The Spectral Hypothesis
There are numerous theories for the existence of ghosts. These theories are based on paranormal and scientific explanations. A few of these theories may seem as inconceivable as the existence of ghosts, but nevertheless, these theories must be recognized as another possibility. There is no single theory that can adequately account for every type of ghost. Some theories will explain one type of ghost but leave out many other types. Some of these theories are just as unproven as the existence of ghosts, but the existence of ghosts can only be proven after every alternative possibility has been thoroughly examined.
Apparitions of the Dead: The most popular theory is that ghosts are the paranormal manifestation of deceased human beings or animals. The apparitions are fully conscious having the same memories and personalities as their former lives. These apparitions are intelligent, decision-making entities capable of expressing feelings and communicating messages to other ghosts and to the living. They have the power to manipulate the natural environment by moving objects, creating sounds, casting shadows and changing temperatures. Ghosts appear and disappear at will and behave on their own terms with their own agendas. The repeated manifestation of a ghost is classified as a haunting.
Portal (Gateway) Theory: The portal theory suggests that there are natural occurring doorways that can open up, exposing other dimensions to our known reality. These other dimensions can be alternate universes running parallel to our own dimension. When a dimensional gateway opens, it allows us to see ghosts and view the activities taking place in the spirit world. Some believe that there are triggers that can unlock or open these gateways. Others believe that these gateways are randomly occurring phenomena. It is a belief in many cultures that natural occurring gateways open on Halloween night. The belief is that on Halloween night, the vale between dimensions becomes so thin that ghosts and other spirits can freely move into our reality.
Purgatory: Purgatory is a religious belief held by some Catholic believers as well as other world religions. It is based on the belief that when a person dies, their soul cannot go directly to heaven or hell. The soul must first go to purgatory, sometimes referred to as limbo, until that soul has paid for the sins of his or her life. Purgatory is a stage in the transition to afterlife. It is a place where the soul is tormented. The ghosts in purgatory are suffering and lost in their own tormented misery. When a ghost has suffered long enough, their soul will be cleansed of sin and released from purgatory.
Time Slips: Time slips are irregular occurrences that permit the past and present to collide at one point, allowing individuals in the present to see a glimpse of the past. The past places, people and events appear extremely accurate because the past event is not an illusion, nor is it a recording of the past, but it is actually the past events taking place as they are happening. This theory can be confusing because it seems to create a paradox – how can the past and present happen at the same time? This concept is theoretically possible and revolves around multiple-dimension theories in the science of quantum physics. There are quantum scientists that theorize that time slips can account for some ghost sightings. There is no formula for predicting when and where a time slip will occur. Time slips seem to be completely random events that only last briefly.
Psychic Prism: The psychic prism theory suggests that dwellings such as houses can store up psychic energy and then intermittently release that energy throughout the dwelling, triggering a haunting. The dwelling theoretically acts as a conductor for the psychic energy. The built-up psychic energy flows through the dwelling and prisms into rooms, creating paranormal events. The way a dwelling is built can help distribute psychic energy to different sections of the structure. Structures built with spiral or pillar features can create whirlwinds of psychic energy that can guide psychic energy into the dwelling. There is a belief that some types of building materials (wood, stone, metal, etc.) used in a building can help store psychic energy. The released psychic energy can produce holographic visions, strange shadows or lights and other characteristics similar to a haunting that can be misinterpreted as ghostly activity.
Telepathy: Telepathy is the mind-to-mind communication between separate individuals. This type of communication can come in several different forms. One of those forms is a communication where visual images are sent from one person’s mind into another person’s mind. These images would be seen like a virtual overlay that merges with the environment. A telepathic person could unknowingly transmit mental images into another person’s mind, which is then mistaken for a ghost sighting or a paranormal experience.
Psychic Echoes and Projections: Psychic echoes are voices and sounds from past events that have been recorded into the natural environment. The sounds are stored in the environment, remaining dormant until something or someone triggers the playback like a recording. A projection is when images accompany the playback of sound. Sounds do not always accompany images and the images do not always accompany sounds. The projection theory is another theoretical theory based on quantum physics.
Hallucinations: Hallucinations are the perception of nonexistent objects, people and/or events. Hallucinations involve seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling and experiencing things that are not real, but seem real to the person having the hallucination. Hallucinations are most often the result of a mental illness, but narcotics can also produce hallucinations. Skeptics often use hallucinations as an excuse for ghosts. There is a misconception that hallucinations are common. Neurologists point out that hallucinations are extremely rare and will only happen due to a disorder or from an exposure to narcotics or other hallucinatory substances. There is no known evidence to support a conclusion that something can cause different people at the same location over various periods of history to experience the same hallucination.
