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Touch Telepathy

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"My mind to your mind... my thoughts to your thoughts..."

"You think I'm touching your head too hard!"
Lister, Red Dwarf

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. It also provides a convenient way to prevent acts of telepathy which might ruin the story. If the local telepath wants to learn somebody's secrets but that person always manages to stay out of arm's reach, then the secrets won't be revealed.

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.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A client in City Hunter is able to access someone else's thoughts by touching him/her. When she does it to Ryo, it often results in Dirty Mind-Reading.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Several characters have demonstrated the power to read minds by touching another person's forehead, including Goku and Lord Slug.
    • King Kai is capable of communicating telepathically over vast distances, and can also relay the thoughts of a person in physical contact with him.
  • 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).
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi
    • 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 their 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.
  • Shiho of Psychic Squad 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.
  • Two female characters created by Yoshihiro Togashi have both this skill and psychometry:

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • Starfire and other Tamaraneans from The DCU can learn languages through touch (some of them prefer kissing, but it was stated any kind will do).
  • In Silver Age story Adventure Comics #397, Supergirl mind-reads several persons by touching their heads.
  • Nate Grey generally doesn't actually need to do this, but does it when his vast Psychic Powers are on the fritz or otherwise contained, or when he wants to be more precise.
  • In addition to copying their powers, X-Men's Rogue can also absorb the personality, memories, and knowledge of anyone she touches.

  • In Child of the Storm, it's used even by powerful psychics for greater precision or to bypass defences. In the first chapter of the sequel, Ghosts of the Past, Harry does this to Carol in a clear reference to "The Girl In The Fireplace" (see below). This doesn't add to the UST at all.
    • Later on in Ghosts, he uses it to bypass the psychic defences of a powerful and clever Master Vampire whose cleverness did not quite extend to realising that he was in danger of this. Cue Mind Rape.
  • Dangerverse: Those who have sworn the Guardian's Oath and share a first-degree blood relation (parent/child or sibling/sibling) can communicate telepathically with skin-to-skin contact.
    • Also a variant with the Pack-pendants, which allow any number of people wearing the same pendant chain to communicate telepathically. (The chains can also grow and shrink as needed, so this is rather more practical than you'd think).
  • 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.
  • Two examples in The Night Unfurls:
    • Chapter 8 reveals that Kyril can do this via wrapping his tendrils around one's head. An efficient ability that saves a lot of time that would've been used for interrogations, but he refrains from using it whenever other people are nearby.
    • Shamuhaza is able to sift through the minds of his beast-like scouts in order to know the good guys' plans.
  • 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.
  • John in With Strings Attached, though since his telepathy is water-based (he connects to the “water-strings” of people he touches), he is also telepathic at a distance through water. However, most of the time he just touches one (or more) of the others.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live Action 
  • Eric Draven from The Crow develops this power few after he gets psychometry, and uses it to GREAT effect in the end, completely wrecking the Big Bad Top Dollar by forcibly giving him the memories of the last 30 hours of his The Lost Lenore Shelly's life (since his orders were responsible for Shelly getting raped and beaten to death, and Eric himself being gunned down). Top Dollar, who while evil is quite alive and mostly sane, proves to be unable to stand "thirty hours of pain," all in one shot...
  • The Dark Crystal's Gelflings inadvertently share memories the first time they touch hands with another of their kind.
  • The Green Lantern (2011) 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.
  • 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.
  • Lifeforce (1985). 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).
  • The Star Trek films follow up on the established Vulcan Mind Meld that debuted in the original series (see the Live-Action TV section below):
    • At the beginning of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, one of the Vulcan masters melds with Spock and determines that the distant presence of V'Ger has affected his human half, prompting his return to the Enterprise to seek it out.
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan has Spock meld with Bones before performing his Heroic Sacrifice. It's revealed in the next film that he used the good doctor as a Neuro-Vault.
    • Early in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Sarek melds with Kirk to find out what happened to Spock when he died. There's also a variation in the climax, the ancient ritual known as fal-tor-pan ("the refusion"), used to restore Spock's mind from Bones' head to his revived body.
    • 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.
    • Star Trek (2009) has Spock!Prime meld with the young Kirk to convince him that the young man and his own counterpart in the Kelvin timeline are destined to become friends. The younger Spock does a meld to glean information needed for their infiltration of the Narada from a Romulan crewmember they gunned down.
    • Star Trek Into Darkness has Spock mind-meld with Admiral Pike as he lay dying in an attempt to soothe the man in his last moments.
  • In Unbreakable David he has the ability to read evil intentions and/or actions in a person via physical contact, but because David is in denial about his powers he always explained it to himself as mundane intuition and never followed up on it. Elijah eventually confirms that David's "intuition" is extremely accurate, to the point of describing the look and design of a concealed gun. At the climax of the film David begins accepting the truth about his abilities and discovers that his bouts of intuition have been right all along.
  • Loki is revealed to have this ability in Thor: Ragnarok, when he performs a psychic assault on Valkyrie's mind and finds out how the Valkyries were all killed by Hela.

