You are hereHaunting Theories
There are many theories out there concerning exactly what ghosts are. In my opinion no theory currently explains all aspects witnessed concerning apparitions and hauntings in general. Amongst the popular theories are that ghosts are trapped spirits, recorded images as in the stone tape theory or perhaps hallucinations of some sort induced by an environmental factor such as Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs).
Stone Tape Theory
This theory has probably been around since the 1970's. The theory assumes that at times of extreme stress living beings emit a kind of energy that can be absorbed by inanimate objects, stored and then played back. Hence we get apparitions, footsteps etc re-creating a stored historical scene.
There have been comments made about this theory that suggest the viewer needs to be psychic or that the viewer's brainwaves have to be in a certain state. Which could explain why they are not seen all the time.
The Stone Tape Theory would certainly account for many aspects of hauntings, such as why a certain ghost doesn't interact with the modern environment. It would certainly account for the repetitive nature of many hauntings.
There are obvious flaws. It cannot account for ghost's that may appear to interact with the modern environment. What is this energy and how can it be measured? What objects can record these scenes, bricks, mortar, tarmac etc? Ghosts have been reported in all types of environments inside buildings and outside. What triggers the replay? How come they are not triggered more often?
In my opinion the theory is interesting but would be very hard to prove scientifically. However, it is worth thinking about.
Ghosts as Spirits
If this is correct then ghosts can be seen as proof of the survival of consciousness after death and re-enforce many of our religious beliefs.
But do ghosts actually display consciousness. If they had intelligence wouldn't they interact with the modern environment? Apparitions have been seen walking through walls or at floor levels that no longer exist. If a ghost was intelligent wouldn't it use a door or walk on our floor levels?
Has anyone actually communicated with an apparition? I'm not talking about using a psychic or ouija board or getting it to make rapping noises etc, as these could be something else entirely. A haunting could be a whole series of strange experiences that have different explanations. Just because a clairvoyant has made contact with a ‘spirit' does not mean the apparition that has been in that location has been communicated with.
I once had a ghost walk through me and I have interviewed many witnesses to apparitions and still feel there is no evidence of ghostly apparitions showing any intelligence or consciousness.
The following quote is taken from an Article by Dr Jason Braithwaite and appears in full at www.ASSAP.org where he discusses the MADS project. I strongly advise that you visit this site and read their articles on EMFs.
"The idea that some apparitional phenomena and haunt-type experiences have a magnetic component to them has been gaining considerable currency over recent years. The evidence looks obtained so far looks promising. The laboratory evidence, using weak, complex magnetic fields to stimulate hallucinations, is compelling though the field-based research is found wanting in many respects. One of the problems with the field-based research is that most of the technology used so far is wholly inappropriate and could be misleading. There are two main ideas about the role of magnetic fields. One is that haunted locations contain complex magnetic anomalies (similar to those artificially produced in lab experiments) that have brain stimulatory properties; the experience of apparitions is seen here as a magnetically induced hallucination. The other idea is that apparitions exist as external paranormal phenomena that are themselves magnetic or related to magnetic fields in some other, unspecified way. One popular variation of this theory is that apparitions produce electromagnetic disturbances, particularly when they first appear. "
There are a few interesting points regarding the theory that ghosts are hallucinations induced by EMFs (Electromagnetic Fields).
1) How can photographs be taken of hallucinations? This would bring up the question are there any genuine photographs of apparitions?
2) How can it explain two different people having very similar experiences in the same location, several years apart and with prior knowledge of said location or the haunting?
Only EMF's of a certain frequency, amplitude and complexity are considered able to induce these experiences. These specific Experience Inducing Fields are likely to be in these haunted locations most of the time, but they may be just one of the components involved in inducing an experience. The length of expose will have an effect and the fields may even cause a cascade in the brain that leads to an experience a few hours later. Not everyone's brain will be susceptible to the fields either, maybe only 20-30% of the population. People with certain types of epilepsy may be more susceptible.
Check out some of the articles on ASSAP's website, such as the Haunted Bed, by Maurice Townsend.