What is Telepathy?


Is it possible to transmit your thoughts and ideas through the air, to another human being, without ever opening your mouth or reaching for a pen (or smartphone)? Can humans truly reach such a peak of wordless understanding?

For spiritualists and alternative healers who believe in telepathy, the answer is undoubtedly yes.

What is Telepathy?

Telepathy, coming from the Greek tele (far) and patheia (perception or feeling), is a concept which stipulates that certain people can transmit thoughts and feelings over distances with only their minds. In short, it is understood by most people as the ability to undertake direct and unspoken communication. To speak directly into the mind of another and be understood as clearly as if you were writing or physically saying the words.

What most people don’t realize, however, is that there are different kinds of telepathic communication and ‘power’.

Kinds of Telepathic Ability

  1. Telepathic Impression:

The ability to implant images, feelings, and words into someone else’s mind with your own. Unlike other forms, this is not a clear method of communication, but rather a transplanting of vague concepts and strong feelings.

  1. Mind Reading:

The ability to ‘hear’ the thoughts of another without transmitting your own or affecting their thoughts and feelings.

  1. Mental Communication:

The iconic ‘movie’ form of telepathy whereby people speak directly to each other as if on the phone, using only their minds.

  1. Mind Control:

The ability to use telepathic powers to manipulate, compel, or control the thoughts of another person.

Of course, the real question is whether there is any credibility to these beliefs.

‘Transference’ and ‘Thought Impressions’; The History of Telepathy

Many people find it surprising that though the concept is old, the term ‘telepathy’ was only coined in the 1800s. Founding father of the Society for Psychical Research Frederic W. H. Meyer brought the term into use as a substitute for the archaic term ‘thought transference’ and it has been known as such since then.

However, religion has grappled with such concepts for thousands of years. The Quran stipulates that our spirit guides can communicate as such, and the Bible states very clearly that God knows the thoughts and desires of humanity and shows that Jesus knew the thoughts of his disciples. The Bible, however, denies that humans can have such a power, stating that man can only know the spirit within him (Matthew 9:4, Corinthians 2:11).

Despite this, many people believe that telepathy is a form of divining, magic, or ESP. In fact, some even credit the predictions of figures like Nostradamus with a very specific form of telepathy known as ‘precognition’. In the past, telepathic communication was considered a form of witchcraft or divine power (depending on who you spoke to). In fact, women in 16th and 17th century Britain and America who were brought trial for witchcraft often faced charges of using powers that we would telepathic or telekinetic today.

So, telepathy has a long history, but it is more openly discussed and interacted with as a concept and belief today than ever before.

Revenge and Retribution; Telepathy and Telekinesis in Modern Media

Modern media has taken to occult, supernatural, and folkloric beliefs like a duck to water, as they say. Movies, books, comics, and even some music videos have depicted people displaying abilities that would be classed as telepathic or telekinetic, even when they are called by different names.

The most infamous example is perhaps Stephen King’s Carrie (1974) which depicts the murderous, telekinetic rage of a bullied teenage girl. More recently Seconds Apart (2011) covers the telepathic power of two twins, Seth and Jonah, as their classmates begin to die in gruesome and frightening ways.

It’s not always doom and gloom, however, Matilda (1996)is a warm and loving story about a little girl who discovers the power of her mind and uses it for good, and the Superhero genre has a long history of heroes and heroines who display such powers. This has led many to list telepathy and telekinesis high on the list of superpowers they wish they had (though flying always tops the list).

Which begs the question; can it all be real?

Is Telepathy Real?

There are thousands of modern spiritualists who argue that telepathic communication is very possible. So much so that they offer ways of nurturing and increasing this power and advice on the potential dangers of using it. Those who believe state that there is another form of telepathy known as empathy, which is the passive ability to feel and experience the emotions of another, especially when they are strong.

The development, and use, of telepathy, they say, requires the opening of your mind’s eye and this has consequences. Depending on who you speak to, you may hear that such actions open you to psychic influence, or even bring you to the attention of spirits and non-human entities. Thus, such talents are often seen as a gift and a curse.

Nonetheless, there is no concrete, scientific evidence that telepathic or telekinetic abilities are real. There are those who have tried to study them under laboratory conditions, especially in the ’70s, to no avail. Where results were gathered, replication has proven impossible. This doesn’t prevent people from believing, of course, but the jury is still out in academic communities at least.

So, What is Telepathy?

With all this conflicting information available, it is hard to pin down the ‘truth’ about telepathic and telekinetic abilities. What we do know, however, is that people all over the world believe in this power. We know that telepathy comes in many forms but is nonetheless believed to be a form of non-verbal, long-distance communication achieved through the power of the mind alone. And, finally, we know that this is a long-standing belief which came into the ‘scientific’ mind in the 1800s when natural philosophy, science, and folkloric and spiritualist beliefs started to come together.

The rest is up to you; what do you think? More importantly, what do you believe?

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