What Is a Psychic? A Comprehensive Guide to Extrasensory Perception

What Is a Psychic? A Comprehensive Guide to Extrasensory Perception

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Written By Haunting Realm

Adventurer. Cryptozoology enthusiast. Paranormal investigator. Storyteller.

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Psychics have significantly impacted society and culture, from ancient times to modern online platforms. Their abilities continue to intrigue and provoke thought.

In the digital age, psychic services have adapted to meet the needs of a tech-savvy audience. Online psychic readings have become increasingly popular, providing convenient and immediate access to psychic guidance. 

These services range from tarot readings to mediumship sessions and can be conducted via phone, video call, or text. 

Despite skepticism, the demand for these services continues to grow, indicating a sustained interest in psychic phenomena.

Introduction to Psychics and Psychic Abilities

Definition of Psychic Abilities

Psychic abilities refer to the purported ability to perceive information hidden from the normal senses through extrasensory perception (ESP), or to influence the physical world with the mind’s power, a phenomenon often termed as psychokinesis

These abilities are beyond the scope of the physical world and are associated with the human mind’s extraordinary capabilities.

Different Types of Psychic Abilities

Psychic abilities, often referred to as extrasensory perception (ESP), encompass a wide range of phenomena. Here’s a more detailed explanation of some of the most common types:

  1. Clairvoyance: Often referred to as “clear seeing,” clairvoyance is the alleged ability to obtain information about distant or unseen targets through means beyond the five senses. This could involve perceiving events in the future (precognition), viewing distant events (remote viewing), or seeing events hidden by physical barriers.
  2. Telepathy: This term comes from the Greek words “tele,” meaning distant, and “pathos,” meaning feeling, and it refers to the purported ability to communicate thoughts or ideas from one mind to another without using physical senses. This could involve reading another person’s thoughts (mind-reading) or influencing another person’s thoughts (mental suggestion).
  3. Mediumship: Mediumship is the claimed ability to communicate with spirits who have passed on. Mediums often serve as a conduit between the living and the dead, delivering messages or channeling spirits during séances. Some mediums claim to communicate with specific individuals, while others may deliver messages from spirits in general.
  4. Psychometry: Also known as “token-object reading,” psychometry involves obtaining information about a person or an object by touching it. Psychometrists claim to perceive impressions or visions that reveal details about the object’s history or the people associated with it.
  5. Precognition: From the Latin words “pre,” meaning before, and “cognition,” meaning knowing, precognition is the alleged ability to perceive events before they happen. This could involve seeing visions of the future or experiencing dreams that later come true.
  6. Retrocognition: Also known as postcognition, retrocognition is the purported ability to perceive past events, often far beyond the reach of memory.

The History of Psychics

In ancient societies, psychics, often referred to as seers, prophets, oracles, or shamans, were highly revered individuals believed to possess supernatural powers. 

They were considered intermediaries between the human world and the divine realm, capable of foreseeing the future, interpreting dreams, healing the sick, and communicating with spirits.

Ancient psychics. Oracle Pythia painting by Camillo Miola
In 1880, Camillo Miola painted “The Oracle,” an oil on canvas artwork that portrays the Pythia (the Delphic oracle) seated on a tripod, with priests or officiants surrounding her. Image credit: Encyclopædia Britannica.

Ancient Psychics and Oracles

The Oracle of Delphi was a well-known and influential psychic figure in ancient Greece. 

The Pythia, who served as the high priestess of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, was believed to possess the ability to communicate with the gods and provide prophecies. During a trance-like state, she would deliver cryptic messages interpreted by the temple priests. 

These prophecies were influential in Greek politics and warfare, and leaders from all over the Mediterranean sought her advice before making important decisions.

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In addition to the Pythia, there were other notable psychics in ancient Greece. 

For instance, Tiresias, a character in Greek mythology, was a blind prophet who was said to have lived for seven generations. He is a prominent figure in many Greek tragedies, including Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and Homer’s Odyssey.

In ancient Rome, the Sibyls were women believed to possess prophetic powers. The most famous of these was the Cumaean Sibyl, who was said to have sold nine books of prophecy to the Roman King Tarquin the Proud. 

These Sibylline Books were consulted in times of great crisis, and their prophecies were considered significant to the state.

In ancient Egypt, priests and priestesses acted as oracles, interpreting the gods’ will through dreams and visions. The god Thoth, revered for his wisdom and magic, was frequently invoked in these divinatory practices. 

