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Horror Mystery and Lore

Atrocities of Carrie (2013) and Other Tricks of the Mind

What an interesting thing the mind can be in an age where misfits enjoy stories that illuminate the horrifying nature of what lies in the depths of the human psyche. Man can be driven to madness when his mind is invaded, when his sanity is questioned, or when his morals have been corrupted, but what is hidden amongst his deepest darkest dreams, desires, and fears? How can we really know what is real and what is imagined—more importantly, do we dare pursue those instincts within to find the true power that could be concealed inside every single one of us?

Psychokinesis is a concept that is often regarded with derision, especially within the scientific community and yet it has been studied fairly extensively. It seems like the results from such experiments and theories are never released in any legitimate form, but instead further speculated upon—then again, perhaps that’s why we have gotten so many great movies in the horror genre that depict these people with larger than life abilities that potentially threaten the lives of anyone caught unable to defend themselves.

Paul Draper Bending Spoon
Paul Draper Bending a Spoon

The pure number of speculated types of psychokinesis is quite outrageous—name a type of object and there is probably a -kinesis to cover it. Of course, there are the more well-known versions of the phenomenon, such as telekinesis the ability to move objects with your mind, pyrokinesis the ability to create, control, and extinguish a fire with your mind. There are also ones that are less widely known, or even otherwise unheard of—like aerokinesis which is the supposed ability to manipulate air molecules to create wind, or similarly atmokinesis, which would enable the person to manipulate weather conditions.

These types of psychokinesis range into the absurd, so much so that there is even one for manipulating the perception of time, or manipulating time itself, which is called chronokinesis—not to say that these powers wouldn’t be absolutely stellar to have, but to say that they already exist in the world as we know it today would be leaving yourself open to mockery. All of these different types of manipulating objects solely with the power of one’s mind is reminiscent of the television show Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005) in which people belong to certain tribes in four separate kingdoms, select people within these tribes possess the power to manipulate the natural element that their tribe is known for. Not to say that it’s not a great television show—but the idea of these kinds of powers existing without anyone truly taking note of such amazing gifts renders the whole thing even more fictional in nature.

Carrie (2013)
Carrie (2013)

Fictional cases of psychokinesis are easily identified—after all, being able to control the world around you with your mind is probably the superpower that is most popularly wished for. Characters like the mutants for X-Men comic books and subsequent film franchise, as well as movies like Push (2009), Chronicle (2012), and more recently Code 8 (2019) have made us yearn for superpowers whereas darker movies like Brightburn (2019) show us exactly why most of us are pretty glad that these kind of powers aren’t up for grabs. In Brightburn (2019) we see what the world would have gotten if Superman were part of an evil race of aliens. The remake of Carrie (2013) as well as the original show exactly what would happen if the unpopular, beaten-down, and bullied girl ended up having telekinetic powers and eventually being pushed too far. Everyone has their own limit on how poorly they can be treated before they finally stand up for themselves.

An alternative theory as to why it isn’t widely known that these powers might actually exist is that any time this type of phenomenon occurs, it is typically mistaken for poltergeist activity. This theory suggests that some reports of poltergeists are not actually manifestations of the dead, but instead unconscious manifestations of a person’s psychic turmoil.

People Who Are Known For Their Psychokinetic Abilities

Despite the skepticism surrounding any possibility of psychokinetic abilities, there have been a few cases where people have been able to prove under scientific observation that they have the ability to manipulate the world around them in some way or another.

Nina Kulagina

Nina was one of the first Russian citizens to participate successfully in the research that the Soviets conducted when seeking to weaponize telekinesis. She demonstrated her abilities under controlled lab conditions by stopping a frog’s heart.

Uri Gellar

Known for his ability to bend spoons, but his authenticity is questionable as he was a performer in theatre and magic circles prior to his dynamic spoon-bending performances.

Ted Serios

Made famous for the concept of thoughtography—he alleged that he had the ability to transfer his mental images onto photographic film while under the influence; due to his problems reproducing this ability while sober, researchers debunked his claims.

Matthew Manning

Claimed an ability to affect electrical and mechanical devices, and had an aptitude for automatic writing.

