Second Sight

Second Sight

by Judith Orloff MD

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In this compelling self-portrait, psychic and psychiatrist Dr. Judith Orloff, "one of the frontier people in health, who was not satisfied with the existing order, the Establishment, and began to push for the expansion of knowledge which the establishment, of course, often rejected and for which it sough to punish them," (The Nation Magazine) draws on her own experience and that of her patients to explore the mysterious and poorly understood realm of the psychic.

In riveting detail, she describes how an ignored premonition of a patient's suicide attempt convinced her to embrace her gift and incorporate it into her medical practice--and how using psychic abilities can provide powerful healing. More than simply one woman's journey, this book will also outline effective ways to cultivate natural psychic abilities, including how to--recognize psychic experiences in everyday life--increase clairvoyance--practice psychic exercises--discover psychic empathy--tune into messages the body is sending--record and interpret dreams--and more.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446554053
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 12/14/2008
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 243,302
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Judith Orloff MD, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, is author of THE EMPATH'S SURVIVAL GUIDE: LIFE STRATEGIES FOR SENSITIVE PEOPLE. She is New York Times bestselling author of Emotional Freedom, The Power of Surrender, Positive Energy, Guide to Intuitive Healing, and Second Sight. Dr. Orloff synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition and energy medicine. To sign up for Dr. Orloff's EMPATH NEWSLETTER and see her workshop schedule visit

Read an Excerpt

Second Sight

By Judith Orloff

Warner Books

Copyright © 1996 Judith Orloff, MD
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-67335-8

Chapter One

The Beginnings of Wisdom

I am large ... I contain multitudes. -WALT WHITMAN

It was 3:00 A.M., the summer of 1968. A magical southern California night. I was sixteen years old and had spent the weekend partying at a friend's house in Santa Monica, oblivious to my exhaustion. The soft, warm Santa Anas whipped through the eucalyptus trees, blowing tumbleweeds down deserted city streets. These winds were seductive, unsettling, conveying a slight edge of danger.

The scene was Second Street, two blocks from the beach, in a one-bedroom white clapboard bungalow where my friends and I hung out. We were like animals huddled together for a kind of safety, apart from what we saw as a menacing outside world. Brightly painted madras bedspreads hung from the ceiling, and candles in empty Red Mountain wine bottles flickered on the floor. Barefoot and stretched out on the couch, I was listening to Bob Dylan's "Girl from North Country." I was restless; I wanted something to do.

A young blond man I'd met only an hour before invited me to go for a ride up into the hills. He was a James Dean type, cool and sexy, dressed in a brown leather jacket and cowboy boots, a pack of Camels sticking out of the back pocket of his faded jeans: the kind of guy I always fell for but who never paid much attention to me. I wouldn't have missed this opportunity for anything.

The two of us headed out, stepping over couples who were making out on a few bare mattresses placed strategically on the living room carpet. We jumped into my green Austin Mini Cooper, my companion at the wheel, and took off for Tuna Canyon, one of the darkest, most desolate spots in the Santa Monica range, a remote place the Chumash Indians had consecrated, made sacred.

The road snaked up into the mountains to an elevation of about 1,500 feet; we could see the entire Malibu coastline laid out before us in a crescent of lights all the way from Point Dume down to the southernmost tip of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The balmy night air blew through my hair, filling my nostrils with the scent of pungent sage and fresh earth. A few lone coyotes howled to one another in the distance.

For a moment, the man I was with glanced over at me and I felt something inside me stir. The softness of his voice, the easy way he moved his body excited me, but I did my best not to show it, determined to play the game of acting as if I didn't care. The heat of his arm extended across my body, his hand now on my leg. I reached my hand over to meet his, slowly stroking each fingertip, one by one. I felt intoxicated: He was a stranger, completely unknown to me. It was the ultimate risk. The closer our destination became, the more my excitement grew. I was anticipating what would happen when we reached the breathtaking view at the top.

The higher we climbed, the more treacherous the curves in the road became. But we were paying little attention, talking nonstop, high on a potent amphetamine we'd taken an hour before at the house. On the last curve before the top, he didn't respond quickly enough and the right front tire plowed into the soft gravel along the shoulder. The car lurched wildly as he wrestled with the steering wheel in a frantic effort to regain control. He slammed on the brakes. I heard the tires shriek and then we were skidding off the pavement and hurtling over the edge of the cliff, plunging down into the darkness below.

