interview with a nanny for a famous psychic

Occasionally I do interviews here with people who have had particularly interesting jobs. Recently a commenter here mentioned that she used to be a nanny for a famous psychic, and I wanted to know more. She kindly agreed to be interviewed, and here’s our conversation.

Note: This interview contains references to the interviewee’s spiritual beliefs, which may be different from your own. Please be respectful of her beliefs in the comment section.

So tell us a little bit about the job.

I was a nanny for “Jane’s” kids (who are also psychic). She was gone quite a bit so I effectively lived with them part-time. I would go with her when she had readings for large audiences occasionally, and other instances where she needed help with the kids even though she was there. We also talked and hung out quite a bit ourselves.

I did all the regular nanny things—picking kids up from school, meals, bedtimes, getting ready for school, movies, swimming, cleaning up the house, and sometimes just brought them with me when I needed to run errands or be somewhere. I even took her daughter on an audition for a TV commercial once.

How was nannying for a psychic different than nannying for a non-psychic would be?

• I think that working with the FBI on missing child cases understandably made “Jane” super protective of the kids in a way that most people probably are not. I took her son into the women’s bathroom with me until he was nine (yes, I got lots of dirty looks) but I was under strict orders to never leave him alone in a public place, not even for a moment.

• Sensitivities to energy. If someone was having a bad day, everyone in the house would know about it because there’s something about being in her house that made me more sensitive to energy, and the kids and Jane herself are also.

• My own abilities going through the roof when I was around the family was another surprise. We would play this game at dinner with the kids with a bunch of glitter shapes (little purple stars, yellow circles, blue squares, etc.) and she would put one in her hand and hold it out to me and the kids so we could try to guess which one she had. She could push the thought into my head and I would get it right. I have no other way to describe it except a mental shove into your thoughts.

• The spirits everywhere. Talkers, practical jokers, general visitors, the list goes on. It was a daily thing. But they like attention, as I suppose I would if I were invisible and wanted people to know I was there. I would say, “Listen, I see you and I am happy to chat and play later, but right now I really have to make dinner and get these kids to eat. Can you give me a break until after bedtime?” and they would.

• The biggest difference was psychic kids.

Psychic kids? How did that end up manifesting?

They are like Jane in the sense that they can see, hear, feel, sense the present as well as future. Not only people but also spirits. Most people don’t have the full range like that. I had to keep things from the kids that weren’t necessary for them to know, or just too adult for them. For example, I suffer from depression and would have some hard days but came to work anyway, and tried to hide it. They would be really concerned even though I was acting normal enough. They would come up and hug me, ask what’s wrong, draw me a picture, or whatever to try and make me feel better. I would just have to tell them that sometimes I get sad for no reason and it’s chemical in my brain doing it, but everything is okay and it’s just a feeling that will pass.

Once I was sick but Jane still needed me to watch the kids so I came over. It was very early, and one of the kids was just waking up. Jane and I had talked about me working that day while he was asleep, so he didn’t know I was sick yet. I was sitting at the kitchen table and he wakes up and wanders in. He looks at me and says, “Did you have your tonsils taken out? Our old babysitter had her tonsils taken out and that’s how her throat felt too.”

What was the most challenging part about working for a psychic?

It really wasn’t. It was fun! The only thing I didn’t like was when she would have people around her who were there just for the psychic stuff and not because they just wanted to be her friend. Some people would absolutely hound her. Her feelings would get hurt and even though she would try not to show it, I could tell.

I suppose it was also pretty hard to hear things about my life that were not going to go the way I wanted, even though that isn’t directly related to the job. I would try my best for something but no, it would turn exactly the way she said anyway. Every flipping time. Imagine getting an interview for your dream job in an amazing foreign country, in a city I always dreamed of visiting. I even got a minor in that language. I told her about it and she said, “You know, that’s not a safe city. It’s incredibly dangerous and I absolutely do not want you going … well, actually, it doesn’t matter. You won’t get the job. Go ahead and try to interview if you don’t want to listen to me but it’s not meant for you.” (Sounds a bit harsh typing it but she’s very cut-and-dry that way.)

Apologies if this is a silly question, but it must be asked: Did you ever feel like you couldn’t hide things from her that you normally might not want to share with a boss, because she would sense them/know them?

Well, we had a very unusual relationship since we were—and still are—so close. There are days with your coworkers or a friend / family member where you might be thinking, “You are driving me stone-cold nuts today and I am so frustrated with you” but you don’t say that. There’s no hiding it though, no matter how professional your behavior is. I know that there were days where Jane was annoyed with me too, and you just have to ignore it even though she knows and I know that she knows, etc. You just pretend and address what people are saying, not the vibe they are sending out.

There was one time where I dozed off on the couch and the kids were hanging out in the living room. One was watching TV, one was drawing. When my boss called, it jolted me awake and I felt guilty for napping, and also was startled by the phone ring. I answered it and Jane got really freaked out because my heart was pounding and she could tell. I had to explain and reassure her several times that I was not under duress and nobody was in the house scaring me / holding us hostage.

Are there things you learned from working with her that you’ve carried with you in your life since? 

So many things!

• I initially reached out to her because my (deceased) father’s spirit was following me around trying to get my attention. I asked him to stop but she told me that he was there trying to make it up to me for being a negligent father. He was trying to protect me now and wanted me to know that he’s there. That was very cathartic because I really carried some hurts about not feeling loved by him and feeling sort of rejected in life.

• It has helped me to tap into what I feel—not just what makes sense from a logical perspective.

• Live each day in the moment – life is hard for all of us so it is easy to sort of check out and ignore what is going on around you. Try to be present and not let your mind wander somewhere else when you should be here living your life.

• Don’t let anyone stonewall you or gaslight you. If you think something is happening, act accordingly because you are right way more often than most of us allow ourselves to believe. That’s how I have been in the past, anyway. Advocate for yourself and don’t let anyone push you around because ‘that’s not what’s happening’ or ‘that’s just the process’. Be appropriate, but take no crap.

Is this the most interesting job you’ve ever had? I feel like it has to be.

Oh yeah, definitely.

{ 444 comments… read them below }

    1. Mm Hmm*

      Great interview, thank you both!
      Fun to hear how the context changes a job. And I really like the way you talk about the psychic stuff, very easy to read.

    2. Happy Lurker*

      Not only was it fascinating to read…it gave me goosebumps! Thank you for sharing Psychic Nanny and Allison.

  1. CrystalMama*

    Fun interview! I am not a ghost believer myself but these kids sound like a lot of fun. Way better than my babysitting stories from back in the day!

    1. Tardigrade*

      Yeah, I’m not a believer in this kind of thing, but the commenter seems so rational about it and made it interesting to read.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I like the idea of local spirits being basically cats. “Pay attention to me. I am more deserving than that keyboard.”

  2. Naptime Enthusiast*

    This was incredibly fascinating, thanks for sharing!

    Did you nanny for non-psychic children afterwards, and if so, how did it compare? These kids sound incredibly thoughtful and sensitive for any child, but especially someone that could be very manipulated if they so chose.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      I graduated college after that so I went into a field that matches my degree. They are really thoughtful and sensitive children–and adults now–but they are also very strong and kind of worldly so they have done pretty well not being manipulated. They have a good sense of who people are.

      1. Naptime Enthusiast*

        I meant to type manipulative, since they could read you and others so well! Makes a big difference here :)

        1. Hills to Die on*

          Yes, and they were kids, so there were those days too but they are really good people so it hasn’t been an issue that I’ve seen.

  3. Prairie Dawn*

    I read this as a skeptic. When I was done I really had more respect for the idea of being psychic than I ever thought I would.

    1. hermit crab*

      Me too! The take-home message of “If you think something is happening, act accordingly because you are right way more often than most of us allow ourselves to believe” absolutely rings true regardless of whether you attribute the source to spirits, instinct, Sherlock Holmes-style factual observation, or anything else.

      OP, if you wrote a book, I would totally read it. Thanks for sharing your story with us!

      1. Kate 2*

        Yep! The human race hasn’t survived for thousands of years by ignoring our instincts. It’s amazing what microcues people pick up and don’t even realize.

      2. Erin*

        Omigosh, yes. I don’t know if there would be a way to write a book on this without outing who the psychic is but I would preordering it for sure.

      3. Legal Beagle*

        Yes, that part jumped out at me, too! It reminded me of The Gift of Fear, which is a fantastic book about using your instincts to avoid potentially dangerous situations. (Not psychic-related at all; it’s written by a security expert.) He really delves into how women, especially, are socialized to doubt our own instincts, and to mollify and appease rather than protect ourselves.

  4. Temperance*

    I have to ask, did you take it home with you, or were you able to compartmentalize? It sounds so emotionally overwhelming to experience that.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      I definitely took it home. I wouldn’t say it was emotionally overwhelming, but it definitely sticks with you. Alison is going to link it, I think, but I actually had one spirit follow me home so it does literally stay with you.

            1. Hills to Die on*

              Not usually. I really didn’t like that one in the link Alison posted he would bang on walls loudly right next to me to try and scare me, and I had a nightmare once that he was standing over me staring at me, then woke up and felt overwhelmingly that he literally was still staring at me. He was furious, and I was the only one awake to take it out on. That’s the only time I got freaked out. They cannot hurt you–just send negative energy your way. Most all of the others were nice anyway.

  5. Corky's wife Bonnie*

    Thank you for doing this interview, I found it really fascinating! You must be a very strong person to be able to tell the spirits you’re busy right now, maybe later? Kudos to you!

  6. Buffy Summers*

    Very interesting to read. I lean towards skeptical when it comes to psychics, but this interview was well done and the interviewee came across very rational and intelligent which just adds to the credibility. Thanks for doing this – I enjoyed it.

    1. k.k*

      Agreed! Some people tend to talk about psychics with very flowery language, which to me comes across as disingenuous. It was very interesting to read such a matter-of-fact take on it.

  7. Amber Rose*

    Man, I wish I had a job half that interesting. This story makes me a touch jealous!

    The only looking after kid stories I have are the time the two year old I was babysitting proudly showed me his uncle’s porn collection.

  8. Discordia Angel Jones*

    That’s such an interesting read! Thank you both!

    I’ve always had an interest in unexplained things and also a huge skepticism over whether or not people’s claimed abilities are real, but these definitely seem like the real deal! The examples with the kids in particular are amazing.

  9. Rookie Manager*

    Thanks for this interview. I enjoyed reading it and the experience sounds much more interesting than my nannying days!

  10. Gaia*

    Personally, I’m pretty skeptical by nature but you really present this in a way that seems (I can’t think of a more polite way to put this – sorry!) rational. So much so that it makes me wonder if I’m a little too skeptical. But in either case, I think that must have been really great to work with a family that shares your views on this.

    And, I have to say, your job sounds way more interesting than any job I’ve ever had. What an exciting part of your life’s story!

    1. Hills to Die on*

      thanks! I understand that many people don’t believe in these things, and I don’t take it personally. There were plenty of times where I did a double and needed explanations on What Just Happened even though I was experiencing it for myself with the family.

    2. pope suburban*

      I am too, but this made me feel like maybe I just call the same stuff by different names. What I think of as being very sensitive to body language, other people might call psychic intuition. And whatever you call it, it sounds like this commenter, her former employer, and the kids all used whatever you want to call it for good. That’s a net positive, and it’s a really cool look at the different ways we all view the world.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        The line definitely starts to blur between intuition, picking up on small cues others miss, and psychic ability!

      2. Snark*

        My wife has a talent for sussing out subtle cues and clues in behavior and interpreting them in a very intuitive fashion, and it definitely occasionally can seem spooky.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          My hubs is the same way. But then sometimes there’s no cue and he still gets it right. I am trying to learn this behavior from him and practice it myself.

          1. Snark*

            Subtle, fine cues can present themselves in ways that don’t ping on your conscious brain.

    3. KittiesAreGreat*

      I actually have a relative who works professionally as a psychic! I am skeptical about “psychic knowledge” (which I’d call statements about the future, past or present that rely on internal intuition rather than external observations…I realize that’s a little bit of a fuzzy distinction! but some of the things that ‘predict the future’ such as the interviewee here not getting the job offer, or so forth; FBI work) but she also does astrological predictions and horoscopes and I’m very interested in astrology so I follow that on her website. Her profession has been of some controversy with my family members she’s related to. But I am happy to accept it completely in stride. Structurally, she has a pretty normal work life, with in person and phone clients, giving talks, seminars, webinars, travels to do workshops and so forth, publishes content online and all that. The content is just different. I really appreciated this interview on a personal level because of that, hearing something about the day to day experience of a very unusual profession.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Average. But she would charge hundreds for readings and I got whatever I wanted to know for free so that was a nice perk.

  11. Triumphant Fox*

    Did you ever feel like it was a more high risk job than another nannying job? Did people try to gain access to Jane through her kids? Was anyone especially disgruntled about their experience with Jane? You mention that people hounded her – were the kids/you affected by that regularly?

    Thanks for sharing – I remember your comment from the archives and it’s so fun to see more of the story. I agree that this would be a book worth reading!

    1. Hills to Die on*

      I never felt physically unsafe, but there were times when the phone would ring off the hook so I would say annoying at the most. She was good about not letting people have access to her kids because people wouldn’t have her personal cell, land line, or know where they lived.

      There was one spirit that was nasty but I talked about him in the link. Very very bad vibes from him. People would get frustrated and upset when they couldn’t have access to her and pepper her with daily questions, but not in an aggressive way.

      Thanks!

      1. Hills to Die on*

        I realize that didn’t make sense–she occasionally gave someone her land line and then they would call a bunch but for the most part people could only reach her on her work cell.

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          Makes sense! Aggressive spirits sounds more troublesome :) It makes sense that people would just have a lot of questions – I always wondered if psychics were targets based on a bad reading or giving news that wasn’t well received.

