Sylvia-Browne.jpg

A Special Place in Hell

From ABC News:

A year after Amanda Berry disappeared in Cleveland, her mother appeared on “The Montel Williams Show” to speak to a psychic about what happened to her daughter.

Psychic Sylvia Browne, who has made a career of televised psychic readings, told Louwanna Miller on a 2004 episode of the show that her daughter was dead, causing Miller to break down in tears on the show’s set.

“She’s not alive, honey,” Browne told Miller on the show, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. “Your daughter’s not the kind who wouldn’t call.”

Miller told the newspaper that she believed “98 percent” in what Browne told her. Miller died a year later from heart failure.

On Monday, Berry was found alive after she broke free from a home in Cleveland where she says she has been kept for the past decade.

Now, as sympathetic a figure as Miller is, anyone who goes on “The Montel Williams Show” looking to be met by the Phythia can’t have their judgment left unquestioned. Still, who do you have more sympathy for? A distraught mother whose final years were dominated by uncertainty about the fate of her daughter or a glorified carnival worker who’s gotten rich as a world famous haruspex?

So, yes, it’s a two-way street and people who put their faith in psychics are culpable too. But imagine being Sylvia Browne and knowing that you had conned a grief-stricken mother into believing that her daughter was dead — and that she never had the chance to know that you were wrong.

There’s no amount of shame sufficient.

  1. Caryn

    Amen.

  2. Ajax von Kaiserpenguin
    Troy Senik, Ed.: There’s no amount of shame sufficient.

    You’re assuming this woman is capable of feeling shame.

  3. AZ Dude

    I dunno, I kind of think psychics are in the closure business, and that’s not such a bad thing. Most of the time they just tell the bereaved that their loved one is smiling in heaven. So “con” might be harsh… But Sylvia Browne did step over a line when she determined that closure was better than hope when Amanda’s case was still open.

    Dude, I was in New York this summer hanging out with a couple of mid-twenties college-educated professionals, listening to them talk about their encounters with ghosts. GHOSTS. No amount of urbanity can cure people of their goofy superstitions lol.

  4. D.C. McAllister
    C

    I have a friend whose husband died of lymphoma. He was a first responder at 911, an FBI guy. He left a wife and three children, all in high school. I guess I would characterize them as once-in-awhile Catholics. After he died, the mother and her daughters were distraught, unlike anything I’d ever seen. They completely relied on their strong, hero dad/husband. Now he was gone. They felt hopeless and their faith in traditional religion was weak. They went to see a psychic, for comfort, for reassurance, I don’t know what exactly. The psychic said she felt the dad’s presence and that he was looking over them all, that he was taking care of them, even now. I cringed when my friend told me about the session. She said she was going to ask me to come but she thought my “analytical ways” (her words) would get in the way. She told me about it afterward though. I didn’t know what to say. I was angry at the psychic. What if something bad happens? What will that do to these children, this wife? Your promises are meaningless, I thought. contd.

  5. D.C. McAllister
    C

    But I knew, my friend would have to discover this truth for herself. I simply held her hand and told her I understand that she’s afraid, but that only God gives us hope beyond worldly hope. Trust in him to give you strength, not to promise that bad things will never happen. They will. Inevitably. Only God gives meaning to those times, hope in the darkness, strength when we are helpless, and love when our hearts are breaking. She just smiled. I don’t know if what I said helped. I do know she went to the psychic again, but she didn’t tell me about it. All that is to say, I think when people feel helpless, like someone drowning, they reach for anything to keep their heads above water. The shame is on those who throw them a rock instead of a life preserver.

  6. FloppyDisk90
    AZ Dude: I dunno, I kind of think psychics are in the closure business, and that’s not such a bad thing. Most of the time they just tell the bereaved that their loved one is smiling in heaven. So “con” might be harsh… But Sylvia Browne did step over a line when she determined that closure was better than hope when Amanda’s case was still open.

    ….

    So “con”, SoCon, coincidence???  I think not….

    JUST KIDDING!!

  7. RushBabe49

    Just in case you were not aware, shame no longer exists in our culture.  The “stigma” of every shameful action has been done away with, so people may indulge their every whim, and not feel bad about themselves or their actions.

    No God, no religion, no shame.

