Why People Go To Fortune Tellers

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Consciously people go to fortune tellers to know their futures but unconsciously the motive is quite different. They’re there to reduce painful feelings of existential anxiety. This is the true service fortune tellers provide. The well-being brought on by sudden certainty around the uncertain future is the reason people cast their reason aside to place their faith in a criminally fraudulent enterprise performed by con artists.

Those who let themselves be victimized by fortune tellers are likely to have an external locus of control, meaning they have little faith in their own ability to effect changes in their lives. They’re likely to say and believe things like ‘Everything happens for a reason’ and ‘God has a plan for all of us’. For them external happenings are set in stone, not at all subject to the inner ability to influence these happenings.

The major point to understand is that since these people have surrendered the belief in their own ability to shape their futures they’ve lost a major defense mechanism to protect them against unbearable feelings of existential anxiety. That anxiety has to be addressed and reduced somehow if life is to be made bearable. Since they don’t believe in their internal ability to respond effectively to changing circumstances their only recourse is to believe that their futures are set in stone already, that the world is a predictable and purposeful place.

So sure, hearing their futures out loud is really nice, and it doesn’t hurt that these predictions are mostly desired happenings. But it’s the reduction of existential anxiety that is the primary concern. Going to a fortune teller only confirms what is already believed to be true about the world. This behavior fits in with the underlying psychological orientation taken as a response to unbearable feelings of existential anxiety, anxiety cued off by uncertainty around external happenings. Make that uncertainty go away and the anxiety goes away.