Imagine the situation. You're sitting
in a room alone when out of nowhere, a book flies through the air and
smacks into the wall. All around you, the silence erupts into tapping, knocking,
banging and clanging - but there's no one in the room, and nothing is moving.
As you get up to investigate - or flee - the table beside your chair suddenly
flips over and all the items on it take flight, sailing across the room and
smashing against walls and bookshelves. And to make matters even worse, the
air is tainted with a horrible stench that reminds you of a mix of onions and
Say hello to your poltergeist.
The word comes from German, and it literally means 'noisy
ghost', which is a pretty accurate description of what seems to be happening.
But is it really a ghost causing all the problems? Poltergeist phenomenon may
be the single most studied paranormal event of all. Poltergeists are
the most commonly reported type of 'haunting' activity, and many scientists
have been intrigued enough by the phenomenon to subject it to rigorous investigation.
What they have found is that most poltergeist activity can be attributed to
a 'human agent', though some seems to actually stem from another source.
Even the 'human agent' poltergeist activity is unexplained.
It's not a matter of fraud or trickery, according to most who've
studied poltergeists. Rather, much poltergeist activity seems to be an unconscious
manifestation of sublimated anger, sexuality or other strong emotion, most often
centered around a young woman between the ages of early adolescence and twenty-five.
Exactly how a young girl can, without conscious volition or any physical means,
cause objects to fly through the air, create sounds of banging, ringing, tapping
and clanging, and stimulate horrible odors is not something that science can
Power of the Mind?
scientists who study the paranormal, believe that most poltergeist activity
is a type of uncontrolled psychokinesis - moving objects with the power
of the mind. The theory is that the poltergeist activity is a physical manifestation
of a psychological trauma. Most cases revolve around one central person, in
most cases a young girl, though there have been reported poltergeist cases where
the human 'agent', is a boy or even an adult male. Most often, the human agent
is in the midst of some psychological or sexual 'turbulence'. Awakening adolescence
is the most common assumed trigger, though there have been cases where the girl
is the victim of a sexual or other physical assault.
While this is the most 'mainstream' of the theories about
poltergeist activity, it is certainly not the only one. There are many occultists
who believe that poltergeists are, quite literally, noisy ghosts. They cite
the numerous cases where these noisy, unsettling disturbances had no connection
to any particular person, or where there was no 'agent' fitting the description
of a youth in psychological turmoil. Those occultists believe instead that a
poltergeist is an angry or mischievous spirit, trapped between the mortal plane
and the afterlife by their own emotions, or by 'unfinished business'.
Still others believe that there's a combination of factors
at play, especially in the cases where the activity seems to focus around one
particular person. They agree that there is an underlying anger or turmoil,
and that this turmoil becomes a focus or attracting factor to angry 'spirits'
who manifest around that person.
There have, of course, been reported cases of fraud and
fakery in conjunction with poltergeist activity. In some cases, investigators
have literally caught a child in the act of throwing an object that was claimed
to have been thrown by the poltergeist. Other skeptics have merely cited the
fact that the effects only happen in the presence of one particular person as
evidence that that person is somehow causing the effect. There have even been
cases where investigators, on discovering an incident of fakery, still believe
that the original manifestation was genuine, and that the agent, usually a child,
resorts to faking when the poltergeist won't manifest in front of others, or
Whether poltergeist activity is the result of a distraught
mind, the manifestation of an angry, trapped spirit, some combination of the
two or something else entirely, there have been reported cases of poltergeist
activity dating as far back as 1st century China. In more recent years,
investigators into the paranormal have made a focused attempt to document and
prove or disprove the authenticity of the phenomenon. In the past century or
so, there have been close to 1,000 documented cases of poltergeist activity.
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