From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Nensha)
Jump to: navigation, search
An alleged "thought photograph" obtained by Tomokichi Fukurai.

Thoughtography, also called projected thermography, psychic photography, nengraphy or nensha (Japanese: 念写?), is the claimed ability to "burn" images from one's mind onto such surfaces as photographic film by psychic means.[1] While the term "thoughtography" has been in the English lexicon since 1913, the more recent term "projected thermography" is a neologism originating from the 2002 U.S. remake of Ring/The Ring


Thoughtography (also known as psychic photography) first emerged in the late 19th century due to the influence of spirit photography.[1] Thoughtography has no connection with Spiritualism, which distinguishes it from spirit photography.[2] One of the first books to mention "psychic photography" was the book The New Photography (1896) by Arthur Brunel Chatwood. In the book Chatwood described experiments where the "image of objects on the retina of the human eye might so affect it that a photograph could be produced by looking at a sensitive plate."[3] The book was criticized in a review in Nature.[4]

The psychical researcher Hereward Carrington in his book Modern Psychical Phenomena (1919) wrote that many psychic photographs were revealed to be fraudulent produced by substitution and manipulation of the plates, double-printing, double-exposure and chemical screens. However, Carrington also stated he believed some of the photographs to be genuine.[5] The term "thoughtography" was first introduced at the beginning of the twentieth century by Tomokichi Fukurai.[2]

Skeptics and professional photographers consider psychic photographs to be faked or the result of flaws in the camera or film, exposures, film-processing errors, lens flares, flash reflections or chemical reactions.[6][7][8][9]


Tomokichi Fukurai[edit]

Around 1910, during a period of interest in Spiritualism in Japan, Tomokichi Fukurai, an assistant professor of psychology at Tokyo University began pursuing parapsychology experiments using Chizuko Mifune, Ikuko Nagao, and others as subjects. Fukurai published results of experiments with Nagao that alleged she was capable of telepathically imprinting images on photo plates, which he called nensha. When journalists found irregularities, Nagao's credibility was attacked, and there was speculation that her later illness and death was caused by distress over criticism.[10] In 1913, Fukurai published Clairvoyance and Thoughtography (an English translation title). The book was criticized for a lack of scientific approach and his work disparaged by the university and his colleagues. Fukurai eventually resigned in 1913.[11]

Eva Carrière[edit]

Carrière with fake ectoplasm made from the French magazine Le Miroir.

In the early 20th century the psychical researcher Albert von Schrenck-Notzing investigated the medium Eva Carrière and claimed her ectoplasm "materializations" were the result of "ideoplasty" in which the medium could form images onto ectoplasm from her mind.[12] Schrenck-Notzing published the book Phenomena of Materialisation (1923) which included photographs of the ectoplasm. Critics pointed out the photographs of the ectoplasm revealed marks of magazine cut-outs, pins and a piece of string.[13] Schrenck-Notzing admitted that on several occasions Carrière deceptively smuggled pins into the séance room.[13] The magician Carlos María de Heredia replicated the ectoplasm of Carrière using a comb, gauze and a handkerchief.[13]

Donald West wrote that the ectoplasm of Carrière was fake and was made of cut-out paper faces from newspapers and magazines on which fold marks could sometimes be seen from the photographs. A photograph of Carrière taken from the back of the ectoplasm face revealed it to be made from a magazine cut out with the letters "Le Miro". The two-dimensional face had been clipped from the French magazine Le Miroir.[14] Back issues of the magazine also matched some of Carrière's ectoplasm faces.[15] Cut out faces that she used included Woodrow Wilson, King Ferdinand of Bulgaria, French president Raymond Poincaré and the actress Mona Delza.[16]

After Schrenck-Notzing discovered Carrière had taken her ectoplasm faces from the magazine he defended her by claiming she had read the magazine but her memory had recalled the images and they had materialized into the ectoplasm.[12] Schrenck-Notzing was described as credulous.[13] Joseph McCabe wrote "In Germany and Austria, Baron von Schrenck-Notzing is the laughing-stock of his medical colleagues."[17]

