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Haunting 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.

Electromagnetic Fields
The following quote is taken from an Article by Dr Jason Braithwaite and appears in full at 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.

Ian Topham
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Re: Haunting Theories

On the subject of 'ghosts', because of what I have personally witnessed on two occasions, I believe that the spirit or some part therof, attaches itself to things and places, particularly if there is some sort of strong emotion attached, ie. great sadness, great love or sudden death

The first occasion this happened was when I was approximately 5 years old in about 1949; I then lived on my grandfather's farm, obviously not long after the end of World War 2 - I say this as what occurred was to do with a heavy large navy great-coat and in those times of austerity, anything of value or with much usage still in it was kept and utilised. I had always shied away from this coat and when asked why, as I was only a small child, I could only say that it was 'sad'.

I was at the back door of the farm, which was just inside a large verandah with my grandmother who had answered the door to what we called a 'gypsy' in those days - I later learned that he was a Romany - he was selling clothes pegs.

As he was talking to us he suddenly leaned forward to touch the aforementioned coat, hanging on the coat rack in the verandah and said that there was an unquiet spirit in it; what had happened to the person it had belonged to? I was then told to go back into the house and my grandmother continued talking to the gypsy.

At the time, no-one would tell me what had been said and it was not until some years later when, I suppose, it was deemed that I was old enough to understand that I learned the history of the coat:

It had belonged to an old family friend who often visited the farm and in about 1939, unknown to our family, he had been heavily in debt. He had come to the farm one afternoon in summertime, said he was going for a walk across the fields and when he had not returned by early evening my granddad went to look for him and found him dead on top of one of the hayricks. He had cut his throat. My grandparents had asked the local vicar to come to the house and bless the coat, after the gypsy's visit. However, until the farm was sold when I was 12 years old, that coat always felt 'sad' to me.

The second thing that happened which reinforces my thoughts was well documented in our family and with friends and tradesmen and began to happen in September, 1984 when we bought and moved into a 200 year old farmhouse in Staffordshire.

This house had two staircases, one at the far end off the kitchen and the central main one off the middle hall, from which led two doors - one into the main sitting room and one into the dining room. Both of these rooms had the old fashioned sneck type door handles - during the first week, the door into the sitting room was repeatedly found open when there was no-one about and it was impossible for this to happen without it actually being physically opened and I started to have an 'impression' of there being someone in the middle hall.

During the second week, as I was coming down the stairs and saw a small man, aged about 75, needing a shave and dressed in a collarless shirt, with black trousers and a black waist-coat standing half in the sitting room - he was grinning happily at me. I had the distinct impression that his name began with a 'C' and thought it was Cecil. He just faded away as I came down the stairs

The next day my then 16 year old daughter told me that she has just seen 'a little old man smiling at her' at the bottom of the middle stairs. Neither of us were afraid or felt intimidated in any way - on the contrary, our 'ghost' gave off a feeling of great friendliness.

Over the next year my daughter and I saw him intermittently and the sitting room door was opened quite often, usually in the evening but we then began to have to make major repairs to this house. In July 1985 a plumber came to refit piping a long the upstairs landing and told me that he had done work there before when 'Old Charlie lived here'.

I asked him to describe 'Old Charlie' to my husband, me and my daughter - sure enough it was our ghost. He apparently was a well liked old fellow who had been a great practical joker all his life and had died some 15 years previously.

Sadly, as we did more major work to the house, Charlie's visits became less frequent and gradually ceased altogether by the end of that year.

I believe that Charlie or his spirit was attached to the house as it had been in his lifetime and when it was altered so radically he either did not like it or was unable to appear because of something that we had done to disable this ability.

Incidentally, we have a ghost cat in our current house, quite clearly visible to all members of the family, in fact, as I was writing this my 16 year old granddaughter saw it sitting by me at the computer, thinking it was our current 'live' cat, Nelson - he had just gone out through the cat-flap. Nelson the LIVE cat does NOT react to the ghost cat at all - don't know why, you would think he would, wouldn't you?

I have heard of several well authenticated cases like these - well as the Bard said, "there are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio…." and I wonder if we will one day be able to understand the mechanism of so-called hauntings? There is such a huge mass out there of unexplained, fascinating things, isn't there?

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Ian Topham
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Re: Haunting Theories

Thanks for sharing your experiences Judy.  I wonder if any photographs of Charlie are available for you both to independently confirm he was the person you saw.

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Re: Haunting Theories

Hi Ian,

Haven't visited the site for a while and have just seen your comment.

In answer to your query about photos of 'old Charlie' - I never saw any;  everyone  whom I asked described him exactly as I had seen him.

They all also said what a lovely friendly old chap he had been (which was exactly the impression my daughter and I had of him).  Apparently, up until  a few weeks before he died he had visited several local pubs as usual where he quite often played practical jokes on people.   The plumber who described him to us when he was working at the house also said that he was a great practical joker - never malicious though.   He was greatly loved, I  think.

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Re: Haunting Theories

     But if ghosts CAN walk through walls, why in the world would they want to bother with doors?

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Re: Haunting Theories

I don't know but if you haven't read (it can be dipped into) Evan-Wentz's famous and informative book The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries 1911. you should as it impinges on theories of hauntings. Chapter 11 is excellent once you have got to grips with the somewhat old-fashioned language. I would start at the heading Problems of consciousness.

 Sacred Texts is a Fabulous online resource by the way



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