills. Some people have strong psychic ability but hide it for fear of what others might think, especially if it conflicts with their religious beliefs. However, some people use it and are aware of it, cultivate it and nurture it. These are ordinary people who have allowed their psychic awareness to develop, to varying degrees. Small children are often very "psychic", until they have been told too often that their "imaginary friend" isn't real or maybe they've been smacked for telling lies because they knew something that no rational adult could explain. It doesn't take long for a child to learn the rules of conformity and avoid punishments for demonstrating "difference". While we're at it, let's get the facts straight on another belief - the "I'm from a long line of psychics" one, suggesting that this "gift" is handed down like some mystical family secret. The main benefit that this person has is that they grew up in an environment where it was ok to use these abilities and call them by their name! So of course it would be fostered and grow. I do not question their ability, but the "mystical and mysterious" theme only propagates the myths and doesn't really help understanding.
So what can a "psychic reader" really do?
The answer to this is - it depends. Partly it depends on the values of the "psychic" and what their particular abilities are. Some focus on the person for whom they are reading, their problems, relationships etc and guide them by helping them to know themselves better and are able to show where particular paths are taking them. Some are a channel for other spirits or deceased persons to impart information - these "psychics" are often called spiritual mediums. Every psychic reader is different and may use different tools to assist them, such as Tarot cards, crystals, runes, astrology charts or an object belonging to the person that they are trying to "tune in" to. Another common misconception (or expectation) is based upon "my friend had a reading and the psychic did ... and they used ...". The expectation is that they will get a reading just like their friends even though they are consulting a different person with possibly different abilities, different approach, different tools. But a lot of the reading depends upon what is being asked.
Anybody who is familiar with the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams will know that the answer to "Life, the Universe and Everything" is 42. This question and answer sums up some of the problems when consulting a "psychic", in that if the question is vague or without a specific context, then the answer is going to be equally vague. But then, "..they're supposed to be psychic aren't they and know what I mean!".
To illustrate, here are some examples of frequently asked questions in readings.
"Will my son/daughter be happy in life?" - does that mean, this month? this year? the rest of his/her life? do they want a balance of probability or a day by day accounting?
"What is my future?" - wow, this is a big one, have we got a few years to go through all this? or do we summarise to just the highlights? should we miss out the bad bits or just focus on the life changing events? would they really like to know that they are going to spend the next 40 years married to the spouse from hell because they don't have any values of self-worth? maybe they would just like a few colourful tit-bits to take away as a memento and look forward to, because a "psychic" told them it would happen!
"Is so-and-so my soul mate? If they aren't, when will I meet them?" - You really need to ask someone else if the person that you are living with is your soul mate or not? you can't tell? and what do you mean by a "soul mate" anyway? Or are you really saying that the thought of pushing off on your own is so frightening that you want to hold on to anything until something better drifts past, but you want to know when, where and who so you don't miss them?
A popular question after September 11th was "why didn't any psychics predict it so it could be stopped?". Well, some probably did "see" the event, perhaps some even had the date to go with it, some maybe even tried to warn others. Chances are they would either be passed off as "nutcases" or locked up as suspected co-conspirators. Ask yourself though, do you think that the commercial and political organizations affected would have been likely to pay any attention to something that was so far beyond belief? Do you think it likely that they would tell thousands of staff "don't come in today, because this alleged "psychic" person says the building is going to be bombed"? Or, do you think it is likely that crime fighters would have locked up "suspects" who had not committed any crime yet, especially if there was no actual evidence?
So without the power to change anything, what would be the purpose in knowing an event in advance. What torment would you feel if you knew that something bad would happen to others, but you couldn't prevent it? Do you think it would serve any purpose in the grand scheme of things? I feel that this is the reason why there was no apparent flood of premonitions by psychics. But, there were probably people who did have "feelings" to do something differently that day, without knowing why.
I hope this insight into the "psychic" world has helped to clear some of the mis-conceptions about who and what a "psychic" really is and what they are not!
And remember, at the heart of every "psychic" is a human being with human values. They just have a different "perspective"! If you would like to learn more about some "real" psychics and what they can do for you, visit our Psychics page.
This page was created on February 8, 2003 and updated September 7, 2003.