When one thinks of a superhero, one doesn’t always think about the personality and thus the organization that a character such as a superhero has to have. Contrary to belief, extra-sensory perception (ESP) is only one portion of the heroic personality, and is probably only utilized in a very specific way. There are many other forms of what one could attribute as a superhuman power, but some may require study and practice, and some may require a lot of imagination.
When one categorizes a super-human energy one has to parse it into a few categories. Some of them can overlap culturally, meaning that many cultures can share the same innate ideas of power, such as the Chi for example, which is not only found in Asian culture, but also in forms of Animism. This is an example of an energy. Chi is a subtle form of energy channeling which can be appreciated well by those who understand martial arts or acupuncture.
ESP is the mental or cerebral form of power that has more to do with mind control, irrespective of chi or energy paths. This is why some psychics who do not have energetic training or who do not have mind control, or a psychic or meditative discipline, can be good at being psychic, because this energy is separate from the chi energy or even a meditative state.
This would be also a form of power transference in an analytical capacity – to find which strength fits. This is still a mutable power – as opposed to holding onto power it is more engineered towards understanding and anticipating human beings as opposed to manipulating our environment – possibly not entirely within one’s control and probably more of a talent.
The person with ESP abilities can cross over into many different areas, such as a Shaman or a priest. A person with ESP can gather the strength to harness, transmute or acquire a superpower, but people with ESP abilities do not necessarily have the discipline or will to do so.
I find many psychics do not need to hold onto a power and tend to cycle more between their own states of knowledge, until they have decided to use the ability to a point of perhaps affecting states or matter around them, which is a much more advanced form of ESP, and again not within the general context of what a psychic really wants. As analysts and sensualists they prefer to sense and feel.
For a more applied or focused form of power, Magic has been used for centuries as a way to create power, as opposed to the act of knowing. Magic will have a system, a formula, and many methods could be seen as quasi-scientific, as opposed to random energetic occurrences. Some magic does indeed cross over into science, with Astrology becoming Astronomy, and Alchemy opening the world up to Chemistry.
A more sensationalized, perhaps controversial, but a wiser form of the use of a power in my opinion would be what is called “Energy Sourcing” or the transmutation of an acquired power, such as Chi, Magic or ESP. This would mean you could ‘try the ability on’ and then ‘toss it away’ if it should not work. This would mean to simply be good at recognizing the power in someone or something, and using it. This has been known as a way to ‘store’ power, or a way to change power from one form into another. This too could be quasi scientific, though superheroes have generally always been able to acquire their own powers based on their own will, as opposed to acquiring someone else’s.
This means, to my way of thinking, just like in Psychology, that a superpower or extra power would have to be defined by the person who achieved the power. This means certain people would have super-power quirks perhaps defined by a neuroses, fear or insecurity.
For example, a person who asks, “Why do people feel this way about me?” could become a good mind reader for what was initially their own need to feel approval. In other instances, the power to transform or source energy would be smart, as it would allow for flexibility in casting off a power or talent should it not be useful, like a telepath who has to shut out the chatter of other minds in conversation around her, or the empath who cannot stop feeling another.
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