  • 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.
  • Zig-zagged in The Black Magician Trilogy: Mages can broadcast mental messages that other mages can hear, but need physical contact to communicate telepathically with Muggles.
  • 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 innocence. Guess what happens in the novel?
  • 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.
  • Some Sharonans in the Hell's Gate series have this ability.
  • Hurog: 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 InCryptid, Johrlac can normally use their telepathy on people without touching them, but require skin contact with people who have genetic resistance, like most of the Price family.
  • The Norby Chronicles: The ability to send telepathic thoughts through physical contact is very common in this series. The Others may have been born with it, and their technology was used to grant it to the dragons of Jamyn. Through their bite, humans also gain the ability to send/receive surface thoughts. Additional species encountered, such as the Biguglies from Norby Finds a Villain and the Jylot from Norby and the Court Jester, often have enough latent Psychic Powers that they can join in with people who have telepathic powers.
  • In Paradox, 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.
  • 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.
  • In A Swiftly Tilting Planet, this process is known as "kything". Interestingly, it doesn't work by touching the other person; rather, Meg touches a friendly dog (which ran into the family's home seemingly out of nowhere) and is able to see/communicate with Charles Wallace as he journeys across time and space. Also, it's implied that only people who either have natural Psychic Powers (such as Charles) or share a strong bond of love (Meg/Charles and Meg/Calvin) can kythe.
  • The Twilight Saga:
    • This is Aro's special power, which can hear much more than Edward (who has standard telepathy).
    • In Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined, a female vampire named Mele transferred the ability from Aro to his wife Sulpecia, who had he and Caius destroyed for their murder of Aro's own sister Didyme, and then used it to help her rule the vampire world.
  • In The Unicorn Chronicles unicorns need physical contact in order to speak to people telepathically.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • Charmed (2018): Maggie's telepathy works through touch. When holding hands with her sorority sisters, she is able to hear thoughts from everyone in the circle.
  • Doctor Who:
    • This is one of the Time Lords' abilities — they can perform something like a mind meld by touching another person's temples. As shown by Madame de Pompadour, it works both ways, and she is able to read the Tenth Doctor's mind while he's scanning hers, much to his surprise.
    • "The Lodger" shows the Doctor can relay a ton of information at once in the form of a forehead-on-forehead headbutt. Because it's extremely painful for him, he swears never to do it again.
  • The telepathic aliens in Gabby Duran & the Unsittables, one in particular being her friend Sky, can read other's thoughts and communicate telepathically by making physical contact with them.
  • The Haunting of Hill House (2018): Theo Crain has this and Psychometry, both of which she developed after a ghost held her hand in Hill House. She wears gloves to protect herself from the unwanted visions and feelings 99% of the time. Most of the time it's for the best, as evidenced when we see her psychically relive someone else's rape after touching the couch on which it happened.
  • The page quote is from the tenth season episode of Red Dwarf "Trojan". Arnold Rimmer is attempting to convince his brother Howard that he is actually the captain of the highly advanced starship the SS Trojan. When putting on the Trojan's uniforms Lister puts on a uniform which signifies he is a "Touch T". Hilarity Ensues trying to prove it to keep up the charade.
  • 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.
  • In Star Trek, Vulcan telepathy works much better with physical contact, and it seems to be required for a full-on Mind Meld.
    • 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.
      • The current page image is from "Turnabout Intruder", the final episode of the series, and it reveals to him the "Freaky Friday" Flip involving Kirk and Janice Lester.
    • 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 at least two cases where Vulcan telepathy works without contact, but neither is a full mind-meld:
      • In the TOS episode "A Taste of Armageddon", the Enterprise landing party is held prisoner in a small room. Spock mind-touches the guard outside through the wall to convince him the prisoners have escaped.
      • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Sarek", Sarek's failing mental control causes his emotions to leak out into the entire crew. His aide also does not need to touch him to help him keep control.
    • There are other species that can do this as well. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has Letheans, whose telepathy is harmful to other species. Dahar Master Kor 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.
    • In an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, Tuvok turns out to be a Manchurian Agent of a radical Maquis. He assaults and mind melds with the other former Maquis crewmembers in order to turn them into Manchurian Agents as well. In another episode, Vorik, in the middle of his "pon farr", tries to forcibly mind meld with B'Elanna. This leaves her feeling the effects of "pon farr".
    • In Star Trek: Enterprise, it's revealed that such practice has long been forbidden, partly due to the chance of contracting the psychic version of an STD. T'Pol nearly loses her position when it's discovered that she has the disease, which can only be passed on via a mind meld. She refuses to testify that she was Mind Raped by a rogue Vulcan, which would clear her of all charges, as she's protesting the very notion that mind melds are wrong. It's later revealed that said "disease" is actually just the result of a mind meld being done incorrectly and can be fixed by undergoing a second meld with someone who knows what they're doing.
    • In Star Trek: Discovery, as a child, Michael was seriously hurt in a terrorist attack on her school on Vulcan. In fact, she was dead for 3 minutes. Her adoptive father Sarek used a mind meld to bring her back to life (she called the procedure a "katra graft"). Now Michael has a piece of Sarek's katra (Vulcan soul) inside her, which allows him to contact her remotely, although it takes a toll on him. When Sarek is the one, who's hurt, he unconsciously reaches out to her across light years. She has Paul Stamets build an amplifier to allow her to mind meld with him remotely in order to get him to wake up and activate his crippled ship's beacon.
  • Supernatural:
    • Castiel can do this, depending on how well his powers work and the situation. Sometimes it's painful for the subject, such as in Season 6 where he causes a child agony by reading his mind for the identity of a rogue angel. Other times, it seems easy for him, such as him being aware of a prostitute's daddy issues, which is Played for Laughs and upsets the young woman. The difficulty seems to depend on how deeply the memory is embedded in the person.

