SAMANTHA BRICK let a clairvoyant take over her home and her friends
She became her 'piggy bank' and even paid for the psychic's Botox treatment
Think she's gullible? Read her account and ask if YOU would have seen it coming
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Sitting in the middle of the expensively furnished room is a charismatic brunette with green eyes and an enviable figure. In her left hand is a large gin and tonic; in her right, a cigarette.
In front of her sit six women — young, successful, well-connected — who are all utterly enraptured. They’ve had this soiree in their diary for months.
As for me, I’ve carefully stowed the women’s designer handbags and hung up their expensive coats. And when the brunette glances at me, I jump to my feet, quickly replenishing her drink just how she likes it.
The other women pay no heed to me, save for also holding out their glasses.
Am I the hired help? You’d be forgiven for thinking so. But the women gathered here are actually my friends and colleagues — and they are sitting in my £750,000 home in London’s affluent Kew Gardens.
Looking back at how she inveigled her way into every corner of my life; how she made me subservient in my own home; how she gradually, insidiously, turned me into her personal piggy bank, paying for everything from her cigarettes to her Botox injections, I cringe
As for the woman who was so skilfully seducing my social circle, she was no life coach, or motivational speaker but a psychic. And during a couple of costly years in my early 30s, when I was at the height of my career as an executive producer for major television companies, I fell completely under her spell.
Looking back at how she inveigled her way into every corner of my life; how she made me subservient in my own home; how she gradually, insidiously, turned me into her personal piggy bank, paying for everything from her cigarettes to her Botox injections, I cringe.
I thought I’d buried this mortifying period of my life. Yet watching the new Apple TV true-life series The Shrink Next Door, it was as though I was back in her clutches.
The series stars Will Ferrell as the neurotic Marty Markowitz and Paul Rudd as his charismatic therapist, Dr Isaac Herschkopf, who, under the guise of rebuilding his client’s self-esteem, charmed his way into every aspect of his world.
Herschkopf eventually moved into his client’s mansion, isolated Markowitz from his loved ones and went through millions of his money. Such manipulation felt all too familiar to me.
You’re no doubt wondering how I could have been so stupid. But with the benefit of hindsight, I can see how this woman targeted me — and others like me — with an almost surgical precision. If it happened to me, it could just as easily happen to you.
The psychic exploited my weaknesses so thoroughly — most of all that I had made a success of my life, despite being from a thoroughly ordinary background.
How can achieving professional success be deemed a weakness, you might ask?
Well, having moved from my working-class family home in the Midlands to London in my early 20s, I was extremely focused on my chosen career due to the lack of any financial safety net. I had worked my way up to executive producer at a TV station, and loved my job but it was a cutthroat world where contracts were strictly short term.
Friendships were superficial at best. You watched your back and you certainly didn’t share confidences with anyone. Little wonder my insecurities haunted me.
By my early 30s, I had a lovely three-bedroom cottage near the Thames in Kew Gardens, a vintage Mercedes soft-top and a dressing room filled with beautiful clothes.
But my emotional life was in turmoil. I had recently divorced and without any children to keep my mind occupied, I was scared about my future and felt as though I’d been cast adrift. Who was I now?
My family were far away, and I’d yet to tell them about my divorce because they hadn’t supported me in my choice of husband.
There was no one else to have a heart-to-heart with, because I could never have admitted to vulnerabilities with colleagues or even girlfriends. I didn’t want to shatter my carefully crafted strong image.
But this bravado was to leave me open to terrible exploitation.
When a professional associate suggested I meet her psychic friend, I agreed — because, in truth, I was anxious about what my future held, and thought it might help me.
Friendships were superficial at best. You watched your back and you certainly didn’t share confidences with anyone. Little wonder my insecurities haunted me (File image)
My colleague was no fool — she held a well-paid corporate position in publishing. Now I realise this kind of word-of-mouth recommendation among professional women — and it is normally women who seek them — is how these expensive psychics build their client base.
More than this, the psychic — a decade or so older than me — presented herself as a ‘big sister’ figure, appealing to my need for female companionship.
If she had been a man, I would more than likely have held back from giving so much away so quickly. But because she was a woman, my guard instantly dropped. Too soon, I saw her as a dear friend.
Our first meeting was for a drink in my private members’ club in Central London. There, my friend explained how the psychic ‘reads’ your soul using ‘spirit guides’.
I sometimes wonder if she already knew I was divorced or had researched my whole life history prior to our meeting. Even if she hadn’t, I suspect I was a bit of an open book.
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