I recall only fragments of what happened next. I do know that time slowed down and I began to notice things. The night sky was swirling beneath my feet instead of above me. I could hear peculiar sounds, as though amusement park bumper cars were crashing into each other. I made the emotionless observation that something was distinctly odd, but couldn't quite pinpoint what it was. The horror of my predicament-my imminent death-never really registered. Instead, something shifted; I found myself standing in a sort of tunnel, feeling safe and secure. It didn't occur to me to question where I was or how I got there. Although far in the distance I could hear the wind rushing past the open windows of the car, I was now suspended in this peaceful sanctuary while we fell through space toward the canyon floor hundreds of feet below.

With no impulse to move or to be anywhere other than where I found myself, I looked around the tunnel now surrounding me. It was an amazingly still, long, cylindrical space, its gray color gleaming as if illuminated from behind by a subtle, shimmering source. Though the tunnel did not seem solid, as in ordinary reality, its translucent walls appeared to extend endlessly in both directions, comprised of a swirling, vaporous material resembling billions of orbiting atoms moving at enormous speeds. Other than enclosing me, this surreal world was completely empty, but comfortable and soothing: There were no harsh edges, and the whole tunnel seemed to be vibrating gently. In fact, my body now also looked translucent and was vibrating, as if it had changed form to suit this new environment. I felt utterly at peace, contained, and self-contained, in a place that seemed to be without limits, going on forever.

Suddenly I remembered being a little girl, looking up into space while sitting on my rooftop, fascinated by the sky and the planets, sensing an invisible presence. For hours I'd stare at what I couldn't see but could feel more strongly than anything material. From my earliest memory, I always believed in God. Not so much the God of the Jewish religion in which I was raised, or any other religion for that matter, but a formless, ever-present being that twinkled through all things and lovingly watched over me. That same presence was now with me in the tunnel, more familiar and closer than it ever had been when I was a child. Enveloped by it, as if wrapped in a warm cashmere blanket on a cold winter's night, I was in perfect balance, impervious to harm, protected by an invisible but somehow tangible, sustaining life force.

Time had stopped, each moment stretching out into eternity. From what felt like a great distance away, I gazed through the shattered windshield, noticing soft moonlight streaming through the canyon. The car bounced off huge boulders, turning end over end through the air as we plummeted down the mountainside. And yet I never perceived that I was in the slightest danger; I experienced not a single moment of fear. With the coolness of a detached observer, I counted the times the car somersaulted: once, twice, three, four, all the way up to eight. Protected by the shelter of the tunnel, I remained in a void, suspended in free fall, not knowing if this was life or death.

As abruptly as I'd been pulled into it, I was jolted out of the tunnel and back into the present, just as the car crashed down on solid ground. With a high, shuddering bounce and a grating sound of steel against rock, we careened to a grinding halt, the front wheels of the car projecting over a narrow ledge. We were precariously balanced, actually teetering on the precipice.

Thrown by the impact of our landing, my companion and I had both ended up in the backseat. Fragments of broken glass were scattered all over the inside of the car, but miraculously, neither of us was hurt. We quickly realized, though, that we were still in danger: At any moment the car might slide forward and tumble into a large ravine below. We had to get out of there fast.

A live oak tree trying to crawl in through the window appeared to be our only available support. Without looking back I grabbed on to its branches and managed to pull myself out of the mangled car. My companion close behind, we scrambled up the side of the cliff, pushing through thickets of manzanita and wild mustard, barely penetrable scrub brush and wild chaparral. Trying to avoid the loose, unstable mounds of dirt and slippery leaves beneath our feet, we used shrubs as ropes to pull ourselves up the sheer hillside. Yet even as we inched our way to the top, I kept asking myself, Why were our lives spared? We should have been killed. Instead, we were walking away with hardly a scratch. And already the image of the tunnel haunted me.

Very relieved to be on solid ground again, we were soon able to hitchhike a ride down the winding canyon roads back into the city. Faint rays of pink dawn light were beginning to illuminate the hills. I don't think either of us said a single word the entire time, but I'm not certain. I have little recall of the trip. Staring off into space, I replayed the accident over and over in my mind, unable to account for how we could still be alive. Only a miracle could have saved us.

For many days, I blanked out the details of the actual fall but retained a few disjointed images. I could distinctly remember the car rolling over the cliff and the giddy, weightless, out-of-control sensations during the drop. It was like going over the first big dip on a gigantic roller coaster. I also recalled how every cell in my body had screamed in protest in the instant of the screeching, bone-jarring landing. As for the tunnel, I had no idea what to make of it. It was an enigma, a mystery I would continue to try to unravel for a long time to come.