  12. Nobody Here by That Name*

    As one with ghost experience: it depends on the ghost but yeah, often they will do things just to get attention. Little kid ghosts in particular love playing practical jokes since, well, they’re kids. Not like they can fire up a Nintendo Switch anytime soon.

    Adult ghosts depends on their personality. But I knew one adult ghost practical joker. Loved pinching women on the bottom or “breathing” on their neck. He also loved stealing people’s keys and leaving them in places they’d never normally be put.

  13. Birdbrain*

    I think that working with the FBI on missing child cases understandably made “Jane” super protective

    Wait, wait, the FBI works with psychics? I have so many questions!

    Thanks for sharing! I’m skeptical about all things psychic, but I love reading about unusual jobs and this was an unexpectedly positive story.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      All the time. She had worked with the local police department too. Had a cop friend that would call her in the middle of a chase trying to determine where the suspect was. Many, if not most psychics will call the FBI regularly and some law enforcement agencies will put them on the payroll. She’s done all of those scenarios at one time or another.

      1. Birdbrain*

        That is fascinating! I am not surprised that psychics call law enforcement with tips, and I can see people consulting a psychic if their loved one was missing. But I can’t even imagine the red tape involved with getting a psychic on the payroll.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          I’m not sure about the payroll, but she would occasionally meet with the parents of a missing child after talking to the police. The parents would want to speak with her directly. She never charged the parents for those readings. Very hard to hear about those cases. I guarantee you have heard about at least one of them in the news as it was high-profile, even though her involvement was never mentioned.

          She was right in what she told the parents and investigators–the child was never found, the body was never found, and yet the person responsible is currently in prison and will remain there for a very long time.

          1. Naptime Enthusiast*

            That has to be incredibly hard for her to say as a parent. No wonder she was so protective of her kids!

            1. Hills to Die on*

              Totally understandable, and in thinking about it I occasionally get a flashback to those stories if my kids are not *immediately* where I expect them to be.

      2. JoJo*

        I find it terrifying that professional law enforcement would contact a ‘psychic’ for help. How many cases didn’t get solved because LE wasted their time on phony tips?

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It’s fairly rare for a psychic to waste polices’ time on “phony tips.” Psychics are often used as consultants, and many volunteer their skills. Police are pretty discerning about whether they use a particular psychic, and usually those psychics have to demonstrate some track record of accuracy before police begin to proactively contact a person. There are very few circumstances under which police will reallocate resources away from their normal investigative approach to pursue advice from an unproven psychic. (I’m not saying it never happens—particularly in small PDs the risk of following a bad tip has a more significant impact on the investigation—but it’s not a common source of investigative “waste.”)

        2. Hedonism Bot*

          I really agree — I am flabbergasted. I just can’t even with what I just read. I just… I can’t. Our culture is unraveling. People are losing their minds.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I don’t mean to be a jerk, but PDs have used psychics for quite some time. It’s not really a new development or indication that “[o]ur culture is unraveling.”

            1. Elizabeth H.*

              Agreed, I have heard about this happening for a LONG time. It’s the kind of thing that can sound surprising if it’s the first time you’re hearing about it, but is actually common. I love reading about criminal investigations and legal proceedings and have come across a number of times it’s been mentioned that a psychic offered suggestions to a police department or the FBI or that the police/FBI have sought out psychics’ suggestions. My impression has always been that the latter happens mostly in cold cases but always in addition to the maximization of all types of other resources, like high profile cases of a missing child.

            2. Mike C.*

              PD use bad data all the time in their investigations. Just look at how badly fire evidence was interpreted until recently.

        3. Sue Wilson*

          I mean, they also use lie detector tests and handwriting analysis. so maybe just don’t have so much faith in law enforcement to have a great deal more spectacular resources beyond manpower and the law.

          1. MM*

            Right? One of the negative effects of CSI and its like is perpetuating this idea that the police operate on the basis of ironclad science. Couldn’t be further from the truth. If you believe psychics are frauds who make their livings by interpreting body language, microcues, etc., I don’t really see anything wrong with having such a person interview a suspect, for example; it’s no more quackish than many supposedly scientific forensic methods.

      3. TardyTardis*

        Not surprised–our local cops worked with a psychic that said a missing couple were near a gravel pit. They found the girl alive and the boyfriend dead in one (she had been able to get out, somehow, having played dead, but her boyfriend was sadly dead before he was buried). The perp fled into the arms of the police, because the girl’s father was a Gypsy Joker. Oops.

    2. Pollygrammer*

      Via Wikipedia: “No psychic detective has ever been praised or given official recognition by the FBI or US national news for solving a crime, preventing a crime, or finding a kidnap victim or corpse.” I was worried for a minute there.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          Many do. But like I said, the police still have to run down the leads and provide proof of crimes committed. Hopefully that is reassuring to you.

        2. Storie*

          There have been many famous cases where psychics were consulted. It happens more than we know. While I don’t think the FBI or law enforcement should ever rely on psychics alone, why wouldn’t we want them to explore all potential leads, no matter what the source? The show Medium with Patricia Arquette was based on a real-life psychic’s endeavors to help the police solve crimes. It’s a thing.

          1. spiderplant*

            Allison DuBois has never, ever helped to solve a crime, and has refused to test her claimed abilities in a controlled setting. No person who purports to be a medium or psychic detective has ever demonstrated these abilities in a controlled setting, and no case has ever been solved by claimed psychic knowledge. What has provably happened, though, is that people claiming to be psychics have given families and law enforcement false information that hampers investigations and causes real pain and grief. Probably most famously, Sylvia Browne told the mother of Amanda Berry, “She’s not alive, honey.” Amanda’s mother died two years later and never saw her very much alive daughter gain her freedom.

            I’m sure everyone wants to be nice and open-minded, but it is dangerous to adopt a credulous attitude to a ‘profession’ which has never been shown to have any efficacy, and which has very definitely hurt people. Maybe some of them know they’re frauds, maybe some of them don’t, but the fact is that they make money from preying on people’s vulnerabilities, fears, and need for comfort. I have watched silently as my aunt was exploited by a cold reader who preyed on her grief for her dead baby daughter, and it is simply not good enough to shrug our shoulders and say it’s just another belief. Yes, it is very hard to prove a negative, but that is not a sufficient or considered response to an entire industry which, on the overwhelming balance of evidence and probability, is built on an often knowingly fraudulent premise.

          2. Goya de la Mancha*

            “hy wouldn’t we want them to explore all potential leads, no matter what the source?”

            This. Especially if they have exhausted all other leads.

        3. Triple Anon*

          Think of it this way. When you’ve exhausted all of your options – run out of leads, talked to everyone you can think of, examined all the evidence – a psychic will at least give you new ideas. They might suggest something you hadn’t thought of.

          Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, intuition is a real type of thought process. It’s your brain giving you a summary of knowledge gained from past experiences. It often tells you things that differ from your conscious thought process. A psychic is someone who has focused on developing that type of thinking. And maybe more, depending on what you believe. But talking to them can’t hurt. It’s just a way to add another perspective on things.

    3. Foxtrot*

      I love ghost stories and paranormal, though I realize I *wish* for them to be real more than I really believe they are real.

      I was always told that you never know who the “real” psychics are and the psychics with shops or on tv are definitely fake. But if you apply logic, that makes sense. If you’re actually, truly psychic, you’re probably working on detective cases with no leads, internal medicine, or Wall Street trading…not reading palms of random people in tourist towns.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        Or you have very limited ability. Some people are decent enough to be vaguely accurate and some are just scammers. Like so many other professions. :(

        1. sunshyne84*

          Yea I saw one and didn’t feel real at all and I interested in being read. Do you know a good way to find real mediums?

          1. Hills to Die on*

            Well, they are usually more expensive (this is why small group readings are good) and you have to get on a waiting list or have an appointment scheduled very far into the future. I have always just used Jane, so I haven’t ever actively looked for one. Perhaps old fashioned research and reference checking?

      2. Penny Lane*

        If you were actually psychic, wouldn’t you know what stocks to invest in and you’d be psychic-ing all day long from your yacht in the Caribbean?

        1. Hills to Die on*

          I wish! I did ask for lottery numbers and have been playing them faithfully (and Can We Not on the whole statistics thing? I know what the odds are). She did advise friends to get out of the market during the dotcom crash and they were able to spare themselves some heavy losses. She also had a friend who is psychic that plays in Vegas and does pretty well. I’m not sure, but I think reading something about people with emotional attachments and circumstances to it is different than listing off numbers.

          There have also been many times when she cannot read someone–it’s just nothing there, or the answer she gets back is, ‘everything is going to be okay. That’s it.’ and never really know why she can’t see this particular circumstance.

          I don’t have all of the answers but I bet that is one she would like to know herself.

    4. Case of the Mondays*

      I had the same thought. I didn’t know the police/FBI would actually listen to the psychics that called. I’m a big believer and currently work in a building that has ghostly activity.

  14. Dan*

    I had to laugh a little at the example where the psychic predicted OP wouldn’t get the job… I’m a math guy for a living, and mathematically speaking, predicting someone won’t get a job doesn’t take any special power. I have a unique set of skills in a niche industry, and even then, the chances are about 50/50 that I’ll get any particular job.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Fair enough, although statistically speaking for my personal hit rate, the odds of getting the job went up a bit. :) I didn’t even get the interview though–they company had layoffs and went on a hiring freeze.

    2. LouiseM*

      It may not take any special power, but it also doesn’t take being a “math guy” in a specialized field to understand, broadly speaking, how predictions work. Actually, if you did that would probably strengthen this person’s case for being a psychic, since they were apparently able to intuit what you in all your specialized knowledge know through mathematics. Luckily for all of us, though, it doesn’t! :)

      This feels pretty close to doing what Allison asked us not to do, snarking on this person’s beliefs.

        1. Snark*

          In this context, yes! Because we were specifically asked not to express skepticism, and instead focus the comments on a unique employment story. In that light, I’m not sure what anybody is expecting to acccomplish by forging ahead expressing a skeptical viewpoint – and I say that as someone with a skeptical viewpoint.

          1. Lissa*

            Yeah, IMO this is one to just…not comment on if you have extremely strong views about this sort of thing. I am pretty sure that there’s nothing a commenter in here is going to say that’s going to change the mind of OP or anyone else who believes, and a lot of the “skeptical” comments here are things that get repeated and discussed pretty much every time this topic comes up. I don’t know if people can’t help themselves or think they’re going to say the One Thing that will change people’s minds…

            there are plenty of letters here I skip because of either no interest or knowing my opinions are not going to be useful or wanted.

          2. Dan*

            No. We were asked to be respectful of het spiritual beliefs, not to avoid skepticism. It’s pretty easy to respectfully debate points with someone.

            It’s no different than a psychic telling me to avoid a casino, because if I gamble, I will lose my money.

  15. Dopameanie*

    Ok. So. I have a sincere question. How do you square not accepting being gaslit with not accepting reality?

    Recently I had a neighbor INSIST I stole her lawn ornaments. I denied it, and she told me repeatedly that I was gaslighting her about it. Which…I mean…she is just wrong. Telling someone the truth is the opposite of gaslighting. But she believes she is a victim of me gaslighting her.

    But on the other hand, I’ve been on the receiving end of “it’s all in your head!” And it is SO! FRUSTRATING!

    So I guess I don’t know how to both advocate for myself and not put up with gaslighting while ALSO not ending up like my neighbor? I would really hate to accuse someone of trying to make me doubt my version of reality when…..my version actually needs doubt!

    Any thoughts?

    1. Temperance*

      I think this is an Open Thread question, but she sounds like someone I would avoid at all costs.

      Unless I was to, say, move her lawn ornaments around while she was sleeping. ;)

    2. Hills to Die on*

      I would say that it is a matter of using your intuition combined with common sense. You won’t get everything right, of course, but you just have to believe what your gut is telling you and it will work out more often than not.

      1. Dopameanie*

        I am a Gut Skeptic. I cannot trust my gut. My gut is angry, and wants to get in bar fights. I have a bad case of Martial Gut.

        Other people’s guts are probably fine though.

          1. Dopameanie*

            Dopameanie’s gut: you should really solve this problem with violence
            Dopameanie’s common sense:
            If I have to bury a body I will get VERY SWEATY and miss 1/2 price slushy happy hour.

    3. Indie*

      Anyone who has been genuinely gaslighted knows that you can’t say “you’re gaslighting me!” to get it to stop. That is no good as a shield. A genuine gaslighter isn’t going to say “whoops, sorry!” If you’re really being gaslighted, you don’t try to converse at all because it’s pointless to even try.

      If your neighbour believes she can get a “whoops sorry!” Or an “I didn’t realise!” from you, then she doesn’t really think of you as a manipulative person.
      To sum up, its a useful SILENT term for personal use when you’re trying to figure out what to believe. When said out loud, (I would never!), it can only be a manipulative way to silence someone or batter through your point.

      I don’t know that’s useful with your neighbour but I just wouldn’t communicate with someone who felt free to insult me (thief and gaslighter!) without proof and if her lawn ornaments or the real thief show up, my feelings would be unchanged.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Meh, I don’t think it’s really true that someone being “genuinely” gaslighted isn’t going to call it out.

        1. Indie*

          Maybe that’s just me. I can’t think why you would or where it would get you.

          Continuing to debate with a gaslighter is like continuing to eat with a poisoner.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Because gaslighting isn’t always deliberate. Sometimes the people saying “it’s all in your head, you’re imagining things” mean well but are being harmful. If you have the energy for it, it’s worth it to call that out.

          2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            (And, more to the point, saying “someone REALLY being gaslighted would do XYZ” really undermines anyone who’s been through that and doesn’t have the same response you do.)

