Joasia Gajewski: The Elusive Force

After examining the evidence of more than a century’s investigations, many, if not most scientists and scholars have concluded that the disturbances called “poltergeists” are generated by living beings, not by an angry spirit. 

The activity is commonly centered on persons who are not able to act out their suppressed anger or frustration and who have some overt or latent psychic abilities. But science has been unable to understand what this force is and how or why it is able to defy what we consider natural laws. (I firmly believe in time, long after I am gone, that science will have the answers, but until then doubters will remain.)

The Elusive Force

A great step in this direction was made in the 1980s in Poland, but was unknown until recently in the English-speaking world until Joel Stern translated the account and it was published in 2023 as The Elusive Force: A Remarkable Case of Poltergeist Activity and Psychokinetic Power. It is a book I highly recommend.

At the center of the disturbance was a thirteen-year old Polish girl named Joasia (pronounced Yo-ASH-ia) Gajewski , around whom, following the death of her grandmother in 1982, all manner of phenomena took place. Like her famous compatriot, Franek Kluski, some of these effects were electrical in nature. “Crackling” sounds were often heard around her, and she would become electrically charged—think of shuffling your feet on a fuzzy carpet in dry weather. Interestingly, although anyone shaking her hand would get a “jolt,” she could not be grounded by touching someone or something.

In an early outbreak, while Joasia was sleeping, plates and glasses hurtled through the air at tremendous speeds, smashing into walls and furniture. When her parents turned the lights on, shards of glass, as if pulled by some strange force, flew at her, some cutting her. Her blanket, charged with electricity, gave off sparks.

As has happened with many other psychokinetic subjects, electrical systems and devices broke down around her, watch batteries and tape-recorders malfunctioned, and film taken of her remained unexposed.

Her parents called in help because of the havoc wreaked in their apartment. Cabinets full of glassware and crockery would fly at tremendous speeds, crashing against furniture, walls and people, their shards flying dangerously. Joasia herself, as noted, was often attacked and cut by glass or hit by other flying objects. (Other central figures in RSPK cases, including the Ohio teen, Tina Resch, and a young Gilbert Roller, were also “attacked” in this way.) Like Tina, too, Joasia caused eggs to fly out of the refrigerator through its closed door.

This remarkable feat of objects passing through solid walls occurred more spectacularly when Dr. Gadula, her physician and the director of a student sanatorium, invited Joasia to spend her vacation at this facility, where she could be cared for and studied.

Before going there, Joasia had had a disappointing appearance on a television show, a humiliating fiasco. She still had not recovered from her embarrassment when she learned of a “rival,” an 11-year old metal-bender who now had the public’s attention. She also heard that people were saying that even if she had possessed some powers, they were now obviously gone. Finally, a government official derided her on the radio as one who “imagines something is flying around her.” She is described as acting “peevish” as a result. She must have been seething. This incident reminds me of Gilbert Roller’s heavy metal Lionel locomotive, which was ripped apart during one RSPK outburst. He said it looked as though it had been hit repeatedly by a sledgehammer.

Shortly afterward, the sanatorium’s head nurse and the ward attendant were standing in the hall outside the closed double doors of room 309, Joasia’s room. The attendant had been cleaning the lavatory across the hall from 309 and the nurse asked her to wash the mirror there, when suddenly they heard a crash and the sound of breaking glass from Joasia’s room. The nurse ran inside and saw glass fragments whirling in the air then pulled, as though by a magnet, toward her. Her apron was showered with glass. Joasia was seated in a chair.

Although the floor was strewn with glass, the nurse was puzzled to see that the mirror over the sink was intact. At the same time, the attendant in the lavatory saw that the mirror she was to wash had disappeared. It had vanished and ended up almost instantly, shattered on the floor of Joasia’s room, whose door had been closed at the time. Furthermore, the thick fiberboard sheet on which the mirror was mounted, which had been fastened with hooks to the lavatory wall, lay on the floor in 309 among shards of glass.

Bent Faucet by Psychokinesis

A bathroom faucet bent psychokinetically by Joasia during her stay at a sanitorium, 1985

Joasia’s anger/frustration were evidently still not assuaged because two days later, the sound of an explosion came from her room. Doctors, nurses and students rushed there and found the sink on the floor, smashed to pieces, one of its metal supports ripped off the wall, the other buckled, the drainage pipe severed, the thick metal faucet broken and strangely twisted as though hit by a sledgehammer.

Joasia’s case is so rich because, not only did she unleash such extremely powerful forces, but also such a variety of phenomena, too numerous to mention here, from spontaneous water appearing on walls, to unexplained fires and shattering light bulbs whose filaments glowed long afterwards to flying objects making right turns in mid-air.

Just about all the men and women we know of who produced physical phenomena reported experiencing such symptoms as fatigue, headaches and disorientation. Some became severely debilitated with temporary blindness or coughing up blood. Joasia too, especially after a major outbreak, suffered headaches and a sapping of her energy: Her nurse reported that Joasia felt ill for several hours after every incident, appeared to be drowsy and listless and had a poor appetite. I see this as evidence that the force or energy comes from the living body, most likely directed by the unconscious mind, leaving it drained.

Joasia with a heavy cable she bent in 1987

What makes Joasia’s case even more important is that Dr. Gadula did what, unfortunately, few researchers have done in other countries: He brought in other physicians, scientists and researchers for a multi-disciplined study of the teenager. How refreshing it is to know of this very intelligent, enlightened approach by these Polish professionals! They not only verified the reality of the phenomena but also identified physical anomalies as well as psychological factors that might contribute to producing them. For instance, they found Joasia had low levels of dopamine, sometimes found in epileptic seizures. In addition, the examination of her retinal afterimages showed interesting anomalies, some of which are associated with a malfunctioning thyroid gland, although Joasia’s thyroid was normal.

Joasia could consciously control her PK ability to an extent, bending metal for instance. And like most other psychokinetically gifted people, she demonstrated other psi gifts: she excelled at telepathic tests, and there is a hint about her precognitive abilities when she stated that she usually forgot her dreams upon waking, but “If I do remember one, it means something is about to happen.”

Anna Ostrzycka and Marek Rymuszko (the authors of the book) with Joasia in 1984

The authors report that as Joasia neared the end of her adolescence, the phenomena tapered off. She married and had two children. Regrettably, they lost contact with her and her whereabouts are unknown. This is unfortunate: At the time of this writing, Joasia would be 53. It would be beneficial to follow up to find whether some of this force remained and if so, if she was able to channel it in some way, as e.g., Matthew Manning has used it to become a healer. In fact, in an interview with her in October 1989, Joasia expressed a desire to become a healing professional saying, “Contact with sick people suits me. I want to help them.” The authors also added an extensive appendix featuring their interviews with a variety of scientists involved in this case, discussing various hypotheses that might help us to understand psychokinetic forces and the people who can unleash them.

Spoons bent by Joasia while Joel Stern watched

Spoons bent by Joasia while Joel Stern watched (1989-1990)

A massive high-tension cable bent by Joasia

A massive high-tension cable bent by Joasia