Laura Mendelsohn will be the first person to tell you that she’s not special. Yes, the Delray Beach resident has been talking to dead people since she was a child, and she makes her living as a full-time psychic medium. But to an extent, anybody can enter this field, perfect their skills, and connect to another dimension.
“A lot of psychics will say, ‘it’s a gift. I’m special,’” says Mendelsohn, 59, her native Queens accent coloring her words. “I believe that some people have more talent for it, yes. Everybody can play the piano or paint by numbers, but not everybody can be Da Vinci or a famous composer. I believe there is a talent inherited, but that everyone has the gift.”
Mendelsohn uses hers on a daily basis, providing private readings from her cozy apartment and offering free call-in readings on her weekly Internet radio show (8:30 p.m. Mondays at blogtalkradio.com). She’s penned six e-books about mediumship and is currently working on an old-fashioned book called Diary of a Sane Psychic: Messages for Miracles for Magical Encounters.
In person and on the radio, Mendelsohn has an affable bedside—or would it be mind-side?—manner, referring to her clients as “sweetie” and “darling.” She tries to remain an objective messenger during her readings, but she has been known to cry with grieving clients when the moment hits.
She’s used to resistance toward her profession. At a recent social gathering, she read a man who didn’t believe in psychic ability, and she proceeded to describe his ex-wife’s appearance in detail, along with his mother’s health condition and other family details, all of which were accurate. (She also read my wife, connecting with my recently deceased mother-in-law with insightful specificity.)
That said, Mendelsohn is a grounded person, respectful of skeptics and skeptical of charlatans in her field. Part of her goal as a medium is to debunk what she sees as misinformation in the psychic industry – to be a sane psychic, as her forthcoming book suggests.
“One of the things I don’t like about this industry is that there’s so much superstition, so much herd mentality, so much politics. It’s one of my pet peeves. If we really understood things, there’s a lot of magic out there. It’s real, though. There’s a reason for it.”
Mendelsohn grew up in New York, surrounded by that magic. Her parents were both working artists – her father did some commissions for Disney – and in addition, her mother was a full-blown intuitive. She conducted séances, joined a metaphysic church, and told fortunes. She read Janet Jackson twice.
“It was a source of much amusement growing up, and perhaps dysfunction,” Mendelsohn recalls. “My father was into being logical, and I tried to favor his way of thinking. Yet, at the same time, I had experiences which at first were frightening as a little child.”
As a girl, when Mendelsohn would fall asleep, she would often hear a scrambled din of voices that would grow louder and louder before giving way to complete silence. At that point, she later realized, her mind would be entering another dimension, where she could communicate with her spirit guides.
One time, she tried to teach herself how to swim at a nearby lake and was struggling to stay afloat. She heard the crescendoing voices, then the silence, then a voice that screamed “Get out!”
“I was choking when I got out,” she says. “I think it was a spirit guide. They make sure you’re going to live so you can be tortured later on.”
By about 1983, Mendelsohn had learned how to channel her guides and develop her psychic ability with some degree of confidence. But for most of her life, mediumship was a party trick—nothing more. Her career was in the software industry and the stock market, where she became a self-made millionaire.
But Wall Street can be a cruel mistress. By 2010, her portfolio had diminished completely, and the relationship with her fiancée disintegrated. She had no children, and had gone through her entire inheritance.
“I had kind of a nervous breakdown, crying and moaning and not feeling like I could stand up,” she says. “I said, ‘what should I do, God?’ And I heard this little voice go off in my head: ‘Well, the only thing you’ve been doing that makes you any money are readings, so why don’t you focus on that?’”
She started as a full-time psychic career in 2010, teaching mediumship classes as well as reading clients. Within four months, she says, her income shot up 400 percent.
“I used to think [psychic work] was not secure,” she says. “I used to look down on it as not respectable. One of my big things in life was, how do I tell people I’m a sane, reasonable, bright individual and still be a psychic? There’s a lot of misconceptions about it. I’m rejected a lot because of it, but I don’t care. I got over that.”