1. Parapsychologists can’t agree on what they are

Some parapsychologists view poltergeists as a type of ghost or supernatural entity which are responsible for psychological and physical disturbance. Others believe that such activity originates from “unknown energy” associated with a living person or a location. Sceptics, on the other hand, prefer explanations such as attention seeking, pranks and trickery.

2. Poltergeists tend to prefer women to men

A person-focused poltergeist tends to involve a female adolescent who is suffering from emotional turmoil when the activity begins. That said however, not all so called “focal agents” are teenagers. Indeed, William G. Roll, a pioneer in poltergeist research, found the age of people reporting experiences of poltergeist activity ranged from eight to 78 years.

3. Some of the best poltergeists are thought to be fakes

In 1967, at a lawyer’s office in Rosenheim, Germany strange things started to happen in the presence of the 19 year-old secretary Annemarie Schaberl. Paintings and overhead light fittings started swinging, while fluorescent tubes unscrewed themselves and massive spikes in electrical activity occurred. The speaking clock was also called multiple times per minute and furniture was moved. The police, utility company, physicists and parapsychologist Hans Bender investigated without explanation. But many believe it was a fake – all due to hidden nylon threads, especially given that the incidents stopped when Schaberl left the firm in early 1968.

4. Poltergeists like to mess with your stuff

Poltergeist activity typically starts with minor isolated incidents. This could include unexplained sounds or familiar objects such as your keys or your phone moving from their usual place. Manifestations typically last around five months – some cases have persisted for several years.

The Chilliwack poltergeist in Canada, was active for only two months between 1951 to 1952. During this time the Poltergeist produced loud and violent hammerings on walls accompanied by occasional flying objects. The Brother Doli Case, on the other hand, included a range of phenomena – stains, carvings of images and Welsh words, generally of a religious nature. These experiences continued for several years.

5. Experts are undecided about the Enfield poltergeist

One of the most famous poltergeist cases happened in the UK and involved the Hodgson Family, and their new house in Enfield, North London. Between 1977 and 1979 it was the scene of strange voices, objects moving without explanation, levitation and eerie noises. Events focused on the two teenage daughters Margaret and Janet.

Several reliable witnesses observed phenomena – these witnesses included a police constable, a press photographer and investigators. While investigators did discover some evidence of pranks and fakery, it was believed that many of the poltergeist incidents were genuine.

6. Emotional stress may cause unusual activity

Ghost hunters and paranormals often propose that poltergeists are actually the emotions of troubled individuals – built up during times of stress. This theory, known as Spontaneous Recurring Psychokinesis suggests that this increasing stress then unconsciously projects outwards in the form of mental energy, which effects the physical environment and produces the phenomena we call poltergeists. But there is little evidence to support this.

7. Some believe they are spirits of the dead

Many people believe that spirits of the dead are responsible for poltergeist activity. People who experience them perceive an underlying intelligence and meaningful communication with an otherworldly being. This view proposes that a disembodied consciousness – or soul – survives bodily death. However, there isn’t any compelling scientific evidence to support this view .

8. A lot of activity can be debunked

Mistaken theories are most likely to occur when people believe a place is haunted and they are looking for evidence to confirm this. In this way, a lot of poltergeist activity can actually be debunked due to inaccurate perception of natural phenomenon. Take the case of the women haunted by a ticking clock, it was actually discovered that the noise was created by a tiny insect. Other cases such as “the curse of the spinning Egyptian” – an Egyptian statue in a Manchester museum appeared to turn itself during the day – have equally been explained by physical factors such as minor seismic activity, underground streams and even rainfall patterns.

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