What is Telekinesis?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Telekinesis is derived from the Greek tele which means distant or over a distance, and kinesis, translating to movement. The term was coined in the late 19th century to refer to the ability to move things by mind power only. It is considered a subset of the psychic phenomenon, psychokinesis. Psychokinesis is a much larger group of psychic abilities that includes being able to do things like heal, drastically change shape of objects, project thoughts onto other substances like photographs, and to teleport by mind power.

Telekinesis refers to moving object via mind power.
Telekinesis refers to moving object via mind power.

Most people’s association with telekinesis is through viewing it in fictional outlets. The movie and book Carrie are often cited as one of the best examples of telekinetic abilities. Another example is the character Willow in the late, popular series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In later episodes of the series Willow’s superior ability in magic allows her to move objects with her mind.

In real life, examples of telekinesis are harder to find and much more difficult to prove as real. Many scientists believe that the study of psychic phenomenon is pseudoscience. There are some reports of people with telekinetic powers, but these are usually restricted to a few witnesses or to anecdotal evidence that cannot be verified. However, witnesses who have claimed to see telekinesis in action usually have no reason to make up stories and include people like doctors, police officers and people in military service.

Usually, incidents of telekinesis occur quickly and there is no time for investigation of other causes. Sometimes people do claim they have telekinetic powers that may be demonstrated. 1n the 1970s, a woman named Felicia Parise excited many because she appeared to be able to move small objects with her mind.

Parapsychologists tested Parise, and were unable to uncover any mechanism or trick that could explain her abilities or disprove them. On thing noted about her demonstrations was the effort it seemed to take. Moving tiny objects like a pillbox appeared to require tremendous strength. Parise retired due to the tremendous effort involved in showing her telekinetic abilities and skeptics still doubt that she was able to do what she claimed.

Some skeptic societies offer large financial prizes for proof of telekinesis and other psychic phenomenon. Thus far these prizes remain unclaimed. Beyond scattered stories of strange events and a few demonstrations over the years, there is still little proof that people actually can move objects with their minds. Nevertheless, recent surveys of Americans show about 20-30% do believe that telekinesis is possible.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


No one with abilities like these would let you people know we had them. They are afraid of your unquenchable thirst to be "all knowing" in the scientific community.


Wow, I have never heard of Felicia Parsie before but I am definitely going to look her up after reading the article.

I can remember another instance of someone claiming that they were telekinetic except that this one was proved false pretty quickly. There was some mentalist that claimed to be able to bend spoons with his mind. There are a number of videos of him performing this feat. It was shown that he actually just had really strong thumbs and he was able to bend the spoon even when he was holding it at its base. Cool trick but definitely not telekinetic.

In spite of all the tricksters out there I really want to believe that this is possible. The paranormal has always fascinated me and I think there is a lot about the world that we don't know about.


When I was a kid my number one dream was to be telekinetic. Some kids want to be able to fly, others want to turn invisible or be able to breath under water but I always wanted to be able to move things with my mind.

I can actually remember the first time this desire popped into my head. I was probably 10 years old and I had just learned about telekinesis from a program on TV. I went outside and looked up into the sky and the Goodyear blimp just happened to be floating past. I though about how cool it would be if I could pull the blimp out of the sky and have it land in my front yard. After that I was thinking about telekinesis all the time.


@nony - The article says that sometimes the telekinesis happens quickly in real life. Perhaps people are confusing telekinesis with adrenalin.

I am referring to real life examples of sudden emergencies where people are called upon to use superhuman strength, like lifting a car with a person trapped beneath it.

I’ve heard of these stories and scientists seem to accept these adrenalin rush examples as being real. Another witness to such a scene may mistakenly think that supernatural powers - in this case telekinesis – are involved.

I am on the fence about psychic capabilities myself. But I do think that scientific explanations can be given for seemingly other worldly demonstrations of ability.


@Charred - Personally, I do believe in psychic abilities and as a matter of fact, believe that this ability is innate. We all have it; it just needs to be tapped.

I don’t claim to know how to do that. I think the real psychics have spent a lot of time in meditation and practice of their art. As for your example, reading one article and attempting to pull off a psychic demonstration in thirty minutes is not sufficient.

I think you would have to give yourself wholeheartedly to the study and application of psychic principles to get it to work. It’s like weight lifting or any other exercise, physical or academic. You need to give yourself to constant study and practice.


A long time ago, back when I was a teenager, I bought an issue of a tabloid because it had an article on telekinetic powers.

The article supposedly showed you how to bend a spoon. I followed all of the instructions, focused my mind on that spoon with intense concentration, and could never get it to bend – or even move. After about thirty minutes, I gave up.

Since then, I have more or less become a skeptic about all things psychic. Yes, it is fun to watch these things demonstrated in movies but I very much doubt that these things happen in real life.

I don’t doubt miracles, which are instances of divine intervention into emergency situations, but I do doubt that ordinary people have psychic abilities of any kind that can be demonstrably proven. All evidence has been anecdotal so far.

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