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Do Mediums Actually Talk to the Dead?

Updated on March 1, 2018
A thin veil separates the world of the living from the world of the dead.
A thin veil separates the world of the living from the world of the dead. | Source

TV Mediums

Since the 1800s when spiritualism became a favorite pastime of the progressive-minded Victorians, contacting the spirits of the dead had never decreased in popularity. In fact, with the onset of reality television it's experiencing a glorious revival.

John Edwards, James Van Praagh, Chris Stillar, Theresa Caputo, "Monica the Medium," and now Tyler Henry are mediums who've captivated the minds of the masses, sparking the controversy over the legitimacy and the ethics of "talking to the dead" business.

I am not a skeptic by any definition - I believe in the afterlife, reincarnation, healing crystals, the third eye, hugging trees - you name it, but when it comes to mediums, my inner Bill Maher rears his ugly head (no offense, Bill).

The skeptics say mediums perform "cold readings" - a term used to describe fake psychic readings based on visual observations and clues rather than a true psychic insight.This conversation actually took place on an episode of "The Long Island Medium":

"Did you lose a brother or a brother-in-law?"
"Ehhh...I lost a friend. In college."
"But he was like a brother to you, right?"

Most people come to expect an element of deception from reality TV shows, but how much deception is too much? And is there an alternative explanation for the mediumship phenomenon?

MEDIUM: an individual held to be a channel of communication between the earthly world and a world of spirits (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

The Nature of the Messages

After watching a number of TV mediums at work, I made two observations that led me to conclude that one possible explanation for the mediumship phenomenon lies in Extra Sensory Perception (ESP), or reading someone's mind.

My first observation is: The messages are usually of a comforting nature, almost as if the medium vocalizes the person's deepest wishes and hopes concerning the deceased. For example,

The Medium: "You mother says that she accepts you as you are, and she is proud of you. She takes the responsibility for the relationship that you had while she was alive. She says: I'm sorry."


The Medium: "Your son tells me that you blame yourself for his death. He says there's nothing you could have done. You have to move on."

The Client: "I did blame myself. But now I can let it go."

That's all good and dandy but it sounds a lot like telling people exactly what they want (or desperately need) to hear.

Isn't it possible that a medium simply "reads" a person's energy field to get an idea on what their hopes and wishes for the session are, supplemented by the possible details from their memories? That brings me to the second reason it looks like ESP.

EXTRA SENSORY PERCEPTION (ESP): ability to know things (such as what another person is thinking or what will happen in the future) that cannot be known by normal use of the senses (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

No New Information:

My second observation is: The messages rarely (if ever) contain any FACTUAL information that is completely NEW to the person.

Imagine a medium saying: "You know that lemon tree in the backyard, the one your grandma planted? She says if you dig underneath it, you'll find a shoe box with $50,000."

That never happens, does it? Whatever factual information a medium is able to extract always correlates to a person's memories of a loved one, like: "Do you still wear your mother's pendant? She's asking me about the pendant."

That's what makes the reading seem "real": the details that the medium conveys are so personal, only the departed loved ones could have known that.

But another person who could have known that (and does know that) is the person sitting in front of the medium with all their memories, emotions and hopes that a psychically sensitive person can read.

It's All Energy

Everything is energy, and energy is readable. When someone comes to a psychic/medium, they come with their energy field open.

It's quite different when a non-believer gets a reading. You don't have to be a believer to have a reading, but it certainly helps to have an open mind. In Chris Stillar's words,

"When the person is open, whether that's through acknowledging a "yes" to something, or being open and participating in that way, not even verbally, it makes an incredible difference in the reading because it's all energy."


Don't Shoot the Messenger

There are those who say that mediums prey on people who are vulnerable, exploit their grief for profit. I disagree. It's a personal choice whether or not to believe in mediums, to ask for a reading, and to pay for it. I don't think anyone is being exploited here.

Whether mediums talk to the dead or the living, the most essential part is the message itself.

Is it of loving nature? Does it help people to move on? Does it heal the old wounds? Does it re-affirm the notion that the love between people never dies? If the answer to these questions is "yes," it doesn't matter where the message comes from.

"Medium," "psychic," "clairvoyant" are just labels people made up to explain something that defies explanation.

And anything "undefinable" should be seen within the perspective of a "bigger picture": understanding that spiritual messages that pertain to your life situation may come in unexpected ways, and it's up to you to either listen to them, or brush them off as nonsense.

Edgar Cayce, an iconic American prophet/medium, always recommended that seekers only take the advice that improves their lives.

