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The Paranormal - Fact or fiction - What Are Ghosts?

Updated on November 26, 2010

What are Ghosts?

Spiritual encounters have been around for thousands of years, perhaps longer – after all, humans have been on this earth for hundreds of thousands of years, so it’s only fair that ghostly phenomena should accompany that span and be deeply ingrained in the history and belief systems of many of the world’s inhabitants.

The reports of ghosts and hauntings, which have led to a much wider appreciation of the phenomena, reawakened the premise of life after death and all things associated with the subject, are compelling to say the least, but do they really exist?

The plethora of television programming suggests that others would like to know too, yet the attempts of these programmes to document and prove the existence of supernatural phenomena, seem often to fall short of the fabled interview or photographic evidence to that effect and it’s something that I fear will never end.

However, surely there is enough evidence to prove that something exists out there that may go beyond our current scientific knowledge.

Types of ghosts

There are three main types:

  • Intelligent hauntings
  • Residual
  • Poltergeist

Intelligent hauntings

Intelligent hauntings are simply ghosts that were at one time human or perhaps animal. These are those who for one reason or another have no idea they’re dead or perhaps are stranded in this Earthly domain due to the way in which they died.

Intelligent hauntings will often interact in some way and are not necessarily associated with one particular spot, room or area, but are free to roam. The reason that they seem to haunt a particular area, house or building is possibly because they are familiar with that place and perhaps it has special memories for the spirit concerned.

Residual hauntings

Residual hauntings are where the spirit concerned shows no apparent interest in the people around them and does not interact, perhaps repeating things over and over again.

It is said that these hauntings are not spirits at all, but are down to the surroundings, which have somehow become imprinted with the actions of a person or people. At certain times these psychic ‘recordings’ are replayed and that’s what we experience.

The scientific community scoff at this because the rules of physics are broken for several reasons when using this theory.

  1. In order for something to be imprinted by light, heat or other forms of radiation, like the radiation from a human being, it would be detectable by methods other than our eyes and ears.
  2. Were (1) able to happen, it is speculated that the only radiation possible to be absorbed would be that from the lower end of the spectrum, i.e., those within the visible light spectrum or below, which would bring us within human audible sound (frequencies between 100hz and 22Khz).

The scientists say that this is not possible as the amplitude of these signals would be so small as to go unnoticed by humans and therefore, they see the theory of a residual haunting as unrealistic.


Poltergeistscan be associated with people and places.

Generally speaking, poltergeist – from the German ‘polter’, meaning noisy and ‘geist’, meaning spirit - phenomena have attributed to them the movement or influence of objects and in some cases, this influence can be quite violent.

Many young people can become associated with poltergeists as there is said to be something about their physical and mental makeup which makes it possible for the spirit to attach itself to the person.

The issue with poltergeist phenomena is that it is often impossible to tell just what is and what isn’t due to poltergeist activity as the situations and manifestations seem to differ wildly and since they can be associated with people, it is hard to be sure whether the manifestations are due to the so-called spirit or are a form of telekinesis or psychokinesis originating from the person.


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      Eman 3 years ago

      11/11/2012 at 7:47 pmEvening all, I just wanted to let you know about my eirepxence when I visited. I was working nearby at Clare and decided to have a look at Borley as I have had an interest in the tales and history of the rectory.It was about 1500hrs, and I pulled up outside the church to get my bearings.There were cottages nearby. From the time I pulled up,turned ignition off and leant to get my phone from the passenger seat (literally seconds) I had the fright of my life as a little old lady had appeared from nowhere at my drivers side window. I didn't see her anywhere when I pulled up, and if she had managed to get from the cottages to my car in that short space of time, she must have ran! Was very eerie. I wound down window, and she asked if I was lost. I told her I just wanted to see where the Rectory stood, and she got very angry, telling me its a myth, and nothing happened. I was quite taken aback as I was very pleasant. I apologised and got myself ready to go, started car. She went. I didn;t look to see where she went, but I was really freaked out. Disgruntled local? probably, but how did she get to my drivers side window that quick?! And she didn't even tap on the window, Just stood there staring.I drove away thinking, was she real? Far fetched I am sure you are thinking, but just wanted to share it.Was a strange moment.Nick

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      Buck 3 years ago

      It's great to find an expert who can exlapin things so well

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Proving what ghosts are and aren't is definitely beyond the capabilities of today's scientific detection methods. As recently as 50 years ago, being able to speak to and be heard clearly by another person on the other side of the world via a device that fit in one's palm was considered the domain of kooks, tin-hatters, and science fiction writers. Now cell phones and laptops allow us to do just that. I predict the same sort of enlightenment with ghosts and hauntings when science finally catches up.