Parapsychologists and psychical researchers have been studying psychokinesis (PK), or mind over matter, in the laboratory since at least the 1930s. However, PK has played a part in the field since scientists first began studying physical mediumship in the latter half of the 19th century. Physical mediums claimed to allow spirits to work through them to levitate objects, create apports and ectoplasm, and cause unusual sounds and other effects, all quite physical.
For a variety of reasons, most researchers lean towards those effects being caused by the unconscious PK abilities of the medium rather than ostensible spirits. Certainly, in most poltergeist cases, with larger scale repeating activity, it’s been clear that a living agent is responsible.
However, this is not to say that an apparition cannot use PK to affect the physical world. Parapsychologists tend to use the term apparition rather than ghost (which has a lot of folkloric and pop culture baggage). In most instances, we’re referring to the consciousness of a person after he or she has died, which has survived the death of the body, and capable of interacting with the living.
While the vast majority of apparitional encounters do not include any physical activity, there are some excellent cases on record that indicate that sometimes apparitions do indeed cause physical effects. Most likely as a result of the paranormal/ghost hunting TV shows having little or no knowledge of or interest in the history and findings of parapsychology and psychical research, most ghost hunters do not equate PK of the living (which so many claim not to even believe in) with that of the dead, or even accept the idea that the ghost is doing psychokinesis.
Most parapsychologists consider ESP and PK a function of consciousness, of the mind, rather than just the brain. An apparition, by definition, is nothing but consciousness. No physical senses with which to perceive the world, and no physical form to interact with the physical world or the living (including communicating or even being seen by the eyes or heard by the ears).
Apparitions perceive the world through their psychic “senses,” through ESP. Mediums understand that they communicate mentally (telepathy).
The only way they can move or otherwise affect objects—or affect a recorder for electronic voice phenomena (EVP)—using their minds to affect matter and energy. That’s the very definition of psychokinesis. What’s interesting is that apparitional PK is rare, and even in those cases where it is reported, it doesn’t seem to happen for weeks and even months or years after the apparition is first seen. It’s as if the apparitions have to figure out how to move things (remember Patrick Swayze’s character in the move Ghost?).
What we’ve learned in the laboratory research about ESP and PK can be applied to the understanding of our everyday, and even extraordinary, psychic experiences. It can also be applied to an understanding of our ghostly friends.
Our thanks to Loyd for his guest post! For more from Loyd Auerbach, read his article, “Mind Your Own Matter, and Learn a Little PK.”