Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sensational Psychic Abilities

In order to understand the psychic person’s success or failure in sensing the psychic world of information or the psi-unknown we only have to explore a person’s success or failures at sensing this world. The similarities between sensing this world and the next have been observed by scientific researchers from the beginning of serious study of psychical research.

As Dr. Gardner Murphy said in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research in 1943, “In normal perception you will perceive most easily the beginning and the end of a series of items presented; and so it is with extrasensory processes when the items in a closed box must be perceived. In normal perception you will see most clearly the objects which stand out in contrast with the matter to which you have become habituated; and so it is with extrasensory perception. In normal perception you will see best when free from disturbance and distraction; and this holds likewise for the paranormal.” So many observed patterns of extrasensory perception show it to be similar to the other senses.

Dr. Murphy pointed out three principles of perception which are of interest: (1) The principle of figure and ground, that is one part of the area sensed will be regarded as figure or subject, and the rest will be the “ground,” not the subject. What is subject and what is ground depends on past experiences and present needs;” A psychic could sense all the things in the great unknown but will see something as the subject and the rest as just background. That subject will be selected based on what has been a rewarding subject in the past and will reflect the psychic’s current needs.

The second rule that Dr. Murphy pointed out was, “ the principle of ‘mental set,’ the present outlook the subject has or his general feeling toward that thing or person sensed. This mental set will have a great deal to do with the way a subject is perceived. Of course the physical state will affect the mental state of mind or mood. Food looks batter to a hungry man, etc.” And the psychically sensitive person will find that they get the good news from a phone call they “happened” to stay home and receive; or they avoided a traffic jam when they luckily took the scenic way home.

And finally just as “… ambiguous pictures were interpreted in terms of food objects with increasing frequency as his subjects went longer and longer with out food… We may then say that perception moves in the direction of need satisfaction, tension reduction,” Dr Murphy reminds us. So too lost explorer may find his way back and the sixth sense of a mother snatches her baby from danger at the last moment.

We must also remember that psychic abilities are not always going to serve societies morality or even what we may think are an individual’s best interest. They may assist a person as they do something that society thinks is wrong. If a person has given up on life, for some personal reason, they may psychically arrange to be in that accident or if they have built a life around carefully following mechanical procedures they may use their psychic ability to loose at the gaming tables. In some people’s world things go better if they avoid psi.

Our psychology effects what we sense when we see, hear, taste, smell and feel the physical world. We may not always realize it. We probably must have our attention called to the effect our minds are having on us as we process the data that comes to us. Whereas we can not help but see how very important the psychology of the psychic is on their occasional efforts at telepathy, precognition or clairvoyance.

So then, you may ask, why is it that we are frightened of ghosts? Well Freud had that answer a long time ago. There are two types of fear, conditioned and neurotic. A mother conditions he child to be afraid of fire with a slap or a loud shout when the child approaches that source of potential danger. Neurotic fears reflect hidden desires. Desires we do not want to admit we have. So they surface as fears. In the case of a ghost you may want to see some dead friend or relative but do not want to admit it. So this confect, this denied desire, shows up as a fear. This brings up again how important our psychology is to our psychic ability. Other people in the room may not sense the ghost at all, some may only hear it. While others may feel a cold breeze or a hand on their shoulder. What is figure? What is ground? What do you expect to feel, hear or see? What do you need to sense?

We also must consider that all of our senses have limits, boundaries. Psychologists call these thresholds. So all perceptions are somewhat filtered. Psychological filters are different from one person to another. But there are also physical limits to what we can perceive. Each type of sensation is bracketed.

These thresholds can change. Changing of thresholds are affected by our mental set. So it is when we are excited. Our ability to resist pain is increased. The human animal is more sensitive to the lesser sensations when relaxed. So, too, the psychic usually does better in a quite dark relaxing place. The athlete finds she is able to resist pain during an athletic match. The ability to take it from the psi-sensation is also a part of getting excited for many people.

You can not hear too soft a sound, nor can you hear too load a sound it would break your eardrum. You can not see when the light is too dim, nor when it is too bright -- it will blind you. If something touches you too softly it will not he noticed, nor will too severe a pain be felt, the area will be numbed. Each type of perception is bracketed by an upper and a lower threshold. Of course in the physical world the sensations thresholds we experiment most with are the lower thresholds. We find how little light a person needs to see rather than how much will blind them. It is naturally very difficult to find volunteers to be blinded. Are we not sensing psychic impressions because they are too load or too soft? Perhaps at a very early age we were blinded or deafened by the psychic world? In order to build a meaningful world we may have blocked out some psychic sensation.

Another thing we can learn from normal perception and its workings, is that these thresholds change. They adapt. We easily adapt to odors and grow insensitive to the familiar tough of cloths. A smell must have a different quality before it can be sensed. The same maybe true of psi. Like the news alert that triggers an email in your inbox. It means there is some disturbance that will interest you out there in the great Internet unknown. So a psychic sensation may be a notice of a change in the psi world that should interest you.

Murphy, G. 1943. Psychical Phenomena and human needs. The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 37:163-191.
Murphy, G. 1952. The natural, the mystical, and the paranormal. The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 46:125-142.

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