, Ninel Sergeyevna Kulagina
(Нине́ль Серге́евна Кула́гина) (aka Nelya Mikhailova) (1926 – 1990) was a Russian
woman who reportedly had great psychic
powers, particularly in psychokinesis
. Academic research of her phenomenon was conducted in the USSR
for the last twenty years of her life.
Kulagina, who was born in 1927, joined the Red Army
at 14, entering its tank regiment during World War II
, but she was a housewife
at the time that her psychic abilities were studied and she entered international discourse in the 1960s. During the Cold War
, silent black-and-white
films of her appearing to move objects on a table in front of her without touching them, were produced. These films were allegedly made under controlled conditions for Soviet
authorities and caused excitement for many psychic researchers around the world, some of whom believed that they represented clear evidence for the existence of psychic phenomena. According to reports from the Soviet Union, forty scientists, two of whom were Nobel
laureates, studied Kulagina. In Investigating Psychics
, Larry Kettlekamp
reports that Mikhailova was filmed separating broken eggs that had been submerged in water, moving apart the whites and yolks, during which event such physical changes were recorded as accelerated and altered heartbeat
, brain waves
and electromagnetic field
. To ensure that external electromagnetic impulses did not interfere, she was placed inside of a metal cage while she demonstrated her ability to remove a marked matchstick from a pile of matchsticks under a glass dome.
Kulagina later indicated that she first recognized her ability, which she believed she had inherited from her mother, when she realized that items spontaneously moved around her when she was angry. Subsequently, she worked to develop the ability to move items of her own volition. Kulagina said that in order to manifest the effect, she required a period of meditation to clear her mind of all thoughts. When she had obtained the focus required, she reported a sharp pain in her spine and the blurring of her eyesight. Reportedly, storms interfered with her ability to perform psychokinetic acts.
One of Kulagina most celebrated experiments took place in a Leningrad laboratory on 10 March 1970. Having initially studied the ability to move inanimate objects, scientists were curious to see if Nina's abilities extended to cells, tissues, and organs. Sergeyev was one of many scientists present when Nina attempted to use her energy to stop the beating of a frog's heart floating in solution. He said that she focused intently on the heart and apparently made it beat faster, then slower, and using extreme intent of thought, stopped it.
In the late 1970s, a near fatal heart attack forced Kulagina to scale back her activities. According to a report produced by Dr. Zverev, her heartbeat was irregular, she had high blood sugar, and her endocrine system was disturbed. Over the long term, she suffered from pains in her arms and legs, could not coordinate properly, and experienced dizziness. The report said that these symptoms were the result of her paranormal exertions, and limited her ability to demonstrate psychokinesis under controlled conditions.
Many skeptical individuals and organizations, such as the James Randi Educational Foundation
and the Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims on the Paranormal
(CICAP) express strong skepticism regarding the truth of these claims. It is noted that the long preparation times and uncontrolled environments (such as hotel rooms) in which the experiments took place left much potential for trickery.
Skeptics have argued that many of Kulagina's feats could easily be performed by one practiced in sleight of hand
, through means such as cleverly concealed or disguised threads, small pieces of magnetic
metal, or mirrors.
They further point to the fact that no sleight of hand experts appear to have ever been present during experiments, and that the Cold War
-era Soviet Union
had an obvious motive for falsifying or exaggerating results in the potential propaganda
value in appearing to win a "Psi Race" analogous to the concurrent Space Race
or arms race
- Gris, Henry, and Dick, William. The New Soviet Psychic Discoveries. London, Souvenir Press, 1979.
- Inglis, Brian. The Paranormal ? An Encyclopedia of Psychic Phenomena. Granada publishing, 1985, p112.
- Ostrander, Sheila, & Schroeder, Lynn. Psychic Discoveries? The Iron Curtain Lifted. London, Souvenir Press, 1997 (1971).
- Spencer, John & Anne. The Poltergeist Phenomenon. London, Headline 1997, pp 227-8.