Parapsychology Dictionary



Abductee: A person that has allegedly been abducted by aliens multiple times.


After-death Communication (ADC): Also called post-mortem communication; literally communication with the deceased.


  • Induced After-death Communication (IADC): Images of the deceased produced through suggestion while a person is hypnotized.

Agency: The imaginary ghost created for group psychokinesis experiments in a séance-type setting.

Agent: A person who is usually unaware they are the cause of poltergeist phenomena.

Altered States of Consciousness (ASC): Also called altered states of awareness; a state of mental relaxation where people become more susceptible to impressions.

Anomalistic Psychology: An area of psychology pioneered by Leonard Zusne and Warren Jones in 1982 that deals with seemingly paranormal experiences.

Anomalistics: Formerly known as Fortean phenomena; the study of unusual phenomena.

Apparition: A term used somewhat incorrectly to describe the appearance of a discarnate personality.

Apparition of the Dead: The image of someone who is deceased.

  • Deathbed Apparition: Also called take-away apparition; believed that a deceased family member has come to escort a gravely ill or generally unresponsive person to the afterlife.
  • Haunting Apparition: Also called continual apparition; Images that appear repeatedly and to various percipients in the same location.
  • Postmortem Apparition: This is an apparition of a deceased person that appears within twelve hours of death. If there is a longer timeframe, the image is called a delayed postmortem apparition.


Apparition of the Living: The image of someone who is not deceased.

  • Bystander Apparition: This apparition is puzzling in that it appears to the wrong person or a complete stranger in order to let its presence be known to the person whom it should have appeared to.
  • Crisis Apparition: This is the sudden appearance of a person who at that very moment is going through a crisis or has just died. Though it is rare, there have been instances of delayed crisis apparitions where a person’s image appears 48 hours after crisis.
  • Double: The image of a living person. It is different from astral projection because the person is unaware of what their image is doing at the time it appears. In Germany, this phenomenon is labeled a doppelganger; in Norway it is called vardoger; in Greece it is called larva; in Wales it is called fye or waft; in England it is called fetch; in Tibet it is called delok; in Scotland it is called taslach.
  • Experimental Apparition: This is the intentional projection of ones image. Such experiences are considered a strong argument for out-of-body experiences.
  • Premonitory Haunting: Premonitions of death sometimes appear as an apparition. The most common are so-called familial apparitions. Some old families may have a portent of impending disaster in the form of a phantom. For instance, corpse candles are mysterious balls of light that are viewed as harbingers of death for a family member when seen in family cemeteries.
  • Soulless Apparition: This is a seldom-used phrase that described the ghostly appearance of inanimate objects.


Apparitional Experience: Encountering a ghost.

Apport: French for “to bring;” an object that appears and is accredited to spirits and occasionally poltergeists.

Area Focusing:When the same area is the focus of poltergeist activity continuously.

Arrival Case: A situation where someone dreams or has a hunch they will meet someone and soon does.

Asport: French for “to send;” an object that disappears and is accredited to spirits and occasionally poltergeists.

Astral Projection: The alleged ability to separate the consciousness from the physical body. Reported most often when while undergoing crisis, extreme pain or anesthetized. Most detractors believe it is simply a dissociative process of the brain to protect the mind from stress.

Aura: Multicolored luminescence that radiates from all objects. People who suffer migraine headaches and epilepsy often report seeing a halo around living people. However, W. E. Butler was one of the first to assign seeing auras to clairvoyant facilities. He believed that the colors that appear to hover around people are a direct indication of their physical and emotional well being.

Automatism: Automatic behavior without conscious self-control.

Autoscope: An instrument that facilitates undetectable automatism of the wrist to facilitate clearer movements. The most popular autoscope is the planchette, an object used on the modern-day Ouija board.

Autosuggestion: Influence on the senses by belief and expectation.

Automatic Drawing: Automatism that creates drawings that are allegedly influenced by the deceased.

Automatic Painting: Automatism that creates paintings that are allegedly influenced by the deceased.

Automatic Speech: Also called spirit messages; automatism in the form of speech that is allegedly influenced by the deceased.

Automatic Typing: Automatism that creates messages through a typewriter or computer keyboard.

Automatic Writing: Also called psychography; automatism that creates written messages that is allegedly influenced by the deceased.

Direct Psychography: Communication written on paper.

  • Mechanical Psychography: Messages received with unconscious control of practitioner’s hand, while the practitioner’s attention is elsewhere.
  • Semi-mechanical Psychography: Messages received with conscious control of practitioner’s hand, allowing them to stop communication at any time, turn pages, etc.
  • Indirect Psychography: The use of an Ouija board to receive so-called spirit messages.
  • Inspirational Psychography: Messages that are written down when someone feels inspired while in contact with a spirit.
  • Intuitive Psychography: Messages that are contained in regular text.
  • Presentient Psychography: Communication that is in another language unknown to the practitioner.


Automatism: Uncontrolled muscular twitches all over the body that many Spiritualists attribute to the inspiration of spiritual entities.


Autophany: Also called heautoscopy: seeing your double.

Autoscopy: An experience where someone who is having an out-of-body experience sees his or her physical body.






Billet Reading: A form of cryptoscopy; the alleged ability to perceive information sealed in an envelope. Crafty fraudulent mediums were once able to perpetrate this trick by soaking the envelope in rubbing alcohol when given an opportunity. The alcohol will make the envelope temporarily translucent, but dried quickly enough not to signify any mischief.

Bilocation: Also called multiplication; the alleged ability to appear in two places at one time.

Book Test: A test once proposed to mediums where they were required to prove their clairvoyant abilities by reading a certain pre-selected passage in a chosen book.

Brutch: An area of psychic disturbance.

Basic Technique (BT): Parapsychologists take a card from the deck and without looking at it, place it facedown on the table and wait for the subject to guess the symbol.

Before Technique: Test subject calls out their impressions of what symbol is on a card before the parapsychologist pulls it out of the deck.

Blind Matching Technique: Subject is seated across from five sealed envelopes, each with a card with a different symbol on it. The subject is then asked to place the cards with corresponding symbols onto the envelopes.






