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Psychotronics is a term coined in 1967 by Zdeněk Rejdák for the study of parapsychology. Rejdák used this term to avoid the negative connotations of parapsychology and to define it as interdisciplinary subject, studying both the interaction between living organisms and their internal and external environment and energy processes in both these interactions. The main objectives of psychotronics were to verify and study the phenomena of telepathy, clairvoyance and psychokinesis, to discover new principles of nature. He founded International Association for Psychotronic Research - I.A.P.R.. He was especially focused on perspectives in extrasensory perception and telepathy. In substantial ways, Rejdák picked up the threads of the work of Břetislav Kafka, famous Czech hypnologist and one of the founders of parapsychology.
Rejdák became president of the International Association for Psychotronic Research, organising dozens of parapsychology conferences. The first international psychotronics meeting was held in Prague in 1973. This research sparked Cold War fears in the US that Eastern Block countries were successfully developing technology capable of mind control and other psychotronic weaponry, with particular focus being placed on generators developed by Czech researcher, Robert Pavlita. Pavlita created devices which were "allegedly able to amass human mental energy and release it mechanically or electromagnetically".
The United States' Defense Intelligence Agency took a particular interest in these devices. In a report from 1975 the DIA 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 telling anyone how they worked. Nevertheless, the generators still spark interest in paranormal researchers comparable to the obsessions of UFO hunters.
Psychotronics was popularized in Canada by family physician Terry Burrows. According to an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Burrows' version of psychotronics "is concerned with the energy exchange capacities of a mind-body-environment relationship; in other words explaining by technology something that, until recently, was the preserve of Eastern phiosophers - how the mind relates to the body in sickness and health" Suggestions that it was a psychic effect or related to mind control were explicitly rejected. Instead, some research was conducted into biofeedback and whether the relationship between the human mind and body could be used in medical treatment of patients, including those suffering from psychosomatic illnessess.
Burrows joined with engineer Henry Evering, who had been experimenting with changing work-environments to improve the mental health of workers. Burrows and Evering created techniques of biofeedback which were further developed by Dr. Bob James. James described his biofeedback as "the relating of body changes to thinking". According to James, patients hook themselves up to a "galvanic skin response (GSR) biofeedback instrument", which alters the sounds it makes according to levels of stress. Thus they learn to control their own breathing and heart-rate. James then encouraged patients to externalise their own mental imagery, by drawing anything that came into their heads and discussing it.
A low-budget film dealing with mind control, The Psychotronic Man, was released in 1980. This film itself inspired the creation of Psychotronic Video magazine which covered films traditionally ignored or ridiculed by mainstream critics, and the UK punk-band Revenge of the Psychotronic Man.