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The Psychic Junkie Twelve Step Has Arrived

by Mark Edward, Dec 28 2012


Sarah Lassez Author of "Psychic Junkie"

Sarah Lassez Author of “Psychic Junkie”

It had to happen. It was just a matter of time.* The phenomena of addiction to psychics finally reached the point in our society where the fabled Twelve Step Program stepped in to fill the need for support groups. The brand of fellowship once previously reserved for wayward drunks and speed freaks is now preaching to a whole new choir. Thanks in part to the twisted badinage of the likes of Dr. Phil and Anderson Cooper, there are now thousands of lost souls who have found their lives taken over by an uncontrollable urge to get a psychic reading. It sounds like a SNL skit, but the sad truth is a new wave of Psychic Junkie support groups are springing up, and it’s no laughing matter.

Adopting the tenants of Alcoholics Anonymous by trading out the word “alcohol” for “psychic readings,” Psychic Junkie chat groups, meetings and websites are becoming all the rage. Welcome to the natural outgrowth of the paranormal glut we are living in. Too much of everything mystical is starting to take its toll. America’s insecure mind has  become as obese as its spreading torso and our craving for something sweet in the form of a fuzzy shoulder to cry on or a calm voice to get “spiritual” advice from has reached epidemic proportions. In a New York Times article about Sarah Lassaz, the author of “Psychic Junkie,” a psychologist tells us;

“If psychic addiction is a budding epidemic, Ms. Lassez is well out in front of the scientific curve in exploring it, said John W. Welte, a psychologist and senior research scientist at the Research Institute on Addictions at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Dr. Welte said he had never heard of any research on the subject or of the subject itself.

Still, he did not discount the possibility that one could develop the same patterns of emotional dependence on the supernatural as others develop with behavioral addictions like gambling: overpowering urges to chase a brief but powerful high, followed by increasing tolerance, thus the need for the subject to increase the dose continually to get the same effect.”
More here on that :

I found out about this disturbing new development through an email exchange and telephone call.  My reality is often stranger than my fiction.  And no, … I’m not lying or making this story up to anger or incur the wrath of the troll skeptics out there. These kind of conversations actually occur when your work involves contact with people who want to believe in impossible things. In this case I can’t reveal a name because of the “anonymous” nature of the Psychic Junkie group he is active in. I’ll call him Dave.

Psychic Junkie: A Memoir by Sarah Lassez

Psychic Junkie: A Memoir by Sarah Lassez

Dave told me when he found himself spending a thousand dollars a week on psychics, he began to suspect he might have a problem. When he hit eleven hundred a week, he contacted Lassez’s group and began to “detox.” He was lucky.  I have had interviews (ABC “Good Morning America” 05/08/10) and met individuals who have spent far more. One woman I worked with on two separate programs admitted she lost over $150,000, her home, her business and a long term marriage that ended in divorce.  After I interviewed her about her addiction, she asked me for a tarot reading.


Yep. That’s what it’s coming down to.

“Ms. Lassez acknowledged that most people’s embarrassment about the behavior keeps them even from disclosing it, let alone seeking help. She said she found it absurd that a belief system so at odds with critical thinking could gain so strong a pull in her life. “I really believed in it, even though most of the predictions weren’t coming true,” she said.”


A Part of The Program

A Part of The Program

I fully realize many reading this blog will respond with comments like, “Who cares, those ignorant people deserve what they get,” or “Why bother?” or  “Why waste your time?  If they are stupid enough to throw their money away, it’s their own fault,” and so on.  The problem is, the more we see this kind of gradual eroding away of common sense, (and degree of humility towards those less fortunate in terms of rational thinking) might I suggest that in doing so we may forget that impressionable people can eventually take a dramatic toll in all of our lives when they begin to affect areas such as medical and emergency services, when they lose jobs or homes, become addicted to other substances, commit suicide or decide to go on a rampage with automatic weapons. I may be stretching my point a bit – but not much.

