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What You Need to Know About... Telekinesis

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Telekinesis

Of psychic abilities, true psychokinesis is one of the rarest.

Nina Kulagina

Nina Kulagina

What it is, how it might work, and how you can test and develop your powers

Whoever believes in psychokinesis, please raise my hand.

Psychokinesis (PK) - sometimes referred to as telekinesis or mind over matter - is the ability to move things or otherwise affect the property of things with the power of the mind. Of psychic abilities, true psychokinesis is one of the rarest. Few have been able to demonstrate this ability, and even those demonstrations are highly contested by the skeptics.

Do people have psychokinetic powers? Do you? Is there a way you can test and develop your PK abilities?

CASE STUDIES

Here are brief outlines of some people who have demonstrated remarkable PK abilities:

Nina Kulagina. One of the most celebrated and scrutinized psychics to claim psychokinetic powers was Nina Kulagina, a Russian woman who discovered her abilities while attempting to develop other psychic powers. Reportedly, she has demonstrated her powers by mentally moving a wide range of nonmagnetic objects, including matches, bread, large crystal bowls, clock pendulums, a cigar tube and a salt shaker among other things. Some of these demonstrations have been captured on film. The skeptics contend, of course, that her abilities would not stand up to scientific testing, and that she may be nothing more that a clever magician.

Stanislawa Tomczyk. Born in Poland, Tomczyk came to the attention of investigators when it was reported that startling poltergeist-like activity occurred spontaneously around her. She could control some telekinetic feats, but only under hypnosis. In this hypnotic state, Tomczyk took on a personality that called itself "Little Stasia" who could levitate small objects when Tomczyk placed her hands on either side of them. In the early 1900s, one investigator, Julien Ochorowicz, watched these levitations at very close range and observed something like fine threads emanating from her palms and fingers, although they were examined carefully before the experiment. And it didn't seem to be a trick. "When the medium separates her hands," Ochorowicz observed, "the thread gets thinner and disappears; it gives the same sensation as a spider's web. If it is cut with scissors, its continuity is immediately restored." In 1910, Tomczyk was tested by a group of scientists at the Physical Laboratory in Warsaw where she produced remarkable physical phenomena under strict test conditions.

Uri Geller. Geller is one of the most well-known "psychics" who has publicly demonstrated feats of psychokinesis: spoon and key bending have become almost synonymous with Geller's name. Although many skeptics and magicians consider his metal-bending performances nothing more than adroit sleight-of-hand, Geller has allegedly shown that he can manifest the effects over great distances and in multiple locations. On a British radio show in 1973, after demonstrating key bending to the astonishment of the host, Geller invited the listening audience to participate. Just minutes later, phone calls began pouring into the radio station from listeners all over the UK reporting that knives, forks, spoons, keys and nails began to bend and twist spontaneously. Watches and clocks that had not run in years began to work. It was an event whose success surprised even Geller and thrust him into the spotlight.

Some magicians may be able to duplicate some of these effects, but there may be legitimacy to this telekinetic phenomenon. In April, 2001, University of Arizona psychology professor Gary Schwartz conducted a "spoon-bending party" at which about 60 students were able to bend spoons and forks, with varying degrees of success, seemingly with the power of their minds. (Do you want to try it yourself? Here's How to Host a Spoon-Bending Party.)

POLTERGEIST ACTIVITY

Some researchers contend that the most common form of psychokinesis is one that is not consciously intended. Poltergeist activity, they suggest, might be caused by the subconscious of people under stress, emotional turmoil or even hormonal peaks. Without conscious effort, these people cause china to fly off shelves, objects to break or loud rappings to emanate from their houses' walls, among other effects.

In the same way, PK might also be responsible for phenomena experienced at séances. Table tilting, knockings and levitation might not be caused by contact with spirits, but by the minds of the participants. And, yes, many, many séances have been hoaxed over the years, but if you think the paranormal phenomena documented at some séances is not real, read the article How To Create a Ghost.

Next page: How You Can Test Your Powers of Telekinesis

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