QUESTION: What is a poltergeist? Is it a ghost?

ANSWER: The word "poltergeist" comes from old German, and means a "noisy" or "rackety" ghost-- which probably relates to the fact that in addition to unexplained lights, fires, object materializations, and the movement and breakage of items, poltergeist phenomena often involve raps or other loud sounds. The word itself is somewhat of a misnomer, since most parapsychologists believe that the vast majority of poltergeists are not ghosts at all, but instead due to the living (and not ghosts) performing unconscious human mind-matter interactions. Because of this, most parapsychologists prefer to use the term RSPK, which stands for Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis. Poltergeist activity has been reported in every culture and era around the globe.

Poltergeist activity often centers around a single individual, often an adolescent. However poltergeist agents can be any age and may involve a group of people. Poltergeist cases differ from hauntings in that apparitions are rarely seen. Poltergeist agents often appear to be using PK as a stress reliever and the activity (like most forms of spontaneous PK ) is often deeply personal in meaning. Because of this, the events can be interpreted like metaphors, in must the same way as a dream. To understand what's going on, the investigator needs to act like a newspaper reporter, figuring out the who, what, when, where, and why. Once you've done that, the story usually becomes obvious.

Most poltergeist agents aren't aware that they are the cause of the activity, and, in fact, the activity usually stops when they accept responsibility for it. Psychological counseling is often helpful for these folks, if only for the stress of what's happening.

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