ESP and Mind Reading Telepathy

About the psychic phenomenon known as telepathy or mind reading, history and research studies.


Early studies of spontaneous ESP cases looked only for the explanation of telepathy. If someone "knew" something and could have obtained it from another person's thoughts, that was telepathy. If what they knew was at that time unknown to anyone else, then it was dismissed as coincidence, for clairvoyance was inconceivable. The early research was mainly with "spontaneous" cases--events that just happened unexpectedly to people. ("I knew you were going to say that." "I didn't know that was what you were hoping I'd do, but something just made me do it.") Among spontaneous cases telepathy seems to be the commonest form of ESP, so the telepathy-oriented approach is understandable. Yet under experimental conditions telepathy is extremely difficult to isolate.

If I look at a card and you try to "read my mind" you may get the symbol by telepathy, but you may also "read" the card itself, by clairvoyance. Even if I imagine a card, so that there is no physical card on which you can focus clairvoyantly, after the test I still have to write down what I visualized so that the scores can be totaled. So perhaps what you pictured was a precognition of what I would write down later. Experiments for "pure telepathy" have been designed, and have given highly significant results, but they are complicated and not common.

Among the most intriguing recent studies of telepathy have been those at the Dream Laboratory of the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. Here, while each volunteer slept, an agent tried to influence his or her dreams by concentrating on a randomly chosen art print. The dreamer was connected to an EEG machine in another room, so that the experimenters would know when he was dreaming. As soon as each dream finished they woke the subject and asked him to describe his dream. Some subjects achieved more success than others, but overall the results were very significant.

One subject reported a dream involving "a storm . . . an aspect of grandeur . . . almost a biblical scene of some sort . . . direction was important . . . a feeling of New Mexico . . . a lot of mountains . . . almost as though . . . another civilization." The target picture that night was Zapatistas, which depicts Mexican-Indians following a revolutionary leader, some on foot, some mounted, against a background of clouds and mountains. This type of "hit" certainly makes one wonder where some of our dreams come from. For a while this research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, but this is no longer the case. The psychological and sociological study of behavior, and particularly such phenomena as mass hysteria and mobs, might benefit from a greater understanding of telepathy. Other questions, such as whether our unspoken thoughts and emotions may subtly influence others, add emphasis to the concept of mankind as a united brotherhood rather than a confusion of isolated units.

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