Created By: zarpaulus on September 3, 2013 Last Edited By: zarpaulus on September 23, 2013
Troped

Touch Telepathy

Mind reading initiated by skin contact

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Page Type:
Trope
A common variation on Telepathy is to have it related to skin on skin contact, the psychic may have to put their hands on the subject's head or something. Or it may be a form of Power Incontinence and they automatically read the mind of anyone they touch.

Anime and Manga
  • Negi Springfield in Mahou Sensei Negima! is shown to have this ability via placing his hand on the forehead in the first chapter, though he can only catch a few thoughts at the most.
  • Violet from One Piece normally doesn't have to be really close to another person to read his/her mind with her powers, but in order to let someone else read her mind, that someone should look at her eye through her circled thumb and pointer finger.
  • Dragon Ball Z: several characters have demonstrated the power to read minds by touching another person's forehead, including Goku and Lord Slug. King Kai could share his telepathic link on contact.
  • Esper Mami: At the start of the series, Mami can only read thoughts clearly if she's touching the person. Later she learns she can do it if they're both touching a metal wire (insulation does not stop the telepathy.)

Comics
  • Used several times in The Adventures of Luther Arkwright and its followup Heart of Empire by Bryan Talbot. Mind reading is done by touching hand to head, but it appears that it's more of a data dump than reading surface thoughts (though it is implied that another psychic can control the contents of the dump). However, it is possible to implant thoughts without touching.
  • Tamaraneans from DC Comics can learn languages through touch (some of them prefer kissing, but it was stated any kind will do).

Fanfic/Derivative Works
  • The Vitalian race in The Dark Past have a variant. Touch Empathy which is automatic whenever they touch any intelligent being. It makes disciplining their children easy and (physically) painless.

Film
  • In Hellboy, Abe Sapien can learn about objects or people by touching them. For example, he can touch a weapon left behind at a crime scene and see exactly how the crime happened—or he can touch a superior's hand and realize the man is dying of cancer.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. After Spock realizes that Valeris is a traitor and murderer, he grabs her by the head and performs a forced Mind Meld on her to learn the details of the conspiracy. Watch it here.
  • Unbreakable has David discovering that he has the ability to read evil intentions and/or actions in a person via physical contact, which he never gave much thought too as he never really followed up on it. Elijah eventually confirms that his intuition was extremely accurate, to the point of describing the look and design of a concealed gun.
  • The Green Lantern movie has Hector Hammond infected with a strain of Parallax and gradually gain psychic powers. He starts reading minds naturally but learns he can tap into deeper memories via direct contact.

Literature
  • This is why the Eldritch in the Paradox Universe have strong taboos against touching, it is often traumatic for them.
  • In the Sholan Alliance series, Sholans have a strict "No Contact" policy in place to protect their Telepaths. This is because physical contact creates an unblockable link between the telepath and anybody touching them.
  • In the twelfth century portion of the Deryni timeline, King Kelson Haldane and his mentor Duke Alaric Morgan spread the idea that Deryni can only read someone's mind if they are touching the person. While this is not strictly true (touch is helpful but not needed), they promulgate this notion to ease the fears of the ordinary humans in the population.
  • In The Unicorn Chronicles unicorns need physical contact in order to speak to people telepathically.

Live Action TV
  • The Vulcan mind meld in Star Trek:
    • Spock touches the heads of the listed people in the following episodes while doing a Mind Meld with them.
      • "Dagger of the Mind". Simon van Gelder, to find out what deviltry is going on at Elba II.
      • "The Devil in the Dark": The Horta in order to communicate with it.
      • In "Requiem For Methuselah": Kirk, in order to remove his memories of Rayna Kapek.
      • "Spectre of the Gun". Kirk, McCoy and Scotty, to convince them that the situation they're in isn't real.
      • "Mirror, Mirror". Evil!Spock does it with Dr. McCoy so he can find out what's going on.
      • "I, Mudd". He tries it on Norman, but fails because Norman's a robot.
      • "The Return of The Archons". He tries to do it on McCoy but fails because of Landru's Mind Control.
    • Several other characters do it too: Miranda to Spock in "Is There In Truth No Beauty?", T'Pau to Spock in "Amok Time".
  • The Doctor has on occasion grabbed someone's head to perform something like a mind meld.
  • Telepaths in Babylon 5 wear gloves in public.

