Psychotronics is a term coined in 1967 by Zdeněk Rejdák for the study of parapsychology. Extensive research programmes and numerous conferences into the field during the 1970s and '80s sparked Cold War fears of mind control and other psychotronic weaponry being developed by Eastern Bloc countries which led to popularisation of the term in the West.
Since the mid-1990s, rumors of secret research into psychological warfare have led to a number of conspiracy theories. Campaign groups in Russia and the US have alleged that their governments are using psychotronic weapons against them to torture them, track their movements or control their minds. These campaigns are typically dismissed by psychologists as being a delusional response to auditory hallucinations similar to accounts of alien abductions.
The word has also been used to describe some medical therapies for helping patients suffering from psychosomatic illnesses and stress.
Early parapsychological research
As part of a surge in research into parapsychology during the 1970s, regular conferences were held in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union although the word parapsychology was discarded in favour of the term psychotronics. The stated objectives of psychotronics were to verify telepathy, clairvoyance and psychokinesis in order to discover new principles of nature. One significant promoter of psychotronics was Czech scientist Zdeněk Rejdák, who promoted psychotronics as a physical science on the world-wide scale for many years, organizing conferences and presiding over the International Association for Psychotronic Research.
Against the background of the Cold War, this research sparked concerns in the US that Eastern Bloc countries were successfully developing mind control technology and other psychotronic weaponry, with one report studying so-called "psychotronic generators" developed by the Czech researcher Robert Pavlita. Pavlita created devices which were "allegedly able to amass human mental energy and release it mechanically or electromagnetically". A report from 1975 the United States' Defense Intelligence Agency took the device seriously as a potential weapon, reporting that "when flies were placed in the gap of a circular generator, they died instantly" and that Pavlita's daughter had become dizzy when the device was pointed at her from a distance of "several yards". These fears diminished as it proved impossible to replicate Pavlita's machines and he died in 1991 without revealing how they had worked.
- Melton, J. G. (1996). Parapsychology. In Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology. Thomson Gale. ISBN 978-0-8103-9487-2.
- Beloff, John (1993). Parapsychology: A Concise History. St Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-17376-0.
- Sborník I. Konference o výzkumu v psychotronice (symposium, 1st Conference on Psychotronics Research), Prague, 1973
- Sborník V. Mezinárodní konference o výzkumu v psychotronice (symposium, 5. International Conference of Psychotronics Research), Bratislava 1983
- German, Erik (July 5, 2000). "Is Czech Mind Control Equipment Science-Fiction or Science-Fact?". The Prague Post. Retrieved 16 December 2012.