Friday, May 10, 2013

A Psychic Got it Wrong. Who Knew?

As if it wasn't enough this week that three young women held captive and terrorized by a madman were found alive after 10 long years, we now learn that in 2004, celebrated psychic Sylvia Browne made an appearance on celebrated sinceremeister Montel Williams' television show and told the mother of one of the captives that her daughter was dead.

None of us can be sure that that pronouncement hastened Louwanna Miller's death a mere two years later, but there is no doubt that the poor woman's last years were marred by a belief that her daughter, her beloved daughter Amanda Berry, had been pronounced dead.

There was no body, no evidence that it was so, but she sought out Sylvia Browne, hoping to come to terms with her daughter's fate, no matter what it was, and when Sylvia said, "She's not alive, honey," all doubt was gone. Her daughter was dead.

Except she wasn't.

Sylvia Browne, a woman who is paid in the six figures to perform her magic, has been wrong before.  It comes with the territory.  Psychics are not God, as Sylvia says.  Mistakes are made.  So sorry.

But oh no you don't.  You don't get off that easy.  If you're going to carry the mantel of a psychic--a person making a grand living off of your claim of a mystical gift of second sight--you cannot be wrong.  Ever.

And yet you, Sylvia Browne, are most often wrong.

If you are Montel Williams, making a grand living off of your claim to be a sincere attendant to the miseries of poor unfortunates, you cannot partner with charlatans.  Ever.

And yet you, Montel Williams, did just that.

Sylvia Browne and Montel Williams

I don't know why Louwanna Miller agreed to go on the Montel Williams show; why she became so convinced that Sylvia Browne had some inside information about her daughter's fate.  I've never had to go through the horror of losing my daughter.  I can't begin to understand the kind of desperation that led Ms. Miller down that path, but even more than that, I can't begin to understand how anybody can make the decision to deliberately feed off of undiluted, agonizing misery in order to make a name or a fortune.

There are no excuses for what Sylvia Browne and Montel Williams have done, not just to Louwanna Miller, but to so many others over the years.  I have no delusions that either of them will suddenly see the light and resort to sackcloth and ashes as penance for their wrongs.  But how to keep people in such pain from being victimized ever again by Sylvia, Montel and their like?

I don't know the answer.  But I do know where not to look for it.

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