Perhaps, that is the biggest lesson when it comes to mediums: take what serves your highest purpose, discard the rest. A medium may not always be "real," but the message they bring can still effect your life in some meaningful way.

However the Universe chooses to communicate with you - be it through a "medium," a book, a song on the radio, a flash of inspiration or a dream - in the end, it's about the message itself, not the messenger.

Do you know things before they happen?

Can you sense who is on the phone, what someone will say, or do your dreams sometimes come true? You may be a psychic. Take this test to find out how much ESP you possess.

© 2014 Lana Adler


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    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana Adler 3 weeks ago from California

      Hi Anne,

      thank you )) Oh yes, I've read your article a while ago I believe, left a comment. Amazing story and such a strong connection with your husband! Very touching.

    • profile image

      Bac2basics 3 weeks ago

      My feeling is there are genuine mediums and those who are not. I had the most amazing reading on the first anniversary of my husband's death, it's actually listed just below your hub. I have watched quite a few TV mediums and many just take a stab in the dark and eventually find something that kind of fits, but not quite.

      If people take comfort from that find.

      My reading was so spot on it left me in no doubt my husband was actually present.

      I enjoyed your hub. And good that a believer can see both sides of the coin.

      By the way my hub is by Anne not my HP pseudonym of bac2basics.

    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana Adler 4 weeks ago from California

      Hmm...interesting. I understand your disappointment but i don't think your faith in what lies "beyond the veil" should depend on one experience with a psychic. Maybe he's fake, maybe he's not - in the end, it's irrelevant. *You* know there's something beyond this dimension, right?

      Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      Angelina Christ 4 weeks ago

      I personally had a reading by Chris Stiller. I was totally disappointed.

      I waited for over a year to actually have the reading done. But I felt like he was totally fishing. He just changed his "direction" when he noticed I didn't give him any lead. I wanted so much to believe he was a real psyche, and that there is something beyond this dimension. His videos on youtube seem real. But my personal experience with him convinced me that he could not be trusted.

      Now I lost faith in psyche. Their shows are edited....

      I am open to change my mind in future if life puts me on the path to meet with another psyche and s/he could convince me....

    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 14 months ago from Spain

      Hi kalinin.

      I would like that too :-)

    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana Adler 14 months ago from California


      Thank you so much for your comment. I do agree with you, that there are legitimate mediums out there, and they do great service to humanity by communicating messages from the soul plane to us. I'm glad you've found that confirmation for yourself. It must be very faith-reaffirming. I'd like to read your hub now :)

    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 14 months ago from Spain

      Hello Kalinin.

      I had a reading from a psychic medium on the first anniversary of my dear husbands death and there is no doubt in my mind what so ever that he was coming to me, through her, in spirit. She wasn´t grasping at straws or taking wild stabs in the dark about his character or what he died from and her reading was so accurate you would have thought she had been married to him too. No questions were asked of me to gain an insight into him, or me or our relationship, she just knew things that no one could have known outside of the family.

      I have written a hub about this event and if you read it you will see there was only one thing she and another medium told me that didn´t fit at the time, but became crystal clear around 5 years later.

      I did enjoy reading this hub very much and I agree there are charlatans and tricksters out there to beware of, and some people do have the ability to "read " a person. But I also think there are those who can communicate with the dead, and will be forever grateful that I found at least one.

    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana Adler 2 years ago from California

      I've been able to do that too (read people) but more so in the past. I can still read emotions but nothing particularly personal or revealing.

      It's really quite easy for people like us to know what people are feeling or even thinking, what their motives and fears are, but to be honest, I often discard it by saying to myself: Oh I'm just paranoid, it's all in my head etc.

    • Molly Layton profile image

      Molly Layton 2 years ago from Alberta

      This is very interesting. The concept of reading other people's energy is appealing. Theresa Caputo does seem to be very attentive with her work, whatever that may truly be.

      According to the ESP test you linked to, I have a high ESP level (56%). I do notice that I'm able to pick up on details and extrapolate new concepts from them. This applies to people and data. Caputo may do the same thing with her energy readings.

    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana Adler 4 years ago from California

      Theresa Caputo says that she used to see and hear, but as she got older she lost that, and now she just "knows". It's a fascinating topic for a discussion, I don't really know what's going on. But for some reason it's just an uncomfortable thought to me that the dead are sort of popping in and out of the world of the living. I'm more of a "you die, you move on" school of thought...

    • someonewhoknows profile image

      someonewhoknows 4 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      I've had contact with someone who hears the dead. Apparently it's close to that movie "GHOST"