A psychic is a person who claims to employ extrasensory perception (ESP) to detect information not visible to the naked eye, such as telepathy or clairvoyance, or who performs acts that appear to defy natural law, such as psychokinesis or apportation. Despite the fact that many individuals believe in psychic abilities, scientists agree that there is no proof of their existence, classifying the practise as pseudoscience. The adjective “psychic” is also used to characterise such talents. Psychics are people who play a number of roles. Some are theatrical artists, such as stage magicians, who employ various techniques to create the impression of such skills for entertainment purposes, such as prestidigitation, cold reading, and hot reading. People who represent themselves as psychics provide advise and counsel to clients, which has grown into a significant industry and network. Edgar Cayce, Ingo Swann, Peter Hurkos, Janet Lee, Jose Ortiz El Samaritano, Miss Cleo, John Edward, Sylvia Browne, and Tyler Henry are some well-known psychics. Psychic investigators claim psychic abilities, as do practitioners of psychic archaeology and even psychic surgery. Psychic abilities have been blamed on deception or self-deception by critics. The National Academy of Sciences of the United States issued a report on the subject in 1988, concluding that there is “no scientific justification for the existence of parapsychological phenomena based on research conducted over a 130-year period.” A recent study attempted to replicate parapsychological studies that appeared to demonstrate the presence of precognition. Attempts to replicate the results, which included taking a memory test to see if post-test knowledge affected the results, “failed to create substantial effects” and so “do not support the existence of psychic ability.” Psychics appear in science fiction and fantasy stories from time to time. The Star Wars franchise, which has “Force-sensitive” people that can see into the future and move items telekinetically, as well as Dungeons & Dragons and some of Stephen King’s writings, are just a few examples of fiction containing characters with psychic abilities.
An individual who has or claims to have extrasensory perception or ESP and possesses psychic abilities is called a psychic. Psychics are capable of finding obscure information from the usual senses, especially those involving clairvoyance or telepathy. Psychics often seem to do things that seem unexplainable by natural laws or scientific laws, like apportation or psychokinesis.
Scientists and many people are usually skeptical of believing in psychics due to a lack of scientific evidence of their abilities and regard psychic powers as pseudoscience. The criticizers of psychics usually relegate them to things like intentional trickery and self-delusion. Studies have often been done to find any scientific basis behind psychic powers, but substantial evidence has not been found yet. In 1988, the US National Academy of Sciences attempted such a study and concluded that no scientific justification exists for psychic abilities or any other parapsychological phenomena.
The word ‘psychic’ originates from the Greek term ‘psychikos,’ which means mental or of the mind and is used in reference to the human mind. ‘Psychikos’ also means soul. In Greek and Roman mythology, the goddess of the soul is called Psyche. The word ‘psychic’ is also used to refer to such qualities as an adjective to describe particular skills, apart from using to as a noun.
A Brief History Of Psychic Abilities
The word ‘psychic’ is said to have been first used by the French spiritualist and astronomer Camille Flammarion, probably in French. The term was introduced to the English language later in the 1870s by an English lawyer named Edward William Cox.
Ancient Near East & The Bible
References to psychic abilities and psychics have existed throughout history. In ancient times, divination and fortune-telling practices were prevalent. Astrology was the most commonly known form of fortune-telling. The relative positions of celestial bodies were studied, which was supposed to give some hidden insight into a person’s life and even predict their future.
Fortune tellers would make predictions, sometimes in the form of visions. People who possessed these abilities were called seers, prophets, and clairvoyants. Seers often worked as advisors, priests, and even judges in early civilizations. Often courts had official seers who would make predictions or prophecies or have visions about the future of the kingdom.
Examples of seers also exist in biblical accounts, like in the Book of Samuel in the Hebrew Bible. There are also references to psychics in ancient Egyptian and Assyrian cultures. In Memphis or Men-nefer, the ancient capital of Inebu-hedj in Egypt, the priests of Ra, the sun deity, often acted as seers.
The Oracle Of Apollo At Delphi
The Delphic Oracle is one of the most famous examples of psychic abilities in history, particularly from classical antiquity. Pythia, the title given to the high priestess of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, served at its oracle. It was believed that Apollo inspired the Pythia during rituals which led her to make prophecies. The practice began in a systematic fashion around the 8th century BCE.
The Pythia was said to deliver oracles in an agitated state which was brought about by vapors rising from the ground. People believed that the high priestess spoke in the voice of Apollo, which only appeared as gibberish to the ordinary person.
The position of the Pythia was held by a succession of women who were chosen, probably, from the guild of the priestess of the Apollo Temple. Historical records show that the last prophecy given by the Pythia was in 393 AD, when the Roman emperor Theodosius I, a devout Christian, banned this practice in the pagan temples.
Another famous example of psychic abilities is the prophecies of Nostradamus during the period of the French Renaissance around the 15th and 17th centuries. Nostradamus or Michel de Nostredame was a French apothecary and seer. He wrote a collection of predictions published in his book Les Propheties in 1555.
New Age Movements
The new age religious movement of Modern Spiritualism gained momentum in the mid-nineteenth century in Europe and America. Members of the Modern Spiritual Movement believed in the psychic ability to contact the dead through mediums. Daniel Dunglas Home was a well-known Scottish physical medium who was said to be able to converse with the dead as well as possess the ability to levitate.
Other such movements developed throughout the nineteenth century, such as the Theosophical Society of Helena Blavatsky and the later New Age movement, which believed in psychic powers. In contemporary times, psychics are mostly seen as part of the New Age culture who provide psychic readings at fairs or tourist places.
Psychic reading is the precise art and practice of inferring guidance using one’s heightened ability to perceive sound, taste, sight, touch, and instinct. These increased abilities or natural extensions of one’s perceptual skills are termed claircognizance, clairsentience, clairaudience, and clairvoyance.
The cold reading technique of psychic reading allows the psychic to read the social cues and statements given by a person to elicit some hidden knowledge. There is a fair amount of widespread interest in psychic readings, and thus, they have persisted till now. But they are generally regarded as juvenile activities rather than giving some profound truth.
Unlike other paranormal and esoteric beliefs, psychic readings are subject to skeptical inquiry and are mostly considered a pseudoscience, lacking any scientific basis. Various kinds of psychic readings exist, such as rune reading, tarot reading, astrology, palm reading, numerology, aura readings, cleromancy, and psychometry. Tarot, palm readings, and astrology are the most popular choices. Psychics usually specialize in particular types of psychic reading techniques.
Psychic Professions & Representation In Media
Psychic professions and representation in media often extends to psychics working as stage performers, usually stage magicians, and use techniques such as cold and hot readings, prestidigitation, etc., to create spectacles and entertain the audience. Psychics also work as tarot readers, psychic counselors, and even psychic detectives. Some arcane professions involving psychics are psychic archaeology and psychic surgery.
Authors and moviemakers have often used psychic powers as significant plot points in fiction, especially fantasy and science fiction novels and films. Some well-known examples in pop culture are the fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons and the ‘Force-sensitive’ beings in the Star Wars movies.