Psychometry (from Greek, meaning spirit measure) is also known as psychoscopy or token object reading. Generally, it’s a form of clairvoyance where the psychic has the ability to touch an object and read the residual energy, or the history of that object. The word was coined by Joseph Buchanan in the 1800s who thought the practice would revolutionize science.
Needless to say, the practice is extremely controversial. (And didn’t, in fact, change the way scientists went about their business.)
In Monster’s Chains, Rebecca Sterling has this ability, but it’s a little different from what’s typically accepted for the talent. I gave my character the ability to see crimes from the perpetrator’s point of view, whereas most real-life people who claim to have this ability will see through the eyes of the object’s owner, or as a distant, third-party observer. My research into this phenomenon turned up quite a lot of information on psychics and how they work with the police on various cases.
Mostly, the police don’t believe them. There are countless examples of psychics who’ve helped solve crimes, but there are just as many examples of inaccuracies. Statistically, it’s about 50-50 whether a psychic is useful or a hindrance.
There have been a lot of famous psychics who’ve really developed a following. When they are wrong, the believers point out that nobody is right 100% of the time. When they are right, the skeptics point out that they are really good profilers who read body language and other small clues people give unconsciously.
I tried to weave this into my story. Not actual historical cases of course, but the prevailing sentiment. Though the detective she works with believes in her, the police are generally skeptical of Rebecca, as is Aiden until she offers him irrefutable proof. In fact, Rebecca hasn’t always been convinced she had the ability – she never had a way to get proof of her accuracy until she started working with Detective Frank James. Aiden considers her a ‘phony’ only able to read his body language like any good profiler could, until she witnesses a scene from his childhood that he never shared with anyone else. Suddenly he’s a believer – and he’s desperate to believe as he needs Rebecca to help him find his missing sister.
If you want to look into the practice further, Wikipedia is a good place to start. In addition, check out the real life stories of these psychics: Florence Sternfels, Greta Alexander, Nancy Myers Czetli, Nella Jones, Gerard Croiset, Georgia Rudolph, Annette Martin, Peter Hurkos and Dorothy Allison
I didn’t write this book, or this post, to support or deny psychometry/psychoscopy. You can make up your own mind. But if you want to read a sexy, scary (fictional!) story about a woman with the ability and a man who’s trying to protect her from someone who wants to manipulate that ability, Monster’s Chain will be available June 1st on Amazon and Smashwords, and soon enough after that at Barnes & Noble, Apple Ibooks and Kobo.