It’s a word that has a wide range of associations, including some pretty negative or dismissive ones.
Many people connect “psychic” with storefront charlatans and stage performers. The Wikipedia page defines a psychic, also called a sensitive, as a person “who professes an ability to perceive information hidden from the normal senses.”
But the page also notes a 1988 report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences concluded there is “no scientific justification from research conducted over a period of 130 years for the existence of parapsychological phenomena.”
I don’t have any particular psychic ability, but am fascinated by it, and appreciate the more sympathetic depictions in movies such as “Hereafter” directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Cécile De France and Matt Damon as a professional psychic.
In our interview, Judith Orloff, MD noted she had intuitive capacities at an early age, but her family did not encourage her to develop her psychic abilities. She is now integrating these talents with traditional medicine, and is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, and also has a private practice and leads workshops on intuitive ability and healing.
She finds that, in general, within the mental health community, psychic ability is not accepted at all. “In traditional psychiatry, it’s either looked at as a sign of psychosis, or else as sham,” she says. But she works with many clients she considers gifted, teaches people “to develop their own psychic ability, as part of how I do therapy.”
In our interview, Jean Houston recalled that anthropologist Margaret Mead “was certainly what you would call, quote, psychic, but she never called herself that. She said she was a ‘sensitive.’ And that’s what I think a lot of so-called psychics are; they have highly developed sensitivity patterns and perceptual patterns, and they are picking up peripheral things that most people are missing.”
She also thinks “a lot” of giftedness, though by no means all, “has to do with having a broader palette of perceptual capacity, being highly sensitive to all the senses, and also operating on different modes of intelligence…”
Dr. Orloff said she agrees with that quote by Houston, but added, “I think it goes beyond the senses, as we know it. It’s our ability to intuit the mystery. And it’s through our capacity to intuit the mystery that we know cosmic truths about ourselves. And it’s exactly the same thing as creativity.
“The psychic forces or the creative forces come through in exactly the same way, in that you have to be open and receptive to them if they come through, rather than effort or force anything. So it’s a whole different way of perceiving than is simply through the analytic mind.”
But she uses both, and says we “don’t have to split off a part of ourselves at the expense of another; we can be everything. I believe very strongly we don’t have to compartmentalize our gifts.”
Also hear my audio podcast interview: Judith Orloff, MD on Emotional Freedom.
For more on sensitivity in general, see my previous Creative Mind posts, and my sites:
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Last reviewed: 6 Sep 2011