Card Test: Also called card-guessing experiment; a standard test parapsychologists once used to assess potential extrasensory perception with special cards. There are several techniques used by different institutions:

  • Open Deck Test: An ESP test where the cards are chosen at random.
  • Down Through (DT) Technique: Trying to guess cards from the top to the bottom of the deck.
  • Up Through (UT) Technique: Trying to guess cards from the bottom to the top of the deck.
  • Cancellation Effect: Low scores in one section of a test bring down the average of the high scores of another test.
  • Change Effect: Also called differential effect; a term used to describe the temporary drop in a test subjects scores when rules were changed halfway through the run.
  • Decline Effect: Subjects score lower the longer the test runs, leading some researchers to suggest boredom plays an important role in failure.
  • Displacement Effect: Instances when a test subject picks the next card in the deck, not the one the sender is concentrating on.
  • Incline Effect: Subjects seem to score higher when they know the end of a test is forthcoming.

Call Case: The phenomena when someone mysteriously hears their name being called.

Chair Test: A once-popular test for precognitive abilities where the test subject would be asked to predict what chair a certain individual would sit in once in the room.

Channeling: The alleged ability to receive messages from the deceased.

Circle: In Spiritualism, a group of individuals gathered for a séance.

  • Development Circle: A group of people that gather in hopes of attaining the spiritual gift of mediumship.
  • Home Circle: An informal group that gathers without a medium in hopes of communicating with the deceased in a home-like setting.

Clairaudience: French for “clear hearing;” the alleged ability to actually hear voices of discarnate beings, conversations going on over long distances, etc.

Claircognizance: French for “clear knowing;” the phenomena when someone “just knows” something.

Clairhambience: French for “clear tasting;” the alleged ability to literally taste foods being eaten by someone else.

Clairkinesthesia: Also called bio-perception; French for “clear touching;” the alleged ability to literally feel physical contact with discarnate entities, experience physical sensations of someone else, etc.

Clairolefactor: French for “clear smelling;” the alleged ability to literally smell scents that are associated with spirits or past experiences, scents being experienced over long distances, etc.

Clairsentience: French for “clear feeling;” the supposed ability to sense the presence of a spirit.

Clairvoyance: French for “clear seeing;” also called telaesthesiaI, introscopy and telopsis; the alleged ability to see spirits, events taking place over long distances, the location of a missing object, what others are doing outside of the field of vision, etc.

  • Medical Clairvoyance: The alleged ability to psychically diagnose diseases.
  • Platform Clairvoyance: The alleged ability to see the dead.
  • Precognitive Clairvoyance: Also called prevision; quite literally seeing the future.
  • Traveling Clairvoyance: Now called remote viewing.
  • Waking Clairvoyance: Alleged clairvoyant facilities that can be accessed without slipping into a trance. 
  • X-ray Clairvoyance: Allegedly reading letters in envelopes and closed books.

Cognitive Error Hypothesis: An error in judgment where someone should have went with his or her instincts but did not for some reason or another.

Cold Reading: A process fraudulent psychics and mediums use where they offer vague evidence that can relate to anyone’s life and interpreting the reaction.

Cold Spot: A localized column of cold air that are believed to signal the presence of a discarnate being.

Collective Apparition Case: A case where two or more percipients accurately describe the same ghostly image they experienced together.

Collective Phenomena: A paranormal event experienced by more than one person.

Communicator: A spirit that speaks through a medium.

  • Drop-in Communicator: A spirit who appears unbidden to a séance.

Community of Sensation: The alleged physical link between a materialization medium and the image produced.


Confabulation: Confusing imagination and experiences stories for personal memories. Some skeptics believe this plays a large part in alleged past-life experiences.

Conjurer: A term once used to describe a fraudulent medium.

Contactee: A person who allegedly has frequent contact with aliens.

Control: Also called a gatekeeper, spirit operator, communicator or guardian; allegedly a discarnate personality that communicates with sitters through a trance medium and acts as intermediary between the medium and the spirit world.


Cotard's Delusion: Also called the Cotard syndrome or walking corpse syndrome; a rare psychological disorder in which a person believes they are dead, rotting, has no blood or has lost one or more major organs.

Crosstalk: A term used by mediums when they allegedly receive information from more than one communicator at the same time, leading to confusion and mixed messages.

Crypto-conscious Mind: Also called psychic dissociation; an area of the subconscious that seems to have a will of its own, frequently considered during poltergeist outbreaks.

Cryptomnesia: Greek for “concealed recollection;” An event where something has already been learned or experienced but has been forgotten. When someone is confronted with the information again, they seem to inherently already know it and think they are experiencing déjà vu.

Cryptoscopy: Receiving words in a sealed envelope, book or in another location via extrasensory perception.

Cryptozoology: Greek for “hidden animals;” the study of animals thought to be extinct or non-existent by zoology.






Dazzle Shot: Gary E. Schwartz uses this to describe a piece of information that a psychic or medium supplies that is amazingly accurate and could not conveniently fit into just anyone’s life.

Death Compact: A deal between two individuals that the first one to die will try to contact the other to prove survival of the soul.

Deathbed Vision: Also called a deathbed apparition; a fairly common occurrence where someone who is deathly ill will begin staring into a corner or suddenly begin holding conversations with people no one else can see or hear.

Déjà vu: Also called paramnesia; French for “already seen;” it describes the eerie feeling that you have already experienced things before when you are confronted with them for the first time. French psychical researcher Émile Boirac divided the experience into four classifications:

  • Déjà rêvé: French for “already dreamed;” belief that a dream has been seen before.
  • Déjà senti: French for “already felt;” believing you remember something being talked about.
  • Déjà vécu: French for “already lived;” this is actually what most people consider to be Déjà vu.
  • Déjà visité: French for “already visited;” the belief that a new landscape before.


Delusion: False belief that is usually an apperception: reflecting the inner turmoil of the mind of the percipient.

Dematerialization: The disappearance of an object or spirit form.

Depossession: The release of an earthbound, obsessing spirit from the human host.

