Friday, March 21, 2008

True Confessions of a "Medium" Watcher

by Cathy Anderson Corn

For several seasons now, my husband Alan and I have watched the NBC series "Medium." We enjoy the supernatural and the Dubois family pictured in the show (the lovely Patricia Arquette, Jake Weber, and the three blond TV daughters they raise). Yes, it depicts violence, murder, and dead bodies, but that's balanced by family love and a dash of humor.

For some reason, Allison Dubois, the psychic, receives her extrasensory information via dreams. She wakes up breathless and rattled from the latest brutal killing or clue in her sleep. She rarely receives impressions in any other way. This works on TV, but real psychics don't operate like that. Real psychics do readings with clients, see symbols, smell or hear things that aren't there, get impressions from touching items, and so on. Maybe it's cheaper to film the show using dreams, or maybe the writers don't really believe in mediums or they're lazy.

Besides this, the real Allison Dubois, upon whom the series was based, has done over 1200 readings in addition to working in a district attorney's office (like the TV Allison until this season), and has worked as a research psychic (scientific testing of psychic powers). Perhaps the inaccurate TV depiction of a medium has more to do with an individual reading--very dramatic for the person being read, but not that exciting for anyone else.

My first reading followed a chaotic period of my life when the man I was dating became critically ill, was admitted to the hospital and lost consciousness. His mother and sister, who didn't know me, accused me of being a "tramp," had me evicted from the hospital, seized his car and dog, and changed the locks on his apartment. The nurses called me about a week later and sneaked me into his room to see him the night before he died. The entire saga screams "soap opera," but it really happened. I felt a little confused after all that. I went to a psychic.

The psychic reassured me and helped me make sense of the ridiculous, and I've gotten readings ever since then. The whole process fascinates me.

In fact, last Sunday Alan and I attended the Spirit Fair at the Rex Theater sponsored by the Open Mind Bookstore and Journeys of Life. Lately, I've noticed the readings usually emphasize something I've already been considering. The information propels me forward in a direction I've already determined.

Paul Meidinger, my reader, first gave me information about my healing work that verified my thoughts. Then, he said I'm becoming a character, like some people in those old black and white photos who stand out.

I take that as a compliment. In my former life as Miss Goody Two Shoes, RN married to a minister, I strove to be sweet and caring and helpful, nearly perfect in every way.

BORING. Who wants to be that kind of protagonist, let alone read about her? It's those imperfections and well-developed personalities that set our characters apart.

I asked Paul about getting my latest work, Once in a Blue Moon, published. He said it will be published, but I need to put more time into marketing and submit to a wider market.

Put more time in? Hey I already knew that. I must be psychic or something.

How about you? Have you any experiences with psychic readers, or even psychic experiences? Does the whole idea turn you off? Do you think it's a scam? What's your take on "Medium?"

Have a wonderful Easter holiday and pass the jellybeans, please.


JennieB said...

I don't watch "Medium", although I've always found the idea of psychics and psychic ability interesting. And yes, I guess I've had what some people would call psychic experiences. Nothing creepy or weird, probably just a very strong connection with certain people, or something. ESP or what-not. I can't do it for anyone else; it only works for me, anyway.

I enjoy reading books about people with psychic abilities - Victoria Laurie's series about Abby Cooper and Charlaine Harris's Harper Connolly come to mind - but in real life, I tend to view mediums with more than a little suspicion. Not because I doubt that some people have the ability to see/know/sense things that other people don't, just like some people seem to have the ability to see or sense ghosts, but because it seems like most of the people who try to make money from it are deluded at best and outright frauds at worst. So no, the idea doesn't turn me off at all, and I don't think the underlying premise is a scam, but I think that all too many of the practitioners of the craft are scam-artists. Sorry. :-)

Tory said...

I've gotten readings from psychics. While none of the people I've read with I'd describe as "frauds," they have different levels of ability. One I went to with a friend, and clearly told us exactly what we wanted to hear. Others have been more helpful.

For me, the ones that have been helpful have told me about past-life issues that influence me today. One said that I had been a male who'd lost everything in the Wall Street crash of '29 and then jumped off a building. It made sense out of some of the money fears I have.

And one psychic told me some stuff about my father that helped explain his anger towards women.

Gina said...

I don't watch Medium, I guess in part because I've always thought there was a distinction between being a medium and being a psychic. Mediums have traditionally communicated with the dead, while psychics theoretically pick up knowledge from all kinds of sources -- vibes, spirits, God, alternate dimensions, the timeless reality that underlies everything that is, etc. None of the few psychic readings I've had seemed to be hits -- in fact, a few were way off. I have, however, had psychic experiences myself, and for me they do often come in dreams, or in that liminal shadow time between sleep and waking. So what does this have to do with watching Medium? I'm scared. I've had a few run ins with dead folks (not the corpses, the ghosts) and am hesitant to open any doors or windows to them. Sometimes watching paranormal shows or movies, or reading certain books, seem to do just that.

Joyce said...

I think individuals can have psychic experiences--I've had a few experiences of deja-vu, but I think most of the people doing readings are scam artists. If someone has this as a true gift, they're not out there trying to make money on it.

mike said...

I agree with Joyce. The unexplainable will always be with us--I accept that fact and get on with my life, for whatever few years are my gift here on Earth. Psychics, readers, palmists, soothsayeres, and others of their ilk get paid for doing a job. Being cheap, I prefer not to support that segment of the economy.

JennieB said...

You said it so much better - and shorter - than I did, Joyce! That's what I meant. Just that.

Cathy said...

I knew I could count on you for some experiences. I agree that if they tell you want you want to hear, it may not be all that helpful.

