Interview: Damien Carlsteen: ‘I’m crazy, but not insane!’
Everything about Damien Carlsteen is special. His appearance, his whole presence actually. He is a clairvoyant, and uses this to make his decisions on the stock market. And I almost forgot to mention that he is exceedingly friendly. Immediately after we meet, he explains that he is autistic, so that I know why he doesn’t look me in the eye during our conversation. He explains what it means to be autistic. ‘I can only do one thing at a time; if I am disturbed by something while I’m busy doing my work, I get confused, retreat into myself, and am not very flexible. He tells this with some self-ridicule. He can do this because he has enough self-assurance. He knows what his weaknesses are, but also his strengths.
With the help of therapists who are specialized in autism, he is forced to live cut off from the outside world. ‘I must have structure in my life, they help me with that. And rest. The key to my life and success is rest.’ But it is a fascinating world he lives in with his shortcomings. He is in good company. Einstein was autistic, Bill Gates, and they even say that Picasso was too. An autistic person often has a stroke of genius. ‘I had to attend a special school because I couldn’t keep changing subjects all the time. I can’t speak English and then an hour later Dutch. Or have a geography lesson, followed by a biology lesson. Later I went to the Open University where I rapidly got one certificate after another because I could concentrate on one subject per certificate.’
During out conversation he keeps looking aside at my cellphone, which is lying on the table. Then he says, ‘I’m really afraid that the phone will start ringing and interrupt us.’ I put it away, but right afterwards the doorbell rings. Damien plows on courageously through the interruption.
When he was 25 he started working for a bank. During the weekly investment meetings he expressed his opinions on the stock market. After three months he was summoned to the director, who told him that he had conspicuously often made the right choices. “How do you do that?” Damien couldn’t give him a proper answer. Then the director asked him whether he had clairvoyant feelings. To Damien’s surprise the director didn’t react negatively. He thought it was great that his analyses were supported in this way by Damien. But several months later he was fired. They were afraid of the newspaper headlines: “Security bank is working with clairvoyant.” Informally however he kept giving him advice.
Two years later Damien asked a friend to look after him for a few months, so that he could devote himself completely to investing. Now the power of his autism helped him. His monomaniacal efforts earned him his first million that year.
Thereafter an acquaintance of his set up a company through which subscriptions were available to use his predictions. ‘Investors always use instruments, systems, visions, but I do it purely through feeling. But regardless they are happy when I support their actions. Even when I see things differently, they then choose for their own ideas, but more cautiously.’ I realize that I do believe his odd story. I tell him that if I were he, I would keep his gift a secret, because it could alienate people. Damien: ‘Yes, but it also attracts people. Sometimes because it is an extra affirmation of their own ideas, but also because many people recognize my gift. Moreover I don’t think much about this. I’m not sensitive to negative criticism. I learned a long time ago what I can and what I cannot do; and what is important to me. I have many limitations, but I can live with them. I’m only sensitive to my own negative criticism. I remember my first interview when everyone close to me warned me not to mention that I speculated based on my clairvoyance. But I told the interviewer anyway and before I knew it, everyone was coming to me. It struck me that I was being taken seriously and wasn’t being made fun of.
He devotes himself mainly to fluctuations of the market indices and commodities. It’s difficult for him when not much is happening on the stock market. A variation of five points in a week is too little for him. But Damien’s success on the stock market is not just due to his clairvoyance. He keeps well on top of what is going on, but the final decisions only reflect his hunches, intuition. ‘I do find it interesting to hear what others have to say, I read the trade journals. The stock market is my area of interest. Because I’m autistic, I concentrate on the details that others perhaps miss. As a matter of fact my vision stems from a kind of cocktail between clairvoyance and knowledge. I once made a prognosis that I didn’t feel good about. But it did seem right. And nevertheless it kept eating away at me, and then I switched everything around and this did come out right. My self-knowledge had come to my help.
‘Why do you still speculate, you have enough money.’
‘It gives me a lot of pleasure. Moreover I don’t want to be a hermit. The chance of that is very likely with my syndrome. Thanks to investing I keep up my contact with people.’
‘Does money play a big role for you?’
‘It doesn’t mean a thing to me any more. I take it for granted. I already have everything.’
‘How did you discover your gift?’
‘In the casino. I was there with my brother. It was actually too busy for me there and I wanted to leave, but my brother wanted to play. I said, “Bet on black.” It went well. We won a lot. At home I started guessing the color of playing cards. That also went well. Whenever I can’t sleep I still grab a deck of cards and predict primarily the colors, but often the whole card. When it goes well, I start calming down.’
‘What does clairvoyance mean to you in your daily life?’
‘In summary: Fun. It makes things easy for me. I feel useful. It gives me tranquility. I develop’ an idea of things and it always comes out. Once in a while it goes wrong though and then I have a big problem. A few weeks ago I wanted to stay in a hotel in Germany. I saw a sauna in my mind and wanted to go there. But it turned out that there was no sauna. I was so upset that I drove right home’
Rob van Olm