Generally speaking, a psychic is a person who exhibits extraordinary extrasensory and nonphysical mental processes. There are many areas that this covers. These include clairvoyance, synchrony, dreams, déjà vu, healing, empathy, telekinesis, telepathy, and spiritualism.
Clairvoyance comes from the French meaning "clear seeing" and is sometimes used as a synonym for psychic. However, clairvoyance is usually considered being able to tell what is happening in a remote place at the present time, rather than being able to see into the future.
Synchrony is an experience that happens at the same time that we are thinking it or talking about it.
Dreams have been believed to foretell portentous events since the dawn of man. Because dreams are often obscure in meaning, psychics (and psychiatrists) often try to interpret their meaning.
Déjà vu, French for "already seen", is the experience of feeling that something that we are experiencing has happened before. Such feelings are often interpreted as evidence of reincarnation and experiences in previous lives.
Healing is the ability to cure or improve manifestations of illness.
Empathy is being able to feel and share the moods and pain of other people as if they were your own.
Telekinesis is the ability to move or be able to affect the behavior of objects from a distance.
Telepathy is the ability to communicate thoughts from a distance with another person.
Spiritualism is the ability to communicate with "spirits" of dead persons.
The word "psychic" is synonymous with "mental". It is used to refer to a person who is apparently sensitive to nonphysical forces. Psychic phenomena include the complete spectrum of normal and abnormal experiences of the mind, although the emphasis is on mental experiences beyond the ordinary. It is estimated that 60% of psychic experiences occur in dreams and 30% are waking impressions. A portion of the remainder appear as hallucinations such as seeing visions or hearing voices that appear to be real.
Psychic experiences are called extrasensory or "outside of the senses", and the ability to perceive them is called extrasensory perception. In order to define what is "extrasensory" we need to define what is "sensory". Traditionally, there are five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Each of the senses consists of specialized cells that have receptors for specific stimuli. These cells have links to the nervous system and thus to the brain. Sensing is done at primitive levels in the cells and integrated into sensations in the nervous system. Sight is probably the most developed sense in humans, followed closely by hearing.
In addition to the five basic senses, there are also balance, kinesthesia, and synesthesia. The sense of balance is maintained by a complex interaction of visual inputs,the inner ear vestibular system, and the central nervous system. Kinesthesia is the precise awareness of muscle and joint movement that allows us to coordinate our muscles when we walk, talk, and use our hands. An estimated 1 in 1000 individuals experience a phenomenon called synesthesia in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another. For example, the hearing of a sound may result in the sensation of the visualization of a color, a shape may be sensed as a smell, or numbers or letters may be linked to colors.
Psychic processes or perceptions therefore can be defined as existing outside of or beyond the above mentioned sensory perceptions.
One problem that psychics have always had is one of communication and credibility. Since psychic experiences occur within the mind of the psychic, other people have to rely on the psychic's own statements for the revelations, insights, predictions, etc. To many believers, it is an act of faith. It is difficult or impossible to verify much of it .
A scientific psychic would be a person who explores psychic phenomena using scientific methodology to discard the verifiably false and explore the potentially possible. Psychic science is a broad subject that includes occultism, mysticism, metaphysics, parapsychology, and consciousness. Many scientists in other areas do not consider it a "science" because almost nothing that it covers is verifiable, observable, or reproducible. A scientific psychic, however, does seek to use the laws of science as an explanation for any phenomena that fall within the scope of the scientific method and to critically study phenomena beyond those boundaries using subjective criteria. This would require the systematic application of perception, logic, imagination, intuition, an incorruptible standard of honesty, and proofs than that can be independently verified by documentary evidence. .
There are certain rules that must be followed in the realm of the scientific psychic. All predictions must be recorded in ink, dated, and notarized or published to prevent false claims. Texts on social psychology define "hindsight bias" as a common mental error that many individuals make when they think that they could have predicted something after it has already happened. Predictions should be as specific as possible, and should not be subject to interpretation. There must be a time frame given, and quantitative limits specified. Any parlor tricks involving manipulation of objects, use of assistants, concealed magnets, cameras, strings, microphones, loudspeakers, etc. do not validate psychic abilities.