What kind of haunting cases do parapsychologists get?
Parapsychologists tend to see four kinds of cases when doing haunting investigations:
- NOTHING PARANORMAL IS OCCURING: This can be because the person
reporting the events is: a) crazy; b) wants attention; c) is opening up
psychically and doesn't understand what is happening to them (very common);
d) is misinterpreting normal factors in the environment, whether it be
faulty wiring or a creaky house; e) they made up the story so they could
sell the movie rights; and f) is a skeptic trying to make parapsychologists
look gullible and/or stupid.
- PLACE MEMORY: Place memory is where you have an old recording, which was made by
someone while they were still living.
Perhaps the easiest way to think of it is as a case where the environment acts like a camcorder.
If the conditions are right (involving sufficient repetition, environmental
factors, and/or really strong emotions), then events can get recorded. People
sensitive to this information (like psychics) can later play back
what was recorded, like with psychometry. In these cases, there is no
ghost, simply an old rerun of the past. It won't
interact with you and the story always remains the same one.
- POLTERGEIST ACTIVITY: The word "poltergeist" comes
from German, and means "noisy ghost" -- which probably relates to the
fact that poltergeist phenomena often involve raps or other loud sounds. The
word itself is a bit misleading, since most parapsychologists believe
poltergeists are not ghosts at all, but result from human psychokinesis (PK), or
mind over matter. The people involved often appear to be using
PK as a stress
reliever. Furthermore, the events are meaningful in the same way a dream is.
They are metaphors. To understand what's going on, you need to play newspaper reporter, figuring out the who,
what, when, where, and why. Once you've done that, the story usually becomes
obvious. Psychological counseling is often helpful for these folks, if only
for the stress of what's happening.
- THERE IS A GHOST: Ghosts are the spirits of the
dead, who no longer have bodies but are still conscious and able (if they want)
to interact with the living. Some people like their ghosts and just want
confirmation while others consider their "visitors" unwanted. Psychics can
be helpful in clarifying what is going on (assuming said psychic is the real
deal and experienced at investigations). There are many ways to get rid of
ghosts. See the fact sheet pages for more information on this and other,
NOTE: Seeing an apparition does not necessarily mean you
have a ghost. Although it is possible that an apparition is of a human or
animal spirit, it can also be caused by: 1) human PK; 2) place memory; 3)
the imagination (sometimes partly due to misperception); or 4) be a
hallucination (whether due to environmental factors, temporal lobe seizures,
drugs, illness, or some other cause).
It is important to understand the difference between a real, "live" ghost,
and a haunting. The environment can act somewhat like
a camcorder or videotape recorder. It can record people, animals, and events
from the past (especially when they have high emotional impact) which you can
"watch" later. The simplest way to tell the difference between a ghost
and a place memory is whether it interacts with you or simply repeats the same
actions over and over. It is useful to think of a haunting case as being where the
environment simply records strong impressions (either from highly charged or frequently
repeated events). Sensitive people may be able to pick up on these recordings, and
see or hear events from the past (but not necessarily from the dead -- the living can make
these recordings, too). With a haunting you see reruns, over and over. A ghost
is different. A "ghost" can sometimes see or react to your
presence -- and its not uncommon that they are the one running away in fear. Ghosts generally don't want to harm
you. Some are lost, some confused, some have messages they want to pass on, and some just
like hanging out. A great book on this subject is Loyd Auerbach's ESP, Hauntings, and
Poltergeists: A Parapsychologist's Handbook
. His book, A Paranormal Casebook
is also quite good.
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