    4. Legal Beagle*

      The distinction is that gaslighting means you are lying in order to make the other person feel irrational and crazy. Just denying an accusation doesn’t qualify. Neighbor: “You stole my lawn ornaments!” Dopameanie: “No, I didn’t.” That’s not gaslighting. If she said “You stole my lawn ornaments!” and you said, “No, you never had any lawn ornaments” that would be closer to gaslighting.

      She is being unreasonable, but I also don’t think she’s gaslighting you. She’s accusing you of something you didn’t do, and that is sufficiently bad! It’s probably more useful for you to leave the term “gaslighting” out of it altogether, because the meaning is getting diluted and throwing it back at her isn’t likely to make things better. You can best advocate for yourself by staying calm and sticking to your point (no, I didn’t steal your lawn ornaments). If she won’t drop it or she starts getting aggressive in any way, personally I’d escalate it (neighborhood association, police, etc.), although obviously that’s a big decision that depends on the specific circumstances.

      1. Betsy*

        Is it bad that I now want Dopameanie to tell her she never had any lawn ornaments in the first place?

      2. Dopameanie*

        Hi Beagle-

        I’m not worried about my neighbor situation really. I’m more using it as an example of someone who claims to be a victim, but in reality IS NOT.

        The LW gave advice in the interview:
        Advocate for yourself and don’t let anyone push you around because ‘that’s not what’s happening’ or ‘that’s just the process’.

        But, like in my example…..that really really is not what’s happening!!

        I can’t make my neighbor act like an adult, but I really am not sure where the line is between the LW’s advice being useful, and the LW’s advice encouraging my neighbor.

        I mean…there has to be a line, right? Standing up for yourself isn’t a bad idea. Calling out bad behavior isn’t a bad idea. I want to do both of those. But what if *I’M* somebody else’s bad neighbor? How would I know? How can I guard against that in my daily life?

        1. eee*

          i mean there’s a difference between continuing to argue and believing them. i think if you don’t trust a person, you have a right (to yourself) to seek out evidence to support or detract from your beliefs, even though that right doesn’t cross to breaking the law or personal boundaries. so you can say “i didn’t take your lawn ornaments” and she has the right and the personal prerogative, if she doesn’t believe you, to continue not believing you, and to seek out on her own evidence one way or another (again, not like it gives her the right to break into your garage or anything like that). i think of it more as like, if you said “I didn’t take your lawn ornaments” and she didn’t believe you, that not standing up for yourself and let anyone push you around, would be her quietly telling herself “nope! not true” whenever her doubts arose, rather than seeking out more information or quietly to herself not believing you.
          I vibe with the premise of your question “when is your gut right” and I think the real answer is “you don’t always know, but to deny your gut and hush it up and tell it it’s foolish is asking for trouble.” Even if you’re wrong, you shouldn’t tell yourself you’re silly for not believing someone, or silence your own doubts internally. I think it’s more healthy to be wrong at thinking someone is responsible for something like stealing your lawn ornaments, and just holding that belief to yourself and putting up better security for your ornaments, than it is to tell your inner voice to shut it because “she said she didn’t so I have to believe her”, you know what I mean?
          also, there’s SOMETHING behind your neighbor’s belief. i’m not saying she’s right, but her belief that you stole them is based off of SOMETHING, whether it’s something you’ve said in the past, a person you remind her of, your attitude toward her ornaments, etc.
          so this example is perfect because the lawn ornament is a silly thing that she can probably prove one way or another in the future by setting ornaments up and putting a security camera in her house. if you are yelling at someone who you barely know over a minor transgression when they deny their involvement and you don’t have proof beyond your feelings, you are a bad neighbor. but in a personal relationship with someone who is close to you, if you’re getting bad vibe feelings and the person denies it and you have no proof…even if you’re wrong specifically about the exact thing you’re worrying about, it doesn’t mean that you are wrong. it either means that you genuinely need therapy to deal with the issues (not solved by just telling yourself to shut up and ignore it) or that something ELSE is wrong and this is flipping your sensors. Either way, a reasonable person would discuss it with you.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Not all the time and not everyone: But sometimes when people accuse us of doing something that we KNOW we did not do, it is because they have done the same thing to us.

            Missing any lawn ornaments, OP?

            Okay so maybe you don’t decorate your yard. Look around, are you missing things that have no logical explanation for the absence? I am not talking about that hammer you can’t find and you might have lent it to a friend but you really can’t remember. Look for the solid things, such as “I have not seen my battery operated drill in ages.”

            A good defensive is to launch an offense. Strike first before the real victim speaks out, this way the real victim might look foolish. It might be a good investment of time to borrow some cameras and put them around your property. I am not saying be paranoid, but if you are not regular about locking your doors, please start now. Just to the common sense security stuff and see where that puts you.

        2. Indie*

          I think OPs advice can’t be bettered. Do your instincts say to call them out? Do they say stand up for yourself or let it go? I know what I would do in your situation but what do you want?

          As for never being unpopular with anyone.. impossible. Live up to your standards of being a good neighbor, if your gut is happy with your actions even in the face of criticism you’ll be the type of neighbor you want to be.

      3. DArcy*

        My ex-GF accused me of gaslighting her when we broke up, because even though I never accused her of anything, she (retroactively) felt that, “I made her feel guilty” about various things.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I posted above but it seems to be MIA.

      I do have one more thought.

      I had a neighbor who knocked on my door to tell me her dog was missing. At the same time she mentioned a person who was a stranger to her that had been over my house. I told her who the stranger was and vouched for this person. Then I said, I would drive her around so she could look for her dog. Well, I got tied up with something else and I said it would be a few minutes but I would help her look. She came back a little while later to say the dog had found a cool place to hide on the warm day and she had found her dog in his cool spot.

      Sometimes if you go right into the heart of the matter with people, that also defuses a situation. YMMV, as it depends on the person involved.

  16. Frenchie*

    I am really disappointed that such an interview can be conducted without even mentioning that there is no evidence at all that psychics exist.

    Is is not just about belief, and respecting other people’s opinions. Psychics are dangerous people who exploit human misery and gullibility. Do they need people to work with them ? Yes of course, but I didn’t read anything here that is different from a normal babysitting experience, except maybe for a more-than-average protectiveness from the parent.

    But acting like it is rational to discuss psychic ability just reinforces the idea that this practice is okay and harmless, maybe a little fun. It is not.

    There is no such thing as psychics. It is not an opinion, it is a scientific fact. Do empathetic people exist ? People who have a great power of observation ? People who get to know you well when you see them everyday ? People who know cold or hot reading ? Coincidences ? Confirmation bias ? ABSOLUTELY and it is documented. But not psychics.

    I don’t want to derail the discussion by lauching on debate on the existence of psychics, but I have to say that it is not okay to discuss them without even adding a pinch of skepticism in it. It would be like discussing a MLM employee explaining how it is a wonderful experience without mentioning pyramid schemes.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This interview isn’t an exploration of psychic ability. It’s part of a series on interesting jobs, and it’s about … an interesting job.

      You are free to disagree, of course.

      1. Frenchie*

        I get that, and I mentioned it. I did not write this to say : “Psychics don’t exist, bye !”, but to say that when you know the devastation they create, it is really weird to see such a light discussion about psychics kids and not one mention on the specific intellectual and social problems this particular profession causes.

        This is why I compared it to another dangerous industry such as MLM.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I disagree that this interview requires that kind of disclaimer, but we can agree to disagree. However, I’ll ask that we leave it here out of respect to the interviewee, who agreed to answer questions after people here expressed an interest in hearing more from her.

          1. JLCBL*

            This seems to me exactly the kind of response that was discouraged. It’s much more hostile than necessary to express skepticism.

        2. Triple Anon*

          You could say the same thing about a lot of professions. Out of respect for people, I won’t list the ones that come to mind. But there are plenty that some people consider harmful and others consider helpful. This isn’t really the place to talk about that, though. We’re just discussing work experiences, not choosing what industries to support or which services to use.

    2. SoCalHR*

      Well, Jane is a real person who, from the conversation, works with the *FBI* *as a psychic*. You may disagree that her psychic abilities exist, but she is, in fact employed as a psychic and exists. As far as the existence of her psychic abilities, well, Allison does make the caveat that readers may disagree with the information presented (and reinforces that her in direct reply to you).

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        People are employed as magicians, despite using sleight-of-hand and not magic. That doesn’t make magic real. Likewise people are employed as psychics, despite using the techniques that Frenchie detailed and not psychic ability.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            That’s not quite what I was getting at. But to engage your statement, where would you draw the line between “here’s an interesting job” and “I can’t publish that because it’s normalizing a practice that harms people”

            I’m not saying that’s the case here or not, but others have raised that concern.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I don’t think that every person practicing as a psychic harms people. Certainly some do, which is true of loads of other professions as well. For that matter, I also did one of these interviews with a receptionist at a legal brothel, which is an industry that some people feel is harmful. I’m sure we all draw our lines in different places.

              But certainly if while interviewing someone I felt I was hearing about harmful or unethical practices, I wouldn’t run it (or would frame it very differently, if they were okay with that).

              1. Umvue*

                I actually worried about that in one particular spot in this interview: the part where she describes having an interview for a dream job in a dream city and her boss telling her she had no chance. My own reading of this moment is “boss sees that valued employee has opportunity elsewhere; does her best to psych her out so she’ll fail.” I mean, framed that way it’s no more unethical than a lot of the bosses who appear in your blog, I guess, many of whom do the same thing without the spiritual angle. But my heart really hurt for the interviewee reading that anecdote.

                1. Hills to Die on*

                  No way was she going to deter me!

                  She also knew I was graduating from college and wouldn’t be working for her indefinitely anyway in any case. The company had a bad quarter, went through layoffs, and had a hiring freeze so I just never got the chance to interview even though it had been scheduled 3 weeks out. She wouldn’t have done something that manipulative just to try and keep me. She would have said, ‘I really don’t want you to do that because I want you to stay here and work for me for all of these awesome reasons’.

                2. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant*

                  Ran out of embedding — still seems like a cruel thing to tell you, though. What harm would it have been to her to keep out of it?

                3. Marvel*

                  I was definitely thrown by that too! I think my jaw would drop if ANYONE dared speak that way to my face, much less my boss. Maybe the tone at the time made it sound lighter than it does in text?

                4. Hills to Die on*

                  It wouldn’t have harmed her, but I specifically asked her to read it. I learned pretty fast to not ask if I couldn’t handle an honest answer.

                5. Hills to Die on*

                  She and I can speak to each other that way–very direct. I like people like that, and she was not unkind at all. It does sound more harsh than the way it actually was spoken.

                  I did ask her to read it, so it wasn’t her interfering. I learned pretty fast that if you can’t handle getting an answer that is upsetting, you’d better not ask.

                6. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                  @ Hills to Die on — my family actually had something fairly similar happen with a house we were thinking about buying. It was a cute little thing sitting right on the sea-wall — but at one point my mother just said “Look, this is not the right step for us. This isn’t going to work.”

                  A week later we found out that the person trying to sell it wasn’t actually allowed to, because the house was still mired in the middle of probate court. One of the heirs was trying to pull some funny business and got… surprisingly far with it before anyone caught on.

                  (And as a fun coda, a few years later when probate was straightened out and the house was finally — legally – sold, I wound up babysitting for the family that moved in there! And the house was terrifying, because EVERYTHING CREAKED. CONSTANTLY. In high winds I was afraid the whole thing was going to fall down around my ears.)

                7. Not So NewReader*

                  I think what is missing is the surrounding context. I have a boss now, where we can speak very candidly with each other. But we also look out for one another all the time. If you are with a person who has your back and you KNOW they have your back, it is easier to see that they are just telling you what they think.

                  My boss cuts out job ads and gives them to me. If she tells me she thinks a job is not good for me or I don’t stand a chance, I pay attention to her rationale behind her statement. And it also helps that she very seldom says these negative things.

      2. Flowey*

        From a cursory search online I’ve seen no evidence that the FBI endorses or actually implies psychics, and I can’t help but feel that such a claim requires at least a little bit of skepticism as well.

        1. Naptime Enthusiast*

          The FBI probably wouldn’t want to say they employ anyone other than FBI agents in any capacity, otherwise every Tom, Dick, and Harry would be spewing their ‘skills’ in an attempt to get on the payroll. Details of investigations, especially, especially witnesses and informants, are generally *not* public knowledge unless there’s a trial, and even then identities are protected.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            Any psychic used in such a case would likely have to testify in court on the public record.

            And such a case would certainly get media attention.

            1. Hills to Die on*

              They provide information on where to steer the case. There is still a burden of proof the police have to meet, which is of course admissible in court.

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                The police would still need probably cause to investigate. Either the psychic provides probable cause and thus would have to testify. Or the psychic is unable to provide probable cause and the police must find it elsewhere.

                If the police went somewhere at the direction of a psychic to which they didn’t otherwise have PC and found admissible evidence, it would be thrown out of court unless they could prove the psychic provided PC.

                1. Temperance*

                  Actually, not necessarily. While it’s true that law enforcement would need probable cause to obtain search warrants, the types of information that police psychics can provide often leads to evidence/clues that the police could use to find information needed to proceed.

                2. Case of the Mondays*

                  Say a gun or body was in a public park. You don’t need probable cause to go searching around the park. The psychic just tells them where to go to find the evidence they need.

                  Police may also follow up on psychic tips because what if they are really people with true info (not psychics) that don’t want to admit how they know it? Better to follow all leads.

                  I heard of one case though I can’t verify it where a psychic suggested the police review surveillance footage of a particular location. They would need probable cause for a search warrant to get the footage OR just the permission of the owner. Police went to the business and said they were investigating a murder in town and asked to review the outside security footage. They got a big clue from that and they were pointed to that business by a psychic.

            2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              My understanding is that it’s more like the way a smart student uses Wikipedia — you don’t cite it directly but you use it to find good sources.

