Examples of Psychics in Stories
January 8, 2019 9:44 AM   Subscribe

Hey Brilliants! I'm looking for examples of psychic protagonists in stories, film, tv, novels, etc. Thanks so much for your help!! :) Sunny

I'm specifically interested in charting the journey that clairvoyants have in communicating with spirits from throughout time, so less "The Sixth Sense" and more "Be Here Now". I can really use your help because doing an internet search is providing not useful.

Also, if anyone can think of a story that is about a coming of age moment for a psychic, like Harry Potter but for a clairvoyant / medium?

Thank you!
posted by sunnyblues48 to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I seem to recall that this sort of thing was actually a pretty big subgenre back in 1970s YA literature. One I remember is And This is Laura by Ellen Conford, which is about a 12-year-old psychic realizing that she has special powers. Similarly, A Gift of Magic by Lois Duncan is about more or less the same thing, but a bit more in the horror/thriller genre. I'm not sure either one of those book is still in print, but they're examples of what you're looking for.
posted by holborne at 9:51 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]

Not the greatest example, but "The Six Million Dollar Man" has a couple of episodes of this.
posted by Melismata at 10:01 AM on January 8

Beloved Canadian cult TV series, Seeing Things. is about a journalist "who solves murders with the help of postcognitive visions".
posted by Ashwagandha at 10:03 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]

Lois Duncan wrote a bunch of YA novels dealing with psychics or psychic powers (as well as mundane thrillers, etc.). One that comes to mind is Down a Dark Hall.
posted by yhlee at 10:07 AM on January 8

I kinda liked Himself, which is a mystery set in rural Ireland in 1976. The protagonist can see and talk to dead people.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:13 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]

That's the main plot line of Ghost. Stephen King's work is littered with psychics and clairvoyants but not so much of the medium type, I gather that is the specific request? Like "I'm being spoken to by a gold rush miner, he says he was murdered"?
posted by Iteki at 10:13 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]

Oh and of course you'll want Dean Koontz, his Odd Thomas books are about a medium, and all his books more or less have people with psychic powers. There's a category on wiki for "fictional spiritual mediums" but it includes Yoda... You might also want to dig in a little at TV-Tropes on the various medium sections.
posted by Iteki at 10:17 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]

Maybe the Fault Lines series by Tim Powers? Mainly the second and third books--Expiration Date and Earthquake Weather. You can read those before reading Last Call (the first book).
posted by sevenless at 10:31 AM on January 8

Gary Collins played a professor with psychic abilities in the 70s TV series Sixth Sense. I believe some of the episodes of the series were edited down for Rod Serling's Night Gallery. Early talkie, Darkened Rooms, features a phoney spiritualist who uses a real one to steal from his victims. There's also the noir, Night has a Thousand Eyes, where another phoney discovers he is a clairvoyant. Phoney mediums pop up a lot in film, especially in early cinema. I've never seen it but I've read about this one, Plastic Dome of Norma Jean which features a teenage girl with clairvoyant abilities.
posted by Ashwagandha at 10:40 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]

The protagonist of Charlaine Harris' Midnight, Texas series, beginning with Midnight Crossroads, is a sometimes authentic psychic and in the tv series his relationship with his grandmother's ghost is featured.
posted by Botanizer at 10:48 AM on January 8

Also by Lois Duncan, The Third Eye was a psychic coming-of-age novel.
posted by frobozz at 11:32 AM on January 8

Joel Grey played a psychic in the 1974 film Man on a Swing.
posted by FencingGal at 11:37 AM on January 8

For movies, there's Resurrection, starring Ellen Burstyn, about a woman who becomes psychic after a near-death experience.
posted by holborne at 11:53 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]

The whole TV show The Ghost Whisperer, while cheesy as all heck, is about this. She's a grown woman who's gotten used to it, but the show is peppered with flashbacks about her experiences growing up and learning about her powers from her grandmother.

(Don't judge me. Daytime TV doesn't count.)
posted by gideonfrog at 12:14 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]

The terms you're using are kind of confusing to me... I don't generally think of clairvoyant/psychic and communicating with spirits as the same thing. If you're more interested in the latter, these may not help but they all have 'coming of age' aspects:

- The Girl with Silver Eyes is one of those 1970's YAs that holborne mentioned
- the Witch Mountain books and movies are also in that category
- the Case of the Vanishing Boy, by the same author as the Witch Mountain books, was a favourite of mine when I was a kid.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 1:42 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]

If something fun will fit into your search, Dirk Gently's Holisitc Detective Agency by Douglas Adams is great, as is the sequel, Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:22 PM on January 8

The Gift maybe, and maybe also Stir of Echoes.
posted by gudrun at 6:46 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]

Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel might be along those lines - very atmospheric - I remember reading parts in the bright sunshine and feeling shivers down my spine...
posted by sedimentary_deer at 12:11 AM on January 9

Oooh, The Dead Zone, w/ Christopher Walken. Bonus Christopher Walken doing a parody on SNL of that character in the Dead Zone: Ed Glossner, Trivial Psychic (warning: ad at the beginning)
posted by nosila at 7:22 AM on January 9

I really liked the Graveyard Queen set of books. It's about a woman who restores old cemeteries but has to learn how to deal with the ghosts she can see and communicate with.
posted by hollygoheavy at 2:37 PM on January 10

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