    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".
  • 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.

    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. Ardat-Yakshi, asari with a rare genetic defect, can kill people this way. The Protheans also possess this ability, as we find out in the third game.
  • 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 (although in-game it can happen be done from slightly longer distances). If another Adept touches the Jupiter as he does this, the thoughts are transmitted to him as well.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Duke Vale's route of Villainous Nights, Duke is initially unable to hear Monarch's telepathic broadcasts the way the rest of the team can, which the other characters attribute to his closed-off emotional state. In the process of attempting to overcome this block, Duke and Monarch discover that physical contact (whether skin to skin or through clothing) makes it possible for him to hear her thoughts and vice versa. As the two grow closer Duke starts being able to hear Monarch's telepathy without contact, but touch still makes it easier (and more romantic).

  • 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.
  • Uryuoms in El Goonish Shive can teach you their Cypher Language by touching your forehead with their antennae.
  • Last Res0rt: Some powerful Celeste are capable of this, represented by an overlay of the touched character's jumbled thoughts over the panel art.
  • Outsider: While Loroi telepathy works at range (and in fact their biggest military advantage is that they can use technology to boost it to interstellar distances), it works best with physical contact. This is one of the reasons that the Loroi generally avoid touching each other except in rather specific circumstances. The Loroi initially try to violently overcome Alex's strange resistance to telepathy by touching him. Later, after he has been accepted as an ally and an ambassador, Beryl asks permission and touches his forehead to try again. While sitting in his lap.
  • Sleepless Domain: Vedika, as the magical girl Mindful Eye, has a limited form of telepathy that allows her to send and receive simple thoughts over long distances. However, she has mentioned that her powers get "super duper weird and trippy" when she touches someone while transformed, and she does her best to avoid it when possible. When she does, she forms a temporary Psychic Link with the other person, allowing them to experience each other's thoughts directly while they remain in contact.

    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 


Video Example(s):



Sky, a telepathic alien, can read minds of those whom she makes physical contact with.

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