The significance of these practices cannot be understated, as they played a vital role in shaping the lives and fortunes of the ancient Egyptians.

Similarly, shamans were highly respected in the ancient Americas for their ability to serve as healers, seers, and intermediaries between humans and the spirit world. 

They conducted powerful rituals, interpreted dreams, and were believed to possess the power to control the weather, heal the sick, and predict the future. 

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These shamanic practices were integral to the daily lives of many ancient American societies and helped shape these fascinating civilizations’ spiritual and cultural identities.

These examples illustrate the significant role that psychics played in ancient societies. 

They were spiritual guides and influential figures in politics and decision-making processes. Their perceived abilities to foresee the future, communicate with the divine, and heal the sick made them indispensable in their societies. 

Despite the skepticism and controversy surrounding psychic abilities today, their influence and importance in ancient times are undeniable.

Psychics in Modern Times

In modern times, the term “psychic” has become more common, and these individuals often offer their services in various ways, such as psychic readings, mediumship, and even assisting in criminal investigations. 

The rise of the internet has also led to the proliferation of online psychic readings. Despite skepticism and criticism, many people continue to believe in psychic abilities and seek guidance. 

Famous modern psychics like Edgar Cayce, Ingo Swann, and Sylvia Browne have made significant contributions to the field and have garnered a considerable following due to their purported abilities.

Famous Psychics in History

Edgar Cayce – The Sleeping Prophet

Edgar Cayce (1877-1945), often called “The Sleeping Prophet,” was one of the most renowned psychics of the 20th century. 

Born in a farming community in Kentucky, Cayce exhibited psychic abilities from a young age. However, only after a hypnotic trance in 1901, where he diagnosed his health condition, his abilities gained public attention. 

Cayce would enter a self-induced sleep state allowing him to answer questions or make predictions, earning him the moniker “The Sleeping Prophet.”

Edgar Cayce
Edgar Cayce was an American clairvoyant who claimed to communicate messages from his higher self while in a trance-like state. His words were recorded by his friend Al Layne, his wife Gertrude Evans, and later by his secretary Gladys Davis Turner.

Cayce’s Contributions and Predictions

Cayce’s readings covered many topics, including health, reincarnation, dreams, and predictions of future events. His health readings, in particular, contributed significantly to holistic health and natural medicine. 

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Cayce’s predictions included the stock market crash of 1929 and World War II. He also predicted future geological changes, some of which have yet to occur. 

Despite the controversy surrounding his work, Cayce’s contributions to the field of psychic phenomena and his influence on popular culture are undeniable.

Ingo Swann – The Father of Remote Viewing

Ingo Swann (1933-2013) was a psychic, artist, and author best known for his work in the field of remote viewing. 

Born in Colorado, Swann’s psychic abilities were recognized early, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that his skills were put to scientific testing. 

Swann participated in a series of experiments conducted by the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), which led to the development of what is now known as “remote viewing.”

Swann’s Contributions to Remote Viewing

Remote viewing is a psychic discipline that allows a viewer to describe or give details about a target inaccessible to normal senses due to distance, time, or shielding. 

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Swann’s work with SRI and later with the U.S. government’s Stargate Project helped establish the protocols for remote viewing and demonstrated its potential applications, such as espionage. Swann’s contributions to the field have earned him the title “The Father of Remote Viewing.” 

His work has left a lasting impact on how psychic abilities are understood and studied, and his legacy continues to influence the field of psychic research.

Psychics in Literature and Film

Psychics and their abilities have long fascinated the public, influencing various aspects of popular culture, particularly literature and film. 

Characters with psychic abilities are common in science fiction and fantasy genres. 

For instance, Stephen King’s The Shining features a young boy with “the shining,” a form of psychic ability. In film, movies like Minority Report and The Sixth Sense revolve around psychic characters and their abilities, further popularizing the concept.

The Popularity of Psychic Readings

The popularity of psychic readings has indeed surged in recent years, with a growing number of individuals turning to psychics for guidance and insight into various aspects of their lives. 

This trend can be attributed to several factors, including the increasing acceptance of spiritual practices, the desire for personal insight, and the convenience offered by digital platforms.

One of the primary reasons people seek psychic readings is to gain clarity about their personal lives. This can involve questions about love and relationships, career choices, financial issues, or personal growth. 

