Become a Fan
My paranormal romance novel, Angels Among Us, features a psychic sleuth named Kay Lassiter. I researched the paranormal, in particular the use of psychic sleuths, to develop the character for the book.
Psychic Sleuths and the Media
Having once worked in the advertising industry, I’m acutely aware of the fads in television programming. Certain professions or lines of work such as police, doctors, lawyers, and forensics gained the media’s attention at various time. With programs such as The Medium, Ghost Whisperer, or Psychic Challenge, it seems that the networks have caught a new trend. However, upon closer inspection perhaps it’s not a trend, but a viable solution to the unsolved crimes and reports on missing persons which have gripped the nation’s attention over the years.
It’s an area of particular interest to me as I have always had an interest in things paranormal or supernatural. The heroine of my paranormal romance, Angels Among Us, had been a former psychic sleuth. Therefore, I did some sleuthing of my own in researching for her character including reference books and interviews with psychics who have helped to solve cases.
I learned that unlike some of Hollywood’s versions, both psychics and psychic sleuths are ordinary people. They have, however, an extraordinarily developed ability. One of the things I like about NBC’s show The Medium, starring Patricia Arquette, is the fact that she comes across as an average working mother except for her paranormal ability to aid law enforcement in solving criminal investigations. Her "gift" or ability is both a curse and a blessing as she is often torn between her work and her family. The character is based on real-life psychic Allison DuBois. While the show’s producers take dramatic license in how they render her character such as having certain boundaries crossed or protocol breached, it does manage to portray the various aspects of the work of the psychic sleuth.
The Ghost Whisperer on CBS features Jennifer Love Hewitt as a psychic who helps the living as well as the restless souls who seek her assistance. In its premier, for example, the show’s psychic helps the ghost of a soldier missing in action in Vietnam bring closure to his death, help comfort the son born after he died, and cross over into the light to join the wife who is waiting for him on the Other Side. By depicting a woman torn between using her gifts to help others and living a normal life, The Ghost Whisperer parallels The Medium.
In the non-fiction book The Blue Sense: Psychic Detectives and Crime Arthur Lyons and Marcello Truzzi provide an in-depth look at the way psychic sleuths work. They mentioned several techniques and methods. While some psychic sleuths walk over the crime scene, others work at a distance through the telephone. Many handle an object that has been in close proximity to the victim or the suspect. Psychic sleuths may use a photograph or topographical maps. The late Dorothy Allison, a well-known and respected Nutley, New Jersey psychic sleuth, used astrology with her psychic efforts.
Visions of the crime either through the victim’s or the perpetrator’s point of view come to psychic sleuths on what appears like flickering television screens. They actually "see" the crime being re-enacted thus providing solutions to their mystery.
Where do these sleuths get their psychic abilities? Several explanations have been given including genetic disposition or being born with it, physical trauma or near-death experience, and being trained. The latter subscribes to the belief that everyone has psychic ability, and it’s a matter of learning to educate your intuitive feelings.
I spoke to detectives and law enforcement officials to find out how psychic sleuths are regarded. The comments varied. An assistant prosecutor told me of his use of the late psychic Dorothy Allison for investigative work. Nutley's own psychic sleuth Dorothy Allison had been held in high regard with the bureau. In several surveys, quite a few police officials polled said that they would not rule out the possibility of calling in a psychic in a dead-end case. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice, less than half of the violent crimes committed in the United States are likely to be solved by arrest. Even if it is sometimes met with skepticism or disregard, the use of psychic sleuths has become one of the tools being employed in police investigations, and its use seems to have grown over the years. There is also a psychological dimension to use of psychic sleuths. For dead-end cases, calling in a psychic at the request of the victim or victim’s family might help to assuage public anxiety and shows that investigators leave "no stone unturned" in their investigations.
It remains to be seen just how influential programs like The Medium, Ghost Whisperer, or other media programs cropping up about psychics and psychic sleuths become. Will this just be another trend or will this establish in some way the credibility of the viewing public on matters of a paranormal or supernatural nature? Regardless, the use of psychic sleuths will probably continue as long as there’s an interest and a need for their assistance in solving unsolved crimes.