The Psychic Powers of Nina Kulagina
1 | Part 2
According to various books (see sources)
Doctor Leonid L. Vasiliev, a psychologist at Leningrad
University, had pioneered
ESP study in Russia at the Institute for Brain
Research in Leningrad, and was one of the first to test Kulagina, continuing to
do so right up until his death in 1966. Another Soviet scientist, Dr. Genady Sergeyev,
well-known physiologist working in a Leningrad military laboratory, did several
years of intensive laboratory research on Kulagina, and made special studies of
the electrical potentials in Kulagina's brain. During observations he
recorded exceptionally strong voltages and other unusual effects. In one series
of experiments in Leningrad, recalling those of Dr. Shvetz, he and his
colleagues placed undeveloped photo film in a black envelope.
staring at the envelope Kulagina was able to expose the film inside. If this is
incredible story is true, then it is particularly unfortunate that there is no published
account of the extraordinary experiment.
Chairman of Theoretical Physics at
Moscow University, Dr. Ya. Terletsky declared on 17 March, 1968, in Moscow
Pravda: 'Mrs. Kulagina displays a new and unknown form of energy.' The
Mendeleyev Institute of Metrology also studied Nina, and announced in Moscow
Pravda (why not a science journal?) that she had moved aluminium pipes and matches under stringent test
conditions, including surveillance on closed-circuit television. They could not
explain how the objects had moved.
A Strange Mind Power Experiment
One of Kulagina's strangest filmed experiments involved
the effect of her 'psychic powers' on a raw egg floating in a tank of saline solution
almost two metres away from her.
Seeming to use nothing but 'intense concentration', she slowly
separated the yolk from the white of the egg, and moved the two apart; if she
focused her energies for long enough, she could put the egg back together again.
But the most unusual experiment of all took place in the Leningrad laboratory on
10 March, 1970. Satisfied that Kulagina had the ability to move inanimate
objects, scientists were curious to know whether Nina's abilities extended to
cells, tissues, and organs. Sergeyev was one of the many scientists in
attendance when Kulagina attempted to use her energy to stop the beating of a
frog's heart, floating in solution, and then re-activate it. She focused intently
on the heart and summoned all her powers. First she made it beat faster, then
slower, and, using intense will power, she stopped it. Apparently she could also
disrupt human heart beats, on one occasion giving a hostile Leningrad
psychiatrist a frightening first-hand experience of her power.
if these extraordinary experiments actually took place as indicated, there
should be published accounts of the groundbreaking results, so where are they?
In one of the (silent) films shot of experiments with
Kulagina in her Leningrad apartment she is seen seated at a large, round, white
table, in front of a lace-curtain window. According to Russian scientists she
had, on this occasion, already been physically examined by a medical doctor, who had x-rayed her to
make sure there were no hidden magnets or anything else concealed on her person,
nor any pieces of shrapnel lodged in her body from her war injury. She was found
to be clean and the experiment begun.
The film crew, scientists - Naumov among
them, and reporters, moved in for a close-up. Naumov placed a compass on a
wristband, a vertical cigarette, a pen top, a small metal cylinder like a
saltshaker, and a matchbox on the table in front of her. Kulagina began with
the compass - apparently the easiest object to warm up on. She held her
fingers parallel to the table about six inches above the compass and started
moving her hands in a circular motion. For a while nothing happened . . . then
the needle quivered and slowly began to rotate counter clockwise, then the whole
compass, case and all, began to spin.
Many conjurers would not be too impressed with this performance, though
there is no indication that Kulagina was using trickery on this occasion.
The 'Impossibility' of
Naturally, Kulagina was not without her critics, but
sometimes it went beyond criticism. In the Moscow paper Pravda
there was a vicious attack on Kulagina, demonizing her and calling her a fake
and a cheat. It was said that she performed her tricks with the help of
concealed magnets and threads, though how magnets could move nonmagnetic things
like glass, eggs, apples and bread was not explained. Kulagina's supporters also
she could move any one or two objects from a group chosen by the investigator. In the end it was revealed that the author of
the Pravda piece had never even seen Kulagina. He had decided that
was impossible therefore she must be cheating.
