Psychic or Psychotic?
As a schizophrenic and a business woman, I had the opportunity to sit down today with David Eraker, the CEO of Mindsite, at Liberty Café in Renton. I waited on a couch and sipped my tea while I chatted with the shop owner and a fellow patron until David arrived and I could invite him to take a seat next to me. He had the sort of deliberate ease of a man who either had experience respecting the mentally ill, or was hard at work socially engineering his own madness! I enjoyed the life-hacking manner of his line of questioning, starting with the usual ones, and eventually reversing to analyze some concepts that may keep me thinking and writing for some time. I know he left with some things to think about as well.
He asked me about reality, the consensus version of which I am a vocally dubious participant. He asked me whether my schizophrenia helps me with my job. The obvious implied follow-up question to this one is, of course, how to reconcile what is “real” and what is “not real.” I feel that all spiritual people deal with such questions their entire lives, and that reality is a moot point to me. To explore this further I explained that my mother is a professional fortune teller with absolutely no symptoms of psychosis and that I was a professional fortune teller myself since 1999, three years prior to my own diagnosis in 2002. I’m certainly a better fortune teller today than I was seven years ago, and I hope I’ll be better still seven years hence, though it is impossible to tell whether that’s due to the nature or duration of my experience.
“So, you view the two as separate?” David asked this with surprise, and I can see why. Clairvoyance and hallucinations might go hand in hand, but a man in a wheelchair could win a downhill race, too. Schizophrenia is a disability, and I have to accommodate it in any job, making my life as a fortune teller more challenging, not easier. He asked me why I chose this way of viewing it instead of working on a more active blend. Though I certainly interject a healthy dose of Mad Pride into all areas of my life, and my current way of doing things is only a working hypothesis, I believe that my way of creative tension between the two concepts and critical thinking is best for all concerned. If I choose to theoretically separate my disability from my abilities, I may still reap the benefits of any added talent that there may or may not be, as well as avoiding pitfalls of overconfidence and self-delusion. Embracing doubt may or may not help, but it can‘t harm, as opposed to the opposite worldview.
He asked me why people view fortune tellers as potential scam artists, sort of the reverse of the usual question of "why should I view you as not a scam?" The mirror phrasing caught me off guard. True, in a different time I may have been hailed as a shaman by my entire community without exception. I think the current wariness is largely cultural as well, but the pendulum is swinging and times are changing. I'm having a much better time being respected for my practices than people like my mother did when she was my age, and in times to come, I am part of the movement to continue that process. I've opened and changed a lot of minds on my own. I work hard to reduce the stigma associated with both psychics and psychotics, which is effective enough when clients view the positive results within their own reality framework.