        2. M*

          +1. Frankly it would be much more interesting to see this interview (“I nannied/worked for a psychic”) from the perspective of someone who just sees it as a weird job, not someone buying into the person’s whole shtick.

          1. Storie*

            Her perspective is her perspective.

            But because I’m a producer and I think this way too–the tv series pitch would be an ardent non-believer takes a job nannying for a psychic, and encounters unexplainable phenomenon that has her questioning her own beliefs. Each week is a different case for the pyschic, with the nanny doing her best to remain rational and pragmatic. Perhaps it’s the combination of both of their sensibilities that helps them solve the mysteries.

          2. gmg22*

            Mindy Kaling started out her career in the entertainment biz as a production assistant on “Crossing Over,” John Edward’s show, and in her first memoir she wrote about it with what was definitely a skeptic’s point of view but also quite a sensitive treatment of him, the audience, and the experience. Worth a read if you haven’t.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          The FBI works with psychics, as do many law enforcement agencies. But I don’t think you’d be able to find them endorsing a psychic, in part because that’s not a thing they do (they don’t endorse other experts, either, unless the prosecuting attorney is going to call that person in trial).

    3. Dee-Nice*

      You absolutely have a right to your opinion on the matter, but this is not a general discussion about psychics. One person kindly came on AAM and shared her experience with us. Why would Alison or anyone else express skepticism over her experiences, which many people here *asked* to hear about? It would be rude to ask someone to give a talk on your blog and then interrogate them as to their veracity. We’re not doing investigative journalism, here.

          1. Pollygrammer*

            Almost every industry brought up in this column has many comments about it’s drawbacks and/or legitimacy. It’s a little atypical to have that completely off the table.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I don’t think that’s really accurate. Are people truly debating the legitimacy of lawyers or nurse assistants or priests?

              It’s not super typical for us to take an article about someone’s work experience and use it to debate whether their employer’s profession/industry is legitimate. And honestly, the industry that HillsToDieOn is commenting about is caretaking—she was a nanny who worked for a psychic, not a psychic nanny. It seems kind of disingenuous to elide the distinction between the two so that folks can vent about an issue that’s a little orthogonal to the actual interview.

              1. Pollygrammer*

                Not necessarily overall legitimacy, but sexism in certain industries (legal and medical included), other pervasive issues both for employees and the public/clientele? Sure.

                1. Lissa*

                  Sure, but there’s a difference between calling out potential abuses in an industry and saying the whole thing is invalid and terrible. I think in this article for instance, pointing out as some have that Jane telling the OP “you won’t get the job” does seem like a potential misuse of power (take that as power as a boss or psychic power as you like I suppose) seems totally valid.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  But again, what you’re pointing out is not what’s being discussed/debated.

                3. ket*

                  No one here is talking about the problems with nannying. No one — no one — in this thread has mentioned perils of working in someone’s home, working with children, or any other nanny-related issues.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Cool, so’s working the oil wells, but I’d love to hear an interview with someone who does that, too.

      1. Clever Name*

        Exactly!

        Psychic ability hasn’t been proved, and many psychics have been exposed as frauds, but that does not mean that all psychics are frauds. I think it is good to be skeptical, but it is just as fool hardy to dismiss out of hand as it is to believe without thinking critically about it.

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        In science though, the person making the positive claim has the burden of proving it true. Especially if it is a highly dubious claim.

        1. Foxtrot*

          I’ve kind of been using this as a thought experiment today, not necessarily for psychics, just generally.

          Being able to distinguish colors or not distinguish colors is a real, scientific thing with proven genetics and measurable…eye things. Rod length? But if the genetics were reserved and NOT seeing colors were the norm and seeing them was the recessive gene that only a few possessed, how would we react to the “colorists”? How could they get us to understand that colors are true? Would we even study the rods (cones?) of those who claim to see colors against the rest of the world?

          1. Snark*

            It’s not an imponderable; about 2% of the female population have a fourth cone in their retinas, which is the physiological equipment required for tetrachromacy, or the ability to perceive a greater range of colors than a normal eye – up to 100 times. While not all four-coned retinas result in tetrachromacy, it’s been confirmed in a small number of individuals. Research is done on that phenonemon, it’s possible to distinguish them physically and by their perceptions from others, and they’re generally acknowledged as real.

          2. Trout 'Waver*

            Because color is a physical thing that can be measured, observed, and reported on. You can detect the color of something with a device called a spectrophotometer. If people could accurately tell you the wavelength of light with their eyes, and it matched what you could determine with the spectrophotometer, you would correctly assume that they could see colors.

            Interestingly, because we only see a narrow range of wavelengths, rainbows are rings. If we could see all wavelengths of light, rainbows would be discs that stretched across the whole sky. Kinda cool, huh?

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              Okay, how does that scope to other skills — like, for instance, the ability to read a room? There’s a lot of discussion about intuition being the ability to add up minute clues that can’t be consciously noted, but that’s the kind of thing that’s also pretty tough to measure — and yet pretty real all the same.

              1. Tardigrade*

                I’m reminded of a study, similar to the one linked in my username, that suggests our brains are pretty good at predicting the future.

              2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                And reading back, I think I sounded a little more confrontational than I meant to here — I wasn’t trying to call you out, but curious how science would look into other unusual perceptive abilities. Do highly empathetic people have extra brain structures that others don’t?

                1. Snark*

                  Science doesn’t necessarily need to have an MRI to demonstrate an ability; psychologists don’t require a diagnostic scan before accepting that someone can do a thing. Obviously it’s nice to be able to track down the physical mechanism for a skill, but there’s plenty of thoroughly unmysterious mental skills where have no idea which neurons fire in which order to make it happen.

                2. Foxtrot*

                  I know many physicists who would argue against psychology or any social science being a real science exactly because you can’t measure or reproduce it. I don’t want to argue any of that. But just point out that if we’re arguing the merits of science, some will strike down psychology.

                3. Trout 'Waver*

                  I’m actually in a study to determine this! One experiment I participated in was being placed in an MRI and be asked to try to read the emotions on actors’ faces. The faces were intentionally displaying ambiguous emotions.

                  The researchers measured my brain activity trying to do this task as compared to doing more geometrical puzzles or math problems.

                4. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                  Trout ‘Waver — neat! Though I’m a little curious for how they’d control for things like an MRI being not exactly a normal scenario.

                  (Also, have they tagged an ambiguous emotion that the actors are supposed to be displaying, or is accuracy of less interest than what part of the brain lights up while you’re working on it?)

                5. Trout 'Waver*

                  They specifically made me do a shape pattern recognition segment before the emotion recognition segment to try to separate the two. So any difference between the two segments wouldn’t be due to the pressure of being in an MRI tube.

                6. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                  Interesting! Thank you for sharing. I’m always really interested in the ways science takes a look at the squishier edges of human experience.

              3. Foxtrot*

                I’m assuming this could be proven by a neuroscientist hooking up scanning devices to people’s brains and seeing who has activity spikes based on body changes of others in the room. This could be compared to post-experiment interviews.
                But it gets to my original point that there’s a sociological element to science. And I say this as a scientist/engineer. What we study, how we study, and where the funding goes all ties in to a broader human experience. If this experiment hasn’t been carried out, it’s because no one has deemed it worthwhile yet. That doesn’t mean it’s true, false, whatever.

        2. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

          Yeah, and consistently failing to turn up evidence of the inverse of the negative isn’t epistemologically meaningless.

          That said, I do think there is a middle ground between outright fraud and psychics definitely existing, and it’s that sometimes, professional psychics are really skilled at what they do – highly empathetic, great advice-givers – and truly believe there’s something metaphysical to their abilities. Even if one doesn’t believe psychic abilities exist, professional psychics aren’t necessarily studied liars who love to cynically exploit vulnerability for cash.

      3. Hills to Die on*

        I debated bringing this up, but she did participate in a study at a University and was statistically proven to be correct. She was 87% accurate in the study.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          Let me check and comment if so. I need to ask her if she’s okay with my doing so first. Set your preferences to subscribe to more comments on that link at the bottom of the comment box?

    4. Indie*

      There are lots of people on here who don’t believe in psychics, but who were still able to follow posted guidance and be respectful of the OPs beliefs.

      1. Snark*

        Exactly. Whether the boss is a fraud or not, it’s an interesting narrative of an interesting employment situation that presented some interesting challenges. Is that not enough?

        1. Snark*

          I read “gnosis” as “gnomes,” and while your post makes more sense like that, it’s less delightful.

    5. Laura H*

      Synchronicity of “define capable” in my life right now- anyway to the topic at hand… or hopefully!

      Anyone with a talent, skill, or an ability that can’t be explained, is capable of using it for ill intent and sadly there are many that do so.

      But just as there are many that are inclined to use these things for less than noble purposes, there are those who do help others with their abilities.

      And true, while the psychic thing does feel odd and slightly offputting to me- it’s a valid thing that people find meaning in.

      Also it was a super interesting read!! Thanks OP and Alison!

    6. Marvel*

      “There is no scientific evidence for this” is absolutely not the same thing as “it is scientific fact that this thing does not exist.” It’s extremely difficult to prove a negative, and I know a lot of scientists who would say you’re stretching the limits of what science can do here.

      Also–would you require a similar disclaimer for an interview with, say, a pastor? I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t, even though the scientific evidence that God exists is on exactly the same level as the scientific evidence that psychics exist. If you dismiss one spiritual practice as manipulative and preying on the miserable and gullible masses… well, organized religion has certainly been accused of doing the exact same thing. The only difference is that it’s more socially acceptable.

      1. Frenchie*

        I completely agree that it is more socially acceptable but the issues are basically the same. And I don’t see how the fact that we can extend it to organised religion invalidates my point ; if anything, it just means we should include organised religion in this skepticism.

        To answer your question “would you require a similar disclaimer for an interview with, say, a pastor?” : I would not if the discussion was about his/her working habits, style, hours etc… But I would certainly have the same reaction if this was an interview mentioning, say, prayer healing as an acceptable practice.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          “Acceptable practice” really? Frenchie, I know you mean well, but you’re coming across as really judgmental and kind of on a crusade here.

          1. Frenchie*

            I am sorry, I don’t get the problem with the wording “acceptable practice”. :/ Could you elaborate ?

            On a crusade ? Maybe. But judgmental ? I really am not saying anything more than the fact that psychic abilities have never been proven, in several concrete instances they have been disproven. It is not judgemental, it is just stating facts.
            And the fact that they charge a lot of money if also of fact.

            I have a personal opinion on this practice on which I will not elaborate, because Alison asked for it. But I am really surprised that people are so up in arms to defend such a profession.

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              Dude, you have been elaborating all over the place. We all know what you think. That cat is very well out of the bag. And calling Hills To Die On and her employer a “dangerous person who exploits human misery and gullibility” is exactly the kind of thing Alison asked us not to do.

              Prayer healing is a practice a lot of people subscribe to. For them, it’s quite acceptable. You rolling in with your high horse declaring other people’s beliefs unacceptable is some major BS.

              1. Frenchie*

                Please do not call me “dude” this way. I have been cordial to you and I answered your questions. I would like you to extend the same courtesy to me.

                “Prayer healing is a practice a lot of people subscribe to. For them, it’s quite acceptable.”
                Oh, that is why you flinched on this wording ? Well… I have to say, I did not see this coming. It is not where I come from. There have been trials against this practice (against people advocating for it AND against medical treatments, and against people having harmed sick people – especially kids – by using it, mainly).

                I am flabbergasted that you would be so cautious to protect the sensibilities of people practicing psychic reading that I become the target of your anger when I mention the general consensus on it, which is nothing new.

                1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                  Nah, you became the target of my ire when you ignored Alison’s request to be nice and crapped all over someone who was good enough to do an interview!

                2. spiderplant*

                  It’s ridiculous the way people are being about this. It is not rude to point out that there is absolutely no evidence for any of this, nor is it rude to point out that claiming unevidenced, intangible abilities have the power to help the families of murder and abduction victims is dangerous.

                3. Pollygrammer*

                  I don’t know if I would have started this thread, but I do agree with Frenchie. I like to give things the benefit of the doubt, and to each their own, but once something has been proven exploitative or harmful, particularly to children, I feel no need to keep an open mind.

                  So psychics taking advantage of the frightened or grieving? Faith healers advocating against real medicine? Dangerous and harmful, and I would personally be wary of giving them any kind of publicity.

                4. Frenchie*

                  Thank you, spiderplant.

                  Countess Boochie Flagrante, your insistence that I am violating the commenting rules while being really sarcastic and rude to me is quite ironic. It is fun, in a way.

                5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Look, I don’t “believe” in psychic practice, either (apologies to folks who do believe if I’m misphrasing their beliefs). But you’re being judgmental and argumentative when Alison has asked us not to critique the interviewee’s belief system. I suspect that even folks who share your feelings re: the validity or provability of psychic practice do not think the practice is inherently harmful/exploitative/dangerous.

                6. Snark*

                  Dude, let’s cut the crap: you’re not being cordial. You’re grinding an axe to a razor edge, and long past when you were asked to lay off it. I’m every bit as hostile to psychic practice and psychics and other flavors of woo as you are, but it’s simply out of place and out of line here and now. We’re not being asked to endorse psychics, we’re being asked to appreciate this as an interesting story about a job and leave the debate about the beliefs by the wayside. I think we can take it as given that there are plenty of people who are deeply skeptical of psychics, their practices, and their motives – but working for one is still a fascinating story.

                  If Alison interviewed a ecologist, and there were a handful of people insisting that global warming was all a scam and that the environmental community were conspirators, it’d be just as wildly out of line, would it not? It would be just as alienating to that ecologist, would it not?

                7. Frenchie*

                  It is completely fair to discuss my claim that it is harmful. I would be happy to discuss it.
                  The thing about the belief system… how do you suggest we raise doubts about an industry whose basic premice Is unproven if any mention of that last point is stifled as “judging a belief system” ?

