I tuned into Anderson today and found the topic was about fraudulent psychics taking advantage of desperate people. Since intuitive readings are partially how I make my living, I paid close attention to this discussion.
Typically, I like Anderson Cooper’s style of journalism both well-constructed and entertaining, but parts of this episode of his show had me so disappointed that I couldn’t stop commenting on it. While his purpose was to expose the horrifyingly large industry of fraudulent, criminal “psychics”, I was extremely disappointed that he did not offer legitimate psychics a voice of rebuttal. Anderson painted people in the entire profession with broad strokes of dishonesty and greed, thereby entirely neglecting the fact that not all of us fall into that category. Granted, we are in the minority, but we have no voice because the frauds are louder than the legitimate people.
I wish I had been on this show to provide educated debate on this subject and teach people how to choose real psychics and avoid frauds. You see, that is half the problem right there. People are not educated in these things and will walk into those scams and fake storefronts without knowing they’re walking into a trap. Journalists like Anderson, who are supposed to provide balanced reports to the public, are not offering chances for honest people to help. The negative stories – the stories of scam artists, while necessary to report – are sensational and attract more viewers. Even so, I was confused and disappointed by Anderson’s jokes about a subject that is highly sensitive and deals with connections to personal faith. I was not impressed with his inability to report both sides of the issue, even if it was a quick segment at the end from someone actually experienced in these things to point out warning signs of scams to the public and explain what genuine psychics will and will not do. Instead, he allowed the public misconception to continue that we are all evil frauds. There are good and bad people in every profession, including medicine, journalism, government, etc. It boggles my mind that so many stories about bad doctors or doctors practicing without licenses have not damaged the medical profession enough to keep masses of people from seeking treatment, specifically because we are allowed to hear all of the wonderful stories of the good they do, yet we are not allowed to hear of the good psychics can do. So we go on practicing quietly because we are afraid of being lumped into that scam artist category simply by association. It’s irresponsible journalism to not investigate both sides of the issue. Yes, Anderson is a daytime talk show but Anderson Cooper himself is a journalist first and foremost and should know better.
The reason why there are so many criminals and leeches in the psychic profession is because these criminals know most people seeking psychics have no idea about standards and regulations that should be implemented. Anderson point blank stated that people seeking psychic readings are desperate. This is not entirely true and is, again, a broad generalization based on testimony from the people who were leeched by the criminals. The vast majority of my clients ask for readings simply out of curiosity; with the next largest group consisting of well-adjusted professionals simply looking for a little extra insight; and the last, smallest group being people who are weakened by life, desperate and co-dependent. This brings me to my first set of warnings for the public.
A GENUINE PSYCHIC WILL NOT CONTINUE WORKING WITH PEOPLE WHO CLEARLY NEED A PSYCHIATRIST RATHER THAN A PSYCHIC.
A GENUINE PSYCHIC WILL ALSO CUT OFF PEOPLE WHO APPEAR TO BE ADDICTED TO GETTING READINGS EVEN WHEN IT MEANS LOSING INCOME.
A GENUINE PSYCHIC WILL PUT THE NEEDS OF THE CLIENT ABOVE THEIR OWN WITHIN REASON.
I noticed another trend with the hidden camera investigation of storefront psychics. When the client received their “reading”, the “psychic” immediately went into the, “Come back tomorrow for more information,” speech. That speech always translates to, “Come back tomorrow and give me more money.” This is the biggest red flag when the scam artist immediately begins sucking you back in repeatedly for more and more readings, making people feel like they’re making a mistake by not returning for more. I also saw these storefront psychics tacking on additional fees to remove curses, light candles, etc., after swaying people away from cheaper specials that lured them into the shops in the first place. People really think they’re in trouble so they shell out money for all of these extras when they simply came in for a cheap, curious reading.
Let me put this bluntly: IF A PERSON IS TRULY IN TROUBLE, MONEY IS NOT THE CONCERN OF A GENUINE PSYCHIC.
After I do a reading, discussions usually follow with my clients because I’m concerned about their welfare. These discussions usually involve my continued help and I almost never ask for more fees when people are truly in need of help. Booking more readings is always a decision made from the clients’ free will. I often let past clients know when my prices drop because they ask to be notified, but I have never said, “I can’t help you without another $50.” Genuine psychics have a responsibility to look after the spiritual welfare of the people who come into contact with them. Those of us who charge fees must do so in order to support ourselves, not because we’re looking to leech off people. For that reason, more than half the time I spend helping people ends up being pro bono work. Spiritual guidance should be accessible to everyone, not just those with deep pockets.
A question you should ask a potential psychic: DO YOU EVER HELP PEOPLE IN NEED FOR FREE?