As with alcoholism, this psychic epidemic has no social boundaries.  Psychic dependence is not a special sub-set  isolated to the uneducated or underprivileged individual. The average “seekers of psychic knowledge” are not idiots or mentally unstable feral humans standing on the outskirts of the shopping mall drooling on themselves. Far from it. They vote, have children and pay taxes just like everybody else. They are your next door neighbors. Psychic belief affects everybody in all levels of society. In the case of  the aforementioned Californian woman from “Good Morning America;” she once owned a successful art gallery in Beverly Hills, a palatial home in Brentwood and had three successful grown children.

Doubt me? Google “Psychic Junkies” or take a quick look at one of many interesting “projects’ dealing with psychic addiction:

The Psychic Junkie Twelve Step Program may be a step in the right direction for some who have no where else to turn. From my talk with Dave, I heard in his voice the seeds of a new skepticism – and that was a good thing. However slowly and painfully it happens, I’m encouraged that some people are being forced by circumstance to wake up. In the long run, this news may help inculcate new skepticism in other areas as well.  As with alcoholism, the addict has to want to change his or herself. You cannot convince a drinker to stop drinking until they are ready to accept how cunning and baffling alcohol can be. The same is true of psychic readings.  

Perhaps we are now seeing the beginnings of the psychic dependence dilemma becoming a public health issue? 

Although I’m neither surprised nor particularly happy about it’s necessity, this new burgeoning direction bears watching. Like the myriad website and paranormal groups that promote the “sciency” approach in their mission statements but have little or no scientific grounding, my fear is as with any panacea, there will no doubt be a surplus of copy-cat systems, false programmers and predatory instant gratification promises that will blossom in this fertile new environment of “psychic self-help.” My skeptical mind says watch out; supplanting one addictive behavior for another is never a cure-all answer. It would not shock me to hear witch Dr. Phil capitalizing on this trendy redress any day now. 

The core issues and root causes remain.

Expose the psychic blight we see on every street corner for the greedy unscrupulous vermin they truly are.



 * For more, read my previous blog on Psychic Junkies here in my skepticblog archive from Sept. 5, 2009.

49 Responses to “The Psychic Junkie Twelve Step Has Arrived”

  1. HardTruth88 says:

    I think there is a predisposition for compulsive behavior likely prevalent in this type of pathology although the predilection for irrational thinking and dwelling in a fantastical reality surely supersedes obsessive/addictive behavior. This is a component of addiction medicine that will likely gain acceptance much the way sexual addiction finally has.

  2. Max says:

    Yeah, everything is an addiction: smoking, drinking, gambling, eating, hoarding, sex, video games, psychic readings, psychotherapy.

  3. Phea says:

    The 21st Century seems to have given us a new crop of problems and cultural shifts that seem strange, or at least very different. I think one of the reasons for this is we no longer have a vision of the future. It’s one of the big, (but mostly ignored), prices we’ve all had to pay for all the nifty, wiz-bang technology we’ve been blessed(?) with.

    A couple hundred years ago, a man could see the future almost as clear as the past. A farmer farmed pretty much the same way his great grand father had farmed, and he KNEW his great grandson would be farming that way too. Ship builders, blacksmiths, woodworkers… all did things in an established, time proven way. Advances and new techniques were rare, slow in coming, and got to be thoroughly tested and proven before permanently implemented. Today, there is a very good chance the jobs our grand children will be doing, haven’t even been invented yet.

    With a crystal clear vision of the future, many things become easier. It’s easier to make sacrifices, for example, if one knows his children, and their children will directly benefit. Faith was easier, carrying on tradition was easier. Even though life was physically harder, meaner, brutish, and on average a lot shorter, in many ways it was much easier, mentally.

    I think it’s more difficult for people, nowadays, to find… I’m not sure what to call it. Peace of mind? A purpose? Contentment? Just making sense out of things when they change so rapidly is so much harder. It might even partially explain why people are getting addicted to all sorts of things, (especially “quick fix” things), like psychic readings, drugs, sex, food, etc.

  4. Steelsheen says:

    Isn’t AA based on giving yourself over to “god”? So aren’t you seeking help from a fake supernatural source like a psychic and only really swapping one fantasy for another?

    • Mark Edward says:

      My point exactly.

