Excerpt: 'The Sense of Being Stared At'

Ever guess who is calling you on the telephone before you answered it? In The Sense of Being Stared At: And Other Aspects of the Extended Mind, Rupert Sheldrake argues that humans have psychic abilities that they are not even aware of.

Chapter 1


Telepathy comes from the Greek tele, "distant," as in telephone and television, and pathe, "feeling," as in empathy and sympathy. It literally means "distant feeling."

Telepathy is classified by psychic researchers and parapsychologists as a kind of ESP, or extrasensory perception — a form of perception beyond the known senses. Alternatively, it can be seen as an aspect of the sixth or seventh sense.

Telepathy and other psychic phenomena contradict the assumption that the mind is confined to the brain. Therefore, from the materialist point of view, they are impossible, and dogmatic skeptics dismiss them as illusory. Nevertheless, many people claim that they themselves have had telepathic or other psychic experiences.

In one national survey in the United States, 58 percent of those questioned claimed personal experience of telepathy. In another national survey, in 1990, 75 percent said they had had at least one kind of paranormal experience, and 25 percent had had telepathic experiences. In recent random household surveys in Britain and the United States, 45 percent of the respondents said they had had telepathic experiences. In a large newspaper survey in Britain, 59 percent of the respondents said they were believers in ESP.

The figures vary, but they show clearly enough that many people in western Europe and the United States claim to have experienced telepathy, and most people believe in the reality of psychic phenomena.


There seem to be two main kinds of telepathy, the first of which is exemplified by thought transference, and usually occurs between people who are nearby, each aware of the other's presence, and already interacting with each other. Although thought transference is most common between people who know each other well, it can also occur with others with whom they are currently interacting. I discuss this kind of telepathy in this chapter and the next.

In the second kind of telepathy, which I will discuss in chapters 3 through 6, one person picks up a call, intention, need, or distress of another at a distance. This results in thinking about the other person, or seeing an image of that person, or hearing his or her voice, or experiencing a feeling or impression. In this kind of telepathy, someone's attention is attracted, just as it is by hearing one's own name called, or by seeing an alarm signal, or by hearing the telephone ring. A connection or channel of communication is opened up. This kind of telepathy typically occurs between people who are closely bonded.

The same principles apply to telepathy between people and animals.


Many people who keep pets have noticed that their animals respond to their thoughts and intentions. In surveys of randomly chosen pet owners in Britain and the United States, on average 48 percent of those with dogs, and 33 percent of those with cats, thought that their animals were sometimes telepathic with them.

Many cats, for instance, seem to know when their owners are planning to take them to the vet, and disappear. For example:

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