"Trance mediumship" is often seen as a form of mental mediumship. Most trance mediums remain conscious during a communication period, wherein a spirit uses the medium's mind to communicate. The spirit or spirits using the medium's mind influences the mind with the thoughts being conveyed. The medium allows the ego to step aside for the message to be delivered. At the same time, one has awareness of the thoughts coming through and may even influence the message with one's own bias. Such a trance is not to be confused with sleepwalking, as the patterns are entirely different. Castillo (1995) states,


Firstly, you need to decide what kind of reading you want. Are you hoping to connect with a loved one? Are you interested in forging your spiritual path and need a little guidance? Are you wondering what energies are around you? Would you like a little advice from the angels? There are many psychics who devote their time to one or more of these practices. You will have to do a little research to find the one that can help you.

Cold reading also explains why psychics have consistently failed scientific tests of their powers. By isolating them from their clients, psychics are unable to pick up information from the way those clients dress or behave. By presenting all of the volunteers involved in the test with all of the readings, they are prevented from attributing meaning to their own reading, and therefore can't identify it from readings made for others. As a result, the type of highly successful hit rate that psychics enjoy on a daily basis comes crashing down and the truth emerges – their success depends on a fascinating application of psychology and not the existence of paranormal abilities.[50]


Probably the cheesiest and most parodied form of spiritual mediumship, physical mediums are the “agents” or “substrates” which spirits draw energy from and manipulate that energy into noises or displays to prove their existence and presence in the room. In the 19th century, physical mediums were very popular, though whether as parlor games or genuine spiritual interests you just can’t tell. Physical mediums at this time were often complete charlatans, with complicated secret knocking mechanisms and other tricks to prove the existence of spirits.
Combining Buddhist practices with ancient spirit worship, the individuals profiled in "Transcendents: Spirit Mediums in Burma and Thailand," are mostly biological men who, during religious ceremonies, wear makeup and clothes traditionally associated with women. A number of the mediums live permanently as women, with most of them openly and exclusively attracted to men.
The exposures of fraudulent activity led to a rapid decline in ectoplasm and materialization séances.[199] Investigator Joe Nickell has written that modern self-proclaimed mediums like John Edward, Sylvia Browne, Rosemary Altea and James Van Praagh are avoiding the Victorian tradition of dark rooms, spirit handwriting and flying tambourines as these methods risk exposure. They instead use "mental mediumship" tactics like cold reading or gleaning information from sitters before hand (hot reading). Group readings also improve hits by making general statements with conviction, which will fit at least one person in the audience. Shows are carefully edited before airing to show only what appears to be hits and removing anything that does not reflect well on the medium.[200]
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