A look at the claims, predictions and behavior of a media "psychic".


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Email: "What Sylvia told my Grandma"

An account of a "reading" which had an impact on an entire family.

Published: Jul 09 2008
Written by: Robert S. Lancaster

"I wish I had more details for you, but this is so painful for my family that they refuse to talk about it..."

- email author


Most of the time, the information that Browne imparts to her clients seems to be simply useless. But there are times when it goes beyond that, and is destructive.

I recently received an email which provides an example of such a time.

The Email

Here - with the author's permission - is that email, with my comments inserted. As with all emails I publish here, it should be noted that this is simply one person's opinion.

Subject: What Sylvia told my grandma
From: <[email address]>
Date: Sat, Jul 05, 2008 6:59 am
To: [email address]

Dear Mr. Lancaster,

Your site is wonderful, not only for the impressive and exhaustive research you've done to debunk an obvious fraud, but also for the personal stories you've printed from people who have had experiences with Sylvia Browne. Those stories are my favorite part of your site; the heartbreak, pain, disappointment and disillusionment in those letters is palpable, but they provide a valuable reminder that there are real people affected by her scam. Some would say that even if she is a fraud, she is harmless--even helpful--because she gives people hope and encouragement at times in their lives when they need it desperately. Your site puts those claims of her harmlessness to bed very quickly. I thank you for that, and I thank all the people who have shared their stories on your site.

I, too, have a story for you, although I doubt it's useful to your site, because my story is lacking in details regarding the exact date or location of the encounter I will share with you, and I don't have pictures, ticket stubs, or anything like that. In fact, this is something that didn't even happen to me--it happened to my grandmother. But I want to share it with you because it's yet another tale of how someone was taken in by Sylvia Browne, and it shows, like the other letters of personal experiences that you've shared, that there are real humans with real emotions that have been hurt by that woman.

My grandmother had an encounter with Sylvia Browne in the mid 1980's, I believe. I know that it occurred on a multi-state trip she took with a friend, and it was perhaps in California, because that was one of the states they travelled to.

Grandma and her friend went to see Sylvia Browne and ask her some questions. I believe it was during some sort of a show and they were in the audience. Grandma asked how her deceased husband was doing--naturally she wanted to know if he was at peace, if he was happy, and things of that nature. Sylvia told my grandma that my grandfather had cheated on her during their marriage, and she gave her the first name of the alleged "other woman". The name was quite common for females who were around my grandma's age, and my grandma happened to know a woman with that name. As you can imagine, there was considerable fallout from this terrible information being given to my grandma (information which no one in my family has any reason to believe is true).

The "other woman" was a relative by marriage of my grandmother's, a woman to whom she had been close for decades. Grandma severed her relationship with her, and what's more, she forced other family members to choose between her and "the other woman". This caused a significant amount of turmoil in my family, obviously. It's heartbreaking. What's more, Sylvia Browne disparaged my grandfather's memory. I'm not sure grandma ever really got over his supposed infidelity and forgave him (for allegedly doing something I must once again state that there is no evidence he ever did). I hope that she eventually came to terms with it, or that she decided that Sylvia was wrong all along, but I don't know that she did.

I don't believe that Sylvia Browne (or anyone else for that matter) has psychic abilities, but even a non-believer like me is not immune to the hurt caused Brown's careless (dare I say melevolent?) words.

If you do decide that you want to use my letter on your site, you have my permission. I wish I had more details for you, but this is so painful for my family that they refuse to talk about it, and I was only in my early teens at the time, so I wasn't given any more details than the ones I've given you.

Thank you for your tireless work. I only wish that this site had existed before my grandma died. If only she would have known about Sylvia's terrible track record....


If the email author's understanding of events is accurate (it is, after all, a second-hand, if not third-hand account), it brings to mind the question: why would Browne tell the grandmother this?

Even if we assume that Browne is "truly psychic" (assuming such people exist), and that the grandfather had had an affair, how could this information have benefited the grandmother?

And, if Browne is not psychic - as the evidence seems to indicate - then for her to have made up such a story seems deliberately cruel.


My thanks to the email author for contacting me, and for giving me the permission to share this email with readers of the site.

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