Psychometry (paranormal)

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Coined byJoseph Rodes Buchanan[1]
SynonymsToken-object reading, Psychoscopy
DefinitionA form of psychic reading in which one individual claims to obtain details about another through physical contact with their possessions[1]
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For other uses, see Psychometry.
Coined byJoseph Rodes Buchanan[1]
SynonymsToken-object reading, Psychoscopy
DefinitionA form of psychic reading in which one individual claims to obtain details about another through physical contact with their possessions[1]

Psychometry (from Greek: ψυχή, psukhē, "spirit, soul" and μέτρον, metron, "measure"),[2] also known as token-object reading,[3] or psychoscopy,[4] is a form of extra-sensory perception characterized by the claimed ability to make relevant associations from an object of unknown history by making physical contact with that object.[5] Supporters assert that an object may have an energy field that transfers knowledge regarding that object's history.[6]

Psychometry is commonly offered at psychic fairs as a type of psychic reading.[7] At New Age events psychometry has claimed to help visitors "meet the dearly departed" (a form of spiritualism).[8]

Although the majority of police departments polled do not use psychics and do not consider them credible or useful on cases,[9][10][11] some authors write that psychometry and psychic detectives were used by law enforcement agencies on specific cases.[12][13]


Joseph Rodes Buchanan coined the word "psychometry" (measuring the soul) in 1842.[14] Buchanan came up with the idea that all things give off an emanation.[15]

The Past is entombed in the Present! The world is its own enduring monument; and that which is true of its physical, is likewise true of its mental career. The discoveries of Psychometry will enable us to explore the history of man, as those of geology enable us to explore the history of the earth. There are mental fossils for psychologists as well as mineral fossils for the geologists; and I believe that hereafter the psychologist and the geologist will go hand in hand — the one portraying the earth, its animals and its vegetation, while the other portrays the human beings who have roamed over its surface in the shadows, and the darkness of primeval barbarism! Aye, the mental telescope is now discovered which may pierce the depths of the past and bring us in full view of the grand and tragic passages of ancient history![16]

Buchanan asserted that his particular psychism would supersede empiric science. He wrote a comprehensive treatise, Manual of Psychometry: the Dawn of a New Civilization (1885), detailing how the direct knowledge of psychometry would be applied to and affect the many various branches of science. It also would elevate the various schools of philosophy and arts thereby affecting wide social change and ultimately an enlightenment of humanity:[17]

The thermometer measures caloric (thermo temperature). The barometer measures the weight (baro, weight) of the atmosphere; the electrometer measures electric conditions; the psychometer measures the soul (psyche). In the case of Psychometry, however, the measuring assumes a new character, as the object measured and the measuring instrument are the same psychic element, and its measuring power is not limited to the psychic as it was developed in the first experiments, but has appeared by successive investigation to manifest a wider and wider area of power, until it became apparent that this psychic capacity was really the measure of all things in the Universe.[18]

Buchanan continued to promote psychometry throughout his life and his followers believed that it would revolutionize science in a comprehensive way as "the dawn of a new civilization".[19] Others, such as Stephen Pearl Andrews who promoted Psychometry along with his own new science of Universology, built upon Buchanan's ideas. As a lecturer Andrews asserted that such inquiries, as paraphrased by an 1878 New York Times article, "demonstrated that the sympathy between the mind and body is an exact science".[20]

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.[21]

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  1. ^ a b Spence, Lewis Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, Part 2, Kessinger Publishing, LLC (February 1, 2003), p.754. ISBN 0-7661-2817-2
  2. ^ Joseph Rodes Buchanan, Manual of Psychometry : the Dawn of a New Civilization Boston, Frank H. Hodges (4th edition), 1893 p.3. ISBN 1-150-07724-7
  3. ^ Psychometry - Key Words Frequently Used in Parapsychology, Parapsychological Association (2006-12-17)
  4. ^ Tischner, Rudolf, Telepathy and Clairvoyance Great Britain, Steven Austin & Sons, Ltd. 1924, p.70. ISBN 1-84664-135-7
  5. ^ Beloff, John (1997) [1993]. Parapsychology: A Concise History (reprint ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-312-17376-0. 
  6. ^ Noreen Renier, A Mind for Murder: The Real-Life Files of a Psychic Investigator, Hampton Roads Pub Co; Revised edition (May 9, 2008) p.13 ISBN 1-57174-573-4
  7. ^ Marcelle S. Fischler LONG ISLAND JOURNAL; Where $20 Will Buy A Peek at the Future, December 15, 2002.
  8. ^ Katherine E. Finkelstein Northport Journal; The Very Determined Meet the Dearly Departed, August 25, 1999.
  9. ^ Barnes, Hannah (2009-11-23). "Can psychics help to solve crime??". BBC. Retrieved 2009-11-22. 
  10. ^ Silence, Eddie (2006-03-29). "Do the police use psychics?". Critical Thinking Association (UK). Retrieved 2007-05-25. 
  11. ^ "Police reject psychic advice". Bay Of Plenty Times (NZ newspaper). Retrieved 2007-05-21. 
  12. ^ Robert Kessler, Tom Schachtman, Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI, St. Martin's Paperbacks (March 15, 1993) pp.270-272. ISBN 0-312-95044-6
  13. ^ Karen L. Page "My Life Across The Table" autobiography, Llewellyn Worldwide (March 8, 2013) ISBN 9780738735818
  14. ^ Mark A. Lause (University of Cincinnati): Joseph Rodes Buchanan (Internet Archive)
  15. ^ Psychometry at
  16. ^ Buchanan, 1893, p.73
  17. ^ Buchanan, 1893, pp.4–5
  18. ^ Buchanan 1893, pp.3–4
  19. ^ Buchanan's Journal of Man., Vol. I. August, 1887. No. 7.
  20. ^ A discourse on Seven Sciences.; Cerebral Physiology, Cerebral Psychology, Sarcognomy, Psychometry, Pneumatology, Pathology, and Cerebral Pathology. The New York Times, March 17, 1878
  21. ^ Beloff, p.29, "After that would come tests provided by members of the audience involving 'billet reading', 'token object reading' leading up, finally, to a test of travelling clairvoyance where the person's private home would constitute the target area."
  22. ^ Ann Nocenti (w), Arthur Adams (p), Whilce Portacio (i). "I'll Wave To You From the Top!" Longshot 2 (October 1985), Marvel Comics
  23. ^ Ann Nocenti (w), Arthur Adams (p), Whilce Portacio (i). "Just Let Me Die" Longshot 3 (November 1985), Marvel Comics


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