FICTION: Psychic Junkie – A Memoir by Angelena Boden

If I were writing an account of a friend who admitted to being a psychic junkie, I would be less judgemental and more understanding towards them I would towards myself. Now I’m going to own up to being that person. Recovered.

Like many women I’ve had a bit of a fascination for my daily horoscope but I’ve dismissed it as a bit of fun.  In reality it’s a sinister way to make money from the gullible. As a growing, multi-million pound industry operating from hotlines, online and face to face ‘consultations’, there seems to be no decline in a need for services of mediums, psychics, tarot readers  and even coffee grain interpreters.

The Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951 which protected ‘genuine’ mediums was repealed in 2008 following an EU Directive to protect the consumer, leaving the psychic industry to prove there was no intention to deceive or take money under false pretences. This is probably the reason why you see the disclaimer on websites: For entertainment purposes only.

This article isn’t to discuss the rights and wrongs of these activities but more to examine ways in which people like me can get hooked in a similar way as with alcohol, drugs and gambling. The first two are substance addictions which act on the brain while gambling, shopping and consulting psychics are about behavioural addictions which provide a comforting adrenaline rush.

Research coming out of the USA about this alarming phenomenon, albeit scant, indicates that psychic addiction is becoming an epidemic with no boundaries. Once someone gets drawn in  they find it difficult to stop, especially if it’s made easy by ringing a hotline which gets charged to the phone or handing over credit card details which are stored for future use.

What sort of people does this happen to? It can be anybody but there is usually some incident or vulnerability that triggers that first call. Bereavement, break up of marriage, loss of job and in my case, my daughter’s sudden estrangement at the age of 22. Most people would put it down to a difficult phase in life and would find coping strategies; talk to a trusted family member or friend, consult a counsellor or if things were very difficult, seek medical help and therapy. So what made me pick up the phone and call a local clairvoyant? I’ve worked as a coach and trainer to help people deal with challenging behaviours, their own and others for over thirty five years.

I should know better but I was confused, desperate and impatient.  I couldn’t wait for the situation to work itself out. I felt a compulsion to know immediately what was going on and why. Every day I dissected what had gone wrong between us, what I’d done to drive her away and devoured every book and article I could find on mother-daughter relationship breakdown. Nothing resonated.

It started to become a problem is when I consulted several people over a short period of time about the same issue. Psychic dependency is now classified as having more than two readings in the same year about the same issue. Something kept happening in my head like a mini explosion and it was only when I heard the soothing words of the clairvoyant that I began to calm down. It was beginning to look like obsessive-compulsive behaviours if not a disorder.

Like many others who become dependent  I took to ‘psychic-hopping.’ If I didn’t like what I heard from one, I found someone else and on I went. I gave out more information than I realised. If you must consult a psychic say absolutely nothing and don’t make a face to face visit. They are experts in reading body language and using leading questions. A good example is   ‘Your father is here with me.’ Ok. Not a bad opener. ‘Is he in spirit?’  Er… you should know.

However if the father had died then the mention of the word sends us into a tail spin especially if you are still grieving and that can mean we are vulnerable and are open to believing  as we dance blindly into the psychic’s sticky trap.

This brings me to cold reading. A practiced cold reader can pick up all sorts of information about you in the way you dress, carry yourself, tone of voice and so on but they are all high probability guesses. Something comes near to the mark which settles in your conscious mind and you begin to trust the person. It’s a form of selective hearing. For the one accurate guess, it’s easy to dismiss the rest as aberrations. Derren Brown is a mentalist and an expert in explaining this in his many videos.  Thing is, I know all this stuff and I don’t have an addictive personality per se.

Once I’d got something I heard as hopeful from a reader, I felt better. For twenty minutes. Then I started to question what I’d heard and kicked myself for engaging too much. The problem with me is I’m too polite. Half way into a conversation I know is ridiculous, I didn’t have the guts to hang up thus saving myself a lot of money and I do mean a lot.

Sometimes I’d ring two or three people in a morning to see if their interpretations matched. For days I’d check out tarot readers on line and if there was a Mind and Spirit fair coming up I’d travel miles for ten minutes with an aura reader, handwriting analyst, runes and tea leaf interpreters but end up feeling sick and angry with myself. Overwhelmed by a deep sense of shame and guilt I knew what was happening but I felt powerless to stop. It’s like over-eaters and compulsive shoppers.

Should there be a 12 step programme to help release us from these behaviours?  In the US there are moves to create something along the lines of AA. In my case, it took a long time to recognise I had a problem of dependency but once I did, I used a simple distraction technique. Every time I had the urge to pick up the phone, I forced myself out of the house and walked briskly into town leaving my mobile behind. By the time I got home, the urgency of the moment had dissipated.

I took up painting which helped to calm my overactive mind and focus on something which was difficult. My journal became my best friend. Jotting down my thoughts and feelings helped to break a behaviour pattern once I’d acknowledged it. Seeing it in black and white is a salutatory experience. It’s not easy and it’s not an overnight fix. There are no support groups because who wants to admit this problem? Unlike with substance abuse, there would be no sympathy or understanding. The psychic industry, whatever you think about it, needs to take some responsibility for this growing trend and help stop people becoming boomerangs.

When you feel overwhelmed by life’s problems and you want a quick fix it’s important to remember that only you have the power to make things happen even if that is only  changing the way you see things. It was four years later when my daughter reconnected with me.  I had learned a lot in that time and through writing found my voice and myself.

Despite the heartbreak, she’d taught me a powerful lesson in patience and acceptance that we can’t control other people. Their behaviour is their responsibility. How we respond is down to us.

Angelena Boden

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Angelena Boden (M.Soc.Sc PGDE) has spent thirty five years as an international training consultant, specialising in interpersonal skills and conflict resolution. She trained in Transactional Analysis, the psychology of communication and behaviour, her preferred tool for counselling and coaching. She admits to conquering her own addiction to psychics.

She is the author of The Cruelty of Lambs, a novel about psychological domestic abuse.

Her new book, The Future Can’t Wait tackles the issue of psychic addiction and shows that even the most sceptical  can be at risk. Available in September 2017.

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If you enjoyed Psychic Junkie, leave a comment and let Angelena know.

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