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I began this series of conversations in order to explore different ways of noticing, and the distinct realities those ways of noticing reveal. What do futurists see when they pay attention compared to naturalists? How is that different from what designers see? Where do these diverse perspectives meet and what can we learn if we stand at the intersections?

Patrician McCarthy’s way of seeing is one of the most unique — in the country, for sure, and even in the world. She is the renowned master of a 3,000 year old practice called Mien Shiang, that integrates the Taoist techniques of Medical Facial Diagnosis, Chinese Face Reading and the Five Element Theory. She is also Founder and President of the Mien Shiang Institute, where she teaches the practice to others and advises a large, diverse collection of clients.

In her work, Patrician looks at faces: CEOs of multinational corporations (and their teams), physicians (and their patients), political leaders, academics, movie stars, olympic athletes, trial lawyers (and the people they try), and thousands of other characters who are simply interested to know themselves and the people around them better.

She looks at the same things we all see: sizes, colors, shapes, relationships between features — but what she sees in these features, and the affect she has on the people who wear them, is profound.

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She sees character, virtues (and probably vice though she won’t say), challenges and strengths. She can see if you rebelled from your parents as a kid, how anxious your mother was when she was carrying you. She knows what the difference is between what’s happening on the inside vs the outside of you, and sometimes, whether you need to get your liver checked. And she brings 3,000 years of wisdom to bear on helping people balance it all out.

Spending time with Patrician is a gift. She opens new worlds, and makes them accessible. It’s like walking through the woods with a master birder who untangles and translates bird song that is beautiful but unintelligible to normal ears and points out creatures who are always there but invisible to untrained eyes. Except that Patrician can see the whole forest in a single face.

Seeing what’s beneath the surface is essential in our current culture. Otherwise we might go mad or succumb to the numbness that has become permanent protection — like a bullet-proof vest we wear to protect us from the grief of watching our species and country decline.

Patrician is appropriately named. She is nobility, channeled through ancient wisdom. She offers proof that seeing deeply is possible, and that there is something worth seeing beneath the surface. You can learn more about her, her practice, teaching and books here. And, learn more from Patrician herself in the video below.