For my parents, what happened that night was only the latest in a series of drug-related calamities in my life. I was their only child and they were frantic. It wasn't so long before that my mother had sung me to sleep with lullabies, that my father and I had played miniature golf on the weekends. I looked up to my parents, and I knew they both wanted my life to be easy, to shelter me, but the tighter their hold, the more I rebelled. When I began to take drugs, I could see I was breaking their hearts. I knew they feared for my safety, saw our relationship slipping away.. But I felt I had no choice. I had to break free. During the past years, they'd watched me change from being a quiet, sensitive girl into a stranger-unreachable, out of control.

Before the Tuna Canyon wreck, my parents had done all they could to get me some help. My mother, a strong-willed family practitioner, and my father, a soft-spoken radiologist, were both prominent physicians in Beverly Hills; they had the resources of the community behind them. A practical man, with a root integrity, successful but satisfied with the simplest pleasures, my father would look at me with his large oval, blue-green eyes as if trying to see where I'd gone. And my mother, powerful, gregarious, afraid I wouldn't fit in, seemed to be determined with all her intensity and faith to straighten me out, even at the risk of being overbearing. But I was stubborn and rebellious. I just wouldn't listen, was convinced my parents were incapable of truly understanding my inner struggles, perhaps because I didn't understand them myself.

Among other things, I was fed up with being so sensitive. I felt no one could understand me anyway-how I sometimes knew things about people before they said a word. Or how I made accurate predictions about the future, often unhappy ones. My father never gave these predictions much credence or even said anything about them. Loyal, a man of few words, he was a strong, steady presence; his chief concern was keeping peace in the family. His mind sought the concrete, was most comfortable with the world in which he'd succeeded so well. The strange, the unusual ? well, if it created problems, he was against it. But for my mother, my predictions seemed to touch a raw nerve. She never encouraged them; they made her uneasy, fearful that such talk would keep me from being normal. Much honored, my mother took enormous pride in being part of the Jewish community, the medical community, having a celebrity practice in Beverly Hills, many friends, a phone that never stopped ringing. But my predictions made me no more comfortable than they made her. In fact, I would have done anything to shut them off. And drugs could do that for me. They provided a way out and I took it.

After the accident, my parents did their best to protect me. The next morning, they packed up my things from our Westwood home and sent me to stay with some of their close friends in Malibu Colony, a well-guarded and affluent section of Malibu Beach. While they were deciding how best to help me, they insisted I remain there, isolated from my own friends, and most importantly, away from drugs. I knew their motives were good, but still I went grudgingly.

Nonetheless, I'd reached a turning point. My close brush with death had shaken me, but more than that, I'd undergone a passage, had in some strange way come back to myself. I couldn't stop thinking about the tunnel, its utter tranquillity, and the miracle that somehow, in defiance of the laws of physics, it allowed me to survive a catastrophic wreck.

When my parents dropped me off at the Malibu beach house, a dense fog was beginning to burn off as the sun lit up the coast. Disgruntled and moody, I settled in as best I could. Refusing to talk to anyone, I installed myself on the living room sofa and turned on the TV. There I lay, in a pink tie-dyed tank top and bell-bottom jeans with flowers embroidered on the pockets, mindlessly watching a Star Trek episode. Soon, however, my parents' friends barged in and introduced me to a neighbor. Viewing any interruption as an intrusion, I was hostile when I looked up at him, but I quickly did a double-take.

Jim was a tall, lean man in his midforties, with full, curly white hair and a white beard. He also happened to be standing in front of a backdrop of golden rays being reflected off the ocean, creating a halo effect. He looked like a storybook version of God. I wanted to burst out laughing, but I stopped myself. On sheer principle, I refused to cooperate, and laughing might be misconstrued as my "coming around." But in the celestial light of Jim's' presence, this whole mess suddenly took on a comic twist. Here I was, exiled in Malibu, very much alive for no apparent reason, and now a man who looked like God was towering over me.

Almost before I knew it, Jim was sitting on the couch beside me and gently asking me questions about myself. Annoyed by how forward he was, I wondered, Who is this man anyway? I wanted to dislike him, but somehow I couldn't. His large brown eyes and kind, unassuming manner soothed me. His presence gave me a feeling of acceptance, something I seldom experienced around adults. The quality of his voice and the tender way he looked at me seemed familiar, as if we'd sat together a thousand times before, though in fact no one in my life remotely resembled him.

I instantly connected with Jim, felt some sort of magical alliance between us. But there was no way in the world I was going to admit that to anybody. I'd programmed myself to be miserable, and nothing would change my stance. Adamant about refusing to give in to my parents' demands, I hardly spoke to him that first day. Eventually he said good-bye, got up, and left. I made a point of not watching him, kept my gaze fixed on the television.


Excerpted from Second Sight by Judith Orloff Copyright © 1996 by Judith Orloff, MD. Excerpted by permission.
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