Power - An Introduction to Psychics
Most people are
familiar with individuals who claim to possess special
powers of the mind, though
fewer understand the distinction between a 'psychic' and a 'medium'. The rather
general term 'psychic' is used to refer to those people allegedly
possessed of unusual mental powers such as telepathy and psychokenesis (also
known as 'telekinesis' - the movement of
objects by the mind alone). A 'medium', on the other hand, acts basically as
a human intermediary for messages
between 'spirits' and the physical world. The study of the effect of these
unusual powers and abilities is nowadays generally known by the
scientifically-sounding label 'parapsychology'.
of the Mind and ESP
One confusing point
on the subject of psychics and mediums is that the mental powers of both may overlap considerably.
For example, they may claim
various abilities which come under the general heading of Extra Sensory Perception, or ESP.
The term ESP was
coined by noted psychical researcher J.B. Rhine (1895-1980), who carried out
ground-breaking research into unexplained human abilities such as clairvoyance,
telepathy and precognition at Duke University, North Carolina.
A person with
ESP, a power of the mind often referred to as a 'sixth sense', can allegedly acquire or transmit information
by means other than the five ordinary senses. Controversial (and probably
fraudulent) Russian psychic
Kulagina displayed a range of apparently psychic abilities, while the English
C claimed to possess both psychic and mediumistic powers, including precognition
(prior knowledge of an event or situation before it occurs), psychokinesis and
telepathy. It must be stated that Kulagina and many other 'psychics' remain
controversial and have been accused of trickery on more than one occasion.
Another curious 'psychic ability' is automatic writing, where
material is recorded that does not originate in the conscious mind of the
writer. Both Pearl Curran (Patience Worth) and
Manning made extensive use of automatic writing, ostensibly as a
communication device between themselves and apparently discarnate entities,
though an origin in the subconscious of the writer is the most favoured
explanation for this phenomenon.
researchers, including Colin Wilson, have remarked on the similarities
between the mental abilities displayed by many psychics and mediums and the effects of a poltergeist. Indeed, Wilson went as far as to theorize that
many phenomena witnessed in the presence of psychics and mediums - objects moving around the
room of their own accord, knocks, raps,
changes in room temperature, were in effect controlled poltergeist
phenomena, that is, consciously controlled by the medium or psychic rather
than occurring randomly, as in poltergeist cases.
The heyday of
mediums coincided for the most part with the spread of Spiritualism in the US
and Europe during the mid to late 19th century. Of the thousands of those practicing
the art, or more often than not, the deception of
mediumship, only a few stand
out as noteable and unusual individuals. One
of these is Daniel Dunglas Home, a Scottish-born medium who displayed an
array of strange talents including levitation, psychokinesis and the playing of
musical instruments when nowhere near them. Controversial (she was caught
cheating on a number of occasions)
Italian medium Eusapia Palladino is alleged to have sent heavy tables and sofas flying into the
air, caused sudden drops in temperature, materialised human-like limbs
and attracted distant objects towards her. The story of
Cook , allegedly the first British medium to produce full form
materialisations in front of witnesses, and her 'spirit control' Katie King,
is one which remains controversial to this day, and though likely a fraud she still remains worthy
It must be noted
that the majority of the mystifying and sometimes alarming psychic phenomena associated with Home and Palladino and a few other 19th century mediums, have been claimed
by sceptical researchers to be confined entirely to the the Victorian
era, and are consequently seen as highly questionable. However, much of
the phenomena produced by these mediums has also been
demonstrated well into the 20th century by individuals like Stella C, and Matthew Manning among others.
Though of course this can often be explained in terms of simple fraud on the part of the
'psychics' and gullibility on the part of the investigators.
Sources and Further
Braude, S. E. The
Limits of Influence. Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1986.
Fodor, N. Encyclopaedia
of Psychic Science. University Books. 1966.
Gauld, A. Mediumship
and Survival. Paladin Books. 1983.
Brian. The Paranormal ? An
Encyclopedia of Psychic Phenomena. Granada publishing. 1985.
F.W.H. Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death,
University Books, 1961 (1903).
Anthony. The Supernatural, London, Blandford, 1998.
Podmore. F. Mediums
of the 19th Century. University Books. 1963 (1902).
G.N.M. The Personality of Man. Pelican Books. 1946.
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