    • Michele says:

      Although AA was originally based upon God as you perceived God, one’s “Higher Power” can be one’s own conscience.

      • Felix Hummel says:

        It’s still about god. Saying that “Higher Power” can be anything for everyone doesn’t change the fact that you have to believe in something which has exactly the same qualities as a religious god. It still says that you have to give up all responsibility and believe that something better than you should take control of your life, because you are worthless.
        Furthermore, there are studies that show that AA doesn’t help at all to stay dry.

      • Felix Hummel says:

        What I mean is, if you take “one’s own conscience” as AA’s God, you have a conscience you have to refer to as “Him” or “God”, a conscience you have to pray for and a conscience you have to beg to forgive you.
        That’s nothing an atheist or even an agnostic will do. AA is nothing but trying to cure people by making them accept religion.

      • dave says:

        We have some in the support group that dont acknowledge God and dont understand God but accept the believe that a higher power, whether it be God, or The Group, or a power outside of yourself, a therapist perhaps is stronger that the compulsion that resides in these affected individuals. And, it is not a religious group but more spiritual. These people have lost rental properties, 401k, family by believing in a higher power of a psychic.We dont claim to have all the answers, only time will tell as with any new support group. We are a forum that advocates supportive absitence through open discussions.

      • Felix Hummel says:

        Spiritual, well, if you say so. Honestly that doesn’t make much of a difference. You still expect your members to subordinate to a higher power or spiritual guidance – you ask people who just go away from being subordinated by gurus and cults to subordinate something very similar. The therapist probably would be the worst choice here, because he would then control the former addicts live.
        You should inform yourself about the scientific background of 12-stepping, or rather the lack of that background.
        12-stepping originally was a religious concept, that was turned into a spiritual one if you want to put it like that. It is not a scientific concept.

  5. Trimegistus says:

    By the way, Mr. Edward, have you been able to cobble up any proof for your damned lies about Bain Capital earlier this month?

    You are a damned liar, Mr. Edward. A damned liar.

    • Mark Edward says:

      Let it go Trim. Move on.

      • Student says:

        You’ll find that crazy people are hard to disuade from a position.

      • Trimegistus says:

        Why? So you can get away with being either a damned liar or a gullible ass?

        I thought being a skeptic was all about rigorous honesty, provable claims, and Occam’s Razor. But apparently you’ve decided that fraud and dishonesty are perfectly all right if you do it. How are you different from the psychic quacks and con men you claim to expose?

      • Mal Adapted says:

        “I thought being a skeptic was all about rigorous honesty, provable claims, and Occam’s Razor.” So why are you here, Trimegistus?

  6. tmac57 says:

    Years ago,while I was attending a Human Development class,the instructor had invited a ‘Psychic Witch’ friend of his to class to do readings and display her ‘powers’. She did what I now recognize as cold reading,and was only getting mild results,until she ‘read’ this one young man whom she revealed to be suffering from a great heartbreak and loss,which clearly resonated with him.It was all very generic,but it really impressed and obviously emotionally affected him.
    Forward ten years later,I randomly bumped into this fellow,as we both worked in telecommunications, and he told me that after that day,he had become obsessed with the idea that this woman had answers that would help change his life,not to mention that she was very attractive and charismatic as well.He ended up spending a fortune,and spiraled out of control in the rest of his life,until he finally came to the realization that he was being conned.I think that qualifies as addiction in some sense.

  7. Chris Howard says:

    I’m gonna file this under “white people problems.” along with “…a refrigerator full of food, and “nothing” to eat.”

    Having worked with gang members, and drug addicts in the past this just makes me chuckle.
    “Hi, I’m Tina and I got aids, because I became a prostitute to support my addiction.”
    “Hi, I Doug and I lost all my friends and family due to my addiction.”
    “Hi, I’m Trey and I killed someone while driving drunk.”
    “Hi, I’m Heather and I can’t, like, afford name brand fashion accessories, because, like, my credit cards are, like, totally maxed out to my BFF psychic… OMG! Doug that jacket is so 90’s grunge retro! Look at you! You’re edgy!”

