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But even more important, beyond the razzle-dazzle of telepathy and clairvoyance, Mayer is suggesting that "extraordinary knowing" is on a continuum with more common traits of intuition and empathy. Haven't we discovered that no matter what therapy a person practices, the therapeutic relationship is the key to a successful outcome? And if it's true that anomalous experience is a form of "radical connectedness," a psychic muscle that reaches beyond our present capacities to connect, what a wonderful clinical tool it could make. And if these skills or gifts are on a continuum, can they be enhanced or taught? Can people be taught to access anomalous experience? If not, if it induced even a little more empathy, it would help the therapeutic encounter.
It's sad to learn that Lisby Mayer died in January 2005, at the age of 57, at her parents' house. The cause of death was intestinal scleroderma, a rare disease she'd had for more than 15 years. Perhaps she got to employ some forms of radical connectedness in the context of her own failing health, but if she did, she doesn't say a word about it. Though just from reading her book and experiencing the intellectual vitality that springs from its pages, her passing seems like a great loss.
Richard Handler is a radio producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto, Canada. Contact: email@example.com. Letters to the Editor about this article may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism, and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind