AskDefine | Define psychokinesis

Dictionary Definition

psychokinesis n : the power to move something by thinking about it without the application of physical force [syn: telekinesis]

User Contributed Dictionary



From psycho- + kinesis.


  1. The controlled movement of an inanimate object by the use of psychic powers. Abbreviated as PK.


controlled movement of an inanimate object by the use of psychic powers
  • Czech: telekinese
  • Bulgarian: телекинеза
  • Danish: psykokinese
  • Dutch: telekinese
  • Estonian: telekinees
  • Finnish: psykokinesia, telekinesia
  • French: psychokinèse
  • German: Psychokinese
  • Italian: psicocinesi, telecinesi
  • Japanese: 念力
  • Polish: psychokineza
  • Portuguese: telecinésia
  • Romanian: telechinezie
  • Russian: телекинез, психокине́з
  • Slovakian: psychokinéza, telekinéza
  • Spanish: psicociensis, psicoquinesia
  • Swedish: telekinesi
  • Turkish: telekinezi

See also

Extensive Definition

The term psychokinesis (from the Greek ψυχή, "psyche", meaning mind, soul, heart, or breath; and κίνησις, "kinesis", meaning motion; literally "movement from the mind"), also known as telekinesis (Greek + , literally "distant-movement"), sometimes abbreviated PK and TK respectively, denotes the purported ability of the mind to influence matter, time, space, or energy by means outside the currently known laws of physics. It has been called the most powerful of psychic powers, essentially the power of a god. Examples of psychokinesis could include distorting or moving an object, or influencing the output of a random number generator. The study of phenomena said to be psychokinetic is an aspect of parapsychology. Some paranormal researchers believe that psychokinesis exists and deserves further study, pointing to experimental results such as those done using random number generators. Skeptics contend that psychokinesis does not really exist, and that claims that it does are based on publication bias, fraud, delusion, statistical manipulation of scientific data, or other naturally explainable phenomena. Psychokinesis is popular in some entertainment movies and television programs featuring paranormal, fantasy, religious, and horror themes; written fiction; and computer games.


Early history

The term "Telekinesis" was coined in 1890 by Russian psychical researcher Alexander N. Aksakof. The term "Psychokinesis" was coined in 1914 by American author-publisher Henry Holt in his book On the Cosmic Relations and adopted by his friend, American parapsychologist J. B. Rhine in 1934 in connection with experiments to determine if a person could influence the outcome of falling dice. Both terms have been described by other names, such as "remote influencing", "distant influencing" "remote mental influence", "distant mental influence", "directed conscious intention", " anomalous perturbation", and "mind over matter." Originally telekinesis was coined to refer to the movement of objects thought to be caused by ghosts of deceased persons, mischievous spirits, angels, demons, or other supernatural forces. and could possibly cause movement without any connection to a spiritualistic setting, such as in a darkened séance room, psychokinesis was added to the lexicon, this distinction has been made to differentiate between the earlier use of the term telekinesis. Psychokinesis, then, is the general term that can be used to describe a variety of complex mental force phenomena (including object movement) and telekinesis is used to refer only to the movement of objects, however tiny (a grain of salt or air molecules to create wind) or large (an automobile, building, or bridge). Hypothetically, a person could have very profound telekinetic ability, but not be able to produce any of the additional effects found in psychokinesis, such as softening the metal of a spoon to allow its bending with minimal physical force. Conversely, someone who has succeeded in psychokinetically softening metal once or a number of times may exhibit no telekinetic ability to move objects.

Measurement and observation

Parapsychology researchers describe two basic types of measurable and observable psychokinetic and telekinetic effects in experimental laboratory research and in case reports occurring outside of the laboratory. The sudden movement of objects without deliberate intention in the presence or vicinity of one or more witnesses is thought by some to be related to as-yet-unknown PK/TK processes of the subconscious mind. Outbreaks of spontaneous movements or other effects, such as in a private home, and especially those involving violent or physiological effects, such as objects hitting people or scratches or other marks on the body, are sometimes investigated as poltergeist cases.

Umbrella term

Psychokinesis is the umbrella term under which are various related paranormal abilities. Such abilities include:
  • Telekinesis; movement of matter (micro and macro; move, lift, agitate, vibrate, spin, bend, break, or impact)
  • Speed up or slow down the naturally occurring vibrations of atoms in matter to alter temperature, possibly to the point of ignition if combustible (also known as pyrokinesis and cryokinesis respectively).
  • Aerokinesis, the telekinetic subspecialty of being able to control the movement of air molecules specifically.
  • Influencing events.
  • Biological healing.
  • Teleportation (disappearing and reappearing elsewhere).
  • Energy shield (force field).
  • Control of magnetism.
  • Thoughtform projection (a physically perceived person, animal, creature, object, ghostly entity, etc., created in the mind and projected into three-dimensional space and observable by others; for thought images allegedly placed on film, see Thoughtography).

Notable claimants of psychokinetic or telekinetic ability

  • Uri Geller (1946 – ), the Israeli famous for his spoon bending demonstrations, allegedly by PK.
  • Swami Rama (1925 – 1996), a yogi skilled in controlling his heart functions who was studied at the Menninger Foundation in the spring and fall of 1970, and was alleged by some observers at the foundation to have telekinetically moved a knitting needle twice from a distance of five feet. Although Swami Rama wore a facemask and gown to prevent allegations that he moved the needle with his breath or body movements, and air vents in the room had been covered, at least one physician observer who was present at the time was not convinced and expressed the opinion that air movement was somehow the cause. The test device was an uncovered, balanced knitting needle (one of two glued on top of each other at right angles) positioned under a floodlight in a room where incense had been burned prior to the test.
See Also

Belief in telekinesis

Belief in psychokinesis varies greatly among individuals and cultures. In September 2006, a survey about belief in various religious and paranormal topics conducted by phone and mail-in questionnaire polled Americans on their belief in telekinesis. Of these participants, 28% of male participants and 31% of female participants selected "agree" or "strongly agree" with the statement "It is possible to influence the world through the mind alone". There were 1,721 participants, and the poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.
In April 2008, British psychologist and skeptic Richard Wiseman published the results of an online survey he conducted, "Magicians and the Paranormal: A Survey," in which 400 magicians worldwide participated. For the question Do you believe that psychokinesis exists (i.e., that some people can, by paranormal means, apply a noticeable force to an object or alter its physical characteristics)?, the results were as follows: No 83.5%, Yes 9%, Uncertain 7.5%.

Skepticism and controversy

The topic of psychokinesis is regarded as pseudoscience by many mainstream scientists. In the book Parapsychology: The Controversial Science (1991), British parapsychologist Richard S. Broughton, Ph.D, wrote of the differences of opinion among top scientists encountered by Robert G. Jahn, director of the (now-closed) PEAR laboratory, regarding the psychokinesis research that the lab was engaged in at the time. Jahn is quoted as saying that six Nobel laureates commented on the lab's work and that two firmly rejected the whole topic, two encouraged his team to push on, and two were unwilling to commit either way, thus indicating that negative and positive scientific opinion on the subject, even at the highest level, is not absolute.

Anecdotal evidence

On the problem of eyewitness testimony of alleged psychokinetic events, anecdotes (that is, stories by eyewitnesses outside of controlled laboratory conditions) are considered by scientists and skeptics alike to be insufficient evidence to firmly establish the scientific validity of psychokinesis. According to Robert Todd, author of The Skeptic's Dictionary , there are many impressive magic tricks available to amateurs and professionals to simulate psychokinetic powers. These can be purchased on the Internet from magic supply companies. Amateur-made videos alleging to show feats of psychokinesis, particularly spoon bending and the telekinetic movement of objects, can be found on video-sharing websites such as YouTube. Critics point out that it is now easier than ever for the average person to fake psychokinetic events and that without more concrete proof, the topic, apart from its enjoyment in fiction, will continue to remain controversial. He described himself as a "child prodigy" with an IQ of 168 (Stanford-Binet scale) in a 2001 Skeptic magazine interview conducted by Michael Shermer and again in his Swift JREF column on January 25, 2008; however, this claim has never been independently verified.

Carl Sagan

The late Carl Sagan, who had a Ph.D in astronomy and astrophysics and Masters and B.A. degrees in physics, offered this advice to scientists and the public at large about psychokinesis research in his 1995 book The Demon-Haunted World:

Prize money for proof of psychokinesis

Internationally, there are individual skeptics of the paranormal and skeptics' organizations who offer cash prize money to anyone—or anyone who meets a criterion of eligibility, such as a certain level of fame—who can successfully demonstrate the existence of an extraordinary psychic power, such as psychokinesis, which is currently regarded by mainstream science as being paranormal in origin, according to an agreed-upon experiment. These prizes have remained uncollected by people claiming to possess paranormal abilities.. The James Randi Educational Foundation offers 1,000,000 US dollars to anyone who can produce a PK event - or any other paranormal occurrence - under previously controlled, mutually agreed upon circumstances. The money is kept in an escrow account with Goldman-Sachs in New York.

