Are there different types of psychic phenomena that people can display? If so, how do these abilities manifest and how do they differ from one another? Believe it or not, these questions have been a topic of serious — if somewhat fringe — study since the end of the 19th century.
Exploring the Big 5 Psychic Phenomena
Psychic phenomena, though they may seem somewhat illusive, are divided fairly neatly by the people who study them into five main categories: telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, and psychic healing. Let’s take a look at each of them in turn.
Telepathy is the relatively straightforward idea that two minds can communicate at a distance, usually instantaneously, without any sort of physical information passing between them.
The non-physical nature of this interaction is what truly makes it an act of telepathy rather than a physical transfer of thoughts and feelings.
For example, it isn’t unthinkable that technology might one day progress to allow us to read other people’s minds using some sort of signal transferring wave that the brain can pick up.
This would not be telepathy in the truest sense, as telepathy occurs irrespective of distance and without the use of any physical forces.
While telepathy takes place in the present moment, precognition refers to the ability to know something ahead of time.
Essentially, precognition is the ability to “see” the future (though this “seeing” may be more of an intuitive impression rather than actual visual imagery).
Sometimes the precognitive thought is clear and precise, but more often than not, it occurs as more of a vague feeling that, for example, something bad is about to happen right before receiving a phone call bearing bad news.
Clairvoyance can sometimes be confused with telepathy because it also takes place in the present moment. Clairvoyance, however, doesn’t involve the exchange of information between minds.
It involves one mind being able to perceive information about a physical location which is typically far away and which the person can not otherwise have access to.
Information gained from clairvoyance is usually visual in nature, and the clairvoyant will typically draw a picture or visually describe what they saw.
Psychokinesis (which you may have in the past heard of as telekinesis), involves the mind itself causing some sort of physical occurrence out in the physical world.
For example, psychokinesis usually manifests itself as the ability to move around a small object apparently by sheer force of will alone.
Out of the five psychic phenomena, psychokinesis is perhaps the rarest and the least studied, but it is nevertheless included because of some tantalizing claims of this ability throughout history.
Psychic healing was not traditionally grouped with other psychic phenomena, but with its rise in popularity among New Age circles, modern researchers tend to include it in their studies.
Psychic healing involves the ability to heal people, animals, and plants by someone’s intention alone, but it is usually carried out by bodily actions such as laying hands on the intended recipient.
Is There Any Evidence for These Psychic Phenomena?
It’s all well and good to give a name to these supposed psychic phenomena, but at the end of the day, the most important question is probably going to be “do they exist at all?”
The modern scientific world by and large chooses to believe that they don’t. Nevertheless, a group of committed researchers and writers steadfastly press on and claim that they do.
Researchers such as Dean Radin, Charles Tart, and Rupert Sheldrake claim to have carried out numerous experiments demonstrating the existence of psychic abilities.
Writer Chris Carter does a fantastic job presenting an overview of research about psychic phenomena in his book Science and Psychic Phenomena: The Fall of the House of Skeptics.
These and many other researchers, writers, and thinkers argue that it isn’t science which says such psychic phenomena don’t or can’t exist, but rather the philosophy of scientism.
In fact, they go further and assert that the proper application of the scientific method demonstrates how real these phenomena are.
If you’re interested in this topic at all, then you owe it to yourself to look deeper into the available research and writings. You might be surprised at what you discover.
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Also published on Medium.