Derma-optical Perception (DOP): Also called skin sight, eyeless sight, cutaneous vision, extra-retinal vision, paroptic vision and bio-introscopy; the alleged ability to touch colors and guess them accurately or read words while blindfolded.

Dermography: Scratches and even writing that inexplicably appears on someone’s skin.

Dice Test: Also called dice-throwing experiment; a standard test parapsychologists used to test for potential psychokinesis where dice were used.

  • Around-the-die Technique: A test where subjects are asked to influence dice to land on the same number again and again.
  • Singles Test: A test where subjects are asked to influence dice to land with a specified face up.


Direct Drawing: A drawing allegedly done by a spirit.

Direct Painting: A painting allegedly done by a spirit.

Direct Typing: Messages from a typewriter or computer keyboard allegedly done by a spirit.

Direct Voice: A voice that seemingly issues from thin air and is attributed to the deceased.

Direct Writing: Written messages allegedly done by a spirit.

Discarnate: Without a body.

Divination: Also called fortune telling.

Doorway Test: A cunning test some parapsychologists use to verify whether or not someone can actually see auras. The subject is asked behind which unattached door a person is standing.

Dowsing: Also called biolocation; using a forked stick or two L-shaped metal rods to facilitate automatism to discover underground water or ore.

  • Map Dowsing: Also called teleradiesthesia; holding a pendulum over a map to try to locate out-of-sight objects. This method became very popular during the Vietnam War, where it was useful in discovering secret tunnels and landmines.


Dracontology: the "study of lake monsters and sea serpents."


Ducting Effect: Pockets in the earth’s electronic layers of the ionosphere that can allow radio and CB signals to travel impossible distances for a short time. Detractors of electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) believe that dictaphones pick up these anomalous signals which are mistaken for spirit communication.






Effluviography: More commonly known as “aura photography.”

Ectomist: A unexplainable fog or mist in pictures or on video.

Ectoplasm: Also called teleplasm and psychode; Greek for “externalized substance;” once used to describe an odd substance mediums allegedly produced that would take the form of disembodied spirits.

Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP): Also called Raudive voices and psychophonia; alleged voices of discarnate souls caught on an audio recorder.

Electrophotography: A word used to describe so-called Kirilian photography.

Empath: Also called telempath; a person with the alleged ability to perceive the emotions of others far beyond what is capable by empathy alone. Most detractors, however, believe a person who claims this facility is simply projecting their own emotions.

Ethereal: “Of Heaven.”

Etherialization: The partial physical manifestation of an apparition.

Extra: An anomalous image that appears in photographs.

Extrasensorimotor Phenomena: Information received outside of the normal scenes or muscular capabilities.

Extrasensory Perception (ESP): Also called anomalous cognition, cryptaesthesia, supernormal cognition, extraordinary knowing, anomalous communication, anomalous knowing, receptive psi and bioinformation; the alleged ability to receive information outside of the five senses.

  • General Extrasensory Perception (GESP): Also called exceptional fluctuations of the human body; the alleged ability to use telepathy and clairvoyance in combination.

Experience-inducing Field (EIF): Naturally occurring emanations that are somehow conducive to paranormal experiences, such as electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation, infrasound, solar flares and geomagnetic fields, radon emissions, etc.

Experient: A person who is the agent of psychokinesis.

Extrachance: Not due to chance alone.

Externalization of Motricity: Psychokinesis in synch with hand movements.

Externalization of Sensitivity: Expansion of senses outside of the body.

Extraterrestrial (ET): Another name for aliens.






Falsidical: Parapsychologists use this to indicate a false or mistaken statement or experience.

Fishing: A procedure used by fraudulent psychics and mediums where they ask subtle but leading questions.

Focus: Spiritualists who believe poltergeist phenomena are actual spirit communications use this to designate a natural medium whose latent psychokinetic talents are exploited by the earthbound entity.

Forced-choice Experiment: A test where the subject must chose from a small number of choices.

Free Response Test: Method of testing clairvoyance where subjects are welcome to draw any impression from a huge number of possible targets has many times come under fire, since it is quite possible for any abstract drawing to be considered a hit to any number of particular pieces.






Ganzfeld Experiment: Initiated by Charles Honorton’s Psychophysical Research Laboratories in Princeton, New York. Subjects are tested lying down with eye coverings and white noise hissing through headphones to put them in a sort of altered state of consciousness that is believed to leave one open to telepathic suggestion.

Gestalt Impression: Drawing a picture that matches up with a picture previously sealed in an envelope of which the subject had not seen.

Glossolalia: “Speaking in tongues” during ecstatic trances.

Glottologues: Mediums who speak in tongues.

Gravity Hill: Also called gravity road and magnetic hill; a convincing optical illusion where a road looks like it is sloping one way when it is actually gently sloping the other.






Haint: A Southern Appalachian term for a ghost, derived from the word “haunt.”

Hallucination: Perception of stimuli that aren’t actually present, but are believed to be genuine.

  • Place-related Hallucinations: Hallucinations that occur over a period of time and in a specific place to different persons independently.

Haunted: A place that is allegedly plagued by frequent supernatural occurrences.

Haunting: Also called place memory haunting and place residue haunting; frequent visitation by seeming paranormal phenomena.

  • Object-centered Haunting: Paranormal events that seem to surround a particular object.
  • Person-centered Haunting: Once used to describe poltergeist phenomena.
  • Place-centered Haunting: Used to describe a location where alleged paranormal events frequently take place.
  • Intelligent Haunting: The strongest argument for the survival of the human personality or soul after death besides out-of-body and near-death experiences come from encounters with disembodied entities that retain memories, personality traits and faults in death as in life. Unlike the play-like antics of a residual memory, a spirit is not confined to a certain location, but may stay there of their own volition.
  • Residual Haunting: Also called place memory haunting, place residue haunting or stone tape theory; memories that somehow engage certain people under different circumstances, especially when they enter an altered state of consciousness from fatigue or boredom. These images do not acknowledge the living, but repeat the same patterns continually.

Heteraesthesia: A sensitivity that is seemingly outside of the normal means.

