The word psychic is derived from the Greek word ψυχικός “psychikos” (“of the mind” or “mental”) and refers in part to the human mind or psyche (ex. “psychic turmoil”). The Greek word also means “soul”. In Greek mythology, the maiden Psyche was the deification of the human soul. The word derivation of the Latin psȳchē is from the Greek psȳchḗ, literally, breath, derivative of psȳ́chein, to breathe, blow, hence, live.
A psychic is a person who claims to use extrasensory perception (ESP) to identify information hidden from the normal senses. The word “psychic” is also used as an adjective to describe such abilities. Psychics may be theatrical performers, such as stage magicians, who use techniques such as prestidigitation, cold reading, and hot reading to produce the appearance of such abilities. Psychics appear regularly in fantasy fiction, such as in the novel The Dead Zone by Stephen King. Psychic powers are asserted by psychic detectives and in practices such as psychic archaeology and even psychic surgery. Critics attribute psychic powers to intentional trickery or to self-delusion. In 1988 the U.S. National Academy of Sciences gave a report on the subject and concluded there is “no scientific justification from research conducted over a period of 130 years for the existence of parapsychological phenomena.” A study attempted to repeat recently reported parapsychological experiments that appeared to support the existence of precognition. Attempts to repeat the results, which involved performance on a memory test to ascertain if post-test information would effect it, “failed to produce significant effects”, and thus “do not support the existence of psychic ability.”