Presentations of the paranormal: The impression management strategies and professionalization tactics of physics and spirit mediums

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Stan H. Hodges


This is a study of psychics and spirit mediums. It focuses on concepts of deviance neutralization and professionalization. Using a literary ethnography, it identifies five types of psychics and mediums. They are charismatic, intraorganizational, cross-occupational, interorganizational, and charlatans. The findings show that each fight off the stigma associated with working with the "paranormal." This often involves various impression management strategies and professionalization tactics. These strategies and tactics have created acceptance by the dominant culture in traditional fields. They have also opened the door for a "psychic liberation movement" that is seeking to further the use of metaphysics in everyday life. This analysis builds on other studies of paranormal beliefs. It specifically complements a recent study by Evans, Forsyth, and Foreman (2003) examining stigma management among psychics.

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