You too can be a psychic

This idea was formulated for university students, but will work with most people between 18 and 30, and with a couple of minor modifications, for older people as well.

 Find somebody who fits the bill, but is not a close friend or family member; a work colleague, perhaps, or somebody you see and speak to regularly but don’t know well.  Offer to read their aura, their palm, their tea leaves or their stars, study their handwriting or anything similar which appeals.

You then need to leave it a day or so (remember you’re supposed to be working on studying their personality).  During that time, cut and paste the statement below, print it off and stick it in an envelope.  Tell them to take it away, read it privately and not show the results to anybody.  I can guarantee they will think you’re a genius.

You are a person prone to bouts of self-examination. This is in sharp contrast to a striking ability you have developed to appear very socially engaged, even the life and soul of the party, but in a way that only convinces others. You are all too aware of it being a façade.

This means that you will often be at a gathering and find yourself playing a part. While on the one hand you’ll be talkative and funny, you’ll be detaching yourself to the point where you will find yourself watching everything going on around you and feeling utterly unable to engage. You’ll play conversations back to yourself in your head and wonder what that person really meant when he said such-and-such — conversations that other people wouldn’t give a second thought to.

How have you learned to deal with this conflict? Through exercising control. You like to show a calm, self-assured fluid kind of stability (but because this is self-consciously created, it will create bouts of frustrated silliness and a delight in extremes, or at least a delight in being seen to be extreme). You most easily recognise this control in how you are with people around you. You have learned to protect yourself by keeping people at bay. Because in the past you have learned to be disappointed by people, you instinctively keep people at arms’ length, until you decide they are allowed over that magic line into your group of close friends. However, once across that line, the problem is that an emotional dependency kicks in which leaves you feeling very hurt or rejected if it appears that they have betrayed that status.

Because you are prone to self-examination, you will be aware of these traits. However, you are unusually able to examine even that self-examination, which means that you have become concerned about what the real you is. You have become all too aware of façades, of sides of yourself which you present to the world, and you wonder if you have lost touch with the real and spontaneous you.

 You are very creative, and have tried different avenues to utilize that ability. It may not be that you specifically, say, paint; it may be that your creativity shows itself in more subtle ways, but you will certainly find yourself having vivid and well-formed ideas which others will find hard to grasp. You set high standards for yourself, though, and in many ways are a bit of a perfectionist. The problem is, though, that it means you often don’t get stuff done, because you are frustrated by the idea of mediocrity and are wearied by the idea of starting something afresh. However, once your brain is engaged you’ll find yourself sailing. Very much this will likely lead to you having considered writing a novel or some such, but a fear that you won’t be able to achieve quite what you want stops you from getting on with it. But you have a real vision for things, which others fall short of. You are currently fighting against restraints upon your desire to express yourself freely.

Your relationship with your parents (there is a suggestion that one is no longer around, or at least emotionally absent) is under some strain. You wish to remain fond of them but recent issues are causing frustration – from your side far more than theirs. In fact they seem unaware of your thoughts on the matter. Partly this is because there are ways in which you have been made to feel isolated from certain groups in the past – something of an outsider. Now what is happening is that you are taking that outsider role and defending it to the point of consciously avoiding being part of a group. This will serve you well in your creative and career pursuits. You have an enormous cynicism towards those who prefer to be part of a group or who exhibit any cliquey behaviour, and you always feel a pang of disappointment when you see your ‘close’ friends seeming to follow that route. Deep down it feels like rejection.

However, for all that introspection, you have developed a sensational, dry sense of humour that makes connections quickly and wittily and will leave you making jokes that go right over the heads of others. You delight in it so much that you’ll often rehearse jokes or amusing voices to yourself in order to ’spontaneously’ impress others with them. But this is a healthy desire to impress, and although you hate catching yourself at it, it’s nothing to be so worried about.

There’s also an odd feeling that you should have been born in a different century. You might be able to make more sense of that than I can.

There are some strong monetary shifts taking place at the moment. Both the recent past and what’s in store over the next few months represent quite a change.

You have links at the moment with another country (America?), which are quite interesting, and will look to yield worthwhile results. You’re naturally a little disorganized. A look around your living space would show out-of-date medicines, broken items not thrown out, and notes to yourself which are significantly out of date.  You probably also have many photos at home or on your phone or computer, unorganised into albums.  Something related to this is that you lack motivation. Because you’re resourceful and talented enough to be pretty successful when you put your mind to things, this encourages you to procrastinate and put them off. Equally, you’ve given up dreams a little easily when your mind flitted elsewhere. There are in your home signs of an excursion into playing a musical instrument, which you have since abandoned, or are finding yourself less interested in. (This may alternatively relate to poetry and creative writing you’ve briefly tried your hand at and left behind you.) You have a real capacity for deciding that such-and-such a thing (or so-and-so a person) will be the be all and end all of everything and be with you for ever. But you’d rather try and fail, and swing from one extreme to the other, than settle for the little that you see others content with.

Conclusion: It’s very interesting doing your reading, as you do present something of a conundrum, which won’t surprise you. You are certainly bright, but unusually open to life’s possibilities – something not normally found among achieving people. I’d say you’d do well to be less self-absorbed, as it tends to distance you a little, and to relinquish some of the control you exercise when you present that stylized version of yourself to others. You could let people in a little more, but I am aware that there is a darkness you feel you should hide (much of this is in the personal/relationship/sexual area, and is related to a neediness which you don’t like).

You really have an appealing personality – genuinely. Many thanks for doing this, and for offering something far more substantial than most.

Explanation

We start with the great Phineas T. Barnum, the great 19th century circus entrepreneur who boasted that his shows held “something for everyone”.  Statements like the one above are therefore known as Barnum statements, as they apply to most people.

In 1948, an American psychologist called Bertram Forer administered a personality test to his students.  He gave them all exactly the same analysis, which he had copied from a newspaper astrology column. The students were then asked to evaluate the description on a scale of 0 to 5, with five being the most accurate.  The vast majority thought that the description was extremely accurate, and the experiment has been repeated hundreds of times since, with the same results.

Forer showed that people tend to accept generalised descriptions of their personalities without realising that the same evaluation could apply to nearly anyone else, because people want the results to be true. 

 The statement above was written by Derren Brown, who used it in at least three countries to great effect.  You can read more about it in his excellent book Tricks of the Mind, which is well worth reading.