Saturday, December 20, 2008

Alledged Apparitions and Hauntings


The first serious investigations into survival of bodily death focused on anecdotal accounts of alleged “apparitions” and “hauntings”. One of the first organized attempts to collect, review and comprehend these accounts was undertaken by the Society for Psychical Research in London, England beginning around 1885.

Since that time, most attempts to collect anecdotal evidence and reports of apparitional and haunting events have been undertaken by those more interested in the fantastic elements of the stories and less concerned with their merit.

This paper describes one approach that might be considered for those seriously interested in capturing, reviewing, analyzing and potentially verifying anecdotal claims of alleged apparitions and haunting behaviors.

Apparitions and Hauntings Redefined

Before proceeding further, it is well to define what is meant IN THIS CONTEXT by the terms: “apparition” and “haunting”. These terms are problematic in that they have inconsistent definitions, depending upon your background and belief systems.

In this paper, the definitions are consistent with their use in modern parapsychology research journals.

One point of confusion stems from early definitions proposed and commonly used by the SPR. These definitions were cemented in the popular mind with the publication of the book “Apparitions” by a former President of the SPR, G.N.M Tyrell. In this book, Tyrell proposes that a “haunting” is one of five forms of “apparition”. At the time, this definition made perfect sense, and was adopted by psychical researchers and even appears in early research parapsychology literature.

In the past few decades however, with an information model approach to anomalous events, including apparitions and hauntings, a new definitional criterion has emerged. Today, we separate the haunting phenomena from the apparition based on a key behavioral aspect, namely degree of interaction.

Haunting phenomena are characteristically “non-interactive” with their experients, while apparitional phenomena are “interactive” with experients.


Apparitions tend to appear to a smaller group of individuals than do hauntings. The apparition interacts with the experient through any one or in some cases several of the normal physical senses.

Some people believe that the term ‘apparition’ expressly defines only a visual manifestation. This is not correct. Any interactive anomalous event may be correctly termed ‘apparitional’ in nature. Thus, if there is a clear interaction between the experient and anomalous phenomena, such as perceived attempt to communicate, that phenomena may be properly characterized as ‘apparitional’.
Characteristics of Apparitions

Rarely do apparitions appeal to a percipient’s sense of taste. Most apparitions appeal to one or a combination of the other normal senses.

Visual apparitions
Visual apparitions are often reported but studies conducted on reliable phenomena data reports indicate that visual apparitions (as contrasted to haunting phenomena) are by far less common. The visual apparition can be confused with a haunting incident if the intention of the phenomena is not readily apparent. Also, a visual apparition may appear similar to side-effects in energetic psychokinetic (PK) environments that often evidence luminous forms.

Example: An example of a visual apparition might be an incident where a person sees a figure in the distance approaching slowly. The figure may appear quite solid. The figure would make an attempt at communicating in some way, such as by gesturing. If it appeared to relate to the movements of the experient, this would be considered evidence of intent of interaction.

Aural apparitions
Aural apparitions are very commonly reported but might be confused with haunting phenomena if the intent is unclear. Perhaps the most commonly heard aural phenomena is the distinct calling of one’s own name. This can be a psychological event having nothing to do with apparitions. However, it could also be an interactive attempt by a discarnate intelligence to communicate directly. Other common examples include hearing the words “Help” and “Hello”. Most aural apparitions are of a direct disembodied voice or sound as opposed to an electronic voice phenomenon. In other words, aural apparitions should be heard by the experient in real time. It should not be the case the phenomena can only be heard in the noise of an audio recording, characteristic of so-called EVP. Aural apparitions may appear similar to side-effects in energetic psychokinetic (PK) environments that often evidence disembodied voices.

Example: An example of a visual apparition might be an incident where a person hears a response to a question they ask verbally. Key to identifying the discarnate communicator as an apparition is an apparent intent to communicate interactively, that is, to answer questions meaningfully.

Olfactory apparitions
Olfactory apparitions are uncommon, although olfactory haunting phenomena are relatively common. Both are often reported as things such as the scent of flowers, smoke or food. As with visual and aural apparitions, olfactory experiences can be confused with haunting phenomena. Olfactory phenomena are quite similar to side-effects of energetic psychokinetic (PK) environment that often evidence nauseous odors.

