Modes of Knowing II: The Accidental Psychics

Updated: Jun 22, 2020

When did we begin our journey?...perhaps it was when we sensed that the world we see is not the world that is.

~Frater Stephen Goulder

Extrasensory perception is not unique. Every human has access to some type of awareness beyond the five senses, but most of us are never taught to recognize and work with it. Like other variable traits, some people are naturally born with a mega-dose of this type of awareness. For these individuals, learning to recognize and work with their awareness is vital to a healthy, functional existence. Otherwise, they can end up feeling overwhelmed and insane, and often find themselves caught up in the not always helpful arena of contemporary mental health care.


Psychiatrists differentiate between organic and functional psychiatric illness. Organic disorders are those for which a clear physical cause can be found. Infections, tumors, nutrient deficiencies, vascular degeneration, and blunt force trauma are just some of the potential causes of organic disorders. When the cause of an issue is clear, the ideal interventions and treatments are also usually clear. Unfortunately, many issues that contemporary psychiatry tackles are functional disorders. A physical cause of these issues have yet to be found. Some of the labels currently used to identify functional mental disorders include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, the personality disorders, OCD, PTSD, and eating disorders.

The official dictionary that defines psychiatric disorders is called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Occasionally experts convene to update and rewrite the book, and each time they do, some disorders disappear, new ones are born, and some change form. During the most recent rewrite that was published in 2013, high drama ensued within the workgroup whose job it was to rewrite the section on Personality Disorders. The group could not decide amongst themselves how to define and categorize the Personality Disorders. Two members even ended up resigning from the panel. (See links below if you would like to learn more about this.)

The DSM debacle is an important reminder that particularly in the field of mental health, our current science is only a rough model of reality. This is glaringly obvious from the fact that psychiatrists themselves argue about how to define the models they use on a daily basis to treat patients. But it is not my intention to make the doctors the enemy. Many psychiatrists truly want to help the people they work with, but the context within which they currently work could perhaps use some change. Be sure to come back next week, when we will solve the healthcare crisis in America.


In Modes of Knowing, I defined four types of awareness, based on the four elements. While a megadose of any of the elements can create challenges, the water and air elements can be particularly troublesome in terms of generating unacknowledged awareness. Having an ego requires maintaining a stable structure with boundaries that define the "self". Metaphorically, if your consciousness functions a lot like air or water, maintaining a structure and boundaries of the self can be challenging. Particles in the air like to zoom around all over the place, and water likes to dissolve things, which is totally antithetical to boundaries.

In addition to the challenge of accidentally picking up on other people's emotions and thoughts, overactive air and water people may also have to deal with picking up on feelings from unseen entities. Many common psychiatric "symptoms" can occur when someone is aware of entities, and trying to block out that awareness. Excessive drinking or drug use, self-harm behaviors, and overeating can sometimes be ways in which someone is trying to deal with an awareness they have never been taught to acknowledge and work with. Someone with a lot of entity awareness might also experience mood swings, insomnia, and feelings of paranoia and recurring negative thoughts such as "everyone hates me".

Learning to recognize and work with extrasensory awareness is not difficult, but it often requires sifting through and tossing out a lot of cultural and historical conditioning. The ideas that many of us have about entities, spirits, and ghosts come from movies, but most film portrayals are not realistic.


I was recently speaking with a friend who is dealing with strong entity awareness. She shared how there are times when an energy shows up in her space and she gets an overwhelming feeling that she needs to pay attention to it, like there is something that desperately needs to be addressed. She has a very hard time ignoring it, no matter what else is going on around her. I asked her to consider 1) that an entity was showing up and that she was really aware of its feelings of urgent need, and 2) just because there was a feeling of urgent need, that didn't mean it was necessarily important. We talked about the example of a child throwing a tantrum in the grocery store because they want ice cream. That level of need could be really high, but that doesn't necessarily make it important.

This conversation helped my friend recognize a major fallacy that she had been functioning from. She voiced a misconception that is super common, stating "I thought that anything unseen had to be really conscious, or spiritual, or all-knowing, or something". But entities are just like people - some are kind and helpful, some are assholes, and some are really not very bright.


Some elemental combinations mix more harmoniously than others. A very watery person may have find it difficult to work in an office full of earth people, where they may be the only one aware of subtle energies like all of the unspoken anger that people have toward their boss, or the fact that Jim's deceased grandma follows him around the office all day. It is also helpful to know that if you already have a lot of extrasensory knowing, practices like yoga and meditation are likely to enhance this ability. Choose teachers who are willing to discuss this aspect of the practice if you think this might be an issue for you.


Many cultures consider conscious interaction with entities to be a healthy spiritual practice. For the most part, our culture not only denies the existence of the unseen, but vilifies those who openly discuss their awareness of it. For some people, learning to work with unseen energies can be an important adjunct to their mental health regimen, and an aspect of self care. The process also serves as a valuable means of building trust in yourself and your awareness. How often do we trust ourselves when we are aware of something, even if no one else agrees with or validates our perspective? A strange idea for most of us, I know. We are taught from a young age to ignore our own awareness, and to instead listen to the experts - the parents, the doctors, the priests, the scientists, they all know better than you. What if it's time to step out of line, to start to acknowledge and cultivate your own unique awareness? Although it is a journey that at times can be uncomfortable and scary, it can also be the ride of a lifetime, and open up doors you never even knew existed.

More about the DSM-5:

Psychology Today article article

I want to make it very clear that I am not suggesting that every psychiatric issue is a result of the topics addressed in this article. If you receive treatment for a psychiatric issue, none of the information here is meant to be interpreted as a reason to stop treatment or medications. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any sort of disease.