The name of her book is "Second Sight" and she's Dr. Judith Orloff, M.D., psychiatrist, psychic.
She's told the whole world in her book (which came out June 1, 2002) how she uses the psychic information she receives when she's with clients to help her be more effective as their therapist. She also teaches many of them how to help themselves by learning to use their own inherent psychic abilities. She describes many of these techniques in her book.
Starting to transcribe this phone interview, I heard in my head words Sister Mary Corita, the 60s/70s poster artist, lettered on one of her posters. The quote begins with the word "Conversion" but it might just as well be: "(This book)...is revolution, is growth, is living in a way appropriate to the coming age and is not understood by the present age which is passing away." This book is a benchmark happening, a line of demarcation. One can't help but wonder how the psychiatric community will try to "deal" with this.
She intended, she says, to be someone in the arts, perhaps a writer (as she has certainly done) or someone in the creative field, but not a doctor and a psychiatrist. (Her parents were both M.D.s.) Early in her life she agreed to see a psychiatrist--even though her whole flower-child-hippy-self at the time hated the idea--simply because her parents made an agreement with her to have her come home again if she would enter therapy.
The therapist took her (after she spoke about visions) to Thelma Moss at her ESP lab at UCLA for evaluation as a psychic. The young Judith Orloff was amazed when Dr. Moss invited her to work with her in her famous parapsychology lab. Her parents were placated about her coming out of the psychic closet by the fact that it was for "science." They had always known she had psychic visions, but her mother had discouraged her from telling anyone for fear her daughter might become (like her maternal grandmother who was also psychically gifted) a subject of sometimes less than admiring amusement.
She says writing this book was her greatest blessing. I haven't mentioned the term "past life" so far because Dr. Orloff is not a psychiatrist who uses past life therapy in her practice. She has been psychic since childhood and uses both her psychic eyes and her physical eyes to connect with her clients. (But there is a "past life" as you'll see, that serves as a foundation for the interview that follows.)
I hope you will be as delighted reading this interview as I was the day I was conducting it with her. I had loved reading the book and as I interviewed her, I loved the fact that she was so accessible, funny and relaxed. And yet, she was every inch the professional. It is almost impossible to separate the woman from the book, so if you're intrigued by Dr. Orloff as an interviewee, I think you will really enjoy her book.
JO (Judith Orloff).: I've got to tell you that going around the country since I've saw you, (at a Learning Annex class) there have been so many people from your group (A.P.R.T.) who have come up to me!
PC (Pat Chalfant): That's really terrific. Have any of them said anything about using psychic abilities in their own practice?
JO: Yes, some of them have. I haven't had enough time to talk to any one individual, but yes, they were all very fascinated with it.
PC: When I was in your class at Learning Annex last week, the people were all so wonderful, / I had the feeling that those people were sending you love and appreciation, that they needed to hear what you were saying and were grateful for it. / Some were kind of rowdy when they came in but they quieted right down and got engrossed.
JO: In that Learning Annex thing there was a group of people who come from a halfway house that I work with, ex-criminal drug offenders, a bunch of guys, about twenty of them. They can be a bit rowdy, but a good group.
PC: Let me start by saying that even though I've been especially interested in doing this interview, the reason I couldn't do it earlier today (Sunday) was that I've been working as a student medium in a Spiritualist Church and they were having a festival of readings today. So, since I was slated to read, I had to be there.
But doing your interview appealed to me from the first on two counts, my interest in psychology and my pursuit of mediumship. I first read about your new book in "Venture Inward" (A.R.E.'s) magazine, by the way.
JO: Yes, Henry Reed. He did a good job.
PC: Yes. So I immediately ordered the book. Then it was kind of like fate, because I found a Learning Annex catalogue at home that I was about to throw out and saw your class listed. I signed up, asked you for an interview, and you very graciously said, "Of course."
The first thing I want to talk about with you is the voice that you said told you many years ago that you would become a psychiatrist, when you had no interest in medicine or psychiatry at that time.