Tabletop Games
  • Dungeons & Dragons adventure OA6 Ronin Challenge. In "Episode 2: Kera Valley" the PCs discover the Diuku, red baboons with legs like a giant frog. A Diuku communicates telepathically by touching its head to the head of another creature and thinking two word sentences like "Friend now" and "Share food".

Video Games
  • The Asari from Mass Effect need physical contact to Mind Meld. They can share memories and emotions this way, but it's also how they reproduce.
  • Happens in the Bluebyte game Albion, when Mellthas the mute touched Sira's Trii, and they telepathically come to know one another intimately and fall in love.

Webcomic
  • Howard from Unwinder's Tall Comics places his hand on people's foreheads when he reads their minds. So far, he's only ever used his telepathic powers on one page.

Web Original
  • In Metamor City telepaths involuntarily start to form temporary gestalts, their memories seeping into one another, when they touch someone. When they have sex it goes so deep that unless they're both teeps the gestalt becomes unbreakable even after they physically separate.
  • In the Chakona Space 'Verse, physical contact creates an unfilterable, unblockable link between the mind reader and pretty much anybody else. Especially another telepath. Not that the touch is required in the first place.

Western Animation
Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • September 3, 2013
    Alucard
    Negi Springfield in Mahou Sensei Negima is shown to have this ability via placing his hand on the forehead in the first chapter, though he can only catch a few thoughts at the most.
  • September 3, 2013
    KTera
    • The Asari from Mass Effect need physical contact to Mind Meld. They can share memories and emotions this way, but it's also how they reproduce.
  • September 4, 2013
    MetaFour
    Film:
    • In Hellboy, Abe Sapien can learn about objects or people by touching them. For example, he can touch a weapon left behind at a crime scene and see exactly how the crime happened--or he can touch a superior's hand and realize the man is dying of cancer.

    Webcomic:
    • Howard from Unwinders Tall Comics places his hand on people's foreheads when he reads their minds. So far, he's only ever used his telepathic powers on one page.
  • September 4, 2013
    Koveras
    • Also from Mass Effect, Protheans could do the same thing as the Asari (in fact, they taught it to the Asari in the first place during the latter's uplifting), but not only with living beings but even with inanimate objects.
  • September 4, 2013
    OlafMerchant
    Videogames

    • Happens in the Bluebyte game Albion, when Mellthas the mute touched Sira's Trii, and they telepathically come to know one another intimately and fall in love.
  • September 4, 2013
    Arivne
    Film

    Live Action TV
    • Star Trek The Original Series
      • Spock touches the heads of the listed people in the following episodes while doing a Mind Meld with them.
        • "Dagger of the Mind". Simon van Gelder, to find out what deviltry is going on at Elba II.
        • "The Devil in the Dark": The Horta in order to communicate with it.
        • In "Requiem For Methuselah": Kirk, in order to remove his memories of Rayna Kapek.
        • "Spectre of the Gun". Kirk, McCoy and Scotty, to convince them that the situation they're in isn't real.
        • "Mirror, Mirror". Evil!Spock does it with Dr. McCoy so he can find out what's going on.
        • "I, Mudd". He tries it on Norman, but fails because Norman's a robot.
        • "The Return of The Archons". He tries to do it on McCoy but fails because of Landru's Mind Control.
      • Several other characters do it too: Miranda to Spock in "Is There In Truth No Beauty?", T'Pau to Spock in "Amok Time".
  • September 4, 2013
    TomWalpertac2
    This trope may well be more common than anybody thinks.

