“As a psychiatrist, I listen with both the linear and the intuitive mind. The linear mind doesn’t allow you to see into the depths of someone’s soul.”
Dr. Judith Orloff is the New York Times bestselling author of Second Sight: An Intuitive Psychiatrist Tells Her Extraordinary Story and Shows You How To Tap Your Own Inner Wisdom (Three Rivers Press, 2010). In the book, she describes her journey from intuitive child, with abilities she did not understand, to esteemed intuitive psychiatrist who dared to defy medical taboos. Her work has transformed psychiatry by synthesizing traditional medical practice with her knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality to promote mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical healing. Through her books and lecture circuit, Dr. Orloff teaches how to access intuition and balance intellect with intuition.
Karen: How does an intuitive become a psychiatrist?
Dr. Orloff: I was born into a family of 25 classically trained physicians, including my parents. My mother, especially, was aware of my gifts but did everything she could to ignore my experiences. I was discouraged from talking about the ‘coincidences’—events I predicted—because all of it unnerved the people in my life. There were times, which I discuss in detail in Second Sight, when there was a safety net for exploring my experiences but this was outside of the my family life. I got caught up with the hippie culture, and rebelled.
When I finally got involved with experiments that were testing intuitive skills, I felt validation for my own experiences. Once I made the decision to pursue medicine, my parents were thrilled but less so about psychiatry.
During my medical training, I kept a firm boundary between intuition and medicine. I learned to trust the scientific method above all else. In the elite field of psychiatry, intuition was unfit for medical decisions affecting patient’s lives.
Karen: What happened to change all that—to set you on the course of intuitive psychiatrist?
Dr. Orloff: I ignored a premonition about one of my patients. Logically, what I sensed didn’t make sense to me. This patient was doing well. Had I chosen to validate that premonition by checking on this person, I could have prevented a suicide attempt. She survived. From that point forward, I immersed myself in understanding the symbiosis between intuition and ethical, responsible medical practice.
Karen: What makes the release of Second Sight so much more timely and important now?
Dr. Orloff: The world has changed since the first edition, almost 15 years ago. [People have] become much more open to the integration of intuition in medicine, work, education and life, in general. The language has changed over the years—“sixth sense” “intuitive” “creative” “intuitive intelligence”—it’s all the same: It’s Energy. When people have permission to access this energy, their intuition, unique solutions to complex problems can result.
The great gift of Second Sight coming out now, is that the public is more receptive to the idea of extra sensory experiences and ways of knowing.
Karen: What is intuition? What is its source?
Dr. Orloff: Intuition is a skill and intelligence. It is a focused ability. In the book, Second Sight, I teach that everyone can develop intuition. There’s a spectrum of intuitive experiences—from gut instincts to communicating with someone who has passed over.
Intuitive Intelligence is more palatable, in a way more tangible, to scientific minds. Many researchers, like Einstein, who have made great discoveries departed from traditional theories on a hunch. That’s intuition at work.
When you immerse yourself in a creative process of any kind, even if you don’t view it as intuitive, you are placing yourself in an intuitively charged place. This can happen in any field of work in which someone is passionately engaged.
My belief is that all forms of creative/intuitive expression originate from a spiritual source. The shared challenge between an artist and an intuitive is to translate the intangible or invisible into the material and the visible. This is true for all creative endeavors not just artistic creativity.
Karen: Intuitive Intelligence. I think that should be added to the Theory of Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner. One of the seven intelligences he identified was Intrapersonal Intelligence, the capacity to know and understands one’s feelings, fears and motivations.
Dr. Orloff: Yes, I like that. That is all part of intuition, though not the whole.
Karen: How does one develop and put in motion their intuitive skills?
Dr. Orloff: In Second Sight I discuss how we all possess the capacity to develop these skills. Developing intuitive intelligence or skills requires that you live in the moment and quiet the rational mind. Intuition can occur spontaneously, like a hunch or an ‘a-ha’ moment, but it also has to be developed.
Children are exceptionally intuitive because they don’t operate with their analytical mind to the degree adults do. Playfulness is a way to put in motion intuition and creativity. You can’t engage these in an adult mind hooked on analyzing. In Second Sight, I discuss five steps that anyone can use to develop intuition and use it to confront challenges in life, be it making a major decision, healing your body or mind. I live by these five steps (see side bar).
As a psychiatrist, I listen with both the linear and the intuitive mind. The linear mind doesn’t allow you to see into the depths of someone’s soul, their innermost desires and greatest hopes and fears. I teach my patients, my students, and through my books the average person, how to balance intellect with intuition. You don’t have to make a choice: The message of Second Sight is that you can have intuition and intellect engaged, in motion, simultaneously.
Karen: How can a person differentiate between fear and intuition?
Dr. Orloff: Reliable intuition conveys information neutrally, without any emotion. The impressions you sense are crystal clear, seen in your mind’s eye and felt in your body. Yet, you are detached from them or any outcome related to the impressions. Fear is highly charged with negativity and it limits your ability to think and to act or respond. Some fearful feelings are authentic intuitions. Look at the quality of the emotions associated with what you’re sensing.
Karen: There’s a quote by Goethe about how, when we’re in the moment of decision, there is always hesitation; often it is fear holding us back. How can we overcome fear to engage intuitive skills? How do we validate this skill for ourselves?
Dr. Orloff: Start with a small decision, first. Test out your intuition and build successes so you can learn to trust [yourself] in this regard. Intuition is always affirming, loving compassion.
There comes a time when we must decide if we are committed to a life based on heart. If so, this means coming to compassionate terms with the light and dark forces that shape us. Nothing is excluded. Remember this when you greet all the angels and beasts on your path. Your intuition will teach you how to see and how to love. It instills in you a renewed faith to face anything.
Dr. Orloff’s Website: For complete lecture schedule and free articles and videos go to www.drjudithorloff.com
Second Sight Book Tour
November 6, 2010, 10:00 AM–4:00 PM
Workshop, The Power of Intuition and Emotions to Heal,
Center for Spiritual Living Westlake Village, Westlake Village, CA
(Los Angeles area). Tickets: 805-495-0105 ext. 3 or
http://www.cslwestlake.org/www.livetalks.org or call 805-446-0097.
CEU’s offered: MSWS, MFCC, Nurses.
Dec 3-5, 2010, Weekend Workshop,
The Power of Emotions and Intuition to Heal,
Kripalu Institute for Yoga, Stockbridge, Massachusetts,
www.kripalu.org or 866-200-5203.