Psychometry is a psychic ability in which a person can sense or read the history of an object by touching it. Such a person can receive impressions from an object by holding it in their hands or, perhaps touching it to the forehead. Such impressions can be perceived as images, sounds, smells, tastes and even emotions. Many know about the supernatural phenomenon through works of fiction over the years but none more popular than, Stephen King’s The Dead Zone along with the parody sketch of the film, starring Christopher Walken as Ed Glosser: Trivial Psychic on Saturday Night Live, as seen below:
Psychometry is a form of “scrying” which is the psychic way of seeing something that is not ordinarily seeable. While some people can scry using a crystal ball, black glass or even the surface of water, psychometry is available through touch. For instance, a person who has psychometric abilities (also known as a psychometrist) could hold an antique glove and be able to tell something about the history of that glove, about the person who owned it, about the experiences that person had while in the possession of that glove. They may be able to sense what the person was like, what they did and even how they died.
Perhaps though, the most important sense a psychic can experience is how a person felt — the emotions of someone at a particular time. It’s known that emotions are most strongly “recorded” in an object. The psychic may not be able to do this with all objects at all times and, as with all psychic abilities, accuracy can vary, but the ability is available to the psychic.
It is commonly offered as psychic fairs as a type of psychic reading and while the phenomenon has claimed to help visitors “meet the dearly departed” (a form of spiritualism), a majority of police departments polled do not use psychics and do not consider them credible or useful on cases. However, some authors write that psychometry and psychic detectives are used by law enforcement agencies on specific cases.
The term, psychometry was coined by Joseph R. Buchanan in 1842 and is from the Greek words, psyche, meaning “soul,” and metron, meaning “measure.” Buchanan, an American professor of physiology, was one of the first people to experiment with psychometry by using his students as subjects. He would place various drugs in glass vials and then ask them to identify the drugs merely by holding the vials. Their success rate was more than chance and he published the results in his book, Journal of Man. To explain the phenomenon, Buchanan theorized that all objects have “souls” that retain a memory.
Intrigued and inspired by Buchanan’s work, American professor of geology William F. Denton conducted experiments to see if psychometry would work with his geological specimens. In 1854, he enlisted the help of his sister, Ann Denton Cridge and wrapped his specimens in cloth so Ann could not see even what type they were. She then placed the wrapped package to her forehead and was able to accurately describe the specimens through vivid mental images she was receiving.
From 1919 to 1922, Gustav Pagenstecher, a German doctor and psychical researcher, discovered psychometric abilities in one of his patients, Maria Reyes de Zierold. While holding an object, Maria could place herself in a trance and be able to state facts about the object’s past and present, describing sights, sounds, smells and other feelings about the object’s “experience” in the world. Pagenstecher’s theory was that a psychometrist could tune in to the experiential “vibrations” condensed in the object.
In the later nineteenth century, demonstrations of psychometry became a popular part of stage acts and séances; with participants providing a personal object for “reading” by a medium or psychic.
Sidenote: We, at My Paranormal Podcast had the opportunity to interview psychic detective, Chuck Bergman, a former police officer who assisted in police investigations. To hear that podcast episode, be sure to check out our post with the free podcast stream here on Tumblr.