Hit: In parapsychology, this word is used to indicate a correct response.

Hot Reading: A process used by a fraudulent psychic or medium who has foreknowledge of someone’s history but claims the knowledge comes from otherworldly communications.

Hot Spot: An area of seemingly paranormal activity.

Human-machine Interaction: The presence of a person inhibits or helps electronic equipment.

Hypermnesia: An uncanny ability to vividly or completely recall information filtered by the conscious mind but still contained in the subconscious. In parapsychology, this could account for seemingly psychic information when a person isn’t aware that their subconscious has retained bits and pieces of information and pieced them together.

Hypnagogia: A fairly common hallucination that occurs while falling asleep. This condition can create auditory and visual hallucinations, feelings of impending disaster or doom, perception of a malevolent presence, the inability to breath or move, etc. People who suffer a severe episode cannot be convinced that it wasn’t real.

Hypnopompic Hallucination: Hallucinations that occur while waking up.






Ideomotor Effect: Uncontrolled muscular movements.

Illusion: Parapsychologists use this word to indicate naturally occurring phenomena that can be mistaken as paranormal.
Imitative Fraud: Coined by W. Edward Cox to explain conscious control by imitating real poltergeist phenomena.

Imitative Noise: Perceived emulated noises such as moving chairs or breaking china but upon investigation no such damage or movement can be substantiated.

Incombustibility: A term used to describe a person who seems flame-retardant.

Incorporeal Personal Agency (IPA): A phrase used by psychical researcher Frederic W. H. Myers to describe a discarnate human consciousness.

Indigo Children: Certain children born after the late 1970s that are believed to be a higher stage of evolution. They are typified by increased empathy, creativity and psychic abilities. However, they will not comply with authority figures and are always unconventional. Detractors are right when observing this New Age philosophy offers a more spiritual angle when it comes to the very real Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Autism and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Inedia: A term used to describe the amazing ability some Buddhist monks possess to live without food for prolong periods of time.

Inkfish Effect: Also called the shyness factor; a term used to describe the frustrating tendency of paranormal phenomena to occur when the attention of investigators and their equipment is elsewhere. Poltergeist phenomenon, for instance, seems to always occur as soon as an investigator leaves a room.

Instrumental Transcommunication (ITC): Anomalous phenomena through electronic devices such as telephones, televisions, cameras, camcorders, audio recorders, etc. that are allegedly evidence of spiritual activity.

Intersubjective Phenomena: Experienced by more than one individual independently.

Interpenetration of Matter: Also matter passing through matter; an event where solid objects seem to pass through walls, doors, panes of glass, etc.

Intra-mediumistic: Information that could have only been obtained through a medium actually in contact with a deceased individual, not by ESP.

Intrasomatic Hypothesis: An idea published by Karlis Osis and Donna McCormick that states that the soul doesn’t actually leave the body during a so-called out-of-body experience, but that the information is gained via extrasensory perception.
Intuition: To know something without reasoning.






Jinx Effect: Coined by Joshua P. Warren to describe the inexplicable equipment failure ghost-hunters are familiar with, such as fully charged or new batteries being drained almost instantly.





Liminality: A state of dissociation where a person becomes disoriented and loses their sense of self. Self-proclaimed trance mediums often describe this ambiguous state before they begin to allegedly channel a spirit.

Linger Effect: When an object moves after the agent of psychokinesis has been removed form the area.

Linkage Hypothesis: Maurice Clement Marsh believed that in order for a sensitive to “tune-in” to another person, they must have a personal object from that person, called linkage material.

Lithoboly: Also called clodding; the strangest phenomenon in poltergeist cases where rocks and other solid objects inexplicably fall from the sky or from the ceiling in a house.

Luminous Phenomena: Anomalous light that appears in pictures or video.

Luminosity: Small bright lights that suddenly appear and hover, with no scientific explanation or logical cause.






Manabee: A term that comes from the Southern Appalachian Mountains that describes a small, inanimate object that seems to be attached to a ghost.

Materialization: An object or spirit allegedly taking form.

Medium: Literally a channel for alleged discarnate spirits to use to communicate with the living.

  • Clairaudient Medium: A medium that allegedly hears the voices of the deceased.
  • Clairvoyant Medium: A medium that exhibits platform clairvoyance and reportedly see the dead.
  • Direct Voice Medium: A medium that slumps into a trance so the voice of a supposed spirit can communicate with the living, seemingly out of thin air.
  • Healing Medium: This sort of medium “channels” healing energy and not the personalities of the deceased.
  • Mental Medium: A medium that verbalizes messages from the deceased, sometimes called psychophony. Most mental mediums claim to have controls, spirits who conveyed messages from discarnate entities.
  • Materialization Medium: A medium that claims to be able to conjure the image of a deceased individual as long as they were secured away in a cabinet. The apparition, looking very much like the medium, would walk out in glowing clothes, called spirit-drapery.
  • Mixed Medium: A medium that is in conscious control of their facilities the whole time, does not slip into a trance, and somehow acquires veridical information but is more often incorrect.
  • Physical Medium: A medium that allegedly produces physical manifestations that indicate a discarnate intellect.
  • Psychic Medium: A medium that seems to communicate without slipping into a trance.
  • Trance Medium: A medium that slips into a liminal state of mind and allows another personality to speak through them.
  • Part Trance Medium: A trance medium that is fully aware of the communication.
  • Full Trance Medium: A trance medium that is completely unaware of the communication.
  • Transfiguration Medium: A medium that allegedly takes on the physical appearance of the deceased.
  • Trumpet Medium: A medium allegedly able to cause a trumpet to levitate to facilitate the direct voice of the deceased.


Mediumistic Induction: A process whereby a medium seems to transfer his or her gifts to a sitter during a séance.

Mentalism: Stage magic that simulates telepathy.

Metaphysical Levitation: Levitation by supernatural means.

  • Autolevitation: The alleged ability to levitate oneself.

Metetherial: A term coined by Frederic William Henry Myers used to describe an invisible world “behind our own” where spirits reside.

