Education and Resources: What is a Medium?

grPeople use the word ‘Medium’ interchangeably with ‘Psychic’, is there a difference?

While a Medium is consisdered to be psychic a pscyhic is not necessarily also a Medium. Psychic is a blanket term that can be used to describe a wide range of extra perceptions or abilities that are considered outside the norms of the human population. Being a Medium is a subsect of psychic abilities: the alleged ability to contact and/or channel the dead.


Simply put a Medium is someone who attains their knowledge and information from dead spirits. Mediums have claimed to be a bridge between the living and the dead for a long time, in fact there are stories from the old testament that talk about Mediums contacting the spirits of the deceased. In the 19th century a revival in spiritualism lead to an enormous upsurge in Mediums. People of all classes and walks of life held seances and claimed to witness tables shaking, ectoplasm being excreted and things flying around the room. Rapping on tables or walls that appeared to come from no known source often answered the querents questions or the Medium would channel the spirits and answer questions directly.

Whether or not there were legitimate Mediums amongst the all the showmanship is a matter for debate. In the early 20th century the tactics and tricks of Mediums were exposed but just because many of the Mediums were debunked does not prove that they were all charlatans.

To this day you can find advertisements for Mediums that many people fervently believe in. They claim that the Mediums speak with the voices of their deceased loved ones and have information that would be impossible for the Medium to know on their own. As a result of the large amount of fraud committed in the 19th century Mediums do not have the best reputation but despite that they persist as a wing of the psychic community.


Gordon, Stein (1993). Encyclopedia of Hoaxes
Published by Gale Group
ISBN: 0-8103-8414-0