Establishing the belief system

As well as establishing her own credentials, as above, the psychic also establishes the credentials of the tarot, or whatever divinatory system is on offer. This leads the client to take the proceedings seriously, if not necessarily solemnly. For example, the psychic may refer to the tarot's long history, or to how well accredited it is, or to the many clients who have benefited from its insights.

Such remarks condition the client to respect the psychic proceedings, rather than waking up to how ludicrous they are. They steer the client to view the reading as a psychic experience, involving some precious source of wisdom. In fact, the client is simply handing over hard cash to have someone talk to her.

This initial bolstering of the belief system also discourages awkward questions. It does not help proceedings if the client asks how 72 bits of pasteboard, bearing coloured drawings derived from medieval European sources, are supposed to shed any light on anything at all - let alone one's current romantic options and career prospects.

This aspect of the set up is continued during the reading itself, as we will see later. In passing, I should mention that this kind of ploy seems especially common among astrologers. Some of them drone on about everything from ancient Babylonians to famous politicians in such a way as to make one's ears bleed. However, most are smart enough to realise that boring the client to sleep within the first five minutes is not considered good technique.

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