The Ghost In The Office | Why We Fear Ghosts
Are You Afraid Of Ghosts?
Since the dawn of time, man has been afraid of witchcraft and of powers beyond his control. Though most of what ancient man put down to 'witchcraft' has now been proven to be the result of bacteria and trickery, the fear of forces beyond our control, indeed, beyond our perception still remains part of the human psyche. Ghosts, for instance, are still very much feared by many, even by adults who consider themselves both logical and level-headed.
Even the most hardcore atheists who refuse any belief in so called psychic phenomena will often have a part of themselves that is afraid of what might be out there when the lights go off. That's because of the way our brains are wired, to predict threats and to avoid situations in which we might be vulnerable.
My theory is this: That the fear of ghosts in the dark is much like the childish fear of monsters under the bed, it is linked to an ingrained tendency to be wary of the dark, because as tasty meat creatures with no outer shell, we once made a very good midnight snack for various nocturnal predators.
After all, if a ghost truly is the ectoplasmic expression of a human soul or some other creature, is there any reason why they should cease to exist during the day? There are very few reported sightings of day time ghosts, and even 'professional ghost hunters' claim that the hours between 9pm and 6am are the 'psychic' hours.
How interesting that the psychic hours are also the hours in which our primary mode of sensing the world around us, our sight, temporarily becomes useless. It is interesting too, how psychic abilities are also often called 'second sight'. It would seem that we are not afraid of ghosts so much as we are afraid of that which we cannot see. Claiming the ability to be able to see creatures in the dark, or to have 'second sight' makes us feel far more secure, in a strange way.
More insight on this issue can be shed by further examining the where and when of our ghost fears. We fear ghosts at night, we fear them in the night, and we fear ghosts most of all in our sleeping areas. A ghost out on the street is hardly anything to be worried about, but a ghost looming over the head of your bed whilst you lie there utterly unconscious, well, that's just downright chilling.
These fears are primal ones that can be traced back to the fact that man was once a cave dweller and hunter gatherer who could be preyed upon whilst he slept at night. Ghosts aren't scary during the day because during the day we are confident of our abilities to perceive danger.
If we're going to be afraid of ghosts, we should be just as afraid of them at 10 am in the boardroom as we are at 10pm in the bedroom, but we're not, because our animal brain instinctively knows that we are far safer from predators when surrounded by our peers in the light of day than we are when we sleep alone in our bedrooms.
The 'ghost' phenomenon certainly goes beyond mere primal predator fear, there are other sociological forces at play too and I must allow for the fact that some ghostly visitations allegedly do take place during the day time. However the strong connection between fear of the dark and fear of ghosts is too obvious to be ignored, and may indeed offer some reassurance for those of us who still run for the bed as soon as the lights are turned out.