Minition: A word coined by psychical researcher Frederic William Henry Myers to describe a message the offers council or a warning about a disaster. Charles Richet, however, uses this word to describe spontaneous instances of the paranormal.


Miss: In parapsychology, this word is used to indicate an incorrect response.






Object focusing: When the same object is the focus of RSPK continuously.

Occult: Literally, “hidden.”

Operator: A label used in parapsychology to designate the subject of tests to verify psychokinesis.

Orb: An orb is a glowing sphere of light that sometimes appears on camera and film that some believe to indicate the presence of spirits. Most detractors, however, believe this is backscatter of dust particles, precipitation, bugs, etc.


Ostensible: Used by parapsychologists to indicate a possible paranormal event.

Out-of-body Experience (OBE): Also called an ecosomatic experience; the phrase was coined by Celia Elizabeth to describe the phenomenon where it seems the consciousness leaves the body behind, most frequently reported in near-death experiences.

Ownership Resistance: A theory proposed by parapsychologist Kenneth J. Batcheldor that most people would reject the idea that they may have psychic facilities.






Parakinesis: Psychokinesis though touches but not enough to explain the distance and trajectory of an object.
Paranormal: Literally, “beyond normal.”

Parapsychology: Called psychobiophysics in Brazil and psychotronics in Czechoslovakian; German psychologist Max Dessoir coined the term in 1889 to replace the term psychical. The term is Greek and means, “outside psychology,” and is an umbrella term used to describe anomalistic phenomena that cannot be readily explained in the context of conventional science including. Some parapsychologists now prefer the term paraphysics.

Pareidolia: The human mind is pattern seeking and will make faces out of abstract pixels in photographs and voices out of strange noises that appear on audio recordings. Think of an inkblot test.

Paroptic Vision: Coined by Jules Romains to describe the ability to perceive written words and colors without having contact with the page.

Percipient: A term used by parapsychologists to indicate the subject of supposed paranormal experiences.

  • Collective Percipience: A paranormal event observed by more than one individual.

Perispirit: A term used in Spiritism, founded by Allan Kardec, to describe a spiritual body, or ghost.

Persination: The alleged process where a medium takes on the emotions, behavior, characteristics and mannerisms of a deceased person, but is still conscious of their own identity.

Phantasm: An imagined apparition.

Phantasmagoria: A once-popular show where ghost-like forms were projected on stage with performers.

Phantom: A general term for a ghost or spirit.

Phone-voyance: Termed by Vincent N. Turvey to describe the alleged ability to perceive visual information over the phone.

Pithecanthrope: Coined by Gustac Geley to describe an animal visible through a materialization medium.

Pizoelectricity: Also called ball of light (BOL) phenomenon; a mysterious natural phenomenon appearing in every country under a number of titles including ignis fatuus ("fools fire"), will-o'-the-wisp, corpse candles, corpse fire, hobby lanterns, spooklights, ghost lights, cemetery lights, etc. They are balls of plasma light that frequent deserted places. If they are encountered in family cemeteries, locals believe they prelude a death in the family. The scientific name for these anomalies is piezoelectricity. There are due to ribbons of crystal placed under seismic stress.

Pneumatographers: A direct writer.

Poltergeist: German for “noisy spirit.” Most parapsychologists now use the phrase recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis (RSPK) because it appears the physical manifestations are unconscious manifestations of inner turmoil. A poltergeist can imitate a haunting in many ways, including phantom footsteps, unexplained cold spots, inexplicable electrical problems, mysterious disappearance of items, foul odors with no discernable source, strange rapping, popping or scratching noises, movement of furniture, scribbles that no one will admit to, discarnate voices or animal sounds, etc.; apparitions are rare in poltergeist cases.

  • Assaultive Poltergeist: Described as a phantom presence biting, scratching, pinching, pulling hair, pushing, etc. and are often called “demonic.”
  • Fire Poltergeist: Baffling outbreaks of small fires is not unheard of in poltergeist cases, but the damage is usually minimal because the fires seem to extinguish as soon as they start.
  • Liquid Poltergeist: The unexplainable poltergeist flow of fluid that mysteriously cumulates in homes but cannot be accredited to leaking pipes is not unheard of. Accumulation and even falling rain inside a house usually leaves no moisture on the ceiling or walls.
  • Proto-poltergeist: Hans Bender named this division for the unexplained electronic disturbances created in poltergeist cases.
  • Talking Poltergeist: A poltergeist that seems to have its own voice.

Posthumous Letters: Letters allegedly from the deceased.

Pre-disasters Syndrome: Growing unease the closer time progresses to a future tragedy.

Precognition: Literally, “prior knowledge;” also called proscopy in Russia; knowing something before it actually happens.

Prediction: Foretelling the future.

Preferential Effect: An observation that test subjects do better when they are aloud to pick the test for psychic facilities.

Premonition: A “vision” about a future crisis or disaster.

Presentiment: An emotional response that can only be described as precognitive, such as a feeling of dread before impending disaster.

Pseudopod: A “false limb” created from so-called ectoplasm produced by a physical medium.

Psi: From the twenty-third letter of the Greek alphabet, meaning, “mind/soul,” parapsychologists use this to designate what seems to be psychic phenomena, and is usually divided into two categories:

