Why do so many people believe in psychic phenomena? Because they have psychic experiences! And why do they have psychic experiences when science and psychology tells us these experiences are not real? In this article, Michelle Walter explores the reasons for the undeniable popularity of psychics today.

A Gallup Poll shows that about a third of Americans believe in telepathy (psychic ability) and about a quarter claim to have experienced it themselves. Rather fewer have experienced clairvoyance or psycho-kinesis (PK), but still the numbers are very high and have not been decreasing over the years. Previous surveys have found similar results, and also that the most common reason for belief in the paranormal or psychic ability is personal experience (Palmer 1979; Blackmore 1984). In short, people believe in psychic experiences because they have them!

Many people also gain benefit from the use of psychic lines and personal psychics to guide them through their life issues. The success of psychics has been a thorn in the side of psychologists over the years. Recently, on the internet in the US, it was reported that Psychologists in private practice are making less and less money now. So, why the demise of psychology, and the growth in the numbers of people going to psychics in recent years?

How Psychology makes people feel….

Psychology in the past has been based on the medical model. The doctor, (psychologist or psychiatrist), has superior and specialist knowledge of the human mind and behaviour, and using this training, is able to diagnose the patient (client) and provide a treatment to cure the disease. This medical model treats diseases, not people. Similarly, psychologists are trained to treat mental disorders, which are presumed to have an organic origin, although this is rarely proven to be the case. The disease model, when applied to psychology in particular, has shortcomings:

1. Firstly it fails to treat the person and it looks for dysfunction.

2. Secondly, there is a presumption (rarely proven in psychology) that mental illnesses follow the same pattern in every person. If you have a mental disorder, it will develop in the same way a cold does: you have your cause, your symptoms, your prognosis. However, with issues of the heart and mind, they are not so fixed, nor are they so easy to fix!

Focus on shared life experiences

Surprising experiments in personality psychology showed that peoples response to situations was predicted more by situation than by their personality. In other words, we have more in common with each other when we face similar life circumstances, regardless of our personality. So there is a lot to learn from the experience of life. Not everything can be predicted by measuring aspects of the person. This is because people exist in interaction with life. This is very interesting when you consider the focus throughout history on the sharing of wisdom. Folklore, religion, cultural heritage, stories, and myths exist in every civilisation, as they pass on the knowledge learned from one generation to the next.