Example: The odor of a particular type of cigar was noted during mediumistic communications with a specific historical individual. Fraud was rule out. The individual communicating clearly stated his intent to demonstrate his identity by using the odor of this specific cigar, recognizable to the sitter but not the medium.

Tactile apparitions
Tactile apparitions are somewhat common. They are often reported as a feeling of being touched or brushed. Tactile apparitional phenomena are not generally invasive, unlike psychokinetic effects which are highly targeted and generally originate with a living agent. Tactile apparitional phenomena originate with a discarnate intelligence.
Since both tactile apparitions and psychokinetic activity involve interactive touch, it is often the case that the two are confused.

Example: A woman’s skin was depressed in an active location near Washington, DC. Apparitional effects were observed by an independent investigator. The depth of touch was measurable and quantifiable. While the subject was usually able to retain composure, the incidents were a bit traumatic. Clear signs of what looked like finger marks could be seen and bruises were produced on the subject’s skin.

Note that there are many occasions when apparitional phenomena and haunting phenomena are easily confused. The most important differentiating aspect is the presence of interaction and intention on the part of the apparition.

Mediumistic communications through After-Death Communications (ADC) are by this definition likewise a form of apparitional phenomena. This is only accepted however if there is a clear interaction between a sitter and the discarnate communicator through the medium. Of course the information must be proven legitimate and valid and there must be reasonable certainty that the medium could not have acquired the information given in advance of the sitting.


Unlike apparitions, haunting phenomena have no interaction with their percipients. Hauntings have been described as “watching a video or motion picture repeating over and over again”.

A larger population of people report hauntings than apparitions.

Hauntings are place-oriented. It seems that some sufficiently sensitive individuals, often unaware of their ability, will detect the haunting phenomena while others will not.

Some people become confused especially when dealing with visual haunting phenomena. Often a figure will be seen apparently trying to communicate. The most commonly reported manifestation is that of a person, lips moving but no words coming out. This yields the illusion of interaction. However, it is equally likely that what is being witnessed is a memory in time part of which included a conversation that can no longer be heard. This is not an interactive attempt by an intelligent discarnate, but simply a visual record of an event.

Likewise, aural and olfactory haunting phenomena often occur. Most anomalous sounds and smells that are perceived, if there seems to be no attempt to interact with the percipient, are likely haunting phenomena. In other words, they are traces of events that once took place and likely had some significance to someone in the past.

Haunting phenomena are non-tactile in nature. While ‘pushing’ and ‘shoving’ is reported in some reportedly active sites, this phenomena is far more likely due to a living PK agent. See the paper entitled “Psychokinesis” for more details.

Haunting Myths

The literature has become littered with mythical accounts with respect to both apparitions and hauntings.

Vengeful Spirits
Highly unlikely and rarely reliably reported
- Usually tied to history of questionable origin

Inhuman Spirits
- Some cultures include “Incubus/Succubus” phenomena
- Some cultures include “Elemental” phenomena
- Some cultures include “Faeiry/Gnome” phenomena
- Usually either misreporting or misinterpretation of natural phenomena

Demonic Spirits
- Rich in specific theological settings and cultures
- Recently reincarnated in the public’s mind
- More traditional anomalous phenomena is considered ‘demonic’ by lay people
- No reliable proof this phenomena is anything more than intense PK
- Highly belief-driven: most ‘exorcism’ and ‘cleansing’ rites focus on beliefs


Apparitions are interactive discarnate intelligences while hauntings are non-interactive. This is a new definition of these phenomena, adopted only in the past few decades.

Apparitions tend to appeal to a smaller population overall and may be perceived by any of the normal physical senses.

Haunting phenomena are mostly commonly olfactory, auditory or visual in nature. They are non-interactive and repetitive. Hauntings are perceived by a broad group of individuals, often over long periods of time.

Traditional mythologies from various sources have suggested over time that such things as vengeful spirits, inhuman spirits and demons may actually exist. Most of these anecdotal stories have problems with the reliability of the reports and are absent documentary and historical foundation.

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