"You think...you think I'm touching your head too hard!"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. Particularly popular for adding a little Rule of Cool to what would otherwise just be a character just doing the Pstandard Psychic Pstance, especially in cases where telepathy is being used aggressively. Also common when performing Mental Fusion. Subtrope of Psychic Link. Psychometry is a Sister Trope that allows someone to read the history of objects (and occasionally people) by touching them.
— Lister, Red Dwarf
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Anime and Manga
- Mahou Sensei Negima!
- Negi Springfield 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.
- Jack Rakan later gets to see a Flash Back from a defeated enemy he's holding.
- 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.)
- Shiho of Zettai Karen Children is a powerful user of Psychometry, which allows her to read a person's mind or understand how objects have been used by holding them.
- In Act 2 of Sailor Moon Crystal, Ami has a sudden, involuntary vision of a palace when she touches her new friend Usagi's hand while handing her pet cat Luna back to her.
- 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).
- 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.
- One of Empath's abilities in Empath: The Luckiest Smurf is that he could do this with both people and objects, with the exception that he cannot use it on magic-based objects.
- In the Star Trek fanfic Heroes, Spock and Kirk can hear each other's thoughts by touching.
- In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, the Stardroid Sunstar has this ability. He uses it on Bass, seeing into his mind and briefly powering him up. It also lets Bass see into his mind.
- In the Warrior Cats fic Silence, StarClan can do a little of this trope- enough to explain simple things like names, but not sophisticated concepts (like precognition or the Moonpool) to someone entirely ignorant of them.
- 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.
- 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.
- Lifeforce. Colonel Carlson, the last survivor of the Churchill, can see into the mind of a human possessed by a space vampire when he touches them (or vice versa).
- TheDarkCrystal's Gelflings inadvertently share memories the first time they touch hands with another of their kind.
- In Dragon Bones, Bastilla has this, but it seems to only work during magical healing, and seems to be a bit vague; the main thing that's shared is emotions or physical pain.
- In the Paradox Universe, the Eldritch have this ability, but they can't control it, and reading other people's thoughts can be traumatic for them. Hence their strong taboos against making skin contact and penchant for heavy clothing.
- 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.
- Some Sharonans in the Hell's Gate series have this ability.
- 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.
- The Truthsayers are able to read minds via physical contact in Kevin J. Anderson's Blindfold. For this, they need the special drug called Veritas that temporarily boosts the brain's natural receptiveness to electrical signals, allowing them to perceive another person's electrical signals (i.e. thoughts and memories). Physical contact is not necessary, although close proximity only allows a trained Truthsayer to pick up surface thoughts. Mind Rape is also possible, which is why the drug is banned for anyone who is not a Truthsayer. The entire colony of Atlas is supported by the belief that the Truthsayers are never wrong and always correctly determine guilt or innosense. Guess what happens in the novel?
- Played with in The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries (and by extension True Blood). Sookie doesn't need to touch people to read their thoughts, but physical contact makes it much easier for her to do so. There are certain people and supernatural beings that are far harder for her to "read" than normal, and she has to touch them in order to get something more than their general emotional state. Two telepaths touching can also amplify their powers - Sookie and Barry use their super sense to find victims in the rubble of the Pyramid of Gizeh hotel.
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 (so the simulated bullets can't kill them).
- In "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.
- In "The Paradise Syndrome" Spock does it to Kirk to restore his memory after he loses it in an accident.
- "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".
- There are other species that can do this as well. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has Letheans, whose telepathy is harmful to other species. A character of the week gets mind-probed by one and falls unconscious as a result. Another Lethean weaponized his telepathy against Doctor Bashir. Bashir got better, but he was one of the lucky ones. Most victims of telepathic attacks by Letheans don't survive.
- Spock touches the heads of the listed people in the following episodes while doing a Mind Meld with them.
- The titular doctor from Doctor Who has on occasion grabbed someone's head to perform something like a mind meld.
- As shown by Madame de Pompadour, it works both ways, and she is able to read the Doctor's mind while he's scanning hers, much to his surprise.
- Telepaths in Babylon 5 wear gloves and concealing clothing in public because even accidental skin-to-skin contact can cause involuntary mind reading. Later seasons indicate what when two telepaths get intimate, the resulting mutual mind-reading can get rather intense.
- A Mind Rape version in Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis with the humanoid Replicators and the Asurans, respectively. Both do it by putting their hands through someone's forehead (both are made out of nanites). The process is incredibly painful to the person being scanned, although, as demonstrated by Fifth, the pain is not necessary.
- The page quote is from the tenth season of Red Dwarf when Lister is mistaken for and has to impersonate a Touch Telepath.
- 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".
- In Eclipse Phase, the mind reading and mental communication psi sleights are generally limited to a range of touch. Less powerful sleights such as minor empathy or detecting other minds can be used over a short distance.
- 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. Ardat-Yakshi, asari with a rare genetic defect, can kill people this way.
- 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.
- Jupiter Adepts have the ability of reading minds in Golden Sun, requiring the user to touch the other person. If another Adept touches the Jupiter as he does this, the thoughts are transmitted to him as well.
- 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.