Parapsychologists use the term “psi” to describe all types of psychic phenomena. In addition to psi being the 23rd letter in the Greek alphabet, it refers to experiences of the human mind that cannot be explained by traditional scientific principles. Examples of psi are telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, apparitions, hauntings and poltergeists, and out-of-body and near death experiences.
Equally important is to clarify what psi is not. The study of psi does not include UFOs, Bigfoot, the lost city of Atlantis, or other unexplained phenomena. In other words, parapsychology is not the study of unsolved mysteries, but instead, focuses on study of psychic phenomena, experiences, or events and how the mind or consciousness may explain them.
There are five areas referred to as psi that parapsychologists study most commonly:
1. Telepathy – the ability to obtain information outside of the “normal” senses, usually by understanding the thoughts or ideas of others. An individual who is telepathic may hear the words of the thoughts of another person, see images that represent those thoughts, or understand the thoughts as concepts. A telepath may also be able to send and receive messages to or from another person.
2. Clairvoyance/precognition – the ability to obtain information outside of the “normal” senses through visual “seeing” future events. Typically, this ability is described as seeing a vision or a “full color movie’ playing in the mind of the individual having the experience.
3. Psychokinesis (or mind over matter) – the ability to influence a physical system without physical intervention. In other words, the ability to move an object without touching it. One example is Electronic Voice Phenomena or EVP – when a spirit (ghost) is able to influence a digital recording device to include their responses to our questions (an example of micro-PK).
4. Apparitions, hauntings and poltergeists – There are many areas included in this category. Apparitions are considered to be ghosts (or spirits, the term I prefer to use), while hauntings typically refers to “place memory” or residual hauntings, which are incidents and emotions that are recorded by a building or place where they occurred. The difference between apparitions and hauntings is that apparitions are interactive, while hauntings simply repeat as a voice or video recording would repeat each time you play it. Common hauntings are hearing footsteps, knocks, or seeing a vision of a spirit in the same place and often at the same time of day or night. Poltergeists (German for “noisy ghost”) are responsible for throwing objects, shaking beds, and creating disorder. In parapsychology in the U.S., poltergeists are considered to be human-caused PK events. The “agent” of PK is typically someone under stress or in emotional turmoil and often involves a teenager or young person. In Europe, however, the term poltergeist is still used to refer to disruptive ghosts.
5. Near Death Experiences (NDEs) – a personal experience when someone is near death that includes a feeling of detachment from the body, floating above oneself, feelings of serenity and peace, and a vision of a bright light. NDEs often include seeing relatives that have passed on previously welcoming or greeting the individual having this experience.
Related: How Psychic Are You – Test
One fascinating fact about these 5 most commonly studied areas within psi is that scientists in parapsychology have been studying them since 1882. Findings from this long history of research will be presented in future articles, but it’s safe to say that evidence of psi has been well documented over the years and continues to be well-studied to this day.
So now you know that the field of parapsychology is much more than a reality TV fad!
Dr. Carol Pollio is the Director of Intuitive Investigations, a paranormal investigation and spirit rescue organization. After a successful career as a Chief Scientist in a federal land management agency and having honorably served 31 years in the military reserve, Dr. Pollio is now focusing on the field of parapsychology, blending her knowledge of scientific principles with her intuitive abilities and psychic mediumship skills. She is also a certified Parapsychological Field Investigator with the Office of Paranormal Investigations and an Elemental Space Clearing® Practitioner.