Why Isn't Everyone Having Psychic Experiences All the Time?


Sight is a model and a set of theoretical ideas about psi: the collection of
controversial phenomena that are studied by parapsychologists. These phenomena
primarily involve knowing things and affecting things in ways that go beyond
the immediate boundaries of the organism.

Perhaps you know something of these matters from your own experience. Perhaps
you remember a dream in which you seemed to have been alerted in an unusually
accurate way to something that developed in your life later, well after the
moments of dreaming. Perhaps you and a loved one sometimes anticipate each
other's thoughts or know when each other will call on the phone or punch ‘send'
with an e-mail. Or you may know of someone who has told you stories along these
lines. They happen in my life at times, and I encounter them not infrequently
in my practice of psychotherapy.

The First Sight Model that I have been working on for perhaps the past 15 years
asserts that a psychic connection to the world is going on all the time for
everyone. If that is so, someone might ask why everyone isn't having psychic
experiences (ESP or PK) all the time?

model also has an explanation for this. The psi-connection is innately
unconscious. For First Sight, psychic engagement is not just rarely conscious,
it is actually never conscious.

why do we ever think we have a psychic experience?

we succeed in interpreting some implicit expression of the psychic engagement.
We notice a hunch or a shift in mood or pay attention to imagery appearing on
the mind's inner screen, or reflect on the events of a dream, and connect them
to something real and beyond our sensory boundaries — something either hidden
or far away or yet to happen.

the case of PK we notice an odd behavior of some physical object, and then see
a plausible connection to some inner state of desire or frustration. We can do
these things on purpose, or we can just happen upon them.

up a bit. Why should psi engagements be expressed by such inadvertent, implicit
events? Because we know that all unconscious mental processes are liable to be,
and psi seems to work as just another one of those processes.

example, this is how we know that a subliminal prime has influenced someone. It
alters the probability of the content of the prime turning up somehow in the
person's spontaneous imagery or feelings or decisions — all without the person
ever knowing that the prime has participated in forming those experiences!

There is another
wrinkle that has to be added in. Unconscious information like extrasensory
events or subliminal primes do not always enter into experience in an additive
way. Sometimes they enter in in a negative, subtractive way, leading us to avoid
the content in our images, etc.

This would seem to
make it hopeless to know when such a stimulus is active or not, except that
this unconscious decision of pro or con follows meaningful patterns that
can be figured out by the right kind of research. Cognitive psychologists and
parapsychologists both have been busy trying to determine these hidden
patterns, and both have made a lot of progress. One fascinating thing — without
their knowing it, the patterns they have found tend to look very similar!

following experience was sent to me by an old friend in another town. Like me,
she is a clinical psychologist and a psychotherapist. She has had many psychic
experiences herself so she appreciates them. This one just happened to her:

sister-in-law Susan died on Friday following a tough heart surgery. Her
daughter wants to have a big, formal memorial service complete with choirs at
the church in (city X) where Susan used to be a premier soloist. She bought new
suits for her boys and husband.

knew I'd be an embarrassment if I showed up in my one dress, so I started
looking for a suit I could wear. I went to all the consignment shops and even
department stores to find something I liked enough to wear, all to no avail.

morning I went to a thrift shop in (Town Y) where I ran into a client I haven't
seen in more than 10 years. She was one of my most dissociative and also
psychically "gifted" patients.

some point in the conversation I told her I was there to find a suit I could
wear to the service. She said, "come over here, I see just the thing." She
pulled a suit off the rack that was perfect in every way, color, size, fit, and

asked her how she happened to know to go to that suit. She said she had
awakened that morning and thought "I need to take this suit to the thrift shop
today to donate because someone needs it." She had bought it some time ago,
"for no good reason and never wore it" and had moments before brought it in and
they had just put it on the rack. It cost six dollars. She said it made her
very happy to do something for someone who had done so much for her.

morning I ran into another patient I haven't seen in years. She said she was
about to call me, not because she needed to see me but because I was so much on
her mind in the last few days. Maybe grief has opened the psychic gates."

are sweet and poignant incidents, you will probably agree. They are the kind of
thing that makes us not just appreciate our psychic potential but deeply value
it. Does First Sight help us in understanding experiences like this one?

model says that our psi engagement with things around us is ongoing
unconsciously all the time, but that only under certain conditions will it be
likely to show itself in our consciousness and behavior. Even when it does,
it will be expressed in implicit, inadvertent ways that can only be seen as
meaningful after the fact

former client never knew that my friend needed the suit that day, or would
someday have needed it when she bought it. She "just happened" to buy it
(oddly) and then proceed to never wear it; and she "just happened" to take it
to a store that my friend would enter that day in search of what she needed.

friend wasn't told consciously by ESP that someone would be taking the suit she
needed to that store that morning, she "just happened" to choose to go there
right then (and not a short time before when the suit wouldn't have been there
yet, or a bit later when such a nice suit would likely have been taken by
someone else. So we see psi-expressive inadvertencies at work.

theory says several things about when psi engagements are especially likely to
contribute to our behavior.

is if the information involved is very pertinent at that moment in time.

is when there is an approach to experience that is open and not overly rational
or planful.

A third
is when the persons involved are relatively dissociative. We see all of this
going on here.

need for a suit was urgent, especially in the context of grief for a beloved
family member. The wish to help her former beloved therapist was a longstanding
priority for this grateful client.

former client was open to a rather random impulse to take the suit in. My
friend, after a long search, was reduced to a rather random wandering to
unlikely places, and open to such wandering. And the client is a very
dissociative person. This isn't just an odd and lovely story — although it is
that. It is a sensible development and expression of our psi engagement with our
interpersonal world, when viewed in light of First Sight.

the last vignette (the impulse of someone else to call just then) shows that at
a psi level our important needs are important to others, if we are important to
them. First Sight says that too. Keen grieving brings up important needs.

I formulated the First Sight model, I became astonished (and pleased) at how
much it helped me to understand and even anticipate and clarify the voluminous
findings in experimental parapsychology. I go into this kind of clarification
at length in areas of research involving memory, subliminal perception,
extraversion, fear and so on in First Sight: ESP and Parapsychology in
Everyday Life

of this research couldn't exist unless it was revealing our basic humanity,
even though it is not exactly what we mean by "everyday life." In the book I do
illustrate the model's application to our more spontaneous and natural
experiences of "the paranormal." A close look at other stories like this one
can do the same thing.

I read these stories of my friend it brought to mind a poem by Robert Graves on
the subject of grief and sensitivity. It seems to have psi implications. To
avoid misusing a poet I greatly admire, I give only a few lines. You can find
the whole thing here:

His eyes are
quickened so with grief,
He can watch a grass or leaf
Every instant grow; he can
Clearly through a flint wall see,
Or watch the startled spirit flee
From the throat of a dead man.
. . . .
This man is quickened so with grief,
He wanders god-like or like thief
Inside and out, below, above,
Without relief seeking lost love.
–Robert Graves

Image by shannonkringen, courtesy of Creative Commons license.