As an aside, to show how many red flags go unnoticed in these storefronts, I watched one of the alleged psychics flipping out Tarot cards overhanded rather than flipping them sideways without turning them around. A real Tarot reader who has been properly trained will not flip the cards overhanded. Doing that turns the card upside down or right side up, thereby completely changing the meaning of the card. The majority of people going in for Tarot readings wouldn’t know this and wouldn’t even know they’re seeing a big red flag. So let’s review.
A GENUINE PSYCHIC WILL BE UP FRONT IN THE BEGINNING ABOUT THE PRICE FOR THEIR SERVICES AND WILL NOT SLIP IN EXTRA FEES HALFWAY THROUGH.
A GENUINE PSYCHIC WILL NOT EMPLOY GUILT OR FEAR TACTICS TO FORCE PEOPLE TO RETURN FOR MORE READINGS. RETURNING FOR READINGS SHOULD ALWAYS BE BASED ON FREE WILL.
A GENUINE PSYCHIC WILL NOT WITHHOLD INFORMATION JUST TO GET PAID AGAIN.
A GENUINE TAROT READER WILL NOT FLIP CARDS OVERHANDED. DOING SO DENOTES LACK OF PROPER TRAINING OR FRAUDULENT ACTIVITY.
Removing curses or removing spirits are big business in the psychic industry, mostly conducted by frauds. I have had to clean up these messes before when people come to me saying, “This psychic said I was cursed and she needs $300 to clear it.” No genuine psychic will do this to a person. A curse is only as real as the person who believes in it too. Let me make this very simple for everyone. Here is how you tell the difference between a genuine psychic and a fraudulent psychic.
Fraud: “This, this and this are being inflicted on you by evil forces. Only I can clear things.”
Genuine: “These things are not working well in your life. These are the patterns you have created in previous lifetimes as well as this lifetime that perpetuate the negativity you experience. I suggest you change these thought patterns and habits in order to improve things.”
Do you see the difference? A genuine psychic cannot fix your problems for you. We are here to nudge you in the right direction and provide you with intuitive information that will help you make better choices. A psychiatrist will not fix your problems for you either. They show you the tools you need to fix your own problems, much like psychics do, albeit from an entirely grounded, medical standpoint. It depends on the individual as to whether spiritual counseling or psychiatric counseling will click for them better. In my own ethical practices, if I see signs of mental illnesses in people, I push them toward getting psychiatric help and tell them that I cannot help them. The criminals in the psychic profession feed on those who cannot distinguish between authentic spiritual help and a scam.
Here are some additional tips from a colleague of mine:
1. Are willing to give references. I am talking about actually letting you talk to someone who has had a reading from them, not just posting testimonials on their web page.
2. Treat their fellow psychics as colleagues, not competition. Psychics who have confidence in their own abilities do not feel threatened by the fact that there are other equally good psychics out there. It’s actually common to hear good psychics openly praising other psychics that they respect. You may not realize this, but most psychics go through other psychics to have readings done for them. It is incredibly hard for psychics to read for themselves, as their own hopes and fears can muddy the reading for them.
3. Are always looking to become better psychics. If you hear a psychic saying that they would like feedback or are taking a workshop to improve their psychic abilities, that means that they want to do the best possible job for you.
1. Are blow hards. If you see a psychic claiming that they are soooo much better than anyone else, they are full of crap. The truth of the matter is that there are quite a lot of excellent psychics out there who are capable of giving verifiable information in their readings. I have yet to come across any one person who is head and shoulders above the rest.
2. Bash other psychics. If they are that afraid of competition, there’s a reason for it.
3. Give you a hinky feeling. Yup – trust your gut. Even if someone recommends a psychic but they still don’t feel quite right to you, don’t use them. A couple of years ago, I was looking for groups to join to help me develop my psychic skills. A good friend and fellow psychic recommended a certain group that she had found helpful. When I looked at the group’s page, there was a warning from the psychic who headed the group about people joining the group as spies. Spies?!!! I knew that wasn’t the kind of energy that I wanted to be around, so I steered clear of it. That turned out to be a very wise choice.
1. How much they charge. There are differing opinions by psychics on whether they should charge low fees to make their services more accessible, fees that are higher but consistent with other professional services, fees that seem outrageously high but are a fair market rate given the high demand for their services, or not even charging at all. I know people who have gotten excellent readings from psychics who charged anything from $0 to $1,500 an hour and people who have gotten lousy readings from all of those groups as well. As far as I can tell, how much a psychic charges has no bearing on their quality.
2. Testimonials. Legitimate psychics put up true testimonials. If someone is a fake psychic, they will have no qualms about putting up fake testimonials.
3. Won’t give you a sample reading to prove how good they are. I’m sorry but that’s just tacky to ask for. Would you also expect a plumber to fix your leaky faucet for free to prove that he has the skills to put in a new toilet for you?
Additionally, here are more tips from my colleague about validating your experience with a psychic.
