The popular American television show Psych, stars James Roday as Shawn Spencer, a phony psychic who draws his abilities from rigorous training received from his father, a retired police officer played by veteran actor Corbin Bernsen. Along with his sidekick and childhood friend Gus Guster, played by Dulé Hill, Shawn solves cracks the toughest cases using his amazing “psychic” abilities. In actuality, Shawn’s “gifts” are nothing more than an acutely trained sense of observation often coupled with plain dumb luck.
While the fictional Shawn Spencer always gets his man (or woman), actual psychics employed by police departments rarely fare as well. In fact, they often fare no better than lay people making blind guesses. A more productive use of their time and efforts may be to provide readings for private clients, many of whom draw powerful insights from a psychic reading from TheCircle or other authentic psychic advising services. Nonetheless, police departments continue to seek assistance from psychics and mediums.
Sylvia Browne and Amanda Berry
When Amanda Berry was rescued earlier in 2013 along with her child and two other women who had been held captive for more than a decade, there was shock and horror that such a heinous crime could have taken place in a seemingly ordinary Cleveland neighborhood. There was also an understandable outpouring of sympathy for the three women, along with celebration among their families. There was also another reaction, one of anger and ridicule directed toward one of the world’s most famous psychics.
Sylvia Browne, who died in November 2013 at the age of 77, had declared to Amanda Berry’s grief-stricken mother in 2004 that her abducted daughter was “not alive,” insisting that Berry was not the type who would fail to call if she was in trouble. After Berry’s rescue, numerous observers ridiculed Browne and demanded that she stop offering her services to police departments. Browne defended herself by claiming that only God was infallible. However, Browne had been right on one count – Berry had called for help when she had the opportunity to do so. Had Browne limited herself to saying that Berry was not in a position to call for help, she could have been hailed as a heroine when Berry was rescued, rather than ridiculed as an opportunist or as a charlatan.
However, Browne’s overall record of accuracy as psychic is iffy, despite her fame. In fact, she missed the prediction of her own date of death. She had declared that she would die at age 88. Instead, she died more than a full decade earlier.
Reaction from the States
While police departments continue to utilize the services of psychics and mediums, many states are outlawing the commercial practice of what the law calls fortunetelling. Other states that have not banned commercial fortunetelling altogether have nonetheless slapped strict regulations on psychic advisors offering their services for pay. For instance, in several states, psychics must include a disclaimer with any promotional materials declaring that their services are “for entertainment purposes only.” While many authentic psychics balk at the requirement, their only choices are to comply or to cease to conduct business in that particular state.