                8. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Frenchie, please respect my request to drop this now. You’ve had a chance to make your point and I’d like the conversation to move on.

        2. Temperance*

          I genuinely do not understand why you want to slap a disclaimer on Hills to Die On’s interview. I also don’t really understand your apparently deep hatred for psychics.

          Adults get to make their own decisions about their beliefs. Period.

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        When you make a strong claim like, “I can sense what is going to happen in the future” or “I can communicate with the spirits of the dead”, the burden is on you to prove those statements or provide compelling evidence.

        As you note, it is very hard to prove a negative. And so many people believe in fanciful ideas and rush to claim that it isn’t technically scientifically disproven. When in reality, all a scientist can say is that there is no scientific evidence for it.

        Science is making hypotheses and testing them. In the way you frame things, your hypothesis would be “This thing does not exist.” In order to disprove that hypothesis, you would have to examine all things and show that they are not “this thing”. That is virtually impossible.

        However, the hypothesis “This thing does exist” is quite easy to prove by providing at least one verified example of “this thing”.

        In this particular case, one must consider all the people who have made the “This thing does exist” claim without providing any scientific evidence when considering the statement “There is no scientific evidence for this.”

      3. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant*

        “Also–would you require a similar disclaimer for an interview with, say, a pastor? I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t, even though the scientific evidence that God exists is on exactly the same level as the scientific evidence that psychics exist.”

        Probably depends on whether they claimed that God literally talked to them or not. Or, more broadly, whether they were outright endorsing their religion to the general audience.

    7. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I just gotta point out that saying “I don’t want to derail the discussion by launching on debate on the existence of psychics,” right after you’ve spent four paragraphs ranting about how psychics don’t exist, is pretty disingenuous. If you don’t want to derail to the topic, maybe don’t post an impassioned comment on that topic?

      1. Frenchie*

        You know, I get that. I asked myself if this was worth mentioning.

        But I did eventually, not in order to rant, but because intellectually, it is difficult to separate the damage they do from the fact that their abilities are at best unproven, at worst voluntarily deceptive.

        If someone was legitimately able to predict the future, talk to spirits… and was charging a bunch of money for this… I would not say they are dangerous or ruinous ! Just charging for their skills. :) But the existence of their skills are the crux of the matter, in the end, because they are charging for this and influencing people on this basis.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Honestly, I think that’s bunk. By that logic, we should fire meteorologists and investment managers too, because their work hinges on foreseeing the future and it’s at best sketchy all the same.

          1. Frenchie*

            I will not say anything about investment managers. I have nothing to contribute on this matter, I know nothing about investment managers and will take you at your word that their predictions are based in nothing. But if that is the case, I guess we could indeed decide that there is no sense in basing business decisions on their analysis.

            Meteorology is not sketchy, although it is perfectible. I will argue that there is a huge difference between a perfectible science and no science at all.

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              Right, my point here being that meteorologists also get paid and people make major plans based on what they say, and yet they could almost certainly prove to be wrong. I’m not sure that, on a personal and individual level, the difference between ‘highly imperfect technology, roll the dice and take your chance’ and ‘this happens but we don’t know the mechanism’ is really all that significant.

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                The fundamental difference is you’re building a model based off observations and data, refining the model, and constantly working to improve it. Models don’t have to be 100% accurate to be valuable.

                The science of building predictive models is the complete opposite of psychics making claims. The claim that they are the same is quite baffling.

          2. Trout 'Waver*

            What? There’s a big difference between building models based on past observations to try to guess at what will happen in the future and claiming to have a supernatural ability.

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              That relies on those models being any good. Technical analysis has been pretty well disproven and yet remains wildly popular.

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                Meteorology models have steadily improved over the past couple decades. Fiduciary investment mangers do a lot more than technical analysis, which in fact has not been disproven. Tech Analysis works great if you’re the only person doing it and your contributions are small compared to the total market. It doesn’t really scale so it’s not a great consumer investment choice.

          3. Carole Anne*

            No serious investment manager claims to foresee the future. They extrapolate based on previous trends and their view of market dynamics. Same for political risk analysts. It’s not even remotely close.

    8. CorporateQueer*

      +1, and thank you. This whole thing was really credulous. (Also, holy crap, seeing further down that people are cool with faith healing really makes me concerned. If you want to pray over your child, that’s fine, BUT ALSO GO TO THE DOCTOR. There are truly terrible people out there who prey on grieving people or the very ill, and seriously, giving them a platform on an otherwise rational blog, and straight-up stamping out any “huh, really*?” in the comments section is pretty harmful, imo. HTDO’s employer might have been a lovely person who really believed she had psychic powers. But other psychics and faith healers might take advantage of the belief she and people like her foster, and could use it to really hurt people.)

      1. M*

        +1. AAM, we’re all fans and support your focus on keeping comments respectful, but this is lending your platform to the wrong thing.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        There’s been plenty of “huh, really?” in the comments; it’s not being stamped out. What I’ve asked is that the comments treat the interviewee respectfully, just as I’d ask if the interview subject were a mullah or a nun or a sex worker or pretty much anything else that people might have strong disagreement with.

        1. M*

          Most religious leaders/imams/rabbis/pastors/priests, etc., while they typically provide “pastoral counselling” to members of their congregation, are not making money directly off that. They’re busy running programs, teaching classes, fundraising, working with other leaders within their faith community or of other faiths. That is a super interesting and busy life and I’d love to read an interview about how that shakes out as an employment situation and how they juggle work/life balance in a job when they’re almost always “on duty”. But that’s a totally different situation. And if the specific interviewee actually had endorsed really damaging beliefs (e.g. conversion therapy or faith healing), I would expect that person to not be profiled on AAM.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Seriously?? Have you not watched televangelists or seen people use their religious background to fundraise in ways that don’t benefit the congregation or those in need?

            1. M*

              Again, I would expect someone using religion as a fraud to not be profiled on AAM. The fundraising I was referring to was for things like community programs, charity for people in need, and things like “our synagogue was built 60 years ago and we really need a new roof so we’re not praying in between giant buckets catching drips every time it rains.” Not fundraising so the person can get a flashy new Ferrari to drive around spreading the gospel. I also would expect the interview to be framed about the work the person does and not to be framed in a way that accepts their beliefs as 100% fact. (I.e. the interview shouldn’t include statements like, Oh yeah and then when Deity X miraculously healed my incurable disease, everything was GREAT!)
              FWIW, not Christian and not US based so my familiarity with televangelists etc is limited.

              1. Temperance*

                How do you decide exactly what constitutes a “fraud” and what is an approved use of religion, exactly?

              2. Marvel*

                This is gonna be a long comment.

                First off, I… don’t see where this interview DOES say “and then this psychic cured my incurable disease.” Things are presented very factually, i.e., here is what happened. Person X told me Thing Y would happen, and then Thing Y happened. I had XYZ experiences. Etc. Of course it’s presented through the frame of a certain belief system… but I’d argue that everything we say is presented through one belief system or another.

                Furthermore, I’m of the opinion that people should be paid for their time providing a service, regardless of what that service is. I do tarot readings in my spare time. I don’t believe I have “special powers” of any kind, really, but I charge because it requires both time and skill to do the reading. One reading can be quite a lot of work; a complex one can take me upwards of 2 hours from start to finish. It’s a service like any other, and I don’t tell the client they have to believe in whatever the cards say–for a lot of people it’s just good fun, and those who do believe made that decision long before they got to commissioning me. Do people make major life decisions based off of my readings? Maybe–but if they do it’s only because the cards can’t actually tell you anything you don’t already know, deep down.

                I don’t see what’s so different in this case, I guess. If someone has chosen to believe that the word of God can be understood through the Bible, or that psychics are real, or that ghosts can be communicated with using a ouija board… they made that choice before they encountered the person providing the service, most times. Vulnerable populations often do flock to one spiritual belief or another, but I don’t see how you can condemn this one as exploitative without condemning all of them as such.

                To be clear: I actually DO have a problem with psychics who operate in the way Hills to Die on describes. A pretty big problem. But it’s not appropriate for me to voice that problem here, because it’s a personal issue based on my belief system and what I personally think is ethical, not an objectively based fact.

          2. Temperance*

            Yes they are! It’s literally their whole job. They are getting paid to push their religious beliefs. How is that different than a psychic existing? Hint: it is not.

            1. tangerineRose*

              Some pastors have spent a lot of time studying the religious texts (sometimes in the original languages) and can teach about what they learn – that’s about research and studying.

    9. medium of ballpoint*

      Agreed. I quite respect Alison, her advice, and so much of the content on this blog. I was surprised to see an interview on this topic, especially with someone who buys into this so fully.

    10. Hedonism Bot*

      “Is is not just about belief, and respecting other people’s opinions. Psychics are dangerous people who exploit human misery and gullibility. Do they need people to work with them ? Yes of course, but I didn’t read anything here that is different from a normal babysitting experience, except maybe for a more-than-average protectiveness from the parent.

      But acting like it is rational to discuss psychic ability just reinforces the idea that this practice is okay and harmless, maybe a little fun. It is not.”

      Thank you SO MUCH for posting this. I am really in shock that Allison allowed this on her website. Maybe not shock… deep disappointment.

      And I’d like to second the notion that dis-allowing comments about how “psychics” are, quite literally, scammers, is doing harm to this community. It’s not okay.

      1. Elspeth*

        The interview is about the former NANNY and what it was like to work for a psychic. Your opinion is your opinion – no need to attack the OP just because of who she worked for in the past.

    11. JamieS*

      The exact same thing can be said about organized religion but it would still be incredibly unacceptable for Alison to interview the nanny of a preacher and put the disclaimer: NOTE: there is absolutely no actual proof whatsoever that any religion is correct or that God even exists at all. Same courtesy here.

    12. JerryLarryTerryGary*

      Look, I don’t believe in psychic abilities all- but this is an employment blog, accessed online, with a mainly working adult audience. The kind of disclaimer you are advocating for is rude, patronizing, and assumes that the reader, if they have not heard of psychics, has immediately and forever lost their internet connection upon reading.

  17. LouiseM*

    Wow, this was such a fun read! I wish you would do more interviews like this, because I have just LOVED all of them.

    The timing here is perfect too–when I read one of the OP’s on todays 5q’s say he immediately realized that a new employee had been through a recent traumatic experience and was “broken” (ugh), my first thought was “is this guy a psychic?!” And now we are hearing from an actual psychic, too funny.

    1. Washi*

      Yes, agreed!!!

      Also… I have a suggestion of a person with an unusual job…Alison! Sorry if this is OT, I would LOVE to read more about what it takes to run AAM. Like how much time a week do you spend reading letters? Where did your first few letters, before anyone really knew about the blog, come from? How long does it usually take to answer them? How do you pick the letters? Have you thought about hiring anyone to moderate comments? (I’ve noticed sometimes you comment at 2am, though maybe that’s just your sleep schedule.) Do you see yourself doing this forever? Do you have a go-to group of people you talk over the letters with? Do people recognize you in the street? So many questions!

      1. Flinty*

        Ah yes to this!

        When you read your earlier letters, do you still like your advice and writing style, or do you find yourself wanting to answer differently? And has this job changed your worldview in anyway? (on employment or on people in general?)

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        A slight twist: interview another advice columnist on the business side of things and how they got the job.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Things I never knew I wanted: three-way mutual interview with AaM, Captain Awkward, and Dear Prudence

          1. Batshua*

            … I was reading really fast and missed the word “interview” and somehow transposed and mangled it into “mutual three-way”.

            … I’m mortified and it’s making me laugh. >.<

          2. Pollygrammer*

            An interview with Ask Amy that just has her to read some of her advice and then asks “really??”

          3. tangerineRose*

            I think having an interview where AAM and Carolyn Hax got to talk together would be cool. They are both thoughtful and very thorough in their answers.

  18. JKP*

    I was always someone very skeptical of psychics. I learned a lot of mentalism and cold reading, so a lot of time when I saw people doing psychic readings, it was fairly obvious to me what they were doing.

    BUT, then I worked at an office that did a lot of work with a psychic. We would do events together, and she would refer clients to us periodically. Watching her do group readings, it was incredible how many specific details she knew, no flailing around with cold reading techniques, just very rapid fire. And it was our own sound equipment that I set up for the events, so I know that no one was feeding her any info in an ear piece. Strangely, the sound equipment would glitch every time she touched it, equipment I was very familiar with and had never had problems with before or since.

    The story that stands out the most, she called up the office out of the blue to advise us that a specific person needed surgery this week and wouldn’t make it two weeks. She hadn’t met or talked to this person before, there was no possible way that she could have known that this person was that day trying to decide between two different surgery dates the doctors had offered. The person chose the earlier surgery date, and during surgery it was worse than the doctors thought, and this person was told they wouldn’t have even made it another 24 hours without the surgery.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      So many of those instances. When I first met her, she looked at me, then my roommate, and asked if there was anything she couldn’t say in front of him. I said no, go ahead and say it. She recounted a childhood trauma from when I was 9, with details (there was a gun, here’s what he looked like, and here is the part of his appearance that was a disguise, and this is what he was holding and here’s how he got away). Read it cold and no, my roommate didn’t know about it until she described the event. Every piece was dead on.

      1. Kiki*

        Genuine question, because I know nothing about psychics or the world they operate in…are there considered to be different “levels” of psychic ability?

        For example, your boss was able to talk about your childhood experience in great detail the first time she met you (per your reply comment), which is obviously a high level of psychic ability. It sounds like you didn’t have that level of ability, but you were able to sense(?) and interact with spirits, which I think is more than most people could do. So would that mean you have a middle level of psychic ability?