At the same time as the Pravda article, it is claimed that a campaign of harassing phone calls began against
Kulagina. It was thought unlikely that these were merely harmless crank calls - there
were no telephone books in Russia at that time; to get somebody's phone number involved
lining up for hours at special address booths in the streets. Secondly, she was
known to the public as Nelya Mikhailova, not by her real name of Nina Kulagina.
So whoever was calling had to know her real name and her address. It seems
likely that it had been well organised. But by whom? Was the KGB involved? Or,
as is most likely, was the whole story concocted to increase the mystique surrounding Kulagina?
calls finally got so out of hand that the scientists decided to hide Kulagina in
the country outside Leningrad.
Some sceptics have claimed that Kulagina was
only tested in her own apartment and in hotel rooms, but according to Pravda
for example (unreliable to say the least) she was also tested by eminent
Soviet scientists in controlled laboratory conditions. These scientists are
quoted as more than once
stating that after watching Nina in action that they had found 'no hidden
threads, magnets, or other gimmicks.'
This does not of course prove that Kulagina did not cheat, as stated
earlier we have no information on how thorough the checks were. There is,
however, no direct evidence that Kulagina ever faked her
abilities. Despite the lack of evidence for trickery. sceptics still believe
Kulagina's abilities to be entirely fraudulent or at least greatly exaggerated
by Soviet authorities, probably to be used as propaganda in their Cold-War era
psychological battles with the U.S. Indeed
the lack of publication of the incredible experiments with Kulagina and other
Russian psychics in scientific journals has persuaded some researchers that the
experiments never occurred at all, at least as described in the popular press.
But there was a down side to these experiments. Whatever Kulagina's
were, it is said that they had always taken a lot out of her. After one set of tests with Dr. Rejdak she
was totally exhausted, and had almost no pulse. Her face was pale and drained
and she could hardly move her body. She had apparentl lost almost four pounds in
half an hour (many Western mediums, such as American Felicia
Parise, have also described this weight loss during PK; it was as if she
were converting the matter of her own body into energy. According to Dr.
Zverev's report, her heart-beat was irregular, there was high blood sugar, and
her endocrine system was disturbed. All this was consistent with high stress.
She had also lost the sensation of taste, suffered from pains in her arms and
legs, couldn't coordinate, and felt dizzy.
According to popular accounts, Kulagina's use of her
psychic abilities apparently led to a strain on her health
culminating, in the late seventies, in a near fatal heart attack. Her doctors
recommended that she reduce her activity, though she kept up some lab work until
she died in 1990, around the time of the death of the Soviet Union itself. It is
still believed by many in Russia that these experiments exhausted her, ruined
her health, and probably hastened her death.
her funeral, Soviets praised Kulagina as a 'hero of Leningrad' after her bravery
during the nine-hundred-day siege of World War II. But many also lauded her for
sacrifices of a different kind to her country, allowing scientists and doctors
to examine and test her 'psychic abilities' incessantly in their quest for an unknown and elusive
More down to earth researchers however, believe claims of Kulagina's 'psychic abilities' to be entirely groundless.
and Further Reading
Gris, Henry, and Dick, William. The
New Soviet Psychic Discoveries. London, Souvenir Press, 1979.
Inglis, Brian. The Paranormal An
Encyclopedia of Psychic Phenomena, London. Granada publishing, 1985, p112.
Ostrander, Sheila, & Schroeder, Lynn. Psychic
Discoveries. The Iron Curtain Lifted. London, Souvenir Press, 1997
& Anne. The Poltergeist Phenomenon.
London, Headline 1997, pp227-8.
Copyright 2003 by
Haughton. All Rights Reserved.