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is a form of psi,
meaning that apparently it is a technique of mind over matter through
invisible means. Examples of PK are movements of objects, bending of
metals, and determining the outcome of events. It can occur spontaneously
and deliberately which indicates it is both an unconscious and conscious
The term psychokinesis is derived from the Greek words psyche
meaning "breath," "life," or "soul," and kinein meaning "to move."
The occurrences of PK have been recorded since ancient times. The
occurrences include levitation, miraculous healings, luminosities,
apports, and other physical phenomena attributed to holy persons and
adepts of magic
around the world. Such phenomena is recorded in the Bible, especially in
the New Testament, in the Book of Acts. One example is cited in which St.
Paul and Silas where imprisoned in Ephesus where they prayed and sung
hymns, and at midnight their shackles fell off as the prison doors swung
opened (Acts 16:19-40).
It is thought that possibly magic spells, curses, and rituals to control the weather may
involve PK. The use of the evil eye has been placed within this classification.
Manifestations of PK have occurred in spiritualism such as alleged
materializations and dematerializations, apports, levitations,
table-tipping, raps, and the appearances of ectoplasm and pseudopods. One
19th century D. D. Holmes was known for his ability to levitate and to handle hot coals without being burned. But,
also during this time, there were individuals known as "electric people"
who experienced a"high-voltage syndrome". They made knives and forks cling
to their skin, and with a touch could send furniture flying across a room.
At the beginning of the 20th century Rudi Schneider, another medium known
for his PK ability of materialization and telekinesis of objects, was
studied by psychical researchers.
Twentieth century research
Since the 1930s interest in PK has increased until it has created on of
the fastest growing fields of research in parapsychology. This is
particularly true within the Soviet Union and the United States. However,
results from clinical-controlled studies have been contradictory. Some of
the studies were attacked for the methodology while others were accused of
being tainted by fraud.
It can be stated that psychokinesis does occur, by the necessary
conditions and requirements for is occurrence Patterns have been
identified according to experimenters and subjects, but it is known such
patterns do not apply in all circumstances.
An American parapsychologist at Duke University in North Carolina, J. B.
Rhine began conducting PK experiments in 1934. Although he was not the
first to study PK, he did so after conducting ESP experiments which yielded significant results. Rhine's
subject was a gambler who claimed to be able to influence the fall of the
dice to roll certain numbers or number combinations. Early experimental
data showed results far beyond the probabilities of chance, but later
testing data yielded uneven results.
Rhine did not immediately publish his findings for several reasons: PK
suffered a dubious reputation at the time; he had occasionally used
himself as a subject; and his studies were very insignificantly
controlled. He finally published his findings when an assistant noted that
subjects scored significantly better at the dice in the early part of the
sessions than toward the end. This tendency attributed to a decrease of
interest on the part of the subjects had been observed in ESP experiments
In the publication of his experiments Rhine reported that he observed psychokinesis that
does not seem connect with any physical process of the brain, or to be
subject to any of the mechanical laws of physics. Rather, it does seem to
be a nonphysical force of the mind which can act on matter in statically
measurably ways. The results produced cannot be explained by physics.
Rhine further concluded that PK was similar to ESP in that both were
independent of space and time. ESP was a necessary part of the PK process,
and that one signifies the other. In order to exert an influence over
matter, such as tossed dice, ESP has to come into play at a critical point
in space, and at the right moment in time. Both PK and ESP were influenced
by drugs, hypnosis, and the subject's state of mind.
Also, it was Rhine's belief that faith healing and folk magic healing were
PK phenomena, in which a psychogenic effect, sometimes at a distance, was
exerted on the body.
Rhine's research marked the beginning of a new era in psychokinesis
experimentation. Before 1940 most observations in PK occurred through
physical mediumship which was generally performed in dark settings of
seances. It was practical impossible to establish any scientific control
within such settings and there were many accusations of fraud. Following
Rhine's work the experimentation of PK was divided into two categories:
macro-PK, or observable events; and, micro-PK, weak or slight effects not
observable to the naked eye and requiring statistical evaluation. More
emphasis was placed on micro-PK.
During the late 1960s a new method of testing micro-PK was developed by
the American physicist Helmut Schmidt. His apparatus known as the
"electronic coin flipper" operated on the random decay of radioactive
particles. As the decay occurs the particles or rays are emitted at rates
which are unaffected by temperature, pressure, electricity, magnetism, or
chemical change. Such a rate of emission is completely unpredictable and
cannot be manipulated by fraud.