JO: Yes, I was told in a dream. It was a genderless voice that has come to me many times since then, that told me very specifically I was to become a psychiatrist in order to legitimize the psychic realm...have the credentials to legitimize it.
PC: Right, and that impresses me so much about all of this. Because it's wonderful that someone with such credentials is doing this.
JO: The voice was very wise.
PC: Has it had anything to say in your life recently? I mean, I wonder if a genderless voice might ever say, "See, we accomplished it!"--or anything of that kind?
JO: No, never. It's more just the message that's communicated. I get the sense of the rightness in my being and how wonderful it is that it's all come to pass as a result of that voice. But it never comes and says, "See, I told you so..." (laughter)
PC: Unlike parents and whatnot..(laughter)
JO: No. It doesn't have that emotional link to us that you would associate with a human being. It's very different. It's very loving but it's very distant. But it's just an information conveyor.
PC: Did you use your psychic ability to get the book published?
JO: Oh, I did, very much so. There were a number of publishers who bid for it and I got a list of the names and tuned in to them and worked with them on an inner level. And all along the way in the process of meeting people and at various stages of the book, I've tuned in to the names and worked with it that way.
(Those attempting to publish a book, please note: Dr. Orloff describes how she and her clients use this process in the later chapters of "Second Sight.")
PC: I told Dr. Frances Scher, who's a Spiritualist minister and uses her inner knowing in her profession also at the festival of readings this morning about your book--She, too, is Jewish and, like you, uses inner knowing (obviously) as part of her work as a Spiritualist minister--and then I asked her what she would like to ask if she were doing this interview. She said she wondered where psychology ends and the psychic begins?
A medium I know, Rev. Frances Scher, said she wondered where psychology ends and the psychic realm begins. I think that's an interesting question.
JO: It is an interesting question, but for me it doesn't really work that way. For me there's a seamlessness now between the two. It's not polarized any more.
PC: I think that's exactly what she was getting at. I said the same thing--I think you can just dip into whichever from wherever--
JO: Well, it's true. I mean, when I'm tuning into somebody emotionally, I'm also tuning into them psychically. So, simultaneously I get both levels of information. It's all one. I don't put on my one hat now and another hat later. It's not like that. I incorporate it into one all at once, doing many things at one time. That's the great beauty of it.
PC: Yes, when you talked about working that way in class I thought it sounded just great. You mentioned a group of guys who were there (Learning Annex) that you've worked with--and do you work with them in that way, and as a group, or do you work with them individually?
JO: When I've worked there in the past (I don't currently work with them now, although I am going to be having a few sessions with them as a group) I tune in to them psychically and I use the psychic knowledge along with my own clinical knowledge.
PC: And is that how you worked with them before?
PC: What sort of outcome do you get in situations like that? Have they said it's very helpful to them?
JO: Oh, everybody has said it's very helpful. It's incredible when you can bring in a psychic sensitivity to any particular problem because oftentimes, especially with people who have been to psychiatrists over and over again, you reach a kind of dead end with it. And with the psychic, you can bring in another point of view that perhaps is different from the more traditional, which can only go so far. And so it gives people a lot more options and allows people to see things differently.
For instance, one of the guys told me that he's been told by his psychiatrist and his probation officer that he should go on an anti-depressant, but he doesn't feel like he wants to do that. He wants to work with his own material without doing that. There's a lot of pressure and he asked me both as a psychiatrist and as a psychic to tune in and tell him what I thought was most appropriate for him. I actually agreed with him. I thought he ought to wait and not go on it for a while. So that wasn't just an intellectual assessment on my part but it was the result of his coming up to me and my psychically tuning to the question that he asked me.
PC: Is there a time when you think it's not appropriate to introduce the idea of the psychic into your work with a client?
JO: Yes. There are certain people I've worked with, such as corporate attorneys and bankers, who really have such an objection to it that it didn't seem like it was worthwhile to bring it up. This is before the book came out. It's very different with "Second Sight" out now because everybody knows I work this way now. But before, when I had the luxury of not telling people if I chose not to, I didn't. I just used my own psychic input working with the patient. They just didn't know about it.