  • Psi-Gamma: Also called passive psi; cognitive paranormal abilities such as extrasensory perception and remote viewing.
  • Psi-Kappa: Also called active psi; seemingly uncanny abilities such as psychokinesis. Experiments in psi have created two terms to describe evidence.
  • Psi-hitting: Achieving higher than chance results in a parapsychological test.
  • Psi-missing: Achieving lower than chance results in a parapsychological test.
  • Psi-conducive: An environment that has a positive impact on the test subject and results in higher than average test scores.
  • Psi-inhibiting: An environment that has a negative impact on the test subject and results in lower than average test scores.
  • An-Psi: Shortened from Animal Psi, used to describe animals that allegedly have psychic abilities, such as birds fleeing before a natural disaster, dogs warning owners of impending health problems, etc.
  • Post-psi Distress Syndrome (PPDS): Coined by Sharon Solfuin to describe the psychological impact terrifying psychic events can have on a person.
  • Proximal Psi: Called psi-field hypothesis by William G. Roll; observation that “psychic forces” are better received the closer the sensitive is to the source.
  • Psi-afferentation: A term coined by Doctor Vernon M. Neppe to describe anomalous phenomena that seem to indicate extrasensory perception.
  • Psi-mediated Instrumental Response (PMIR): A theory proposed Rex G. Stanford to explain clairvoyance without conscious awareness to fulfill life’s needs. For instance, changing travel plans at the last minute because of a “feeling” only to find out the percipient could have been in an accident.
  • Psi-related Experience: An experience that is believed to be paranormal without question.
  • Psi-trailing: Amazing capacity some animals have allowing them to travel long distances to be reunited with families.
  • Psi Dexterity: A phrase coined by term was coined by Elsie Anna Grace to describe success in a test that indicates an earthbound spirit providing assistance to a test subject.
  • Psi Experimenter Effect: An instance where it seems the experimenter somehow affects the outcome of a test subjects stores.
  • Theta Psi: Also called super-psi, hints at psi abilities, such as telepathy, in discarnate entities.
  • Transcendent Psi: A psychic experience that leaves the percipient more spiritual.


Psychic: A person who has frequent experiences with extrasensory perception and is often credited with the ability to see into the future.

  • Anapsychic: Receiving clear visions.
  • Catapsychic: Receiving fragmented visions.
  • Parapsychic: A term used by psychical researcher Joseph Banks Rhine to indicate a high-scoring subject in psychic tests.


Psychic Archaeology: The use of alleged psychic facilities to locate archaeological digs and to “read” items unearthed.

Psychic Body: Also called nervengeist in Germany; the vessel that contains the soul and resembles a living person. Spiritualists believe that this shell is what parapsychologists call residual haunting apparitions.


Psychic Contagion: An idea that is mysteriously transferred cumulating in mass hysteria.

Psychic Detective: A self-proclaimed psychic that uses their facilities to help police in investigations; this term has replaced paragnost.

Psychic Diagnosis: The alleged ability to receive information about someone’s health problems via extrasensory perception; usually used in placed of x-ray clairvoyance.

Psychic Dream: A dream that seemingly contains information about future events, usually divided into three categories:

  • Displaced Psychic Dream: These dreams usually contain precognitive information but it seems the person, place and/or times are completely wrong.
  • Literal Psychic Dream: These dreams are very vivid, analytical and the dreamer tends to be aware that they are indeed precognitive.
  • Symbolic Psychic Dreams: Dreams that contain information in the future, only the message is wrapped into dream symbolism and is very hard to discern.

Psychic Echo: Also called phantoms en masse; a group of apparitions or a scene from the past.

Psychic Force: Also called exo-neural action of the brain by Sir William Crookes, odic force by Baron Carl von Reichenbach and ectenic force by Marc Thury; a “nervous atmosphere” emanating from the physical body that is thought to be responsible for psychokinesis. It was proposed that this field sometimes congealed to form ectoplasm.

Psychic Healing: Also called parapsychosomatic; healing allegedly done with the power of another’s mind alone.

  • Absent Psychic Healing: Also called remote healing; healing not done in the presence of the patient.


Psychic Noise: Coined by Douglas G. to describe interference with supposed psychic abilities because of the interference of rational thinking.

Psychic Pathology of Everyday Life: Proposed by Doctor Jule Eisenbud and describes slip-of-the-tongue statements that turns out to be seemingly precognitive in nature.

Psychic Profiler: A self-proclaimed psychic who works with the police by providing specific details about a suspect.

Psychic Research: The study of alleged psychic facilities.

Psychic Rod: Coined by William Jackson Crawford. He theorized that an invisible force he called a “psychic rod,” issued from a physical medium in order to move objects in the environment.

Psychic Threads: Microscopic threads that allegedly issue from the fingers of a medium and are accredited with physical phenomena during a séance. These fibers are almost invisible, flame-retardant and seal together again when cut.

Psychical: Pertaining to the spirit world.

Psychic Surgery: A form of faith healing where a practitioner allegedly makes an incision removes matter and seals the wound with mental abilities alone.

Psychobolie: The belief that the “evil eye” is actually malicious psychokinesis.

Psychokinesis (PK): Also called psychoenergetics in Russia; the term was coined in 1914 by American author-publisher Henry Holt and adopted by his friend, American parapsychologist Joseph Banks Rhine and is more favored than the previous term telekinesis (“mind movement”), which was coined in 1890 by British psychical researcher Frederic William Henry Myers. This is the alleged ability to move objects with the mind. Rhine divided this ability into two separate classifications:

  • Macro-PK: Also called directly observable psychokinesis; Psychokinetic effects that can be seen with the naked eye.
  • Micro-PK: Subtle psychokinetic influence that influences seemingly random events, such as causing dice to roll to high numbers.
  • Collective Psychokinesis: Coined by Count Agenor de Gasparin coined this phrase in 1854; supposed psychokinesis by a group to perform what is known as table tipping, when a spirit allegedly moves a table during a séance.
  • Domestic Psychokinesis: Psychokinesis in a home setting.
  • Isolated Spontaneous Psychokinesis (ISPK): Also non-recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis, spontaneous psychokinesis and psi-efferentation by Doctor Vernon M. Neppe; an isolated incident of alleged psychokinesis.
  • Psychokinesis on Living Targets (PK-LT): Also called bio-PK and direct mental influence on living systems (DMILS).
  • Psychokinesis on Moving Targets (PK-MT): Tests where subjects are encouraged to slow down a moving object, deflect its trajectory, etc.
  • Retroactive Psychokinesis (Retro-PK): A strange occurrence where items are influenced after the test subject has left the area.
  • Static Psychokinesis (Static-PK): Alleged movement of stationary objects by the power of the mind alone.
  • Psychokinesis Party: A gathering of individuals with the expressed purpose of creating feats of mind-over-matter, especially spoon-bending.
  • Psychokinetic Metal-bending (PK-MB): Seemingly paranormal ability to bend metal through mind power alone.
  • Psychokinetic Placement: An attempt by test subjects to direct objects to a certain location using only their minds.