Notable witnesses to PK events

Psychokinetic events have been witnessed by  psychologists in the United States at the Ph.D, Masters, and B.A. degree levels, and in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world by  professionals with medical degrees,  electrical engineers, police officers,  and other professionals and ordinary citizens. Robert M. Schoch, Ph.D, a Yale-educated geologist, geophysicist, author, and professor at Boston University has written "I do believe that some PK is real" referring to the evidence for micro-PK obtained by the Princeton PEAR laboratory experiments and similar studies and some reports of macro-RSPK observed in poltergeist cases. He once witnessed a book "jumping off a shelf" while in a room where a female PK agent was also present.

Michael Crichton

Best-selling author Michael Crichton (The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, etc.), who graduated from Harvard College and received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School,]]There are written accounts and oral legends of events fitting the description of psychokinesis dating back to early history, most notably in the stories found in various religions and mythology. In the Bible, for example, Jesus is described as miraculously walking on water, transmuting water into wine, healing the sick, and reversing physical disability or even death by an act of touch or willing it to be so.
Mythological beings, such as witches, have been accused of levitating people, animals, and objects.
The court wizard and prophet Merlin in the King Arthur legend, is said to have used his power to transport Stonehenge across the sea to England from Ireland.
Psychokinesis has a well-established existence in movies, television, computer games, literature, and other forms of popular culture. In the 1976 film Carrie, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, Sissy Spacek portrayed a troubled high school student with telekinetic powers. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, the first psychokinetic character in a film ever to be so recognized (Ellen Burstyn was the second, in 1980's Resurrection). Numerous characters have the ability to control the movement of objects using the "the Force" in the Star Wars canon. In the 1988 anime movie Akira (film), a few of the main characters use telekinesis throughout the film.
The comic book character Jean Grey of the X-Men exhibits powerful telekinetic ability. Also from the TV show Heroes, the serial killer Sylar frequently exhibits telekinetic ability. It is also commonly used as a power in a large number of videogames and role playing games.

See also


Further reading

  • The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena, Dean Radin, HarperEdge, 1997.
  • Distant Mental Influence, William Braud, Hampton Roads Publishing, Inc. , 2003. ISBN 1-57174-354-5. (largely a collection of published scientific research papers on formal experiments in psychokinesis conducted by the author with others between 1983 to 2000).
  • Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality, Dean Radin, Pocket Books, 2006.
  • The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe, Lynne McTaggart, HarperCollins, 2008, updated paperback edition. ISBN 978-0-06-143518-8.
  • Flim Flam!, James Randi, Prometheus Books, 1982. ISBN 0-87975-198-3.
  • Hauntings and Poltergeists: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, James Houran and Rense Lange, editors; McFarland Press, 2001. A collection of science articles by leading researchers on documented ghost and spontaneous PK cases, with technical discussion also of possible methods of action for PK. ISBN

Published Scientific Papers on PK / TK

Military Papers on PK / TK

  • Psychokinesis and Its Possible Implication to Warfare Strategy A 1985 study on potential military applications of psychokinesis by the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas USA. Listed at the U.S. Defense Technical Information Center's website and available to the public through the U.S. National Technical Information Service.
  • Teleportation Physics Study A study published in 2004 that reviews the current state research of real and hypothetical methods of teleportation. Includes a section titled PK phenomenon. Conducted by Eric Davis of Warp Drive Metrics, Nevada and sponsored by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards AFB, California. Available publicly on the Federation of American Scientists website.
  • New Correlation Between a Human Subject and a Quantum Mechanical Random Number Generator A 1967 study by Helmut Schmidt conducted at the Boeing Scientific Research Laboratory in Seattle, Washington USA that concluded: "From the results, it is tentatively concluded that there exists a weak but significant correlation between the statistical processes operative in these experiments and the experimenter who initiates the processes." Listed at the U.S. Defense Technical Information Center's website and available to the public through the U.S. National Technical Information Service.

External links

psychokinesis in Bulgarian: Телекинеза
psychokinesis in Czech: Telekineze
psychokinesis in Danish: Psykokinese
psychokinesis in German: Telekinese
psychokinesis in Estonian: Telekinees
psychokinesis in Spanish: Telequinesis
psychokinesis in French: Psychokinèse
psychokinesis in Italian: Psicocinesi
psychokinesis in Hebrew: טלקינזיס
psychokinesis in Dutch: Telekinese
psychokinesis in Japanese: 念力
psychokinesis in Polish: Psychokineza
psychokinesis in Portuguese: Telecinésia
psychokinesis in Romanian: Telechinezie
psychokinesis in Russian: Телекинез
psychokinesis in Simple English: Psychokinesis
psychokinesis in Slovak: Psychokinéza
psychokinesis in Serbian: Telekineza
psychokinesis in Finnish: Psykokinesia
psychokinesis in Swedish: Telekinesi
psychokinesis in Turkish: Telekinezi
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