PC: I wondered if you had had anyone say to you that you shouldn't work with certain types of people in that way...you shouldn't introduce that into your work with them.
JO: I think that's true. There are some people who are psychotic and it isn't appropriate to bring the psychic work in that way. I can't help but look at someone psychically when I tune in to them. But to actively bring it in as a thread in our therapy--I wouldn't do that. Because it would shift the emphasis too much. They would go for it too much. They would put too much emphasis on it rather than putting emphasis on being a human being and getting their life together and getting grounded and centered. There's too much fascination with the psychic realm in the experience of psychosis.
PC: I thought you did a good job of stressing that in the book...
JO: Good, I'm glad.
PC: ...but I wondered if there were people who, even so, have read the book and were questioning...
JO: You know, Norman Lear and his wife Lynne have a spiritual group called "The Kindred Spirits." They invited me to come and speak to their group. It's a group of about 40 women and in doing the group I did some readings with the women who wanted to have the readings done in a group setting and felt comfortable with that. There were a couple of them that broke down and cried and really got in touch with some emotional things that they hadn't been able to put together before.
A woman came up to me afterward and said, "Do you really think it's appropriate to work with people on a group level like this and then not have any follow-through afterward?" My take on the situation was from the very beginning that this is a group of women who have done incredible work on themselves. They've been in therapy, they've done spiritual work. They know how to work with these issues, and so because of that, I felt very comfortable in presenting what I presented at that point in time. There was one woman, however, that I did tell I wouldn't talk with her in the context of the group and I asked her to come and talk with me individually. So, it kind of varies.
PC: Do you have any classes or seminars lined up? You mentioned you were interested in teaching how to use the psychic to psychiatrists. But do you have any classes for civilians?
JO: In terms of training people to open up intuitively? I'm giving workshops and I'm booked around the country throughout the next couple of years already doing this. There's a conference I'll be speaking at here in September called the Sacred Living Conference, which is going to be a really beautiful one. And there are various others throughout the United States.
PC: But you don't have some continuing group?
JO: No, but I'm thinking about starting that. Many people have been requesting it.
PC: Anytime you do, let me know.
JO: I will.
PC: Are there any other psychiatrists who are coming to you and saying they've used their own psychic perception in their practice for years but never told anyone?
JO: Yes. There's an MFCC who is my office mate actually, but we never see each other because we're there at different times, who came to the group that I gave yesterday. And she said it gave her total permission to express herself psychically. Indeed, she has been a psychic but has been terrified about coming out with it. I've had a few psychiatrists begin to talk about it. They're much less comfortable in this area than MFCCs, social workers or nurses....they're a lot more comfortable with their abilities than M.D.s.
PC: Even though you said in class that you didn't work with past life therapy in your practice, I wonder if you've had any kind of experience with past life material?
JO: It's something I believe in. I believe in reincarnation and I've worked personally with a past life of mine which is very prominent in terms of reflecting my own behavior in this life now. So, I have done this personal work. I don't know if therapists who are part of your group have described this, but I'll be working with someone and all of a sudden another face will be projected onto their face?
PC: Yes, I've heard about that and I've also had it happen. I wasn't sure why it was happening. It wasn't in connection with a client, but a friend. I wasn't sure whether it was from this lifetime or another lifetime...
JO: It feels to me when that happens--it's very magical, and it's happened over the years, not infrequently. When it happens, I always focus in on that face and I ask it for guidance--what to do with the person and I get very fine information that comes through in that way. Then the face may come back again in the course of therapy, but I'm very convinced that's a past life. That's my strong sense as it's happening, that I'm tuning in to a past life that this person has lived and that was the physical form that they took.
PC: I see. Was your own past life that you tuned in to one where you were using your own psychic abilities?
JO: It wasn't so much psychic abilities as it was being a writer and getting certain ideas out to the people. I'm reluctant to have it printed--what the past life was.
PC: But I can say that much about it?
JO: It helped me understand a lot of my fear about why I didn't want to write this book--and all my reluctance to come out and speak publicly about it.
