Psychokinesis (PK)

Psychokinesis (often referred to as “PK” for short) is the ability to move or affect material things by some mental or biophysical power that is as yet a mystery to science. In science fiction, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker called it “The Force,” some refer to it as “mind over matter,” and 19th century scientists called it “telekinesis.” It is a much rarer phenomenon to observe and to study in the laboratory than purely mental forms of psi (or psychic abilities), such as telepathy or precognition. It is believed to sometimes happen spontaneously in situations of suppressed anger or stress, or even more rarely, be controlled by groups or individuals. And, though it might come as a surprise to some people, PK has been successfully studied for decades in controlled laboratory situations.

Fork and spoon bent by psychokinesis (PK)

Fork and spoon bent by psychokinesis (PK)

Part of the difficulty in the acceptance of PK phenomena is their rarity: Most people have never knowingly experienced PK and therefore question its existence. In addition, anything that defies the physical laws as we currently know them shakes our sense of reality and may threaten our world view.


Today, when we do hear of PK, it is usually the Recurrent Spontaneous type (RSPK) more commonly known as a poltergeist. Every so often, there will be a report of a household beset by moving furniture, flying objects, blinking lights, strange noises, etc., with no apparent physical cause.

Traditionally, these events are referred to as “poltergeist” activity. The common interpretation of poltergeists (which means “noisy ghost” in German) is that these strange and often disturbing events are manifestations of ghosts or dead people. A more recent interpretation of poltergeist phenomena is that the strange physical manifestations may actually be caused by psychokinesis emanating from a living person. In this theory, the unexplained movements are called “recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis” (RSPK) and are thought to be unconscious and unintended psychokinesis usually centered around one focal person. Some research has identified this person to be frequently a troubled adolescent. RSPK interprets the poltergeist as something like a “field effect” where pent up emotions burst out of the individual and produce actual psychokinetic effects on physical objects. Very large-scale movements have been recorded in the presence of objective observers.


In the 1970s and 80s, many ordinary individuals displayed some PK ability by bending metal objects, deflecting compasses and restarting broken watches. They were emulating Uri Geller, the young Israeli man they saw on TV or elsewhere demonstrating his PK talent (such as bending metal objects using just his powers of concentration) and found they could do it as well.

This awareness of the possible reality of PK and the conviction that “I can do it too,” seems to be a necessary requirement for its success.


The heyday of séances, or table-turning sitter groups, began in the 19th century with the Fox Sisters and D.D. Home and extended through the early 20th century. Ordinary people found that they could get tables to move around the room and sometimes either partially or fully rise up off the floor with participants just resting their hands lightly on them.

They were able to get knocks or “raps,” sounds that seemed to come from the table itself, that they could use to answer questions (presumed to be addressed to discarnate entities): Two of the mysterious raps would signify “yes,” one rap for “no,” for instance. They would use them as you would the Ouija Board, reciting the alphabet and stopping when a rap sounded, a very laborious method. There is a recorded history of the conversations of such question and answer sessions.


Some especially talented people found they had mediumistic talents: They could go into a trance state and some would even exude ectoplasm, which would form into recognizable forms, levitate objects and furniture, cause various sounds and voices to be heard and perform many other uncanny feats. Many claimed to produce the spirits of sitters’ dead loved ones, but whether that was true or not, the phenomena they produced were indeed real.


There seem to be as many varieties of PK as there are people’s imaginations. In the second half of the 20th century, imaginations, and tastes, gravitated more toward electronic means than on the organic and rather messy ectoplasm. Several instances of imprinting thought images on photographic film are noted, for instance, culminating in the “thought photographs” or “thoughtographs” of Ted Serios.

Some laser beams have been influenced by PK

Some laser beams have been influenced by PK


Some psychokinetic investigation has been done involving laser beams: An Austrian ectoplasmic medium, Rudi Schneider, seemed to be able to interrupt an infra-red beam while entranced. The report stated that the beam seemed to be interrupted by a “substance” emerging from his body. There was also an oscillation in the absorption of the beam that correlated with the medium’s rapid rate of breathing.

One spontaneous instance was reported by Mary Rose Barrington (Pilkington, 2013) who was conducting some clairvoyance tests with a highly gifted psychic subject named Matthew Manning. Her colleagues had left the room and the two of them were alone. He seemed not to be in a good mood and she was afraid she had said something to annoy him and that he was leaving. Instead he walked over to an infrared beam and was looking at it.

Barrington noticed that the voltage display, which had been at 1000, was starting to go down. She could see that he was well clear of the beam, and, in fact, if he had put a finger into it the voltage would have dropped “like a stone.”
When she saw the voltage continuing to drop she shouted for the others to come back in. To their great excitement they watched the voltage go well below 700, fluctuating as Matthew moved back or came closer to it. The movements were confirmed by a tracing made by the chief technician.

They tried it again the next day, but without success. Her colleagues pleaded with Mary Rose to annoy Matthew again, but possibly because of her previous day’s enthusiasm, she didn’t annoy him any more. The question she asks, as do I, is: “how can a strictly physical effect be dependent on someone’s state of mind?” (p.19)


When tape recorders were invented they would often malfunction when psychics were giving readings or demonstrations. During my interview with Dr. Lawrence LeShan (Pilkington 2013) when I paused to make sure the recorder was still working, he remarked:

Of course, you know the better the information is and the more important it is, the more likely that the recorder won’t work. We found that out with Eileen Garrett. We found that the more important the session, the more likely it was that the tape would come up blank. At the end, when we worked with Eileen in a sitting that we thought would be important, we always had two tape recorders and a shorthand secretary there. It was the only way we were reasonably sure of getting through. (p. 231)


Other electronic equipment, for instance printers, fax machines, digital watches, etc., seemed to be affected by certain people who were trying to operate them or just stand near them.

Several people have been able to get transistor radios to make clicking, or popping, sounds at will and to control them even at long distances. My ex-husband got the idea from Gilbert Roller, felt he could do it, and over a period of about a year was able to develop the ability to get the radio to emit “popping sounds” at his command, slowly, rapidly, counting to a suggested number or series of numbers that were chosen silently when he was in another part of the building. Finally he was able to get a transistor radio in a distant California lab to emit these sounds at his commands, while on the phone from New York.

Dr. Stanley Krippner reports that a Brazilian physical medium, Amir Amiden, whose specialty is producing “apports,” also causes these clicks to be emitted from a portable radio.

So it seems, the types of PK change with the advancements and trends of the times and the mind-sets of those who are endowed with some psychokinetic ability, whether they know it or not. It will be interesting to see what new PK phenomena will emerge as further advances in technology are made.

Explore more topics “outside the séance room”
JOTTSParanormal metal bendingPoltergeistsPsychokinesis (PK)
Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis (RSPK)Thoughtography

REFERENCE: Men and Women of Parapsychology, Personal Reflections, Esprit Volume 2.