        My friends and family joke that I can predict the future, which I obviously can’t actually do, but a lot of times I will have a feeling about a person or situation that I know will go bad and I’m almost always right. Sometimes I’m able to predict details of how the situation will happen (for example, I knew my sister’s boyfriend was going to hurt her arm about six months before he grabbed her during an argument and popped her elbow out of place). Not that I think I’m psychic or anything, just curious. :)

        Thanks for doing this interview!

        1. Hills to Die on*

          That is absolutely the case. My ability is small but you can literally exercise it like any other talent and it will get stronger. Jane is just naturally hugely talented. Her kids don’t use their ability as adults so it’s actually faded a bit in them.

          1. Penny Lane*

            This is such an interesting interview. I always struggle with seeing-what-you-want-to-see – I remember the times someone predicted something about me and got it right more than the times they didn’t.

            To what extent do you think this talent / ability / whatever you want to call it is inbred / genetic versus learned / practiced? In other words, if your employer’s children had been adopted by a non-psychic family, do you think they would still have these abilities?

            To what e

            1. Hills to Die on*

              I think it varies. Think of the child prodigy in (tennis/violin/science). You can learn it but genetics is going to play its role. I think that Jane’s kids could have learned it but would never have anywhere near the ability they’ve had without the genetic component.

        2. Betsy*

          I pride myself on critical thinking and am quite a skeptical person. However, I seem to be able to feel what people are feeling, in a very visceral kind of way, although it really just works with emotions, rather than illness as far as I know. It’s almost like my body just takes on their body briefly and I can feel their feelings in my body. There’s a big part of me that feels like it’s probably just something to do with mirror neurons or something like that, or perhaps it’s an ability that everyone has. What you said about the children just seemed really similar to the way in which I can feel people’s emotions. I have no abilities to predict the future or anything like that, though.

        3. Anon for This*

          I think there is.

          My mother has a small amount, and I have even smaller.

          My mom can absolutely predict who is on the phone when it rings, once predicted the outcome of every pitch of a baseball game for 7 innings, and all my life talked about nightmares about planes hitting buildings – a fear she attributed at the time to living near a military base with low flying aircraft. She hasn’t mentioned this fear since 9/11, so I’m not sure if that was what she was seeing/fearing, or if she just decided to shut up about it afterwards.

          Personally, I just seem to be more sensitive/receptive to energies and spirits. And every once in awhile I get – sort of an intrusive thought I guess – and they turn out to be right. In a stretch back in 2008 I predicted Eight Belles breaking her legs in the Derby, and a traffic light crashing down onto the street in my town, in like a 2 week stretch. Before both each of those things I had said “I hope that horse doesn’t break its leg” and “I hope that traffic light doesn’t fall down” because they both came into my mind as happening slightly before they actually happened.

          I don’t believe it’s confirmation bias because I usually don’t say things like that. And I don’t think it’s just circumstantial. Like, if I just predicted that Big Brown would win I wouldn’t see that as significant because, well, somebody is winning the Kentucky Derby each year. But horses breaking their legs in high stakes races are uncommon (though not as uncommon as they should be) and not something one could reasonably assume would be an outcome of the race. And a traffic light smashing down into the pavement is not something I have ever seen happen before or since. It’s not even something I fully knew to be possible.

          It’s not something I can actively call upon, so I can’t, for example, decide that I’m going to see which horse wins the Kentucky Derby and then bet on it. So I can’t use it to be rich or even make money in any sort of way. It just comes on when it comes on.

  19. Salamander*

    Thank you for doing this! This interview was a lot of fun, and I love getting to peek into that world.

  20. pinyata*

    Such an interesting interview! Did your boss try to hire assistants, nannies, etc who had similar abilities (as it seems you did)? I’m wondering whether your having some ability made it easier for your boss in terms of explaining things or dealing with experiences, or if that didn’t matter and she just needed an employee to be open-minded?

    1. Hills to Die on*

      I don’t know if it came to be that deliberately, but as you talk with people you automatically connect where you have common ground. That, and I believe in fate and that certain people are meant to be in our lives for a reason. I don’t think my meeting her was a coincidence as we were always meant to be friends. :)

      1. Penny Lane*

        This isn’t directed at you at all, Hills to Die on, as your interview was fascinating.

        I just wanted to note that in general, the ideas of fate and people meaning to be in our lives for certain reasons can be off-putting or even offensive to others. There are people who might have had, let’s say, a violent parent, an abusive ex, whatever, who don’t at all feel that those people were “meant to be in their lives” or that there was some grand life lesson to be learned — likewise for people who have undergone some kind of tragedy, whether it’s losing a child to a disease or having a loved one commit suicide or having relatives die in the Holocaust and so forth. I’m sure you would be sensitive to this — it’s just a sentiment that can raise a lot of hackles unless you know your audience.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          I know this isn’t directed at me, but… I tried to avoid topics like that which would hurt others. I can’t imagine the reasons for some of the things my family is going through right now. I hope my comment doesn’t hurt anyone and if it does–I am sincerely sorry.

        2. JKP*

          You can have *some* people be fated to be in your life for certain reasons without that meaning that *every* person in your life was.

  21. HRM*

    This is so cool.

    One thing I wish you had asked – how much time did “psychic stuff” take up your time when nannying versus the normal cooking, playing with the kids, taking them places, etc. Like was it like a normal nannying job most days and once in awhile you’d have a visitor – or was it something that was a regular occurrence or topic of conversation daily?

    1. Hills to Die on*

      It was a part of life, just as needing to spend a lot of time drawing horses with the daughter or any other part of who they are. I wouldn’t say actual dealing with spirits took that much time.

  22. JanetM*

    This was a fascinating interview!

    I’ve had a couple of experiences that might fall on the side of not-clearly-rational — when I was little, I more than once got up in the morning and announced, “Aunt Natoma is coming today,” and according to my parents, I was always right. Thing is, she lived several states away and came to visit more or less randomly, and without specific notice.

    When a friend of the family was very ill, I knew the minute the phone rang, before anyone answered it, that she had died. And it wasn’t at an odd time (like, “No one would be calling at midnight except for an emergency”), but just a random time in the middle of the afternoon, and we’d had an assortment of calls about other things all day.

    And then there was the time a friend was visiting my husband and me. He and Dale were in the living room, and I was in the office down the hall. I suddenly had an urge to walk down the hall and say, “Put your socks on, Alan. Your feet are cold.” The astonishment on his face was something to behold. (That one is easier to explain; I could have noticed that it was chilly, I know that he tends to get cold faster than I do, and I might have remembered that he wasn’t wearing socks. But still.)

  23. oranges & lemons*

    Thanks for the interview! Can I ask, were you more skeptical about paranormal phenomena before you started the job than you are now?

    1. Hills to Die on*

      I think so even though I was always open to it; having a general understanding of how things work and having experienced so much of it with her makes me even more open now.

  24. Clever Alias*

    I’d really like to know more about the sold out football game near palm trees and church comment from 2015!

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Nothing more to tell–she has no timeline on that one. I wish I had more details.

    2. Lindsay J*

      I’m glad the Houston Super Bowl has already happened or I would be even more concerned than I was at the time.

  25. Oxford Coma*

    Taking care of children while being haunted. Well, guess I just found the job they’ll give me when I end up in hell.

    1. Matilda the Hun*

      I guess we shouldn’t refer you to the nanny job in the haunted house in Scotland! Amazing pay, wall-to-wall creeps, and hot and cold running chills.

  26. Lindsay*

    can anyone recommend fun non-fiction books on psychics? I want to to read more like this!

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Look for books by Sylvia Browne, Chris Browne, James Van Pragh, Rebecca Rosen, Mary Ann Morgan, Allison DuBois, John Edwards to name a few.

  27. Erin*

    So fascinating, thank you to both of you!

    I don’t think nine is too old to still have the kid come into the public bathroom with you.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I would kind of think it is — but then, I was super uncomfortable being dragged into the men’s restrooms with my father by the time I was quite a bit younger than that.

      1. Blue*

        Well, I wouldn’t take a little girl into the mens’ bathroom, but that’s mainly because urinals. I feel like it’s less of a problem in a womens’ bathroom because it’s all cubicles. It’s not likely you’d actually see anyone en deshabille, you know?

  28. Goosela*

    Very interesting! I wish I could convince myself to be more of a believer! I’ve never experienced anything other-worldly or paranormal, but several people in my life claim they have. Heck, back in my college days a few friends and I won a contest to stay in a “haunted” tomb on campus for a night. They kept hearing things and seeing things…meanwhile I was just trying to continue on with our game of Apples to Apples, haha. It would be fun to be more open to experiences like that. Any advice on how? Since you first got into the position by seeking out the psychic because of your deceased father’s spirit, I am guessing you were already open to the idea that, well, all of the things you described are possible! I don’t know how to move past my skepticism. My heart wants it, but my brain won’t let me have it!

    1. Hills to Die on*

      You can–there are actually lots of resources on how to practice, meditate, etc. out there if you Google them! :)

  29. Krista*

    I enjoyed your interview! It sounds like you became very attuned to sensing spirits when you worked for her. Do you find that you are still sensitive to picking up their presence? Let’s say you walk into someone’s house or a public space, can you sense if there are entities there?

    1. Hills to Die on*

      More sensitive than I used to be, for sure! We are actually in the process of buying a home, and I felt much happier and ‘louder’ energy at one house than another. Many things like that have stayed with me.

  30. Lily in NYC*

    I feel like I’m bizarro world right now after reading this. There sure are a lot of gullible people out there.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        I think that’s why this bugged me so much. I worked at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children for many years and had to deal with these “psychic” scam artists who were certain they knew were a specific child was (most of the time the kid was already back home with their parents but I guess their “visions” didn’t tell them that).

        1. Hills to Die on*

          I think the difference is that they are seeking her out in the missing child cases. She isn’t ambulance chasing.

        2. M*

          Exactly. Same issue with faith healing and a lot of ‘alternative medicine’. Real harm is done to truly vulnerable people (grieving parents, sick children who don’t control their own medical decision-making). If you want to make money off/actually believe that you can push your thoughts out into the world, tell people they’ll marry someone tall dark and handsome, tell people their aura is purple… go for it. But leave missing kids and vulnerable people out of it. It’s cruel and exploitative.

          1. Frenchie*

            It is probably more difficult to make a living out of it if you don’t work with desperate people. That is why it is so difficult to discuss it whilst ignoring the fact that vulnerable people are the main source of income of a profession with a dubious basis at best.

        3. Frenchie*

          Well, I would love to know this side of the story. This seems really interesting, although much more heartbreaking.

    1. Marvel*

      Calling people’s spiritual beliefs gullibility–and divination is a spiritual belief, in many, many, many cultures–is really unkind.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Oh well, then I guess I’m unkind. These people do more harm than good. The best thing I can say about them is that many of them are more perceptive than the general public. But to call it supernatural is a stretch.

    2. Kiki*

      It’s not necessarily gullibility. There is so much about the world and the universe that we don’t know. We still can’t explain how exactly the earth was formed, yet here we are. And we’re willing to accept that people who experience traumatic events can go through psychological changes without being able to explain exactly how that happens in the brain. So I’m willing to be open to the idea that some people are more attuned to small cues in the people and world around them that others can’t see. To me, it doesn’t seem any less logical than believing in God, which I’m sure many people will say is illogical but as a society we’re willing to grant as a normal belief to hold.

  31. motherofdragons*

    This was awesome, thank you to Alison and OP for taking the time and sharing with us. “Be appropriate, but take no crap” needs to be cross-stitched onto a pillow (and then placed all over my house and office)!

  32. Storie*

    Such an interesting interview and a fascinating job. It reminds me that all nannies are required to different degrees to integrate into the “culture” of the family. This is an extreme example of that maybe! But it sounds as if you had a bond with the whole family. What an experience.

    I’m a pragmatist myself. As was my mother. However, as a young married woman in the 50’s, she went to a party given by a film studio. Also there was a psychic-to-the-stars who was very popular at that time. My mom tried to avoid her, but she was following her around. Eventually, she said ok–what is it? She told my mom she knew some things about her, and would she like to know. Skeptical, my mom said sure ok why not. She said you’re not going to stay married to your husband. You’ll marry someone else who will take you south of the equator to live. And (the kicker) You’re going to have seven children. My mom just laughed. Cut to one year later, my mom’s first husband revealed a secret that caused their divorce. A year after that she married my Dad. Who then got stationed in Puerto Rico, where they lived. I’m child #6, and for the first ten years of my life my mom secretly thought–almost right, psychic lady, almost. Then, at age 44, she became pregnant with my little sister making a grand total of 7 kids.

    Can’t explain it, but it’s part of my family’s lore!

    1. Hills to Die on*

      I think many people have had the type of experience where they don’t believe until That Thing happens, Then, they aren’t saying they believe exactly…but That Thing can’t be explained either. In any case, thanks for the story! I love hearing them!

      1. Storie*

        Yes! And just to add–I do think you should write a book. Not just because of the experience, but also because how you write about it.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I don’t mean to be a jerk, but Puerto Rico is way above the equator!

      (But your story is fascinating!)

      1. Storie*

        I know! We always pointed that out to her! And she said close enough. Because she never would have believed as a young woman living in Des Moines that life would take her there.

  33. Penny Lane*

    It’s interesting to me how these psychics will do things like readings for individual people, or (as is claimed here) helping law enforcement solve crimes, but I don’t see or hear of psychics doing things that might benefit other aspects of society. Without getting political — this country sure could have used some psychics predicting the future around November 2016 when a bunch of us sure got handed a surprise. I sure wish I had a psychic to tell me what’s going to go on with Mueller, or with North Korea, and so forth. Why are none of them in that sphere?

    And back to the solving crimes — how is what they do different from the psychologist who, upon reading *actual clues* (handwriting on a ransom note, etc), hypothesize that the killer is a man in his early 30’s from a small town who has an overbearing mother (and what do you know, when they find the killer and that’s exactly his description)? Can you clarify the differences / distinction?

