In my years running the Nevada Ghost and Paranormal Series, I’ve met many people who’ve told me intuitive abilities run in their families. While I ascribe to the belief that we all have some degree of extra sensory perception (ESP), I also think genetics and the environment we grow up in play major roles as well.

Wondering what research has proven in regard to psychic development, I combed the web for data.

Psychic abilities as a childhood coping mechanism
Sylvia Hart Wright, of California State University at Bakersfield, wrote in the Journal of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies that psychic sensitivity appears to run in some families, especially those with a strong belief in ESP, and in those with a history of twins.

She further stated that her evidence suggests intensely psychic adults are more likely to have endured severe trauma in their first 10 to 12 years of life. More than a third of the subjects she interviewed (whom she found to be intuitive) grew up with an addictive personality and another third said they were raised in an abusive or angry environment.

Wright built upon earlier research conducted by two other scientists. Gardner Murphy, a former president of the American Psychological Association, observed that severe illness or personal crises may lead to heightened psychic awareness. After that, in 1982, Brad Steiger concluded after interviewing mediums that “nearly every medium has undergone a series of personal crises in his childhood or youth.”

These researchers commented that it appears certain individuals may develop intuitive abilities as a means of coping with trauma.

The case for heredity and ESP
Shari Cohn, a licensed clinical social worker, analyzed hundreds of Scottish family histories and interviewed subjects about their beliefs in the paranormal. She found that even in families where it was taboo to mention psychic skills, the sixth sense still appeared in some members, leading her to theorize that genetics are involved.

She believed second sight is consistent with autosomal dominant inheritance—a trait passed down through families by an abnormal gene. She stated that 23 percent of her study participants (and 32 percent for all pedigrees she studied) had had an ESP episode. And while more women acknowledged these types of experiences, she believed that could be because men were not as open to admitting or recognizing these instances.

Psychic abilities run in my family
The paranormal wasn’t anything my family discussed (outside of my brother’s childhood passion for UFOs and Bigfoot)—that is until I was in my 40s and I described to my mother a strange occurrence I’d had. Over the course of that discussion, we both realized that we’d met the same spirit in a duplex we’d lived in while I was a toddler. Recently, I’ve learned my niece and nephew both possess intuitive abilities as well. I was fortunate to grow up in a loving, nurturing environment, and assume the same for my niece and nephew. No trauma. So, for my family, I’d say it is a genetic trait.

Does the sixth sense run in your family? Did you have a difficult childhood and do you think it developed your sensitivity? I’d love to read your thoughts on this.