Psychomanteum: A room where the walls are mirrors. It is believed that by sitting in a darkened room like this will cause the mind to hallucinate an apparition.

Psychometry: Also called psychoscopy by W. H. E. Tenhaeff and token-object reading; Greek for “soul measure” and coined by Joseph Rodes Buchanan and is the alleged ability to receive impressions or past events from physical objects.

  • Psychometric Premonition: A form of clairvoyance where sensitive individuals allegedly receives future knowledge when in contact with an object.

Psychopannychism: Literally, “soul sleep;” the belief that after death the soul slumbers.

Psychophony: Founder of Spiritism, Allan Kardec, uses this term to describe a spirit using a mediums voice to speak.

Psychorrhagic Diathesis: A term used to describe a person who for no reason lets their soul wander about without any consciousness of doing so.

Pyrogenesis: The alleged ability to control, ignite and extinguish fire using the mind alone.






Radiesthesia: Also called radionics; the alleged sensitivity to subtle and undetectable radiation given off by living things, underground water, ore, etc.

Radio Voice Phenomenon (RVP): Voice of a spirit coming through a radio.

Radiotelethesis: Allegedly unintended taking on the emotional turmoil of a spirit.

Reality Shift: A change in physical reality, disappearing objects, missing time, etc.

Receiver: A person who allegedly is able to receive information through extrasensory perception (ESP) from a sender.

Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis (RSPK): A term used by parapsychologists who do not prefer the earlier term of poltergeist, believing such phenomena are the result of sudden and unconscious discharges of psychokinetic energy.

Reincarnation: Also called metempsychosis; a term was coined by Allan Kardec to describe the Eastern philosophy that the soul survives death only to enter a new body to live another life on a journey of perfection.

Releasement: The exorcism of a ghost or spirit from a particular location.

Remote Staring: Used to describe the event when someone is being stared at without their knowledge, yet they somehow perceive it.

Remote Viewing (RV): Also called remote perception; this phrase was invented by Russell Targ and Harold Puttoff of the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) to replace the phrase, traveling clairvoyance. It is the alleged ability to “see” distant places.

  • Associative Remote Viewing (ARV): A clairvoyant describes the location or person through “yes” or “no” questions asked by a parapsychologist.
  • Outbounder Remote Viewing (ORV): A person who has a dominant, Type A personality is sent to the location to “send” information to the clairvoyant.
  • Predictive Remote Viewing (PRV): Developed by researchers Simon Turnbull and Charles Scarf to predict future stock market fluctuations.
  • Precognitive Remote Perception (PRP): Experiments where a subject is asked to describe the place the sender will visit in the near future.


Retrocognition: Also called postcognition; the alleged ability to receive information through extrasensory perception (ESP) about the past.

Retrofitting: A trick used by fraudulent psychics who want to elicit confidence when they make a statement to a sitter that can only be verified later.

Reverant: An apparition of a deceased person.

Ridicule Factor: The assumption that most people will not report unexplainable experiences for fear of mockery by their peers.






Séance: French for “sitting;” a group of people gathered together in an attempt to contact the deceased.

Sender: A person who sends information to someone being tested for extrasensory perception (ESP).

Sensitive: Used to indicate someone that allegedly has the ability to “sense” spirits of the dead. In France, such a person is called a Metagnome.

  • Electrical Sensitive: A person who allegedly causes electrical disturbances.


Sheep-goat Effect: Coined by Doctor Gertrude Schmeidler to show that believers in psychic abilities score higher on ESP tests than skeptics.

Silver Cord: Also called St. Paul’s cord; an ethereal cord that supposedly attaches the soul to the physical body when a person is astrally projecting. This belief comes from Ecclesiastes 12, where “breaking of the silver cord” equals death.

Sitter: A person attending a séance.

  • Proxy Sitter: A person representing someone else who could not attend a séance to rule out the possibility of telepathy.
  • Sitter Group: A semi-personal gathering of people in a séance-like setting in hopes of witnessing physical phenomena.

Skotography: From the Greek skotos (“darkness”) and graphein (“to write”), was coined by Felicia Scatcherd, a member of the London chapter of the Society for Psychical Research. It describes instances where spirits appear or write messages on unexposed film.

Somatography: Reading a human aura with dowsing rods of a pendulum.

Somnambulist: A term that currently applies to sleepwalkers was once used to designate someone who seemed to a level of psychic ability under hypnotism.

Soul Loss: The belief that the soul leaves the body during extreme stress, during a crisis, or proceeding an accident or death of the physical body.

Specter: A fake paranormal event.

Spirit Baby: The alleged offspring of a medium and a spirit, though this is an easy cover for adultery.

Spirit Photography: Photographs that are said to contain images of the dead, called extras.

Spiritoid: Also called a symbolic apparition; a term coined by Emile Boirac to describe an apparition that is symbolic and are trying to communicate a message by whom they appear to, what times, what they are wearing, what they are doing, etc.

Stigmatized Property: A piece of property, usually a dilapidated, abandoned house, that is believed to be haunted for no reason other than looking “creepy,” and is a frequent hangout for vagrants and persons of ill repute. Such property is an insurance liability and usually a hard selling point.

Spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC): The unthinkable event when a person’s body seems to burst into flames for no reason whatsoever. Skeptics believe that all cases of SHC are caused by a mishap with fire and that the fat inside a person accelerates the flames to consume only the body of the person.

Spontaneous Phenomena: A once in a lifetime paranormal encounter.

Super-ESP Hypothesis: This is a popular hypothesis in parapsychology that states a person's natural clairvoyant ability will generate an internal hallucination to create an apparition (a spiritoid). This seeming interaction between a spirit and subconscious mind is usually symbolic and explains why the same type of spirit is seen wearing different clothing by different percipients.

Superconscious: A term used by “sleeping prophet” Edgar Cayce to describe Swiss psychiatrists Carl Jung’s theory of the collective subconscious, a reservoir of all human experiences and from where, Cayce believed, psychic information was channeled from. In the philosophy of Theosophy, this dimension was called the akashic records.

