Why do some people not believe in clairvoyants

Luck in love, winning the lottery, curing serious illnesses - with such promises a self-appointed magician from Karlsruhe stole 630,000 euros from her customers. In an interview, psychologist and psycho cult expert Colin Goldner explains why so many people believe in fortune tellers and how dangerous it can be.

Mr. Goldner, why do so many people fall for alleged fortune tellers and faith healers?

Colin Goldner: Personal crises often go hand in hand with the search for higher authorities and powers who could point the right way or even intervene in a salutary way in the shattered life: the good Lord, the Guardian Angel, optionally also the deceased grandmother.

And how does the fortune teller come into play?

Goldner: Fortune tellers, faith healers and the like pretend to be able to establish contact with these higher powers and convey their advice or healing energy to the person seeking help. Rationally completely impenetrable relationships of dependency develop, which are mercilessly exploited by the cynical businessmen of the scene.

Are all fortune tellers "cynical businessmen" - or do some really believe in their superhuman powers?

Goldner: There are two categories of providers in the esoteric and psycho cult scene: Some are actually convinced that they have supernatural abilities. The others know perfectly well that they cannot do any of these things, but they pretend to be because good business can be made with the worries and needs of others. Some are cases for psychiatry, others for the public prosecutor's office.

Not everyone goes to the fortune teller right away, but many people read her horoscope regularly. Up to what point is superstition harmless, and when does it become dangerous?

Goldner: The horoscopic nonsense on a sugar cube is of course not dangerous in itself. Astrology, clairvoyance or fortune telling can, however, be dangerous.

In what way?

Goldner: The advice given - often for far-reaching decisions - is generally viewed by paying customers as a higher revelation and thus as a sacrosanct standard of behavior. Seekers of advice can be plunged into the most severe crises, especially since they are already in the borderline area of ​​mental and psychological health in their devout turn to star interpreters and clairvoyants.

So false fortune tellers don't just damage their customers financially?

Goldner: It becomes completely criminal when clairvoyants predict illness or other calamities, which in the sense of self-fulfilling prophecy can lead to disastrous consequences: Fear of dramatic events can actually cause them.

Is belief in fortune tellers and faith healers a substitute for religious belief?

Goldner: Faith and superstition are two sides of the same coin. There is not the slightest difference between the offerings of the esoteric and psycho scene here and those of the established religions there.

Some churchgoers would violently disagree with you ...

Goldner: Esotericism and religious belief are all about completely identical practices: invocation of higher powers, prayers, the laying on of hands, blessings, consecrations and other ritual fuss. As is characteristic of times of crisis, a return to ultra-conservative and thus church-compatible values ​​can currently be observed. Hand in hand with this, fortune tellers and faith healers are also enjoying a boom.

By Judith Féaux de Lacroix