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Jane is an avid follower of politics. It’s been a nice perk to know who is going to be President 1-5 years before they are elected. And without getting too political….they are involved but you don’t necessarily see it. I think it was Nancy Reagan who had consulted with psychics regularly. They live here, care about the country, pay taxes, have political opinions, etc.

      For the crimes, I can give you a small example. Fergus was a cop who was involved in chasing a suspect. He called Jane who was at home and told him that the street he was on had all brown houses and one white one, and the suspect was int he white one. Fergus and the other car confirmed that there was exactly one white house on the street and looked around it but couldn’t go in–no probable cause, no warrant so the guy got away. There are things like that which cannot be guessed, or which would be remarkably good guesses and they are very consistent at it. Maybe that helps?

    2. Batshua*

      So this is just my best guess here. I can’t speak to what happens with other folks who sense things, but …

      I don’t call myself psychic, but sometimes I sense things. However, I can’t “steer” the topic or scope. Usually, what I sense are “little” things, small personal stuff, stuff that’s not necessarily clear or useful without a night to sleep on it. For example, there will be phrases that will pop into my head that I feel like I have to tell someone, but I won’t necessarily know what they mean, but sometimes the other person can make sense of it. It’s not really useful on a macro scale, since it’s not like I can sense things on demand.

      Based on what my sensitive friends and I have discussed, I suspect that some of it is, the bigger the scope, the more variables in place, which makes it harder to predict what’s going on, especially if you’re TRYING to predict things.

      Man, I wish I could like, develop madd skillz and pick stocks, but I think that sort of stuff is probably too complex even if I knew a lot about the industry in question, researched trends, AND was more attuned.

      1. Anon For This*

        This, exactly.

        I can sometimes predict things. It’s really just kind of like an intrusive thought that pops up that’s “This thing is going to happen.”

        And maybe now with some of them I can get in on it with all the crazy celebrity death wagers and things that are going on, but otherwise it’s not like I’m seeing stock tickers or lottery numbers or anything useful.

        One I mentioned above was Eight Belles breaking her legs at the Derby. The thought came to me like that day. I think as the horses were being loaded into the gate. Enough time for me to say, not place a bet on her to win, but not much else. (And even if it was long enough before hand that I could look up her owner, get into contact with him, and tell him to pull her out of the race, are they really going to believe me?)

        Or, like I mentioned, my mom from the very early ’90s had frequent nightmares about planes crashing into buildings. It was a recurring theme. That’s not specific enough to be useful to anyone.

        And honestly, a lot of people don’t want to hear what they don’t want to hear. There were some people out there who did accurately predict the outcome of the election, (not sure about psychics because I don’t follow them, but pollsters and political figures) and they were dismissed as having wishful thinking since they were members of the alt-right so of course that would be what they want.

        And that goes for really any of those things. Like, if I say that Kim Jong Un is going to die of poisoning in the next 5 years, are you going to believe me? (Don’t, I just made that up off of the top of my head. But just as an example.) Or if I tell you there is going to be no war with Russia? It’s not really reassuring with no validated credentials to back it up (and even if there is/were such a thing as validated credentials in the psychic realm) so many people do not believe in psychics (I mean, I’m not sure I really believe in the type that do readings etc!) that the vast majority of people would consider any such prediction to be a joke at best and lucky at worst.

      2. Ramblin' Ma'am*

        Wow, I know just what you mean, and you actually reminded me of a story I’d completely forgotten about. Once when I was about 9, my mother came home from work and said, “You’ll never guess who I ran into today.” I guessed my math teacher from 3 years earlier. It wasn’t her–but it was her stepmother! The teacher’s name had just immediately popped into my head. (We lived in a busy metro area–not a small town where everyone knew each other.)

  34. 100%done*

    I’m very, very disappointed that you ran this interview. You might as well run an interview with someone who served as personal assistant to a scam artist. Ask A Manager has been deleted from my RSS feed.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Definitely your prerogative! I’m a big believer that you can’t run an interesting site that will appeal to everyone (and in some cases the more interesting some people find it, the less it will work for others). People should find content that works for them.

    2. Lindsay J*

      I worked for a timeshare company for awhile. I’m pretty sure that’s pretty close to working for a scam artist. Does that mean nobody would be interested in the inner workings or that I’m a bad person because I did that? What about someone who works in advertising for big tobacco? Does an interview of them have no inherent value just because a lot of people find their job abhorrent? I mean, I don’t like cigarette companies, and I think actively trying to get people hooked on them is a bad thing, but I would still find the interview interesting for just the logistical aspects of their jobs, how regulations have changed the way they work over the years, how they square their personal ethics with their job, what strategies have been effective and not effective and if that’s changed with generational shifts, etc.

      Interviewing someone and endorsing them are two different things.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        This is what I’m not understanding. HillsToDieOn isn’t the one who made her living as a psychic. She worked as a nanny FOR a psychic. You can be opposed to the psychic profession and still appreciate an article talking about what it’s like for someone to work for a psychic. It’s not like Alison interviewed a psychic, said “THIS PERSON IS DEFINITELY A PSYCHIC,” and required us to all believe her and believe in the profession.

        1. E*

          Exactly. Would you be interested to read the stories of a nanny to a celebrity of another profession? Of course. You don’t have to agree about whether psychics are real to appreciate the interesting stories.

      2. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        Regardless of where I fall on the skeptic – believer spectrum (and I know precisely where I land), I personally find interviews with people working for organizations I don’t agree with FASCINATING. Makes me step outside of my little bubble and look at things differently. Of course, it doesn’t mean I’ll agree with it or necessarily change my mind. But it DOES mean that I am forced to acknowledge there are people who are just doing their jobs. And being reminded that there’s fellow human beings involved is always a good thing. At least in my book.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I agree, I feel it’s super important to keep ourselves informed on what the “opposing side” is saying and doing. We can chose to read things that solely support our thinking/experiences/believes or we can reach out and try to find out what others see and experience. It’s a choice.

          In some of the comments I think I hear a little fear behind the anger. Fear can be lack of knowledge. If that is the case then it is always good to keep expanding our knowledge. It’s empowering to read up on things we fear. It’s a personal habit I have made for myself. There are things I used to fear but through reading, I realized Thing was not more than a house of cards and would tumble at some point.

          That said, I totally enjoyed OP’s comments here. OP, you sound light and happy, I must conclude you had a very positive experience. I think that for folks who do believe and fear the spirit world you offered a positive role model and offered some hints they could apply to their own lives. Personally, I believe there is something beyond just us here so I found this intriguing. I enjoyed the glimpse into your boss’ life. She seems to use her insights wisely. Thank you for sharing.

      3. The Other Dawn*

        I would love to read an interview with you about the timeshare company!

        And I agree that interviewing someone doesn’t mean they’re endorsing the person.

      4. Marvel*

        I’ve been tried to formulate a comment like this on and off for the past 2 hours and you achieved it beautifully. Thank you. I have ethical issues with so, so many careers and industries–including my own, at times!–but that doesn’t mean no one should do or talk about them.

  35. KT*

    This interview is fascinating, but it makes me a bit sad to see how many people are highly bought into the scam artistry of “psychics”. I can see how you would have to believe strongly in psychic ability to work for someone like that without having moral qualms.

    1. Goya de la Mancha*

      I’m personally more sad about how many adults can’t seem to follow directions given.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        Thank you. It’s been hard to see people writing awful things about a person I love. I don’t expect them all to agree with me, but I hoped for a bit more from folks. Oh, well.

        1. DoctorateStrange*

          I know how it is, I’ve had loved ones treated the same way, you have my sympathies.

          Sometimes, I think people overvalue looking brainy and they end up coming off not-so-great. I used to follow a Facebook group where it was all about dismantling false information found on FB, which, you would think people would behave calmly and rationallu, but it was chock full of people that just wanted to one-up another in their knowledge that I noped quickly out of it.

  36. Blue Eagle*

    I don’t necessarily have a problem with taking a boy into the women’s restroom – – – but PLEASE tell him in advance that he should keep his eyes focused to the floor and not be looking at the women.

      1. Temperance*

        I used to go to the YMCA, and women would bring their boys into the women’s locker room instead of using the family locker room. It was very noticeable when one of those children would start staring at a woman changing.

        1. Marvel*

          I mean, I’ve also been stared at by kids in women’s locker rooms, but I don’t think it was ever in a sexual way. They’re kids! They stare!

    1. Lindsay J*

      At the women in the enclosed stalls?

      Yeah, that should be etiquette for everyone of any age. (Seriously, I don’t care if your male or female, once you’re old enough to understand the word “no” you should not be peering through the cracks by the door or underneath the stalls.

      At the women washing their hands or standing in line fully clothed like they are outside of a restroom? Why the hell not?

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        And if you’re under that age, you probably shouldn’t be on the floor of a public restroom, tbqh!

  37. DoctorateStrange*

    This was a fun interview to read and really a pick-me-up for me during a stressful day!

  38. Marvel*

    I don’t believe in any of this either but I’m really sorry for the flack you’re getting, Hills. Enjoyed reading the interview, and thought your answers were very thoughtful and well constructed.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Thank you! I knew I’d get some heat but I also really love talking about this stuff and since I can be a hothead sometimes myself, I thought this would be good practice for me to stay calm even though I knew there would be things that bothered me.

      And thank you Alison for the interview and the support, and to everyone for their comments and support!

      1. Ambpersand*

        I think you’ve handled yourself beautifully! My own personal beliefs/feelings aside, I found your interview to be extremely interesting (so much so that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it all afternoon) and well written.

      2. Krista*

        I truly enjoyed your interview. I am involved in what could be called alternative healing modalities, and I have known channelers and psychics. I am currently in the process of starting own healing practice. Certain people in my life know, but I haven’t told all my friends and none of the neighbors. I live in the South, and I am afraid of their reactions. Will they think I am crazy or in league with the Devil? (Some people I know get around this by calling themselves life coaches.)

        I’ve thought about getting a free business mentor through a program in the town I live in, but I wonder how well received I would be if I explained exactly what I do.

        Did Jane have any negative experiences that you were aware of because of her profession?

        1. Hills to Die On*

          She gets all the flack that you read here. You’ll open yourself up to this because people will find out what you do, I think. But they are the minority. They are just a vocal minority.

  39. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Hey, y’all, I now have all comments on this post set to go through moderation since my request at the top of the post is being ignored. Dissent is fine here, but rudeness toward an interviewee or disrespect of someone else’s beliefs is not.

    1. Goya de la Mancha*

      If I could send adult beverages via my computer, I would send plenty your way. Thanks for all the work you do, especially when we’re behaving like brats.

  40. Ramblin' Ma'am*

    Thanks for this interview! I do believe in ghosts/spirits, and while I don’t believe that everyone who claims to be a psychic is legit, I do think some people have that gift. But I also believe that not all of a psychic’s gifts involve the supernatural. They seem to be uncommonly intuitive people, very good at reading others and picking up subtle cues that most people wouldn’t notice. So, in some ways, working for a psychic might not be that different from working for anyone who specializes in “reading” people. How would it feel to be a private detective’s nanny? To be a fraud investigator’s nanny? To be a therapist’s nanny? Etc. You’d probably gain an interesting perspective on your own behavior.

  41. Dr Johnson*

    I made this request earlier on twitter, but I’m going to repeat it here.

    Please put some warning on the link you included to the interviewee’s comment. I had an extremely visceral and negative reaction to the claims made in it about 9/11 and New York. If I had known that link would lead to such a topic I would never have clicked on it.

    You have asked for respect, but that has to be both ways and linking that event with psychic claims are for some of us are angering, distressing, and extremely disrespectful.

  42. There's more than one of everything*

    This was fascinating to read! I loved the details and the unexpected challenges. Thanks so much Hills to Die on for sharing and AAM for posting!

    As a side note, I think I could read unusual jobs interviews all day long, and I really enjoyed it from more of an “outsider” perspective, too.

  43. Ex Humanities student*

    Alison, you have asked that the OP be respected, and we have done that ; I have not seen any personal attacks against her (as far as I have seen). I also imagine that it must be really hard to foster an environment of respect while allowing people to comment.

    But I would like to add to the few people who have specifically expressed disappointment in the fact that you chose to run a post on such a profession with an OP choosing to make a lot of claims (in the interview and in the comments) about the veracity of supernatural abilities, whilst saying that comments against her beliefs would be violating the site rules. I know you have allowed some, but there has been a lot of backlash against comments mentioning studies on psychics, historical data and the general business model of the psychic industry.

    I think there is a clear double standard here. I get that you don’t want the OP to feel piled on. But I have not seen messages being personal against her, or saying anything against the fact that she personally chooses to believe so and so (and that’s good ! ).

    However, just because someone has a belief doesn’t this belief is harmless, especially when this belief is linked to an full-grown industry. And I think a lot of us are surprised to see this interview on your website, because in the end, it has very few “professional” content and is mainly stories about the supernatural abilities of OP’s former boss or experiences.
    Seeing that, I think a lot of us are very surprised to be asked to be silent when expressing real worry in normalizing such a profession, and to see that you strongly discourage / disallow any skepticism toward the industry or its theory (again, not directly the OP) by calling it disrespect.

    It is not just for the pleasure to make a point. A lot of us have personally experienced the dangers of the psychic industry. We are real people too, who have seen loved ones being exploited and ruined by psychics. Most of all, we know how normalizing it gives it power. This post is not harmless. And it is deeply upsetting for us or the people who have been hurt by this industry that you let these claims be done on a professional blog without letting at the very least the commenters mention how damaging it can be.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I understand the point you’re making. As I said above, the way I look at is that it’s part of a series on interesting jobs, and it’s about an interesting job, not an inquiry into psychic abilities. I’ve also run an interview with someone who worked in the sex industry (without anyone calling for a disclaimer there) and would gladly run interviews in the future with people who have other jobs some might take issue with. I think they’re interesting! And that’s what the series is. Anyway, I do take your point, but just look at it differently.