  8. tmac57 says:

    I visited the Psychic Junkie website.If you go there take a look at the “Recommended Links”…I think Ms Lassez still has some work to do.

  9. Max says:

    I think this is a joke, but it could be a true story. One day, Stalin called up all the fortune tellers. The ones who came were all shot.

  10. Chris Howard says:

    Just curious Mark, what do you call a “psychic” who is just as deluded as her/his “marks?”

    If the psychic truly believes their own hype can they still be considered a charlatan? Or is it the old maxim “An explination is not an excuse.”?

    • Max says:

      And what do you call someone who makes claims she thinks are false, but are actually true? o_O

      • Phea says:

        That happens occasionally in poker games, Max. A bold bluffer shoves all in, preflop, with trash, trying to steal the blinds. He gets called and when the cards are turned over the bluffer’s hand is crushed… a 9 to 1 underdog. After the flop, he’s in even worse shape, but he hits the exact card he needs and wins.

        He made a claim he knew was false but it turned out correct after all. Hmmm… we call these people, very lucky.

    • Mark Edward says:

      They are called “shut-eyes” and are the most dangerous of all.

  11. d brown says:

    many people need someone to lean on. I think psychics know this. A “damned lies about Bain Capital” Well know people who lost a lot of their pension, at the same time Bain Capital was giving themselves bonuses. Big ones. Kind of like stripping a hot car. This was invented in England. They called it asset stripping back in the 60’s. People who did it were more or less hated.

  12. tmac57 says:

    Thanks in part to the twisted badinage of the likes of Dr. Phil and Anderson Cooper, there are now thousands of lost souls who have found their lives taken over by an uncontrollable urge to get a psychic reading.

    Mark,you should also add Dr. Oz to that list:

  13. MadScientist says:

    What’s really sad is that the psychics all use a small number of well-known tricks and yet people still fall for it. What can be said that would help a casual believer understand? Simply explaining a few tricks doesn’t seem to work for most people, in fact people will make up excuses and say the psychic is obviously not using *that* trick. Sometimes I wonder if it’s even possible to get through to most people.

    • tmac57 says:

      Aristotle identified 13 informal fallacies over 2400 years ago,yet most people alive today are routinely fooled by at least some of these rhetorical devices (tricks).We live in a sea of information,but only part of that is knowledge.This is a real problem for those of us who seek to tell the difference between the two.

  14. RoboSapien says:

    You can’t get through to people. One need not know the definition of non sequitur to smell bullshit, you just have to have some sense about you. If someone lacks such common sense, you can’t beat it into them, they are going to continue bumbling through life, pointing in every direction but inward for everything that is wrong in their lives.

    I’m not saying that skeptical activism is a waste, but it does seem rather futile at times. Contrary to my usual stance on things, I think the best thing in this situation might be new laws that prevent psychics from charging fees, make them work on donations only. Of course that is potentially unconstitutional and would only stop the least tenacious, but certainly more hopeful than trying to “fix stupid” as the saying goes.

  15. Mark Edward says:

    Dave sent me a message in response to this blog: one correction needs to be made: it was $1,100 per month not week. My bad. Syill, a tidy sum for some psychics.

  16. Jane Lee says:

    The 12 step group is called Psychic Addicts Anonymous not Psychic Junkies Anonymous. We meet daily on a phone bridge. PAA was founded on August 21, 2012 by three women who were sick and tired of being sick and tired of spending their money on psychics. Those three women are Shonda, Elaine and Carrie.
    PAA uses the same principles as Gamblers Anonymous. It’s not a joke. If there are any psychic addicts out there who want to stop spending their money on psychics email
    Thanks for sharing.

  17. Jane Lee says:

    oh..and Psychic Addiction is not just a white people problem. 2 of the founding members of Psychic Addicts Anonymous (PAA) are of African American descent. There’s many African Americans, a few Asians and Hispanics in addition to Caucasians in the general membership of PAA. It’s a universal addiction that does not discriminate.

  18. Felix Hummel says:

    I think it’s very disturbing that so many groups rely on that religion-centered concept of 12 steps. It was never proven to have any good results, rather the opposite as I can remember. For psychic addicts it’s surely the completely wrong direction to take. Maybe it could be called some kind of methadone-program, but I’m not convinced.

