No doubt, you’ve read about them in books, probably seen them in the movies and their activities have often been the subject of television shows. You may well have seen and scrutinised photos of them and tried to work out whether they’re fake or nor and even possibly have friends or family members who believe they have had a paranormal encounter. You may even have had one yourself. But, despite the fact that they seem so gregarious, no one seems to be able to give a straight answer to the question - what are ghosts?
There are thousands of recorded incidents of paranormal contact around the world every year. Ghostly contact is not a new phenomenon either; there are countless historical references to ghosts or apparitions and, before the dawn of film and television, playwrights as far back as those in Ancient Greece were using them to great dramatic effect in theatres across the globe. However, despite the fact that encounters with spirits seem to be a relatively common occurrence, there are various forms of ghosts recorded and more than one theory might be needed to explain their differing manifestations.
The traditional explanation of a ghost is of the spirit of a dead person that is somehow trapped between the earthly plane and the spirit world. Typically, these spirits seem to have met a violent end and many psychics believe that these people may not be aware of the fact that they have died. As a result, they visit the places that meant something to them while they were alive or are fixed in the area in which they died.
Often, they appear to have some purpose they have to fulfil or some message to impart. As a result, these apparitions appear to have an awareness of people in the material world and, on some level, are able to communicate. Some psychics believe they can ‘speak’ with these spirits and often try to help them complete their unfinished journey to the ‘other side.’
A Psychic Imprint on the Material World
Then there are some ghosts that appear to be stuck in a ‘loop.’ These are reported to be seen at particular times and always repeat certain actions, rather like a section of a film that is played over and over again. The explanation that most paranormal experts adhere to is that these are not true ghosts as such but, rather, they are the residual psychic energies of someone who may have reached a traumatic end.
The theory is that we all emit psychic energy to some degree - a violent death or moments of extreme unhappiness are instances in which we emit extraordinary levels of psychic energy and, if they are string enough, they can leave a psychic imprint on the material world around them. The actions played out by the manifestation are usually seen as a fragment of the event that lead up to a moment of extreme trauma.
Many people experience some form of paranormal contact after the death of a loved one. Often known as ‘messenger ghosts,’ these are the spirits of those who are aware of their own deaths, but are also aware that those they have left behind are grieving. In these circumstances, many people have reported seeing their loved one for a last time or receiving a ‘sign’ that they strongly associate with the deceased. Far from being an unsettling experience, this form of contact is often of great reassurance to those who remain. Usually, these spirits appear only once, as though they are aware of the comfort they can instil. In addition, there are reports of instances in which ghosts of loved ones have briefly appeared to friends or relatives during times of extreme emotional upheaval. Once again, it seems that they appear with the purpose of offering some sort of comfort or to somehow impart some advice.
The Media, Science and Sceptics
Most people have heard of poltergeists, and they have been the subject of many films and documentaries. If we follow the media’s portrayal of them then we believe that they are malevolent spirits, possibly demonic in nature, whose sole purpose is to cause fear. Typically, they manifest as invisible forces that throw things around and have been known to cause physical harm to anyone inhabiting the same space. Some believe they are little more than mischievous ghosts, perhaps of children, that are intent on causing trouble.
However, there seems to be a gradual shift towards the idea that, rather than being ghosts, they are the results of heightened psychic activity caused by people living in stressful situations. This might go some way towards explaining why poltergeists seem most prevalent in the presence of teenagers. Young adults going through puberty often generate powerful amounts of psychic energy as their minds and bodies adjust to the physiological changes that are happening to them.
Scientists and sceptics suggest that ghosts are nothing but the projections of over-active imaginations, perhaps active in times of emotional crisis. Sometimes, they believe, we ‘see’ ghosts because we need to or convince ourselves that there is one present. In their eyes, phenomena such as messenger ghosts are simply our unconscious minds finding a way to comfort us, while paranormal activity in the form of poltergeists usually has a perfectly rational explanation behind it.
Rather than paranormal activity, sceptics believe that ghosts are simply extreme examples of psychological activity. However, many psychics believe just the opposite; that ghosts are evidence of an existence after death or residual imprints of psychic energy generated during extreme trauma, and that they are echoes of the past.
Regardless of whether or not you believe ghosts are real, the fact that thousands of people have experiences that cannot be explained cannot be ignored. What seems to be overlooked is that, even if ghosts are psychic projections engendered by the living in times of emotional crisis, it hints at the idea that our minds are far more powerful than we may give them credit for. This is also true should ghosts actually be manifestations of people who have travelled on their final journey to the spirit realm.