Psychics, through their claimed abilities, provide insights, advice, and predictions that can help individuals navigate these complex areas of life.

In love and relationships, for instance, people often turn to psychics to understand their current relationship dynamics, find out when they will meet their soulmate, or gain insights into unresolved issues. 

In terms of career, a psychic reading might guide when to pursue a job opportunity, how to navigate workplace dynamics, or what steps to take to achieve professional goals.

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The rise of the internet has indeed made psychic readings more accessible than ever. 

Numerous websites and apps now offer services, from tarot readings to mediumship sessions, astrology readings, and more. 

These platforms often provide features like user reviews and ratings, video call options, and secure payment methods, making the process of getting a psychic reading as easy as a few clicks.

Moreover, the availability of online psychic readings has made it possible for individuals to seek psychic guidance from the comfort of their homes at any time that suits them. 

This convenience, coupled with the ability to choose from a wide range of psychics with different specialties, has contributed significantly to the popularity of online psychic readings.

Another factor contributing to the popularity of psychic readings is the portrayal of psychics in popular culture. Movies, TV shows, and books often depict psychics and psychic phenomena, sparking curiosity and interest in real-life psychic readings.

The Role of Psychics in Criminal Investigations

Psychics have often claimed to assist in solving criminal cases by providing insights or clues that conventional methods could not uncover. 

Famous Cases Solved by Psychics

Here are some notable cases where psychics claim to have provided valuable assistance:

  1. The Yorkshire Ripper: In the late 1970s, British psychic Gerard Croiset was asked to help in the case of the Yorkshire Ripper, a serial killer who had taken the lives of several women in Northern England. Croiset described the killer and his vehicle, which some believe was accurate.
  2. The Atlanta Child Murders: In the early 1980s, psychic Dorothy Allison claimed to have provided accurate information about the perpetrator and victims in the Atlanta Child Murders case.
  3. The Pollock Twins: In this case, a psychic predicted the reincarnation of two girls who had died in a car accident. The prediction was reportedly fulfilled when the girls’ mother gave birth to twins who exhibited similar behaviors and recognized toys that belonged to their deceased sisters.
  4. The Green River Killer: Psychic Noreen Renier was involved in the case of the Green River Killer, providing details that were later verified when the killer, Gary Ridgway, was caught.
Famous Cases Solved by Psychics
Psychics have been known to aid in solving criminal cases by providing unconventional insights or clues that traditional methods may have missed. While their participation in high-profile cases such as the Yorkshire Ripper and the Atlanta Child Murders has been met with controversy, it highlights their potential role in criminal investigations. Image credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Controversy Surrounding Psychic Detectives

Despite these claims, the use of psychics in criminal investigations is controversial. Critics argue that psychic information is vague and non-specific, leading to false leads and wasted resources. 

Organizations like the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry have criticized the media’s portrayal of psychic detectives, stating that it promotes pseudoscience and detracts from legitimate investigative methods. 

Despite the controversy, some law enforcement agencies and victims’ families continue to turn to psychics when traditional methods fail, indicating a continued belief in the potential of psychic abilities.

Research and Studies on Psychic Abilities

Over the years, numerous scientific experiments have been conducted to test the validity of psychic abilities. 

The Ganzfeld Experiments

The Ganzfeld experiments are among the most well-known studies in parapsychology. Conducted in the 1970s and 1980s, these experiments aimed to test for the existence of telepathy, or mind-to-mind communication. 

The term “Ganzfeld” is German for “complete field,” referring to the sensory deprivation technique used in the experiments.

In a typical Ganzfeld experiment, a “sender” would try to mentally transmit an image or video clip to a “receiver” in a different room. 

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The receiver, who was in a state of mild sensory deprivation (with half ping pong balls over their eyes and white noise playing in their headphones), would then describe their mental impressions, which were compared with the actual image or clip.

The results of the Ganzfeld experiments have been mixed. 

Some studies have reported statistically significant results, suggesting that the receivers could perceive the target information at a rate higher than chance. 

However, other researchers have failed to replicate these findings, and the experiments have been criticized for methodological flaws.

The Stargate Project and Remote Viewing

The Stargate Project was a secret U.S. government program conducted in the 1970s and 1980s that aimed to investigate the potential military and domestic applications of psychic phenomena, particularly “remote viewing.” 

Remote viewing is a purported psychic ability that allows a person to perceive and describe a distant or unseen target.

