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a. outside the possibilities defined by natural laws, as mental telepathy
b. (of a person) sensitive to forces not recognized by natural laws
2. mental as opposed to physical; psychogenic
3. Bridge (of a bid) based on less strength than would normally be required to make the bid
4. a person who is sensitive to parapsychological forces or influences


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

From the Greek psychiokos meaning “soul,” psychic, as an adjective, means an attunement of mind and body with subtle vibrations. The word as a noun is also applied to a person who is a sensitive; susceptible to spiritual influences. Camille Flammarion (1842–1925) was the first to use the word in France. E. W. Cox (d. 1879) was the first to use it in England.

A psychic picks up knowledge clairvoyantly, clairaudiently, clairsentiently, while fully conscious or, occasionally, in trance. He or she differs from a Spiritualist medium in that the latter receives information from the spirit world while the psychic gets the information purely through his or her own sensitivity. In other words, a psychic operates solely on the earth plane while a medium connects between the earth plane and the higher ethereal plane.

Much of the information received by a psychic may be obtained through extrasensory perception. The psychic may attune to another person to the point where they are able to “read” that person’s thoughts and get the information directly from them. However, many times the psychic will pick up information which is totally unknown to the person they are reading.

Psychics are also able to receive information from inanimate objects, such as handwriting, letters, and jewelry. This is termed psychometry. Many people claim to be psychic because they have occasional flashes of paranormal knowledge. Although no psychics seem to have a 100 percent success rate, many do have a very high percentage of success.

Often a psychic will need a “trigger” to spark the psychic knowledge. This may be in the form of tarot cards, a pendulum, or a crystal ball, for example. Others need no more than a few moments of concentration. Most people have the latent ability, which can be brought out through a strict regimen of exercises and constant practice. Some people seem to be born with the psychic facility, and from childhood demonstrate their abilities. A few, such as Peter Hurkos, seem to acquire an amazing degree of psychic ability after an illness or an accident of some sort, or a physical trauma often involving a blow to the head.


Buckland, Raymond: The Fortune–Telling Book: The Encyclopedia of Divination and Soothsaying. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 2004
Guiley, Rosemary Ellen: Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experience. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991
Shepard, Leslie A: Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology. New York: Avon Books, 1978
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