We went to a neighbor's Christmas party last weekend (child-friendly, so we could actually go). As I stood in food-stakeout mode near the spicy guacamole and crab dip, some of the nearby partygoers began discussing one woman's experience with a rash on her wedding ring finger. Which actually is not an unknown psychosomatic symptom of a troubled marriage.
But then the woman in question described how she fixed the trouble, which was that she attended a session with a local psychic who helped her higher self talk to her husband's higher self. Not that he was there in person or even knew anything about it. Somehow during the course of this description she mentioned having taken "some psychology--oh, I don't mean like you have, or anything" (meaning, what? She knew I have a Ph.D. in the subject but she took...Intro Psych? Abnormal Psych? during her undergrad years before getting into the clerical field? Who knows.)
Anyway, apparently this psychic session fixed everything between them, and now she goes regularly, at nearly $90 a pop. Others at the table were asking interested questions and wanted referrals (surprisingly, I quietly demurred).
TheLimey wandered up just at this moment and from what he heard of the conversation interpreted it as "we're laughing at the idea of auras and such," and started in on a humorous tale of someone he knew who had gone to a psychic who---SCREECH! even after a dozen years or so over here, his British sense of social transgression remains acute enough that he correctly interpreted my frozen-eyed expression as meaning "STOP right there for the love of God" and his anecdote quickly trailed off into inoffensive vague mumbling. But I probably should have allowed him to continue.
Because just then, the Higher Self Woman enthusiastically proclaimed to all present that the process works better than....she paused, clearly suddenly remembering who she was standing right next to...and then apparently decided she either didn't care or else had already gone too far, and said that it works a lot better than therapy!
I'm guessing this is not based on actual scientific research, which has not shown similar results. And I didn't hear that she even tried therapy, either.
Later TheLimey was aghast to learn that the apparent premise for this kind of secret psychic communication is that higher selves vibrate on the same plane as each other (even when you don't know it). This has led to all kinds of midnight jokes, such as "My higher self is flipping you off right now--can you sense it?" and "My higher self doesn't so much vibrate as twitch, writhe, or sometimes flop around like a fish."
And really, if someone is actually helped in their everyday life by whatever culturally appropriate tradition they subscribe to, that's great. Sometimes just feeling like someone cares for you, or that you're doing something to help yourself, can lead to useful outcomes. But this whole psychic planes business sure leaves the door open for a helluva lot of charlatans to squeeze money out of gullible persons, and with little or no oversight.
That last bit feels particularly ironic and galling to me right now, considering that even with 16 years of study and practice towards my degree in an actual proven treatment field, the bottleneck to my working with people is that I have to get even more oversight and practice and pay hundreds of dollars to take even more exams before I can be pronounced safe enough for licensure.
But hey. I guess that's because therapy "doesn't work," right? At least according to
the experts who've taken Intro Psych at some point in their lives. Therefore it must be okay to let who-the-heck-ever put out a psychic shingle and charge $90 to stroke your aura, or whatever.
PS: thanks Google, for all the ads for clairvoyant healing, quantum jumping, and so forth in the margins as I compose this entry. That's super-appropriate.