The sixth sense is just that, an extrasensory perception (or ESP) beyond our five commonly recognized senses — hearing, taste, sight, smell and touch. The colloquial use of the term "sixth sense" refers to our ability to perceive something that isn’t apparently there, such as when you get a sense that the person you’re sitting next to on the train may have committed a felony. Or the sense that you forgot something at home when you accidentally left the house with your baby in the car seat on the kitchen floor.
In the movie, "The Sixth Sense," Haley Joel Osment's special ability is seeing and talking to dead people. I won’t give the movie away, but if you haven’t seen it, it’s some pretty crazy stuff. (And if you happen to have been living under a rock the past 10 years, it’s also where the phrase “I see dead people” comes from.)
A psychic medium is someone whose sixth sense is said to be heightened beyond most people (often, they are the ones saying it), so much so that they are able to talk to dead people and transmit messages from them to the living. I have to say, I’ve seen some of these mediums on TV, and they can be very convincing. But there are those who don’t believe in mediums altogether. Like my grandmother, for example, who verbally assaults the television whenever a medium comes on one of her favorite talk shows to transmit messages to people in the audience who’ve lost loved ones.
Having a sixth sense doesn’t have to be something as dramatic as talking to dead people though — having a sixth sense can be as benign as sensing that something, whether it be terribly bad or incredibly good, is about to happen.
7th, 8th, 9th senses?
Oddly enough, the term “sixth sense” indicates that we, as humans, have only five (or six) senses, when in actuality this is incorrect. We have at least a few other senses. Just to name a few: nociception — the ability to sense pain; thermoception — the ability to sense changes in temperature; proprioception — the ability to sense where your joints and body parts are in relation to other parts of your body; equilibrioception — a sense of balance; and a sense of time.
One other important sensor for someone trying to lose weight? The ability to sense when your body feels full from eating, which apparently is an actual thing. For real, I read about it. (So the next time someone looks at you the wrong way for cramming your fourth slice of pizza in your mouth, just tell them that your sensor is broken.)
So do we all have a sixth sense? We definitely all have the capacity to develop one. In certain religious circles, the sixth sense is referred to as an ability to feel godliness around you. Others think of it as your intuition, any time you get a gut feeling about something in your life. So the next time your gut (or your sixth sense) is trying to tell you something — listen. What you hear might be life-changing.
Related stories on MNN:
- 7 superhuman senses: What are you capable of?
- High-tech Spider-Man suit gives you real-life 'spidey sense'
- 11 animals that have a sixth sense