Out of Body Experiences: An Out of Body Experience (OBE) is a phenomenon in which a person’s soul releases from their body while they are still alive and healthy. The released soul is free to travel outside of the body and visit other places before returning to the dormant body. The theory is that OBE projections can be mistaken for a ghost. The OBE apparition can be solid or transparent and looks and acts similar to the real person. Witnesses report seeing a ghost, but in reality, the witness has just witnessed an OBE projection from a person who is living. Because the person is alive, their apparition will look modern and not dated like most other ghost sightings.
Human Agents: Human agents are people who unknowingly have a psychic power called Psychokinesis (PK). Psychokinesis is the ability to move or levitate objects by using only the power of the mind. Human agents typically have fragile emotional states and are usually between the ages of twelve and twenty-four. The agent’s emotional problems can include anxiety, hysteria and various phobias. Human agents are often blamed for poltergeist cases. The human agent is not aware that an undiagnosed psychic ability is controlling the paranormal events. Paranormal events will only happen in the presence of the agent and the agent will begin to predict future events. It is not that the agent is predicting the future, but instead the agent believes an event is about to occur and their subconscious mind activates the psychic ability. The paranormal activity usually fades away when the human agent is treated for their emotional disorders or when the agent reaches an age when his or her hormones no longer control their mindset.
Pranks/Fraud/Hoax: It is easy to fake ghost sightings. Tricksters have been doing it since the early 1900s spiritualist movement. The reasons can vary. Sometimes the hoax is done for financial purposes or sometimes the fraud wants attention. There will always be people who fake ghosts to make a profit or for a publicity stunt. Financial gain is a motive behind creating paranormal activity. Frauds have been getting rich for years by duping the public. Computers, editing software and cheap electrical equipment enables anyone the ability to create realistic ghosts.
Misinterpretations of Natural Events: There are numerous natural incidences that are commonly mistaken for paranormal events. It is important to be aware that there are logical explanations for strange anomalies. Animals can get into the spaces between walls and create scratching sounds. Old electrical wires can fray and short out, causing lights to flicker. Old homes settling can create loud creaking noises and footstep-like sounds. Poor lighting can cause shadows to slide through doorways and glimpses of eerie figures. The wind whistling through rafters can create moaning. Naturally occurring events such as ball lighting or marsh gasses can create odd-glowing lights that hover and glide over the countryside. Identifying rational explanations is an extremely important ability for ghost hunters.
Dreams and Nightmares: Researchers believe dreams can be so realistic that it can be impossible to determine whether some dreams were real or not. Dreams can make a person feel paralyzed or see strange bright colors, moving shadows and menacing shapes. The dreamer feels trapped and restrained, watching helpless as monstrous faces float around them. The experiences seem real but the dreamer is in a state referred to by parapsychologists as a False Awakening. A False Awakening is when a person feels awake, but they are still actually asleep and dreaming. These experiences can be terrifying and lead to serious sleep disorders as well as the misinterpretations of paranormal experience.
Evil Spirits: Another religious belief is that ghosts are not the souls of the deceased, but are in fact evil spirits masquerading as ghosts to manipulate the living. These evil spirits pretend to be friendly, sad or lonely ghosts to lure the living into a false sense of trust. However, these evil spirits are in fact desperate to take advantage of the living and gain control by creating fear and causing harm. The more power the evil spirit has over the living, the more influence it can hold on the environment.
Other Psychic Abilities: There are many types of perceived psychic abilities. Some abilities could be a possibility for misinterpretations. A clairvoyant can spontaneously see visions of events that happened in the past. These visions do not always mean that there are ghosts at the location. It is believed by some ghost hunters that everything that happens in life leaves behind an imprint on the environment and that a clairvoyant simply has the ability to tune into these imprints and receive visions. Psychic abilities can be mistaken for ghost sightings simply because the psychic is not fully educated in the mind-body relationship of his or her abilities. There is also the possibility that other psychic abilities, maybe even abilities yet to be discovered, play a role in misinterpretation of ghosts.
Fear and the Human Imagination: The power of fear and imagination is often underestimated. Fear generates irrational panic and causes events, no matter how logical, to be perceived as paranormal activity. Fear and the human imagination can run rampant thus causing people to perceive paranormal events that are not real. Fear is a natural human emotion and a survival instinct. Human beings fear the unknown in order to stay safe and out of harm’s way. The cycle of being afraid of ghosts can be broken through education and understanding.