One of the most notable participants in the Stargate Project was Ingo Swann, a psychic often credited with developing the remote viewing protocol. 

Swann and other participants in the project conducted remote viewing sessions to gather information about various targets, ranging from concealed objects to secret military bases.

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While some of the results were reportedly impressive, the Stargate Project was eventually shut down in 1995. 

The official statement suggested that the results could have been more reliable and applicable enough for intelligence operations. However, the project’s declassified files have continued to fuel interest and debate about the potential of psychic abilities.

In addition to these experiments, numerous other studies have been conducted in the field of parapsychology, investigating phenomena such as precognition (knowing future events), psychokinesis (influencing physical objects with the mind), and survival of consciousness after death. 

While these studies have often reported positive results, they have also been met with skepticism and criticism, and the existence of psychic phenomena remains a topic of ongoing debate.

Skepticism and Criticism of Psychic Abilities

Critics of psychic phenomena often argue that there is no scientific basis for such abilities and that positive experiment results are due to factors like fraud, self-deception, confirmation bias, or mere coincidence. 

They also point out that many psychics still need to provide accurate information under controlled conditions.

The James Randi Educational Foundation and The One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge

One of the most prominent skeptics of psychic phenomena was James Randi, a magician and scientific skeptic who founded the James Randi Educational Foundation. 

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The foundation famously offered a one million dollar prize to anyone who could demonstrate psychic abilities under controlled conditions. 

Despite numerous attempts, the prize was never claimed, further fueling skepticism about the existence of psychic abilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are psychics real?

The existence of psychic abilities is a topic of ongoing debate. While many individuals claim to have psychic abilities and have provided seemingly accurate information or predictions, no scientific consensus currently supports the existence of psychic phenomena.
However, research in parapsychology continues, and many people find personal value and guidance in psychic readings.

How do psychics see things?

Psychics claim to perceive information through extrasensory perception (ESP), a purported sense beyond the five physical senses. 

This can manifest in various ways, such as seeing visions (clairvoyance), hearing messages (clairaudience), or simply having a strong intuitive sense (clairsentience).

What are psychic abilities?

Psychic abilities refer to a range of phenomena beyond the scope of typical sensory experience. 

These can include telepathy (mind-to-mind communication), clairvoyance (seeing things that are hidden or far away), precognition (knowing things before they happen), and mediumship (communicating with spirits).

How do psychics claim to access hidden information?

Psychics claim to access hidden information through their psychic abilities, often described as a heightened form of intuition or a “sixth sense.” This can involve tuning into subtle energies, receiving visions or impressions, or connecting with spiritual entities.

Can psychics predict the future?

Some psychics claim to be able to predict the future, a phenomenon known as precognition. However, these predictions are often general and open to interpretation. It’s also important to note that the future is not set in stone and can be influenced by our actions and decisions.

Are psychic powers scientifically proven?

While scientific studies have been on psychic phenomena, the results have been mixed and often controversial. Currently, there is no definitive scientific proof of psychic powers. However, research in this area continues.

What is telepathy and clairvoyance?

Telepathy is the purported ability to communicate thoughts or ideas from one mind to another without using physical senses. 

On the other hand, clairvoyance is the alleged ability to gain information about an object, person, location, or event through means other than the known human senses.

How can one develop psychic abilities?

Some people believe everyone has some innate psychic abilities, which can be developed through meditation, intuitive development exercises, and energy work. 

However, it’s important to approach such practices with a healthy dose of skepticism and critical thinking.

Do all psychics possess the same abilities?

No, not all psychics possess the same abilities. Some may specialize in one area, such as clairvoyance or mediumship, while others may have a range of abilities.

Are there any famous psychics in history?

Yes, many famous psychics have existed throughout history, including Edgar Cayce, known as “The Sleeping Prophet,” and Ingo Swann, known for his work in remote viewing.

What is the difference between a psychic and a medium?

While all mediums are psychics, not all psychics are mediums. Psychics perceive information through ESP, while mediums specifically communicate with spirits.

Can psychics communicate with the spirit world?

Mediums, a subset of psychics, claim to communicate with the spirit world. However, the existence of the spirit world and the ability to communicate with it is a matter of personal belief and is not supported by scientific evidence.


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  • Science contradicts Psi. Skeptical Inquirer.
  • Featured image credit: CrysalGazer.