    2. Hills to Die on*

      I disagree that nobody has personally attacked me.

      I see several in your comment here as well as comments from others. Calling it a scam, that she is a harmful person, that she is dangerous, that she is exploitative, that her existence is damaging and disrespectful, that she is predatory, unacceptable, makes false claims, hurts children, confused, and so on. I don’t ask that anyone believe or endorse my beliefs, and I am not interested in a debate with you about whether you feel they are justified, but to say that you haven’t seen any personal attacks looks like quite the double standard to me.

      1. Ex Humanities student*

        I am really curious then to understand better what you consider to be attacks (and I AM really curious, it is not a sarcastic comment). I did not feel I insulted you / attacked you in my comment, or your former boss, who I do not know.

        What do you consider to be off-limits ? Does any mention of scientific studied means to you “calling it a scam” ? Or mentioning other instances of psychics being exploitative, predatory, and all the other adjectives you used ?
        Because if that is so, it puts all of us skeptics in quite a bind, because it is basically asking to literally say nothing at all against psychics while you get to make a lot of claims in return.

        1. Hills to Die On*

          I support science in general and scientific studies. Besides, Jane participated in one, and met the criteria for scientific proof. If you go back and read some of the comments, people referring to her as a scam artist is what I mean when I say that people are calling her a scam artist. I am not inferring this stuff—it’s right there in black and white.

          I ‘get to make a lot of claims’ about my experience because I was asked about my experience in this regard. By all means, disagree with me but do it without the disrespect. Many people did so today. If you still don’t understand, take any of the negative comments and replace ‘a psychic’ with your mother’s name and see if you would appreciate it.

      2. seejay*

        In some solidarity, when Allison posted my interview for “interesting jobs”, I had a few people who felt the need to call out in the comments why I didn’t “do more” or “better” in regards to the volunteer work I did with victims of cyberstalking and maybe they didn’t feel they were personally attacking me, but it sure felt that way. I answered a few as best I could, but I wound up ignoring them eventually.

        As can be seen in the comments, you can’t please everyone, or get the right answer all the time, no matter what you do, so don’t try… there isn’t a right or correct answer in fact. Someone’s going to get upset or bothered for whatever reason, some are valid, some aren’t, and there’s just no point in sweating it at this stage in the game.

        1. Hills to Die On*

          Thank you! Agreed, and I think this will help me have greater empathy to posters going forward!

    3. Mad Baggins*

      Honestly you can say the same about many religions. But in the letter about a coworker talking about her religious beliefs/God at work, most of the comments focused on how OP could deal with that situation, not how stupid that coworker was for believing Jesus broke the copier for a reason. I think we can extend the same courtesy here.

    4. LBK*

      I don’t think people are being discouraged towards being skeptical about the industry, they’re just being asked to not do it here. If you reread her comments, Alison hasn’t actually defended either position, just stated that she’s not interested in hosting that conversation – as with any post that touches on a potentially controversial subject, ie anything political and/or religious.

      If you wanted to engage in a conversation with the OP about your view on psychics and ask respectful questions about how she saw it from the inside, I think that would be more in line with the spirit (pun intended) of this site. But a drive by “this is all exploitative BS” comment that doesn’t really do anything except insult the OP (which it definitely does because it insinuates the OP is a bad person for participating in the industry, no matter how politely you phrase it).

  44. Travelling Circus*

    This was really interesting! Hills to Die on, thank you for sharing your experiences and for putting yourself out there. Some of the comments must’ve been difficult to read.

    The unusual job interviews are awesome. I hope they continue!

  45. Blue*

    Just adding my voice to those who are saying this was a great interview. I’m very much a sceptic but it’s an interesting topic and it’s cool to hear about it from a thoughtful and articulate interview subject! Thanks, Hills To Die On, I enjoyed this.

  46. bookartist*

    Speaking to the bringing the son into the bathroom bit: I assist my special needs son into the bathroom all the time, and will have to do so for the rest of our lives. Up until puberty, I brought him into the women’s room, and no one ever blinked an eye – maybe because his disability is visible(?) Now that he is a teen we use the men’s room. I call out as we walk in, “Lady here, helping out my son” and I look at the floor while guiding us to the stall (as I understand eye contact is verboten in the typical US men’s bathroom).. No one has ever said anything or tossed us a dirty look (and believe me, we get those everywhere else!)

  47. Greengirl*

    This was really fascinating to read! We’ve joked for years about my mom being a bit psychic (don’t play the game Guess Who with her, you will lose) so this was fascinating.

  48. Cucumberzucchini*

    I definitely don’t believe in Psychics or Ghosts but I think it’s an interesting interview. I enjoyed reading it, still don’t believe after reading the story but I appreciate the variety in content on this website and hope for more unusual job interviews in the future :)

  49. NYC Weez*

    Love this interview, really fascinating!

    The most interesting thing for me was your description of having thoughts “pushed” into your head. I can actually do this to my sister, but I’ve never come across anyone else who can do it. I usually do it to annoy her by using weird “voices” or saying stupid things (all inside my own brain), and I know it actually works because she’s not only said the random words but she’ll also mimic the tone I use. It’s a really weird sensation because I have to use a different part of my brain, plus it’s tiring, so I can’t do it for too long and it’s hard to do on demand. (She also gets pissed at me for being a jerky sister, so she’ll try to block me which then takes more energy to keep pushing, haha) I occasionally “sense” future events as well—I get really specific details in my head, way more than a lucky guess would be—but I can’t get clear info for my own future, just other people’s.

    I am a scientist at heart, so I really wish I could prove these abilities to other people without a doubt, but it’s a little like being part of a tribe of people who’ve never seen modern society and occasionally being able to pick up radio waves in your head. The conditions you need to replicate the phenomena can be very hard to achieve, and a lot of it is invisible, so there’s nothing visually to confirm that it happened. I totally understand and agree with the dangers of “psychics” who do cold readings and scam people out of money, but I can’t deny my own experiences. It sounds like yours have been similarly impossible to explain away “rationally”. But I think beyond all of the metaphysical stuff, the coolest part of your story is that you’ve remained close friends with Jane! That’s the greatest reward you can get from a job—finding a lifelong friend!

  50. RebeccaNoraBunch*

    This was such a fascinating interview and I’ve been thinking about it all day. Hills to Die On, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed and telling your story! I read it over my lunch break and wanted to post with lots of questions but I couldn’t until now.

    (I’m also extremely empathetic and have had “feelings” or intuition often about the future – generally my own and as it involves people around me – and have also had experiences with spirits as well. The latter was more than a decade ago but that leaves an imprint. I shut that part of my mind off intentionally because I was always afraid of being hurt and it scared me, honestly. I am really interested in being able to sense future events, though! My intuition has always been extremely strong, for as long as I can remember.)

    So if you’re still able and willing – questions!
    1. Were the spirits people that Jane or the people she was helping knew, or random spirits, or both? Were they people who had died and had not “crossed over”? Why were they there? What did they want? (I know this is general!)
    2. How did Jane work with regular clients? For example, did they come to her with questions about their future and that’s it? I know you mentioned her knowing something about your past. Did she talk to you about how that affected your future as well? Was that part of it with clients?
    3. What was the test she took part in? You said she came out with 87% accuracy. What kinds of things were they asking, do you remember?

    I was raised Christian (and still am) so I always attributed my deep sense of intuition to be as Christians would call it, prophetic…but as I’ve grown up I really do believe it’s all the same type of intuition and deep empathy, we just call it different things.

    Thank you again for doing this interview!

    1. Hills to Die on*

      1. All of the above! She would get an influx if she did a radio show or something that reached out to the community. Her inbox would be flooded and the loved ones of the emailers would be hanging around her house waiting for her to answer her email.
      2. All variety of questions, in person, phone, email, radio, or audience readings.
      3. I can’t remember very well, but they had her read someone and she was supposed to extract specific details of a particular story. They did that a few times and a few different ways, and she was not allowed to see the person if I remember correctly.

      Thank you!

  51. Mad Baggins*

    About telling you not to interview–I know you’ve addressed the tone elsewhere (and thank you for explaining that). But I’m curious how seeing the future as if it is set in stone interacts with your boundaries, free will, and the importance of letting things play out.

    Maybe going through the process of preparing to interview, getting your suit ready, brushing up on the language etc. will be helpful for you in some way, even if you don’t get the job or don’t actually interview. Maybe you find your suit doesn’t fit, so now you have time to get a new one and you land your next job wearing it. Maybe brushing up on the language allows you to volunteer as a tutor in your community. Maybe thinking about new opportunities inspires you to reevaluate your priorities or career trajectory or travel…so I wonder if shutting down things with “this your destiny and you can’t change it” actually caused your destiny, so to speak. How did working with a psychic and knowing the immutable future affect the way you think about your career path?

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Well, according to her, you can be fated to a fork in the road and have a choice. It’s interesting because I could absolutely pepper her with questions and driver her crazy, but if there’s something I want, I still put all of my energy into it, in case it’s a ‘maybe’, but I’m also better at letting it play out after I’ve done everything I can, instead of worrying and obsessing on the things I can’t control. It gives me a sense of comfort and peace to know that if something IS meant for me, it won’t pass me by.

  52. Anonymous for this*

    I am a medium and a lot of the vitriol in these comments is exactly the reason I don’t tell people. I don’t see clients, but I do encounter ghosts and other beings on a regular basis. I found out I was a medium in 2011 and it was a shock because I’m a very analytical person.

    It is my dream job to work with police to find missing children/people. Bravo to Jane!

    Thank you for that interview because it was fascinating! It’s always great to hear about people helping other people and using their gifts. Our world makes me sad because there is so much negativity and close mindedness. Psychics are not dangerous. People PRETENDING to be a psychic is criminal.

    Alison, please keep up the good work with the great interviews of people with interesting jobs. I love these. I am always interested/fascinated by how people get these jobs, and what they’re really like.

  53. tangerineRose*

    I’ve had a theory that sometimes the deja vu “I remember this, although it’s never happened before” moments might be due to a psychic ability, where maybe one’s brain somehow knows something and then the person usually forgets it because it seems like an odd random thought… until it happens. Does anyone else get this kind of thing?

    1. Typhon Worker Bee*

      Yes, and the theory I’ve heard is that this sensation happens when you’ve forgotten something that happened in the past. Your brain likes having a continuous thread of memories, so any gaps (which are a normal thing that happen to most people) freak it out; it tries to fill the gap by dropping “thing that’s happening now” into the “missing memory” position in the thread, while it’s happening in real time. So via some kind of copy-paste error, the thing that’s happening now simultaneously feels like memory and present time.

      I am a scientist who’s absolutely fascinated by deja vu. I’m not a neuroscientist so I don’t know if this is the actual current best hypothesis for the phenomenon, but it’s one of those things that just made so much sense when I first heard it.

  54. Super Anon*

    This was absolutely fascinating! Thank you Alison and Hills to Die On for doing it! I’m so glad that you addressed the possible weirdness of having your boss or “coworkers” (kids) know that you’re maybe annoyed or having a bad day despite your best efforts to put on a happy face. I don’t know that I would ever want my boss/coworkers to have that kind of insight into my brain!

    This is a totally random question and I’m super anonymous for this, but sometimes I’ll get a feeling that’s almost like déjà vu but instead I know I’ve dreamt of it in the past. For example, I had a dream that I was in my bathroom brushing my teeth and then I looked at the ground and saw a white cat with a gray tail and crossed eyes, which I remember thinking was weird as hell because we had a dog at the time and my wife hates cat, and I remembered the sound of music coming from upstairs, and on and on with a million details and sensory feelings of being right there in that moment. Then a year later, our dog had died and my wife decided to get a cat. I wanted a black one but she found an adorable white kitten with a gray tail and crossed eyes and then my dream recreated itself. I actually was in my bathroom brushing my teeth, and then I looked to the ground and saw the cat, and heard the music from upstairs, and on and on with every detail exactly right and the feeling of déjà vu except that I knew that it was a dream that I had. That’s just one of many, many examples, but is that kind of the same thing as the psychic, seeing the future type vibe?

  55. Stephanie*

    I can’t say that I’d ever think of the particular job of Nanny to a Physic’s kids, with those children also being physic,but what a great read! I wasn’t expecting it, but it was awesome

  56. Cornflower Blue*

    This was a really interesting interview, thank you for sharing your story.

    I have a question about the father – you said the kids were psychic too, so did they inherit that all from her or did their father(s) also have psychic abilities?

  57. Tea*

    Thank you so much for the interview, HTDO. I’d also consider myself a pretty pragmatic skeptic, but have always had a….. I don’t know how to phrase it, just abnormally good luck based on hunches? No idea if it works for gambling, I’ve never tried making a killing in Vegas, but if I get a feeling about entering a drawing or a raffle, and sometimes if I get to pick numbers, a solid 70% of the time I come away with the grand price or something close to it. I have no idea if that’s… a thing, but it happens often enough that I listen my gut when it comes up. The most I’ve used it for is for winning a whole bunch of cakes at a cakewalk when I was 8. :)

    I do have a question, if you’re still available! If she had a really good track record as a psychic with regards to missing persons cases or kidnappings etc., wouldn’t it make sense that she’d get called in all the time to pitch in, even if she wasn’t credited for it afterward? In what kind of situation(s) would the police or FBI or other law enforcement agencies reach out to her? Did it happen often, or just occasionally?

    1. Hills to Die On*

      I am not sure of the frequency exactly; it seemed to just depend on what needs in which organizations. She didn’t get official credit but that didn’t seem to matter too much. :)

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