    Web Original example:

    In the Chakona Space 'Verse, physical contact creates an unfilterable, unblockable link between the mind reader and pretty much anybody else. Especially another telepath. Not that the touch is required in the first place.

    Literature example:

    In the Sholan Alliance series, Sholans have a strict "No Contact" policy in place to protect their Telepaths. This is because physical contact creates an unblockable link between the telepath and anybody touching them.
  • September 4, 2013
    kjnoren
    Comics:

    • Used several times in The Adventures of Luther Arkwright and its followup Heart of Empire by Bryan Talbot. Mind reading is done by touching hand to head, but it appears that it's more of a data dump than reading surface thoughts (though it is implied that another psychic can control the contents of the dump). However, it is possible to implant thoughts without touching.
  • September 4, 2013
    DAN004
    • Violet from One Piece normally doesn't have to be really close to another person to read his/her mind with her powers, but in order to let someone else read her mind, that someone should look at her eye through her circled thumb and pointer finger.
  • September 4, 2013
    zarpaulus
    The Abe Sapien and Prothean examples are psychometry, a separate ability from telepathy.
  • September 4, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In a Treehouse Of Horror episode of The Simpsons Ned spontaneously develops the ability to see a vision of how someone will die when touching them.
  • September 4, 2013
    Speedball
    Mention that this trope exists because touch implies intimacy (similar to Intimate Healing or Intimate Psychotherapy) and also because it makes telepathy less of a game-breaker or plot-reaper if it is limited to close range rather than broadcast ranges.
  • September 4, 2013
    Generality
  • September 5, 2013
    arbiter099
    Dragon Ball Z: several characters have demonstrated the power to read minds by touching another person's forehead, including Goku and Lord Slug. King Kai could share his telepathic link on contact.
  • September 6, 2013
    Melkior
    Fanfic/Derivative Works
    • The Vitalian race in The Dark Past have a variant. Touch Empathy which is automatic whenever they touch any intelligent being. It makes disciplining their children easy and (physically) painless.

    (This example could instead be listed under Literature)

    ^^ I think the other YKTTW is different enough from this one for them to be separate tropes. This one involves direct physical contact while the other one doesn't.
  • September 9, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    ^ I agree.

    Literature:
    • In the twelfth century portion of the Deryni timeline, King Kelson Haldane and his mentor Duke Alaric Morgan spread the idea that Deryni can only read someone's mind if they are touching the person. While this is not strictly true (touch is helpful but not needed), they promulgate this notion to ease the fears of the ordinary humans in the population.
  • September 10, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Anything else?
  • September 12, 2013
    KJMackley
    • Unbreakable has David discovering that he has the ability to read evil intentions and/or actions in a person via physical contact, which he never gave much thought too as he never really followed up on it. Elijah eventually confirms that his intuition was extremely accurate, to the point of describing the look and design of a concealed gun.
    • The Green Lantern movie has Hector Hammond infected with a strain of Parallax and gradually gain psychic powers. He starts reading minds naturally but learns he can tap into deeper memories via direct contact.
  • September 19, 2013
    Dacilriel
    In The Unicorn Chronicles unicorns need physical contact in order to speak to people telepathically.
  • September 20, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Dungeons And Dragons adventure OA6 Ronin Challenge. In "Episode 2: Kera Valley" the PCs discover the Diuku, red baboons with legs like a giant frog. A Diuku communicates telepathically by touching its head to the head of another creature and thinking two word sentences like "Friend now" and "Share food".
  • September 20, 2013
    SKJAM
    Esper Mami: At the start of the series, Mami can only read thoughts clearly if she's touching the person. Later she learns she can do it if they're both touching a metal wire (insulation does not stop the telepathy.)
  • September 20, 2013
    Omeganian
    Tamaraneans from DC Comics can learn languages through touch (some of them prefer kissing, but it was stated any kind will do).
  • September 22, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Five hats, hadn't noticed. Should launch soon I guess.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=3v9g8axzsbfphzvgfj6kwawa&trope=TouchTelepathy