I’m a teacher. I am no stranger to people telling me all about their childhood hangups, life stories and family sagas. I’ve heard it all. Since I became a tarot card reader – I’ve heard even more. People tell me deeply personal things about their lives. They cry, they laugh – they grow, they learn. It’s a beautiful experience to share with another human being – some of them complete strangers.
I sit down with Charmaine Yam. A doctor by profession, she’s also deeply curious about the metaphysical world. She tells me her thoughts about tarot as a form a therapy.
Dipa: What’s the major difference between tarot and therapy?
Charmaine: Firstly, there’s a huge difference between psychologists and psychiatrists. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication based on chemical imbalances in the brain. Psychologists, on the other hand, provide therapy sessions where there’s a dialogue. They do not provide medication. You can’t compare the two fields. Psychology is based on a study of human behaviour to find patterns. Whereas psychiatry is based on pure science.
If you’re a psychologist – you’re trained not to give emotional feedback – which I don’t find helpful. There’s a patient and a scientific caregiver. The whole process is very cold. Many people don’t trust therapists because their feedback is too objective and impersonal.
Whereas in tarot – it’s a genuine interaction. A good tarot card reader tries to make you think about things. And you end up building a relationship with that person. They pick up on your emotions. They read you based on their intuition and what they feel about you. Tarot is a bit more two way. If someone can pick up something about you that you don’t have to verbalise – it’s a different connection. You’re less likely to be guarded. I think you can view tarot reading as a type of therapy.
Dipa: Many people think tarot is weird or irrational. What are you thoughts?
Charmaine: Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Different things work for different people. That’s why it’s a choice. I think if you don’t believe in it then don’t seek out a tarot reader. On that same note – if therapy doesn’t work for you, don’t seek out a therapist. It ultimately depends on the person.
Dipa: In my opinion, a lot of modern day psychology is based around the idea that our parents mess us up for life. What are your thoughts?
Charmaine: I do believe that sometimes – especially in cases of abuse, it is obvious that it is the case. However, I don’t think that you can blame everything on your upbringing. Why is it that three daughters – all born in the same family can still turn out very different and have completely different issues. Then people say it’s cause you’re different people. So blaming your parents is bullshit. You can’t put down all your problems on how they raised you.
Dipa: What does tarot offer that therapy doesn’t?
Charmaine: I find it interesting that someone can pick up on something in your subconscious mind and can bring it to your conscious awareness. It’s not magic – it’s about someone being intuitive enough to do that. It is a talent that’s rare – it’s like how do you know that. What you offer via tarot is fluid – not definitive. This is unlike what psychologists offer. I find that helpful.
Dipa: Why do so many scientifically-minded people have such a hard time believing in intuition?
Charmaine: People who are scientifically minded are only comfortable with facts and tangible things. You can’t blame them cause they’re good at type of thing and it works for them. The world only works for them if things work out according to a system or an equation.
So if you throw in something outside that realm – sixth sense, intuition, what have you – this throws them off. It makes them feel confused and perhaps even unsafe. This is why they have a hard time believing in intuition. Actually when you think about it, the good scientists are creative. If they weren’t – we’d still be thinking that the world is flat…