Lately, I’ve been running into a lot of folks who have been getting conflicting information from various psychics. Here’s some tips I use when determining the validity of readings myself.
1. Trust your gut. Does what the reader says resonate with you, or does it feel wrong? Pay attention if either is the case. If you don’t feel anything one way or the other, that doesn’t mean that the reading is wrong. Be sure that what you feel is a gut reaction and not an emotional reaction, though. Sometimes readers will tell you something you either really want to hear or don’t want to hear, so don’t base it on your desires.
2. Did you front load the psychic with information about who you thought you were? Legitimate psychics want to give you an unbiased reading. Whether they mean to or not, they can subconsciously pull some things that you told them into the reading that aren’t really true. Whenever you go for a reading, it is best to not tell them anything more than a general time period or issue that you want them to focus on.
3. How generic was the reading? Recently, I saw someone swear up and down that some vague computerized past life reading she paid $17 for was absolutely correct. I could have sworn that I got the EXACT same reading myself once (for free!). It played up her spirituality. OK, it’s really common for people who are drawn to look into their past lives to have strong spiritual leanings. It said that she lived on Atlantis. Again, that’s the kind of thing that often appeals to people who are interested in reincarnation. It was also extremely flattering to her. There were no specifics about when she lived, what time period, or what the major issues were in any of her lives. In short, it was flattering, vague baloney designed to appeal to anyone in the vendor’s target New Agey audience.
4. If a reading plays up to your ego, there’s a higher likelihood that the reader is just telling you what they think you want to hear. This might not even be a conscious effort on their part, as it is human nature to want to please one’s customers. That goes along with the subconscious problems of front loading. And there are unscrupulous readers like the vendor above that will tell you happy nonsense on purpose just to keep you coming back or even just to make themselves look good. Of course, that doesn’t mean that a positive reading is necessarily a bunch of hokum, either. This factor is something I only worry about if there are other problematic factors or if the reader makes me out to be an insanely rich, drop dead gorgeous version of Mother Teresa.
This aspect gets tricky, as I know that many of the people reading this did legitimately have past lives as well-known, and often well loved people. In cases like that, I would look for details in the reading that discuss flaws in your character, mistakes you may have made in your life, etc. – anything that doesn’t make you out to be a shining example of virtue. I would also see if the reader told you what you were like before telling you who you were. Most psychics I know have to tune into the readee for a bit before they start getting specific information like that.
5. What is the reputation of the psychic doing the reading? Red flags go up for me when I see psychics bashing other psychics. When their ego is obviously involved in the reading, you know that what you are getting is not unbiased information. It may be a bit off or it may be complete baloney. More often than not, it’s the latter.
6. Did the reader tell you anything they couldn’t possibly have known? I had a reading last summer in which the reader encouraged me to write a book, saying that I had an unusual slant on the subject, and that “it’s haunting you!” As it happens, I had been kicking around writing a book about my own case of reincarnation that I was told about by a ghost – bingo on all three counts! (Update: a year and a half after I got that reading, I was approached out of the blue by History Press to write a book of local ghosts stories for them. The book is supposed to have a heavy slant on the historical background behind the hauntings.)
In readings that I have done for other people, I know I’m getting solid information when quirky details come through. In one case, I kept seeing a pink autograph book with Davy Jones’ (from The Monkees) autograph in it in a reading for a woman who died young in the 1960’s. I couldn’t figure out why I was being shown that because it had nothing to do with the issue I had been asked to focus on. When I told the readee about it, she got all excited. It turns out that even though she was so young I wouldn’t have expected her to have even known about Davy Jones, she had a big crush on him in high school. Another time, a spirit whom the readee had known in that life popped in and kept calling her Margaret. The ghost pronounced it in a very distinctive fashion, drawing out each of the 3 syllable. The readee was surprised, as that was the way she tended to pronounce it, too.
The bottom line is, it’s worth taking the time to give some critical thought to your reading. Legitimate readers fully acknowledge that we aren’t infallible, and aren’t going to be offended if don’t blindly accept everything we tell you.
So while Anderson Cooper did a great job of exposing fraudulent psychics, he did nothing to explore the other side of the industry – the minority who are genuine and have very real abilities. It’s dangerous to paint all of us with such broad strokes as if we’re all evil, greedy leeches because it’s simply not true, just like it’s not true that people who seek psychics are desperate. It would have served Anderson well to have an expert on these things to describe the real life of a psychic with the goal of educating the public on how to properly choose a psychic and understand when a psychiatrist is more necessary. If the public only sees the dark side of this issue, it will continue to damage the reputations of genuine psychics who are just trying to help people.
The bottom line? Standards need to be applied to this business in the way that doctors report to medical boards, etc. Exposing the frauds is vital and necessary but it’s not enough. The real psychics need to stop hiding out of fear and start educating people.