PC: And how does it feel to have produced this and have people scrutinizing it? Does it feel good?
JO: It's the biggest blessing that's ever happened to me. Because the timing was right. I really gave myself time to work through certain issues before I came out with the book. I had dreams that guided me (a lot of them were kind of healing and cleansing) before I actually started writing a single word of the book. So, because I really attuned to myself so closely and listened to my own needs, the timing of the book was perfect for me.
PC: There may be therapists who are members of APRT interested in getting books published who might find this helpful.
You haven't said anything about this yet, but has anybody in the psychiatric community been really critical?
JO: Oh, yes it's really an affront to their basic tenets. They really believe that psychic ability is a sign of mental disorder or else that it's nonexistent. We really need to have scientific proof of things before medical science will accept anything. If something is still a soft science, they'll reject it. And parapsychology is still a soft science.
PC: Do people actually walk up to you maybe while you're signing book, or anything, and talk to you about this?
JO: Not while I'm signing books, but I've heard people's opinions about it.
PC: I wondered if you had gotten a chance to answer, and what you would say.
JO: Well, I had one man in Philadelphia, not a physician, but he was quite a skeptic and in the group he said, "I don't believe anything you're saying and I have these three cards in an envelope and I want you to read them to prove to me that you're psychic." And my response to him was that it's wonderful to hold the whole skeptical energy and to be scrutinizing, it's so important to do, but it's also important not to lose track of the beautiful jewels available along the way, too.
My skill is as a psychiatrist and psychic. I read people. I'm not good at reading cards, I can't predict lottery numbers. None of that attracts me at all. I'm not good at it. If there was another circumstance in which he really wanted me to do a reading for him, rather than challenging me like that, I would do it. So that was my response.
PC: So, did he quiet down after that?
JO: Yes, and there was actually a woman who chimed in and said, "Is this the say you have fun?"
PC: Since this has brought up guessing cards and such things, let me say I was really interested in the part of the book about Thelma Moss and the laboratory. It seemed that you admired her a lot.
JO: Oh, very much. I admired her extremely
PC: And I wondered if at that point in time you might have felt that she understood you better than your mother did?
JO: Yes, no doubt.
PC: I can't understand, since your mother was psychic, how could she separate that and not bring it to bear in your relationship with her? It sounds as if she had partitioned it off.
JO: Her conception, her main thrust was that I should be happy and how I would be happy was to fit in with a certain element of society. If I didn't fit in, I wouldn't be happy. That wasn't how I really was. By being psychic and expressing myself in that way I would jeopardize my happiness, because people would think I was weird and strange and wouldn't want to be with me.
PC: So, do you think that the whole basis was that because her mother was a psychic this had made her unhappy as a little girl?
JO: Actually her mother was a flamboyant psychic and people would say she was strange and weird and my mother would feel embarrassed and ashamed and as a result she kept in her own abilities.
PC: But if you'd known she was psychic, it would have helped.
JO: But you have to understand that she wanted more than anything to fit into the medical community and she would do anything rather than jeopardize that. She couldn't bear it--it was unbearable for her.
PC: Yet she did use it from time to time?
JO: Yes, she did use it, she used it a lot privately and kept it to herself.
PC: One thing you do in the book is to explain how you work with clients teaching them to work with dreams, to hold a name, to work with ritual, altar and meditation. Do most people actually start working with those things?
JO: Actually I've gotten many letters from people saying that as a result of reading the book, they've begun their meditation process again, they've set up altars and their life is beginning to open up in that area. I was reading a letter from a woman like that and I just started crying because I thought that was so perfect, it was exactly why I wrote the book, and if people would take the time to write me and tell me how their life had been changed that would be wonderful.
PC: I just want you to know that I'm really proud to know you. I had one more question for you, is there anything that you didn't get into the book that you would like to say to people.
JO: The only thing would be to go on more about children and to help them identify their own psychic ability early on and not have to go through the same process I went through, feeling ashamed and afraid for so many years, helping them understand in whatever ways we can. I think that's the critical starting place.
PC: I think that's about all that I have and thank you very much. This has really been enjoyable.