Tibetan Buddha Statue Meditation
Photography by RKTKN

Tibetan Monks

In Tibet, there are monks that are known to have the ability to raise their body temperatures through the power of meditation, possibly the most plausible of all of the phenomenons attributed to psychokinesis, as it relates to the mind’s control over the body. Monks would sit in temperatures of approximately 40˚ Fahrenheit in a meditative state using g Tum-mo Yoga techniques, then have wet ice-cold sheets draped over them. They would be able to raise their body temperature so effectively that in most cases steam would rise from their bodies and the sheets would be dried within about an hour.

Movies that Illustrate the Darker Side of the Psychokinetic Powers

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Horror Mystery and Lore Lifestyle

Ghost Stories Thrive in a World of Skepticism

Within the paranormal community, there are always going to be skeptics, but some of those skeptics actually err on the side of disbelievers—this is a good thing, it’s always better to have a healthy level of doubt in order to pursue evidence without any bias. There have been numerous theories to explain the paranormal phenomena that affect certain people, including but not limited to the natural phenomenon of sleep paralysis, sleep deprivation, drug use, temporal lobe epilepsy, and a psychotic state. This explanation states that ghosts are simply the result of hallucinations or illusions that are produced by the brain when it’s not in a fully alert state. So, what does this mean for the whopping 45% of Americans who believe in ghosts and other supernatural beings?

Evidence Collection in Paranormal Investigation

Something that is considered part of a range of scientific data collection and regularly used among those who are seeking to find evidence of the existence of ghosts, is the EVP, or electronic voice phenomena. EVPs utilize audio recordings to capture ambient sounds during an investigation, then are later reviewed for messages from the beyond. The general consensus is that these audio recordings can register sounds that are inaudible to the human ear, with the understanding that any voices or brief sounds being captured would be ghostly in nature. To believers, EVP recordings seem like incontrovertible evidence of communications from beyond. The problem with this is that, given the opportunity for bias, the content of a recording can be highly suggestive. Without any suggestion from peers, research shows that people cannot agree to what they hear in “conclusive” EVP recordings. This brings down the ability to rely upon recordings as evidence since there can be no clear consensus upon what it is really evidence of aside from pareidolia—the tendency to perceive human characteristics in meaningless perceptual patterns. Combining the illusory quality of EVPs, as well as the misuse of other scientific equipment to investigate ghosts, it’s not difficult to see how scientists can easily debunk any evidence that has been provided by amateur and professional paranormal investigators alike.

Hunting ghosts in the dark
Photography by LuckyLouie

Considering all of the scientific data to back the assertion that ghosts don’t exist, there are substantial numbers of people who still believe in them worldwide. The beginning of televised paranormal investigations has broadened that number significantly and opened up the ability to talk about paranormal subjects without too much blowback from skeptics. There are, however, tendencies to overdramatize events and investigations by some televised paranormal investigative teams—such people seem to be more oriented in the publicity and making events more fantastical than they truly are, which ends up leading to more skepticism instead of belief in the tangible evidence. What does this mean for the believability factor of investigative teams that are supposedly attempting to gather evidence while staying unbiased in the end result? It really means that any factual evidence that may be provided to give any credibility to the existence of ghosts or spirits. Unfortunately, some shows that continue to air are clearly for entertainment purposes only, such as Ghost Adventures, where any evidence being collected is presented with positive bias in favor of those who collected it. The problem with these shows is that they present themselves as true investigative paranormal teams but go to lengths to overdramatize everything they do. This is not to say that they don’t have their own basic value as entertainment alone, they just don’t possess merit as a source of proof when their evidence is bias-skewed EVP recordings.

Telling ghost stories around the bonfire
Photography by Kevin Wolf

So, if ghosts aren’t real, then why do ghost stories seem so common? Well—there are justifiable explanations for ghost stories, whether or not you believe in ghosts it’s pretty much the same answer. Ghost stories exist because people have always needed the ability to relate their real-life experiences. Whether the reports of ghosts have been a result of scientifically explained phenomena, or they’re actual occurrences, these experiences can be incredibly emotional. Were the original tellers of the tale communicating their experiences due to an incredibly heart-warming reunion with their beloved late spouse, or was it a frightening confrontation with a ghostly predator? These are stories that people ache to tell others as if to get a weight off of their chest, or to stop feeling so alone in their experiences. Human connection drives ghost stories and it doesn’t hurt that they’re an amazing source of entertainment.