    • dave says:

      I think it would be disturbing if we Pschic Addicts did not rely on a support system ( 12 step) and relied on psychic readings to empty our pocketbooks. This is a serious addiction, not to be taken lightly. Why do you say its the wrong direction to take. Methadone is for drug addicts anyway. Please take the time to know what you are writing.
      If anyone needs any help with their Psychic Addition I can point you in the direction of our support group
      I am the the Dave in the article by the way

      • RCAF says:

        My question is why do you think you need to follow a cult-derived formula, when as you say, it is the support that makes the difference? If the steps were followed, then you would never recover because not one step says to stop doing whatever it is that is causing you the problem.

      • FMH says:

        Of course methadone is for drug addicts. What I said is called a “simile”. With taking a cult-like, unscientific method as 12-stepping to cure psychic addicts, you just replace the addiction with something else. Maybe something that is easier to handle, but that has not been proven yet and will probably never be since 12-stepping is known as not being effective.

        So why did you chose that way and not a more scientific concept for addictions?

      • Felix Hummel says:

        Especially because it is a serious addiction I find it disturbing that you try to cure it by using such a spirituality and religion-drenched concept. You are basicly just trying to make the former addicts subordinate to something else instead of their gurus. That’s not curing. You should take a look on the success rates of 12-stepping in general. For alcoholism for example, they are as high as leaving it untreated.

  19. abejames says:

    nice blog. but you should really work hard, work on your weaks point.

  20. Mark Edward says:

    What weak point is that?

  21. dave says:

    And the comment that AA believes one is worthless is not correct.
    Maybe you should look into the principles before you say that.

  22. Max says:

    Do psychic addicts really continue to pay psychics even after realizing that they don’t have psychic powers?

    • dave says:

      Yes psychic addicts do continue to pay psychics even if they doubt the psychic. They start calling mutiple psychics to get 2nd or 3rd or 4th or 5th opinions trying to see who is correct; in the addicts eye they create what is called a psychic bubble based on half truths, some truths, false hopes, because they are desperate to hear what they want to hear from someone until they are continually confused living in bubble-dream world.
      They develope what is called a compulsion. Compulsions are created to satisfy their anxiety. The anxiety may go away for a few minutes but then later they call again and again and become addicted. They want to give up this compulsion but cant without support.

      • Carrie says:

        That is where I got into trouble with psychics and my addiction. Some psychics are accurate and some aren’t. Some are accurate 50% of the time. You never know until a prediction either comes true or it doesn’t.

        As an addict, I tried to go to the most “accurate” one so that I could relax and not be so anxious. I liken it to gambling. Why do gamblers spend $100, win $20 and not just cut their losses and stop there? They keep going thinking that if they won this time, they will obviously win again.

        It is about the high; about seeing if I can win again with the next reading. And it becomes an endless vicious circle of going to the psychics, spending the money to feel ok in the moment. Then checking to see if the reading was accurate. If it was, I would go back to same person. If it wasn’t, I would find 2 -5 other psychics to go to in order to be ok in that moment.

        The root cause is addiction and how the addiction works in the brain and the Psychic Addictss Anonymous (PAA) group has been an amazing recovery tool for several of us who were not finding answers anywhere else.

        Contact me at if you want more info!

  23. v0idation says:

    Pedantry alert: it’s “tenets”, not “tenants”.

  24. tumbleweed says:

    Quite interesting article. Actually, the inventor of the twelve steps, mr William Wilson, was into channeling, ouijabords and such. Well into his own sobriety from alcoholism. He had severe bouts with depression and antisocial behaviour as well, so maybe this supportgroup would have been something to consider for him, would he still been alive. But the most funny thing I heard about the twelvestep-world is that there is or have been twelvestep groups for people obsessed with …(drumroll)…the twelvestep-program.

  25. dave says:

    Just rently the group Psychic Junkie started having its members recommend the program of 12 Gateways to your life purpose using crystal bowls to meditate–its comng true what was predicted in this blog that others would offer self help to the addicts.