The psychic phenomena by which communication occurs between minds, or mind-to-mind communication. Such communication includes thoughts, ideas, feelings, sensations and mental images. Telepathic descriptions are universally found in writings and oral lore. In tribal societies such as the Aborigines of Australia telepathy is accepted as a human faculty, while in more advanced societies it is thought a special ability belonging to mystics and psychics. Although not scientifically proven, telepathy is being increasingly studied in psychical research.
"Telepathy" is derived from the Greek terms tele ("distant") and pathe ("occurrence" or "feeling"). The term was coined in 1882 by the French psychical researcher Fredric W. H. Myers, a founder of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR). Myers thought his term descrbed the phenomenon better than previous used terms such as the French "communication de pensees," "thought-transference," and "thought-reading."
Research interest in telepathy had its beginning in mesmerism. The magnetists discovered that telepathy was among the so-called "higher-phenomena" observed in magnetized subjects, who read the thoughts of the magnetists and carried out the unspoken instructions.
Soon other psychologists and psychiatrists were observing the same phenomena in their patients. Sigmund Fraud noticed it so often that he son had to address it. He termed it a regressive, primitive faculty that was lost in the course of evolution, but which still had the ability to manifest itself under certain conditions. Psychiatrist Carl G. Jung thought it more important. He considered it a function of synchronicity (1). Psychologist and philosopher William James was very enthusiastic toward telepathy and encouraged more research be put into it.
When the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) was founded in 1885, after the SPR in 1884, telepathy became the first psychic phenomenon to be studied scientifically. The first testing was simple. A sender in one room would try to transmit a two-digit number, a taste, or a visual image to a receiver in another room. The French physiologist Charles Richet introduced mathematical chance to the tests, and also discovered that telepathy occurred independent of hypnotism.
Interest in telepathy increased following World War I as thousands of bereaved turned toward Spiritualism attempting to communicate with their dead loved ones. The telepathic parlor game called "willing" became popular. Mass telepathic experiments were undertaken in the United States and Britain.
Most often telepathy occurs spontaneously in incidents of crisis where a relative or friend has been injured or killed in an accident. An individual is aware of the danger to the other person from a distance. Such information seems to come in different forms as in thought fragments, like something is wrong; in dreams, visions, hallucinations, mental images, in clairaudience, or in words that pop into the mind. Often such information causes the person, the receiver, to change is course of action, such as changing his travel plans or daily schedule, or to just call or contact the other person. Some incidents involve apparent telepathy between humans and animals.
Telepathy seems to be related to the individual's emotional state. This is true of both the sender and receiver. Most women were receivers, as case findings showed, and one possible explanation is that women are more in touch with their emotions and rely on intuition more than men. Geriatric telepathy is fairly common, this may be due, it is speculated, to the impairment of the senses with age.
Telepathy can be induced in the dream state. It appears to be related to some biological factors: blood volume changes during telepathic sending, and electroencephalogram monitoring show that the brain waves of the recipient change to match those of the sender.
Dissociative drugs adversely affect telepathy, but caffeine has a positive effect on it.
During his 1930 ESP experiments J. B. Rhine also made some discoveries concerning telepathy: It was often difficult to determine whether information was communicated through telepathy, clairvoyance, or precognitive clairvoyance. He concluded that telepathy and clairvoyance were the same psychic function manifested in different ways. Also, telepathy is not affected by distance or obstacles between the sender and receiver.
A telepathic experiment conducted during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971 proved distance is not a barrier. The experiment was not authorized by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), nor was it announced until the mission was completed. Astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell conducted the experiment with four recipients on Earth, 150,000 miles below. Mitchell concentrated on sequences of twenty-five random numbers. He completed 200 sequences. Guessing 40 correctly was the mean chance. Two of the recipients guessed 51 correctly. This far exceeded Mitchell's expectations, but still was only moderately significant.
Although over the centuries various theories have been advanced to describe the functioning of telepathy, none seem to be adequate. Telepathy, like othe psychic phenomena, transcends time and space. The ancient Greek philosopher Democritus put forth the wave and corpuscle theories to explain telepathy. In the 19th century, the British chemist and physicist William Crookes, thought telepathy rode on radio- like brain waves. Later in the 20th century the Soviet scientist L. L. Vasilies proposed the electromagnetic theory. The American psychologist Lawrence LeShan proposed that each person has his or her personal reality, and the psychics and mystics share separate ones from other people which allow them to access information not available to others.
In conclusion telepathy, like the other forms of psychic phenomena is elusive and difficult to test systematically. Enough evidence is available to reasonably substantiate the phenomenon does exist. But, quantifying it seems to be another matter. The phenomenon is closely connect to the emotional states on both the sender and receiver which creates difficulty in replicating experimental results. Attitudinal factors also influence the phenomenon. The best that researchers can hope for is to have supportive and receptive subjects in experiments that produce similar results.