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Renowned psychic, bestselling author Sylvia Browne dies at 77

By Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 10:29 PM EST, Wed November 20, 2013
Psychic medium and author Sylvia Browne speaks to the audience during her appearance at Route 66 Casino's Legends Theater on November 13, 2010 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Psychic medium and author Sylvia Browne speaks to the audience during her appearance at Route 66 Casino's Legends Theater on November 13, 2010 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sylvia Browne dies at a San Jose hospital, her website states
  • She authored 22 books that became New York Times best sellers
  • She appeared on shows including "Montel" and "Larry King Live"
  • Browne wrote 2 months ago: "If you are afraid to die, you will not fully live"

(CNN) -- Renowned psychic Sylvia Browne -- a leader in the paranormal world who appeared regularly on television and radio and also wrote dozens of top-selling books -- died Wednesday in a northern California hospital, according to her website.

She was 77.

A believer in reincarnation as well as God, Browne conducted thousands of hypnotic regressions and hundreds of trance sessions to help people around the world, according to her official biography. She explained on CNN's Larry King Live that she both communicated with the dead and looked into the future.

"I don't know how I do it," Browne once explained on King's show. "I've done it all my life."

Her following extended well beyond those she helped directly. Some got to know her through her writings, others through the media -- including appearances on "Unsolved Mysteries," "Loveline with Dr. Drew" and "The Montel Williams Show," on which she was a weekly guest for 17 years.

2003: I get my powers come from God
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"I, like so many of you, lost a friend today," Williams said in a posting on Browne's website. "But, as has been for the last 20 years, she'll always remain a part of me."

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, during the Great Depression, Browne first became aware of her psychic abilities at age 3, her bio says.

It was a "very scary thing" for her when she realized as a youngster she could tell if someone was going to die, she told King in 2000.

"The only thing, I think, that saved my sanity was that there are so many -- well, we can track our lineage back to 300 years -- of psychics," Browne said.

After moving to California in 1964, she moved from helping people privately to doing so publicly to help "thousands of people gain control of their lives, live more happily, understand the meaning of life and to find God in their unique way," her website states.

She founded The Nirvana Foundation for Psychic Research in 1974, and went on to publish more than 50 books. According to her bio, 22 of those made it to the New York Times Best Sellers list.

Browne also trained ministers to help spread her thinking through the Society of Novus Spiritus organization, and created The Sylvia Browne Hypnosis Training Center to teach her hypnosis methods.

While beloved by many in the psychic community, Browne also had detractors. They included those critical of her remarks, on a 2004 episode of "The Montel Williams Show," that then-missing Amanda Berry was dead -- telling Berry's mother she would next see her daughter "in heaven, on the other side."

Berry ended up being rescued -- along with her young daughter, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus -- last May in the Cleveland home of Ariel Castro, where they'd been held captive for the better part of a decade. Browne subsequently posted a statement on her website saying, "If ever there was a time to be grateful and relieved for being mistaken, this is that time. Only God is right all the time."

Browne's Facebook page includes a September 10 posting stating, "If you are afraid to die, you will not fully live." The final message came less than a month ago, on October 27, when Browne wrote, "My one prayer every morning that has carried me through my life is, 'Hi God, it's me again.'

"It doesn't matter how you pray," she added. "It can be just simply talking to God. Remember, God knows your heart and soul."

Her website does not give a cause, but does say that Browne died at 7:10 a.m. Wednesday at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, California.

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