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Spiritualism provides hope and a community for people to be a part of. But it can become toxic when readers take advantage of their client’s vulnerability as they commit themselves to a belief that relies on trusting someone with little-to-no evidence of truth. Despite not being able to prove the legitimacy of spiritualist mediums and aura readers, many people have relied on them since the late 19th century. I speculate that the pandemic, with all its uncertainties, has led many people to seek any sort of answer that we can get about the future through psychics and other mediums. IBISWorld’s analysts indicate that while there was a mild decline in Psychic Services as the pandemic closed nonessential businesses in 2020, the decrease in revenue for this industry was relatively small as uncertainty has driven many people to online psychic services. While spiritualism can be a great resource for finding answers, there have always been dangerous incidents of fraud and exploitation by professional psychics that turn me away from fully trusting spiritual readings. It is important to take readings with a grain of salt, as this is an industry that makes money based on blindly trusting readers who don’t have to prove whether or not what they are saying is true. 

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In 2007, there was a famous case that CNBC reported involving Seth Tobias, a 44 year old hedge fund manager, whose death created a battle over his estate between his family and his internet psychic. His estate was said to be worth $25 million and his personal psychic was demanding a portion of his money. When Tobias’ family refused, the psychic threatened to blackmail the family by revealing Tobias’ personal information from their sessions. Another case involved a famous novelist scammed out of millions of dollars by her psychic over a two decade-long period. She too was unaware of what was going on, believing she could trust her psychic (CNBC). Psychics have also led people to make life-changing decisions like selling their homes, moving to a different country, and cutting off certain people in their lives. Though not all psychics are out to exploit their clients, these victims’ stories show how negatively impactful interactions with psychics can be.

Now this article is not meant to deter you from going to see spiritual mediums. Those with bad intentions do not make up the entire community of spiritual readers, but when seeking readings it is important to keep an open mind, trust your own gut, and think rationally. For hundreds of years, psychics have supported people through difficult situations. However it is important to be careful about who you are going to see. 

I find it challenging to trust psychics unless they are accurate about my past during a cold reading (a reading in which the psychic can’t research you ahead of time). In the same way I am suspicious about buying Holy Water as the source of the water is unknown and cannot be proven, I am suspicious about others reading for me and I have started to learn to read for myself. On Gwyneth Paltrow’s The Goop Lab on Netflix, I learned that everyone inherently has psychic abilities; they just need to unlock this higher spiritual understanding of themselves. Although I am still skeptical about my accuracy and would never read for anyone else, I feel more confident knowing the source and intentions of my own readings. If you don’t feel comfortable reading for yourself or simply don’t have the time to learn but still want a reading done, I encourage you to see a reader. Just be careful about who you choose and don’t blindly follow what they tell you to do. If they pressure you to make decisions or tell you things that make you feel uncomfortable, do not listen to them; your gut impressions and instincts are usually correct.

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Madelyn Son

Kenyon '25

Madelyn is a first year student at Kenyon College and has not yet decided on her major. She is from Southern California so naturally, she loves spending time at the beach! She also enjoys working out, reading, watching hockey games, and hiking. At Kenyon, you'll most likely find her heading to the Lowry Center or on a long walk.
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