Ted Serios[edit]

Main article: Ted Serios

In the 1960s, it was claimed that Chicago resident Ted Serios, a hotel bellhop by trade, used psychokinetic powers to produce images on Polaroid instant film.[18] Serios's psychic claims were bolstered by the endorsement of a Denver-based psychiatrist, Jule Eisenbud (1908–1999), who wrote a book called The World of Ted Serios: "Thoughtographic" Studies of an Extraordinary Mind (1967) arguing that Serios's purported psychic abilities were genuine.[19] However, professional photographers and skeptics found that Serios was employing simple sleight of hand.[20][21]

Masuaki Kiyota[edit]

Main article: Masuaki Kiyota

Masuaki Kiyota a Japanese psychic has claimed powers of psychokinesis.

Kiyota was tested by investigators in London by Granada Television and the results were negative. It was discovered that with tight controls, Kiyota was unable to project mental images onto film. He could only achieve success when he had the film in his possession without any control for at least 2 hours.[22]

According to magician and skeptic James Randi "Kiyota's Polaroid photos were apparently produced by preexposing the film, since it was noted that he made great efforts to obtain a film pack and spend time with it in private."[23] In a 1984 television interview, Kiyota confessed to fraud.[24]

Uri Geller[edit]

Main article: Uri Geller

In 1995, famed psychic Uri Geller began to use a 35 mm camera in his performances. The lens cap left on the camera, Geller would take pictures of his forehead and then have the pictures developed. Geller claimed that subsequent images had come directly from his mind.[25] James Randi claimed Geller had performed the trick by using a "handheld optical device" or by taking photographs on already exposed film.[25]

In fiction[edit]

  • The Ring media franchise involves a telepathic individual projecting a curse onto a videotape, causing any viewer of said tape to die within seven days. The writer of the original Ring novel, Koji Suzuki, was inspired by the Fukurai history, and based some elements of the story upon real-life events. Sadako Yamamura, the antagonist of the original novel and films, is partially based on Sadako Takahashi, whilst her mother Shizuko Yamamura is based on Chizuko Mifune.
  • Thoughtography was the subject of The X-Files episode "Unruhe."
  • Omni published a satirical back-page article about useless psychics that included a partly successful thought photographer who produced photographs of various monuments, all partly obscured by his thumb.
  • In the third X-Men movie X-Men: The Last Stand, during an early scene as Professor Charles Xavier is giving a lecture to one of his classes, a girl is taking notes via Nensha.
  • In Oh My Goddess!, one of Skuld's most prominent powers is Nensha, which she uses to imprint words such as "stupid" or "pervert" on objects - usually Keiichi.
  • In Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, One of the Arcobalenos, Viper, uses thoughtography.
  • In the Heroes graphic novel Out of Town...On Business, the character Joe Macon used his ability of thoughtography to sign a large number of documents at the same time; he was later killed by Sylar and got his ability stolen.
  • In Charlotte one of the supporting characters' powers is Nensha.


