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movement or deformation of a physical object by thought or willpower alone (i.e., without the application of physical force). Telekinesis (sometimes abbreviated TK), an older term for psychokinesis (sometimes abbreviated PK), was first used by the German-Russian psychical researcher Alexander Asakof about 1890. Henry HoltHolt, Henry,
1840–1926, American author and publisher, b. Baltimore. In 1866 he became a partner in the publishing firm that became (1873) Henry Holt & Company.
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, an American publisher and author, coined the term psychokinesis in 1914 in his book On the Cosmic Relations; the American parapsychologist J. B. Rhine adopted the term in 1934 in conjunction with experiments to see if people could influence the outcome of falling dice. The term telekinesis, or teleportation, was initially applied to the motion of objects thought to be caused by ghosts or other supernatural beings. As evidence of fraudulent activities by mediums (for example, raising a table while tapping on its underside in a darkened seance room) accumulated, the term psychokinesis came into use to differentiate the "legitimate" PK environment from the fraudulent TK environment. At present, TK is now regarded as a special case of PK, that is, psychokinesis is used to describe a variety of paranormal phenomena (including movement at a distance) while telekinesis refers only to movement at a distance.
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Famous medium Stanislava Tomczyk demonstrates her psychokinetic influence on scales during Baron von Schrenck-Notzing’s experiments in the 1920s. Courtesy Fortean Picture Library.

Psychokinesis (PK); Telekinesis

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Abbreviated as PK, psychokinesis is the movement of objects without physically touching them, by using the power of the mind alone. It is a term that was adopted by Dr. Joseph Banks Rhine and his research team at Duke University in 1934, when they were experimenting with mentally influencing the roll of dice. Many Spiritualists who are physical mediums demonstrate psychokinesis in their séances.

Russian medium Nelya Mikhailova specializes in moving objects by concentrating on them, and is known in Russia as “the PK medium.” She can pass her hands over a compass and set the needle spinning at high speed, she can cause cigarettes to roll across a table top, she can move a whole box of matches that have been emptied onto a table surface.

Similarly, Swedish medium Anna Rasmussen—whose powers first became obvious when she was twelve—has affected pendulums. Professor Winther of Copenhagen studied her intensively between 1922 and 1928. He designed a sealed glass case inside which hung a variety of pendulums. They were of different weights and supported on silk threads. Anna could concentrate on them and cause any one of them, as chosen by the professor, to swing in any direction requested. Anna had a spirit guide named Dr. Lasaruz whom she claimed brought about the movements.

A similar phenomenon is Telekinesis, which is the movement of objects by spirits. An example would be the falling of a picture off a wall at the moment of someone’s death. Apportation is similar, though the object there is usually moved from one dimension to another. There is a commonality between telekinesis and the movement of objects attributed to poltergeists. When objects are moved by spirit the object usually moves smoothly. Poltergeist energy is such that the object moves unpredictably and erratically.


Holroyd, Stuart: The Supernatural: Minds Without Boundaries. London: Aldus, 1975

Rhine, J. B.: Man, Myth & Magic: Psychokinesis. London: BPC Publishing, 1970


The alleged ability of an individual to exert a mental influence on physical events in advance of their occurrence. Abbreviated PK.