  8. BrentB67

    Maybe I am just tired and confused after a long day, but Huh?

    A psychic claiming to talk to people in the after life or know what happened to the little girl is by definition a fraud. Montel Williams Show on its best day was the video rendition of the National Enquirer.

    I feel terrible for the lady who lost her daughter to the kidnappers, but if someone is putting their faith in a psychic and Montel Williams all the additional grief that comes to them is earned.

  9. Butters

    calls to mind Dr. Peter Vinkman’s “World of the Psychic”

  10. 3rd angle projection

    I wonder how she predicts she should move forward now that this unknown is known. Hopefully, she sees her future in a different line of work. And she should feel more than just shame. That’s getting off easy.

  11. Bob W

    This is not the first time Browne has done this.

  12. Pilli

    There’s no amount of shame sufficient.

    By the very nature of being a “psychic” there can be no shame.  See BrentB67 above.

  13. Jimmy Carter

    ….a glorified carnival worker who’s gotten rich as a world famous haruspex

    The Law of supply and demand.

  14. Johnny Dubya

    Shame on Browne, yes, but shame on Montel Williams, too, and all those who make money from others’ misery.

  15. Beowulf

    What they said:

    BrentB67: … but if someone is putting their faith in a psychic and Montel Williams all the additional grief that comes to them is earned. · 1 hour ago

     

    Johnny Dubya: Shame on Browne, yes, but shame on Montel Williams, too, and all those who make money from others’ misery. · 12 minutes ago

    This seems to be the business model for a significant percentage of television programs– it is leading to, and is causal factor in, the death of western civilization.  And I don’t think I’m exaggerating much.

  16. BrentB67
    Beowulf’s accountant: What they said:

    BrentB67: … but if someone is putting their faith in a psychic and Montel Williams all the additional grief that comes to them is earned. · 1 hour ago

     

    Johnny Dubya: Shame on Browne, yes, but shame on Montel Williams, too, and all those who make money from others’ misery. · 12 minutes ago

    This seems to be the business model for a significant percentage of television programs– it is leading to, and is causal factor in, the death of western civilization.  And I don’t think I’m exaggerating much. · 1 minute ago

    My comment was less an indictment of the TV show than it is of grieving people seeking relief on them.

    It is a chicken/egg conundrum. Who is worse the show’s producers or the people seeking 15 minutes of fame and faux comfort in the spotlight.

  17. Beowulf
    BrentB67

    Beowulf’s accountant: What they said:

    BrentB67: … but if someone is putting their faith in a psychic and Montel Williams all the additional grief that comes to them is earned. · 1 hour ago

    Johnny Dubya: Shame on Browne, yes, but shame on Montel Williams, too, and all those who make money from others’ misery. · 12 minutes ago

    This seems to be the business model for a significant percentage of television programs– it is leading to, and is causal factor in, the death of western civilization.  And I don’t think I’m exaggerating much. · 1 minute ago

    My comment was less an indictment of the TV show than it is of grieving people seeking relief on them.

    It is a chicken/egg conundrum. Who is worse the show’s producers or the people seeking 15 minutes of fame and faux comfort in the spotlight. · 1 minute ago

    I agree.  It seems to me that the notion that there is such a thing as private grief, that some things should be off limits, that some things are none of my business, has gone by the by.  And it is, as you say, not always clear who is exploiting whom.   

  18. Concretevol

    Penn Jillete of Penn and Teller fame is incredible at debunking this kind of crap.  Their stage show is an awesome combination libertarianism, personal freedom and debunking these idiots. 

    Huge CoC warning!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEkkoB6s-6U

  19. Gary The Ex-Donk

    Troy, you’re of course referring to the special place in hell reserved for child molestors and people who speak at the theater.

  20. Fred Cole
    Troy Senik, Ed.

    But imagine being Sylvia Browne and knowing that you had conned a grief-stricken mother into believing that her daughter was dead — and that she never had the chance to know that you were wrong.

    There’s no amount of shame sufficient. · · 16 hours ago

    That’s the thing about people like Sylvia Browne: They have no shame.

    She is a fraud and a con-artist.  That’s not a line of work you can maintain successfully if you have that part of the brain where you have morality, decency or shame.