Wednesday, August 26, 2009

So-called medium reveals her intentions

“I’d love to go to a Red Hat meeting with you,” a so called "psychic" & "medium" declared to my 80-year-old Mom who had not invited her to go. She inquired about details, while Mom remained vague, and pointedly did not mention any. ”I LOVE hats! I have a whole collection of hats! We’ll go, just you and I,” she continued with considerable enthusiasm .

Poor Mom didn’t invite her, barely knows her, has been something of a captive audience until this point. This person failed to notice her silence,  or the grimly bemused smile on her face. After several more comments along this line, she announced “It’s a date then,” as she heads toward the door without once noticing the older woman’s reaction. So much for her claim to be psychic…. or even sensitive to others….

After the woman left, my mother turns to me and I know I am in trouble… “If she shows up there I am going to stop going to meetings,” she said glaring at me. (And, in fact, she did stop going!)  This woman was not listening to her, and Mom hates that. She didn't care what Mom wanted, she wanted what SHE wanted - which was to invite herself along to her group meeting.

It was me who brought this person, who is a self-declared psychic, self-declared spiritual “guide” into the house. The so-called psychic and I serve in a volunteer organization I am fond of, and I have been trying to figure out how to handle our philosophical differences for over a year now. (I am a secular humanist, a non-theist, a naturalist. etc) She has aggressively befriended me, calling repeatedly with invitations - which makes me a bit nervous - and we always avoid talking about our core beliefs.

Now my Mom has been a realist all her life, worked for 25 years for a police group, has seen all manner of hucksters, deceit and fraud. Because of her police background, Mom thinks such people are purposefully manipulative con-artists looking for bereaved emotional marks to swindle. And she might be right..  Mom  noted many of the red hats are widows, vulnerable to someone who might "guide" them to dead loved ones for a fee, or to curry favor, or find a place to live for a while...

And, though I worry about the sanity of this tale-spinner who says she talks to the dead, guides people to recall their past lives and has “remembered” over 100 of her own (story telling of a different magnitude indeed….) –  Mom might have the clearer view. And I am sure this so called "psychic" woman is “telling stories” – but to us or to herself? I wonder if her "stories" have become such an integral part of her persona, that she can no longer separate her self from her inventions.

The other alternative is the possibility that she is a charming manipulator. She is a careful listener, an astute observer of body language, a clever story-teller, seemingly a very caring sort. Surely she is self-deceived, not inwardly cold and calculating. Maybe. But this bid to get Mom alone has given me doubts. What could make it easier for a faker to channel the dead to the living - then talking to them when they are still ALIVE, and asking just the right questions about their relations to younger relatives and friends? She has confided about other elderly folks who she'd "befriended, who had "passed over," mentioning furniture and even a car "gifted" to her by grateful relatives." Once she asked a grieving relative if she could live in the departed's home until it was sold. That request was not granted. Who know's what "psychic" revealations might have resulted from unfettered access to the deceased's belongings.....

This culture wants to believe so badly it tosses science and logic aside, gives credence to folk who need to feel "special" by inventing supernatural powers for themselves, and who are accepted because of their very real and often quite subtle,  talents of listening carefully, observing carefully, recalling details, having a good sympathetic "graveside" manner.  Yet often these same folks blatantly manipulate others for emotional or financial gain, for services, support, living quarters,  or items tossed out when the estate is dissolved, stored and later sold on ebay or the like. (This particular woman did maintain a storage locker crammed with stuff and an active ebay account.)  Today we have psychics featured on tv shows, we have fraudulent ghost hunters – ( and these folks really ought to be ashamed because deception is involved in each filming….

But what can be expected in culture where a large segment of the populace can no longer make a cogent argument, separate opinion from fact, tell fakery from science, where warm fuzzy but false feelings are valued over what is real….