In experiments subjects were asked to exert their mental energy to
influence on the flipping of the coins, so to attempt to make them come up
heads or tails so the bulbs on the apparatus would light up in one
direction or the other. Some subjects did successfully influence the coin
toss. The electronic coin flipper was the prototype of random event
generators, computerized techniques which have since played a major role
in both ESP and PK testing, and have produced significant PK test results.
Schmidt was also interested in determining animal-PK. In tests animal
produced some positive results, but Schmidt found the interpretation
difficult. He theorized that the experimenter could influenced the results
by using his own PK upon the experimental subjects. His theory has been
proven accurate because this has been determined to be an obstacle in all
psi-testing of animals. It is virtually impossible to tell which is
exhibiting the PK ability, the animal or researcher. Because of this
obstacle little has been done in animal-PK testing, but whenever such
testing has occurred Schmidt's guidelines have been used.
Among the most notable macro-PK exhibits was what is now called the
"Geller Effect." This was during the 1960's when macro-PK experiments
became popular again. The Israeli psychic Uri Geller amazed television
audiences with his metal bending feats. These feats were performed in a
studio and not under controlled conditions. With a few raps and some
mental concentration the feats seemed to be accomplished. Geller's powers
seemed to be so powerful that some viewers said some of their household
objects underwent similar changes. But, Geller was unsuccessfully able to
duplicate the feats under laboratory conditions. Critics, mostly
professional magicians, claim Geller had used sleight-of-hand, although
such claims went unproved.
The Soviets revealed their most famous psychokinesis subject to the West in 1968. A
housewife from Leningrad, Nina Kulagina, born in the mid-1920s
demonstrated her abilities to Western scientists who observed the
movements of many different sizes and types of stationary objects; the
altering of the course of objects already in motion; and impressions on
photographic film. She was also reported to have exerted PK effect on the
heart of a frog, which had been removed from the animal. She first changed
its rate of beating, and then completely stopped it. Kulagina was
photographed apparently levitating objects.
Tests in both maco-PK and micro-PK have continued with increased
sophisticated methodology. Experimenters focused their attention on
psychics, mediums, and others who could apparently influence static
objects and materials. There were various experiments and results. One
subject Ingo Swann, a New York artist and psychic, could change the
temperature of object close to him by one degree; also, he could affect
the magnetic field of a magnetometer.
Other PK experiments have concerned animals and plants. Healers have held
wounded mice; and water to be applied to barely seeds. Both showed
impressive results. PK effects have been observed in micro-organisms and
enzymes. In some cases the effect is slight and might not be replicated,
but to researchers these results hold promise that they may lead to
further findings which will lead to further knowledge about the healing
Associated with these types of experiments is what is known at the "linger
effect." An example of this is when the subject has raise or lowered the
temperature and the temperature continues to rise or fall for some time
after the subject leaves. Water which has been held by a healer which
seemed to influence growth of plants allegedly seems to influence their
growth even after it has been boiled.
There are other types of PK which have been studied but are view with a
fair amount of skepticism. One of these types is activity of a
poltergeist. Such activity includes repeated, unexplained sounds, breaking
of china, or other mysterious activity in a house or small area. There are
well-authenticated reports describing flying rocks, or heavy furniture
moving when no person was found, or known to be at the time at the point
of origin of the activity.
Poltergeist activity is generally associated with children or adolescents.
One suggestion for this is that the activity is caused from a strong
repression of hostility. In the Middle Ages, the cause was frequently
thought to be the Devil, or a demon possessing a person, but currently it
is thought to be a manifestation of psychokinesis activity.
Another type of PK activity is thought by those who experience it to be
associated with death, danger or other emotional crisis. In such incidents
persons reports falling pictures, clocks which stop, or stopped clocks
which start, and shattering of glasses. The persons feels these incidents
have indicated a death, or some highly emotional crisis.
PK research is currently being done in the areas of meditation and other
altered states of consciousness. Experiments also are being conducted to
determine the existence of retroactive PK, or "retro-PK" where subjects
try to influence an event such as a sequence of numbers as produced by a
random event generator. The subjects try after the event has happened.
However, it is impossible to rule out the possibility of the PK effect
being unconsciously exerted by the subject or the experimenter on the
generator during the number selection.
Although PK is not generally acknowledged by scientists, many
parapsychologists believe that well-controlled experiments have
established its existence. Thus far laboratory tests have not established
this exclusively. Results on the whole have been insignificant. But, the
greater potential, many believe, that PK testing will open up wider
capacities for mental ability. A.G.H.
Gertrude Schmeidler, The City College,
New York, 61.
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