Supernatural: This word is almost always interchangeable with paranormal.

Supernormal: Used before parapsychology.

Survivalism: The belief that the consciousness or soul survives physical death.

Synchronicity: A term coined by Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, to describe meaningful coincidences that seem to have been arranged by the subconscious mind.

Synesthesia: This Greek phrase means, “union of sensation.” It is a neurological conditional where the senses are coupled. For instance, a person can perceive sound as vivid colors (this sometimes happens on psychedelic drugs).




Table Tipping: Also table turning; this is where a small group of people gather around and lay their hands on a table, and wait for it to move under supposed spiritual influence.

Telepathy: Also called mind-reading, thought-reading, thought-transference, mental report, telepsychosis and biocommunication in Russia; this term was coined by Frederic William Henry Myers. It is a Greek phrase that means, “distant feeling,” and is the alleged ability to perceive the thoughts of others:

  • Active-Agent Telepathy: Used to indicate when the sender of information accidentally causes an emotional or behavioral change in the receiver.
  • Latent Telepathy: Also deferred telepathy; the alleged ability to receive information though extrasensory perception, though there is a noticeable time difference in transmission and receiving the thoughts.
  • Precognitive Telepathy: The alleged ability to receive information about a person’s thoughts prior to the person actually thinking them.
  • Unconscious Telepathy: A “message” from the subconscious mind that dictates a person’s actions.

Teleportation: A Greek phrase meaning, “distant moving;” the term was coined by American writer Charles Fort to describe an object or person who moves through from one place to another instantly.

Telesomatic: A term used as a substitute for materialization by Alexander N. Aksakof.

Telesthesia: A term coined by Frederic William Henry Myers for “perception at a distance,” such as feeling emotions, impulses and even wounds at a distance.

Telluric Force: Also called rhabdic force; the alleged force that moves dowsing rods.

Theta: Eighth letter of the Greek alphabet synonymous with death. Parapsychologists used to use this symbol to indicate survivalism, that the consciousness or soul services physical death. Theta is also an altered state of consciousness (ranging from 4-8 Hz) complimentary to trances, when some mediums allegedly communicate information from discarnate beings.

Third Eye: The third eye is associated with psychic abilities and is said to be located in the center of the brow. The concept originated in Hinduism as the “eye of wisdom,” associated with the ajna chakra, the sixth energy point, located in the middle of the brow and associated with enlightenment; in Buddhism, it is called the urna. Some scientists, such as Rick Strassman, believe that the third eye is in fact the pea-sized pineal glad, located in the center of the brain behind the center of the brow. This glad produces an endogenous chemical known as dimethyltryptamine (DMT) that is known to cause altered states of consciousness and audio-visual hallucinations.

Thorybism: Rene Sudre uses this term to describe poltergeist disturbances.

Thoughtography: Also called dorchagraphy and nensha in Japan; the term was coined by Professor Tomokichi Fukurai. This is the alleged ability to “burn images” from one’s mind onto an object. It was also studied in the 1960s by psychiatrist, Jule Eisenbud after his work with the out-of-work, heavy-drinking Ted Serious of Chicago. Ted was allegedly able to imagine an image, cover the lens of a Polaroid camera, and impress the mental image onto the instant film.

  • Negative Thoughtography: Parapsychologist C. T. K. Chari noticed that some subjects could cause some sections of a picture not to be exposed.

Time Slip: Also time loop; alleged event when a person inadvertently travels back to a previous time or less frequently forward to the future. Such time slips are characterized by ignorance to the event at first and a surprising lack of noise. In the rare instance a percipient interacts with another individual, the individual seems unaware of the percipient’s clothing.

Traction of the Human Body: Violent push or pull of seemingly limitless strength sometimes observed in poltergeist cases.

Transpersonal Psychology: A branch of psychology encompasses the whole being, even the spiritual side. This field is more likely to think favorably of anomalous, religious and parapsychological phenomena.

Transposition of Senses: The phenomena where a sense seems to move to another part of the body, such as seeing through the stomach or hands.

Trilocation: The image of a person appearing in two separate places away form their physical body.

Typtology: Communication with rapping noises believed to be spiritual in origin and characteristic in poltergeist cases.





Unidentified Flying Object (UFO): An object in the sky that is believed to be an alien spacecraft. Now called unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP).

Unidentified Submarine Objects (USO): Underwater crafts that are believed to be extraterrestrial in origin.





Verbal Transformation Effect: Also called auditory pareidolia; a phrase psychologists use to indicate an auditory illusion. Detractors of electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) believe this is all there is to the anomalous sounds.

Veridical: Parapsychologists use this term to indicate a truthful statement or event as opposed to a false, or falsidical statement.

Vibes: "Feeling vibrations" off of people, places and objects.

Vile Vortices: The term was coined by Ivan T. Sanderson to explain twelve areas at sea where electronic and guidance systems fail, there are strange sky and sea conditions and ships and planes mysterious vanish. The most famous of theses is the so-called Bermuda Triangle.

Vortex: Also called phantasmogenic center by Frederic William Henry Myers and localized psi; the term was coined by Graham Watkins to explain residual haunting. He theorized that a vortex was created when a subject created a "psychic field" in a fixed space that stayed for even centuries after the person's death.




Walk-in: A New Age philosophy that provides a convenient excuse when someone undergoes a life-changing experiences and has a drastic personality shift. Allegedly, the persons soul concedes to another, discarnate consciousness and enters the body of the person in transition. This can also be an opportunistic excuse for mid-life crisis.

Witness Inhibition: A theory proposed by parapsychologist Kenneth J. Batcheldor that most people unconsciously stop producing feats of mind-over-matter when they actually witness it.

Wraith: The Scottish word for an apparition.





Zener Cards: Cards designed in the early 1930s by Karl Zener to test alleged ESP/telepathic abilities. Each card has a different symbol out of 5 symbols (a square, a star, circle, cross and wavy lines) and a person is asked to describe the card the experimenter is looking at.

Zones of Disturbance (ZOD): Used by Paul Devereux to describe a geographic area he believes is conducive for paranormal experiences

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