Originally related to magic and still understood as such in many cultures, psychic abilities survived the Time Lords' imposition of the laws of physics on the universe by being sufficiently grounded in science (PROSE: So Vile a Sin).
The Soviet Union began research into psychic powers before World War II in the hope of creating a psychic bomb designed to provoke extreme emotions in people. This ambition had been achieved by 1965. The United States of America also researched psychic powers in the 1960s. (AUDIO: Peshka)
Causes of psychic ability
Natural racial abilities
Some species were innately psychically active - in some cases it was very unusual for an individual of a given species not to manifest psi-powers. These powers could be of any type - for instance, the Arcateenians appeared to be innately telepathic, (TV: Greeks Bearing Gifts) while it has been strongly implied that some Daleks possessed some degree of psychokinesis. (TV: Death to the Daleks)
In some cases, it is difficult to tell whether the powers displayed by an individual were unusual for a member of their race. The Doctor and Susan both displayed telepathic abilities, but most Time Lords did not.[source needed] Several other Time Lords did show psychic abilities and the Doctor said at least twice that Time Lords were telepathic.
Many races had highly unusual innate abilities, but it was often difficult to tell whether these powers were truly psychic (involved the manipulation of psychic energy) or not.
Innate psychic ability in humans was rare, but not unknown: according to the Doctor, they are just dormant in most members of Homo sapiens. (TV: Planet of the Spiders) Most humans had at least some latent psychic potential. Significant individuals (such as William Shakespeare), showed enough latent psychic ability to see psychic paper as blank. This ability may have been due to an extra synaptic engram in the brain, which was seen in individuals with mild telepathic abilities such as Tim Latimer. Torchwood 1 personnel were given basic psychic training, also giving them this ability.
Mutation due to external factors
In species that were not normally psi-active, powers could nevertheless still appear given the right stimuli. Humans living near a Time rift developed psychic abilities, which might vanish if the rift is sealed. Prolonged exposure to a Metebelis crystal might also result in psychic powers.
It is not known whether the psychic ability of the Daleks was a direct result of Davros's genetic manipulation, a natural result of the process of mutation, or a freak consequence of the combination of both (the original Kaleds did not appear psychically active).
Types of psychic ability
See individual articles for full descriptions.
- Clairvoyance (also known as Extra-Sensory Perception)
- Time-sensitivity: the ability to sense disruptions in time and/or reality, or to detect that a given object or person is or has been displaced in time.
Artificial psychic phenomena
Psychic energy was normally only produced by living minds, which made it (and the powers utilising it) difficult to study or replicate using conventional technological means.
However, a number of devices were constructed to facilitate or mimic natural psychic powers.
- TARDISes generated a psychic field and incorporated telepathic circuits to facilitate both short- and long-range communications. (TV: Frontier in Space)
- The IRIS Machine artificially boosted the telepathic potential of human test subjects. (TV: Planet of the Spiders)
- The Arcateenians used telepathy pendants for long-range communication. (TV: Greeks Bearing Gifts)
- The Coronet of Rassilon gave the wearer the power of mind control, even over multiple subjects simultaneously. (TV: The Five Doctors)
- In his later incarnations, the Doctor routinely carried psychic paper to save time in establishing his credentials. This ploy was also used by the adventurer known as Captain Jack Harkness.
- Psychic credit cards were used by the Doctor to hold money. (PROSE: Only Human)