  1. ^ a b Rolf H. Krauss. (1995). Beyond Light and Shadow. Nazraeli Press. ISBN 978-3923922383
  2. ^ a b Clément Chéroux. (2005). The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300111361
  3. ^ Arthur Brunel Chatwood. (1896). The New Photography. Downey. p. 93
  4. ^ Norman Lockyer. (1896). Nature. Volume 53. p. 460
  5. ^ Hereward Carrington. (1919). Modern Psychical Phenomena. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Company. pp. 125-145
  6. ^ Joe Nickell. (1994). Camera Clues: A Handbook of Photographic Investigation. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0813191249
  7. ^ Gordon Stein. (1996). The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1573920216
  8. ^ Dino Brugioni. (1999). Photo Fakery: A History of Deception and Manipulation. Brassey's Inc; illustrated edition. ISBN 978-1574881660
  9. ^ Robert Todd Carroll. (2010). Psychic Photography in the The Skeptic's Dictionary. Wiley. ISBN 978-0471272427
  10. ^ Kristen Lacefield (1 April 2013). The Scary Screen: Media Anxiety in the Ring. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 34, 37–. ISBN 978-1-4094-7619-1. Later that year Fukurai began to study another psychic, Ikuko Nagao, who possessed a talent he called "nenagraphy" or simply nensha. Fukurai coined this term from the Japanese nen, meaning "thought" or "idea," and the Greek graphein, meaning "writing" or "representation," intending it to refer to the power of inscribing images directly onto photographic plates by sheer force of will. This phenomena was known among western psychical researchers as "psychography" or "thoughtography," a practice that first emerged with the discovery of so-called "N-rays" around the turn of the century. 
  11. ^ David B. Baker (13 January 2012). The Oxford Handbook of the History of Psychology: Global Perspectives. Oxford University Press. pp. 354–. ISBN 978-0-19-536655-6. 
  12. ^ a b M. Brady Brower. (2010). Unruly Spirits: The Science of Psychic Phenomena in Modern France. University of Illinois Press. p. 120. ISBN 978-0252077517
  13. ^ a b c d Carlos María de Heredia. (1922). Spiritism and Common Sense. P. J. Kenedy & Sons. pp. 186-198
  14. ^ Donald West. (1954). Psychical Research Today. Chapter Séance-Room Phenomena. Duckworth. p. 49
  15. ^ Georgess McHargue. (1972). Facts, Frauds, and Phantasms: A Survey of the Spiritualist Movement. Doubleday. p. 187
  16. ^ Gordon Stein. (1996). The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. p. 520. ISBN 978-1573920216
  17. ^ Frank Harris. (1993). Debates on the Meaning of Life, Evolution, and Spiritualism. Prometheus Books. p. 77. ISBN 978-0879758288
  18. ^ Nickell, Joe (2005) [1994]. Camera Clues: A Handbook for Photographic Investigation. (Lexington, Kentucky USA: University Press of Kentucky). p. 197. ISBN 0-8131-1894-8. Retrieved November 20, 2013. Psychokinetic Photographs. In 1967 the world learned of a Chicago man with apparently remarkable powers: he could merely think of pictures and cause them to appear on photographic film -- a supposedly psychokinetic (PK) process called "thoughtography." The man, an often unemployed bellhop named Ted Serios, was the object of a sensational article in Life magazine and even an entire book written by Denver psychiatrist Jule Eisenbud, The World of Ted Serios. To accomplish his marvelous feat, Serios looked through a paper tube that he pressed against the camera's lens. A Polaroid model was used . . . 
  19. ^ Jule Eisenbud. (1967). The World of Ted Serios: "Thoughtographic" Studies of an Extraordinary Mind. Morrow. ISBN 978-1117065625
  20. ^ Terence Hines. (2003). Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. p. 77. ISBN 978-1573929790
  21. ^ Len Peyronnin. (2011). Psychic Projections Were a Hoax. The Chronicle of Higher Education. "Anyone who knows anything about this issue knows that Mr. Serios was long ago exposed and thoroughly debunked as a fraud. This was done with absolute certainty by professional photographers Charlie Reynolds and David Eisendrath in the October 1967 issue of Popular Photography. Serios was observed, when he thought no one was looking, sticking pictures into his "gizmo," a tube he held between his head and the camera lens. That some claim he produced images without the tube, and at some distance from the camera, is easily attributed to double exposure or use of previously made exposures, followed by the fake snapping of a picture."
  22. ^ Nickell, Joe. (2005). Camera Clues: A Handbook for Photographic Investigation. University Press of Kentucky. p. 198. ISBN 978-0813191249
  23. ^ Randi, James. (1995). "Masuaki Kiyota". In An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-15119-5
  24. ^ Melton. J, Gordon. (2001). Fraud. In Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. Gale Group Inc. "Randi's point was driven home in 1984 when Masuaki Kiyota, hailed as the Japanese Uri Geller, revealed in a television interview that he had faked the phenomena that had been verified by both American and Japanese researchers."
  25. ^ a b Robert Todd Carroll. (2003). The Skeptic's Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions. Wiley. p. 313. ISBN 978-0471272427

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]