I agree aobut the distinction between medium and psychic, although the mediums at Lily Dale often get messages through spirit that aren't dead people (angels, ascended masters, etc.) Mediums don't usually use props, either--tarot cards, crystal balls, and so on. That's spooky about the ghost thing and sounds very interesting.

Mike,Joyce, and Jennie,
There's no doubt that scam artists are included in this category. However, all the people I've been to have been genuine (one psychic told me I was psychic). The chief problem lies in the inaccuracy of the reading or one that's so vague it could be for almost anyone. And, as Mike pointed out (you must be psychic), the cost can be a major deterrent. That's why I go to the Spirit Fair--20 minutes for $20. It's cheap entertainment and all about you.

Cathy said...

In case you're looking for some Civil War info, I just read in my Lily Dale catalog about a workshop in August, "Ghosts of Gettysburg...and Beyond," based on the Ghosts of Gettysburg series on the History Channel. I'm sure it will be very...haunting.

lisa curry said...

Cathy, I love "Medium," too! My husband and I are faithful viewers, except we weren't able to watch the past two weeks (which I understand were parts 1 and 2 of a continued episode), so we taped those and need to watch them some time this weekend.

I have periodically had dreams that appeared to have some level of creepy basis in reality, but they're never exactly accurate, so it's not as if they're particularly useful.

For example, when I lived in Atlanta about 20 years ago, I dreamed that the old lady who had a summer home next to my parents' house was dying. She was like an adopted grandmother when I was growing up, and the dream was really disturbing to the point that I called my mother the next day to ask if "Grandma" was okay. It was winter, so the neighbor was at her home in Pittsburgh, not at her summer home. My mother said somebody would have called her if Grandma had died, but she dutifully called Grandma's daughter, who said Grandma was alive and well but had awakened in the middle of the night before with chest pain and been rushed to the hospital by ambulance. She didn't die for many years after that, so maybe the dream was just a dream and a complete coincidence, but it was just kind of weird, because I hadn't even thought of her in a really long time before the dream.

Then last year I dreamed that an old friend died, and it was so real that I woke up positive he was really, truly dead. He wasn't, so I decided it was just a dream. But then he actually did die three months later to the day -- dropped dead of a heart attack at age 40 with no warning. So was that dream some kind of foretelling or just a coincidence? Again, I don't know.

I predicted the date of my grandfather's death three months in advance and was only off by three days, but that wasn't from a dream and I don't think it had anything to do with psychic ability. I (unkindly) predicted he would die at the most inconvenient time possible, when I had an important event at work that his funeral would interfere with, and I'll be darned if he didn't manage it.

Joyce said...

Thanks for the info! I've read all of the Ghosts of Gettysburg books and have been on the ghost tours. Unfortunately, I've yet to see a ghost. Why is it the people who really want to see one never do?

Cathy said...

I think that if I actually saw a ghost, it would short-circuit my nervous system. Maybe you should be glad you haven't seen one (yet).

It sounds like you should be in a future episode of "Medium." You and Allison could wake up simultaneously in different parts of the city with vivid crime dreams. Thanks for sharing your stories!

Tory said...

Lisa: My mom died a few days before Christmas (which she hated) and spoiled Christmas that year for the rest of us. My dad died just before taxes were due and left his accounts in a total mess.

I do believe people make some sort of (unconscious) choice about those things.

And now that I think of it, I did go to one psychic/ scam artist when I was in graduate school. I do think she had some psychic ability (told me some things that she couldn't have known otherwise, like my connection to California) but she was clearly trying to gouge me for as much as she could.

The reason I say others weren't scam artists, is looking at how much money they actually make. I think people should be paid for services they provide. But, based on their fees, none of them were rolling in it!

Anonymous said...

It's not uncommon knowledge that television does more than just tweak the truth. All in the name of "good viewing potential, right?" Pft, I say to that! As novelists, accuracy is crucial. That the rules bend is an insult to society, and practically screams, "Intellects read; idiots watch TV."

In keeping with the actual topic... There is a lot to be said of psychic experience. Good. Bad. Ugly. The ability runs in my family. Growing up, I was ruthlessly teased about my mom being a witch and other such archaic absurdities. My mom was very private, and never did readings of any kind for money. In fact, no one but family and close friends knew, so I don’t know why the teasing existed. But she could do what most could not, and though no one else knew, I did, and that made all the difference in the world when their taunts tackled me to the schoolyard ground.

Anyway… My mom believed it was a gift, and money tainted. Once tainted, the gift would be taken from her, so she hid it. And so do I.

From experience, I can say dreaming is not a logical form. Although the subconscious mind is equally mysterious, its functionality differs. Dream deciphering is an entirely separate entity, and more scientifically accepted.

It is true... Something unique occurs within us. As an example, my mom smelled oranges when death was coming. She was lucky; what I smell is disgusting (rather not specify). Knowing things often feels more like a curse than a gift. To say something, we are at risk of being laughed at, of frightening someone, or of altering destiny in a negative way. To say nothing can be just as bad.

I believe the ability partly stems from deeper understanding, stronger awareness of one’s surroundings. We sense/see things people hide—even from themselves—which enables us to look even deeper, learn by what we see, and subsequently offer guidance. To give reasonable comparison, writers view the world with a greater sense and wider peripheral focus than other people do. This gives us our voice as writers. Our imagination. The psychic mind possesses an extended reach of that ability. Animals are able to sense things as well. Countless careers rely on instinct—cops, psychologists, etc. Interesting, really.

As for whether money changes anything, I honestly don’t know, other than to say we are not always “on.” Sometimes images accost us, other times…nothing. Those who do it for money will make up what they cannot ‘sense’ in order to pay a bill, so be cautious when seeking their guidance.

These concepts represent the closest plausible explanation I can come up with. I know it only touches the surface, but I hope it brings understanding to those who question—or fear—such experiences.