The problem

By pigeon-holing the client, and padding out the reading with general statements drawn from the categories described previously, the reader is in a position to tell her some quite impressive facts about her personality and life history. However, as Jones (1989) notes, "A perception of accuracy is not sufficient to make a reading satisfactory in the minds of most clients" (p. 22). The primary function of a reader in most instances is to act as a counsellor (Lester, 1982; Richards, 1990). Clients come to him with a problem for which they seek comfort and advice. Even "sensation-seeking" clients will identify a specific problem or question which is uppermost in their minds and wait to see what the reader has to say about it. As with the cradle-to-grave technique, strategies developed to determine the client's problem rely on the assumption that we are more alike than different. The problems which occur in life belong to a finite (and small) number of categories, each of which has only a limited number of specific problems associated with it. The number of categories commonly used varies from psychic to psychic (see Table 2), although some of the items may represent sub-divisions of larger categories. Jones' (1989) grouping of human problems under six categories has been contrived in part to give the particularly apt acronym THE SCAM when the letters are rearranged.

Earle (1990) Hyman (1977)

Jones (1989)

Ruthchild (1981)

Hobrin (1990)



sex love children

love life marriage children


ambition career money

social standing ambitions / goals financial security

social life & recreation work & professional prospects financial prospects


health expectation

health immortality

health & possible long life

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