Psychometry, literally translated from the Greek as “measure of the soul,” is a form of psychic ability that allows people to “read” objects they hold. The term should not be confused with psychometrics, different types of tests that might measure IQ, emotional capacities, or assess learning capabilities. In fact, since the terms are so close, some mediums may use the term token-object reading instead of psychometry.
In the 1979 Stephen King novel The Dead Zone a man who has been in a coma for several years wakes up with the gift of psychometry. By holding objects he can get sense of who used them, and is able to solve a series of brutal killings through psychometry. The idea King uses is a fascinating one, which had captivated people long before King’s novel.
The first use of the term psychometry was by Joseph Rhodes Buchanan, who described this psychic process in 1842. His idea was that objects contain impressions that can be “read” by some people with a high degree of psychic ability. Since then, though it’s extremely hard to verify that someone actually has psychometry, a few times, police investigators have turned to psychics with pieces of evidence and asked them to try to identify location or identity of criminals.
This is the case with Allison Dubois, who has claimed she has worked in several criminal investigatory matters. Her experiences are the base story for the TV show Medium. The departments for which she claims to have worked have not supported her claims, and she has been subject to criticism. Many believe that the whole field of psychic phenomenon is non-existent. Yet there are some alleged incidences where people with the ability to use psychometry have helped solve crimes.
Opponents of psychometry suggest that what mediums are really good at is reading the expectations of people around them and performing on the spot. Mediums who claim to have gifts in psychometry assert they weren’t exactly thrilled to have psychic gifts, and that “seeing dead people” or using psychometry to read objects exposes them to horrific images and thoughts that most people would give anything to be without.