Poltergeists could be called psychic tantrums.
In my last column, we examined poltergeists in general, famous cases and common links. Today, we look at the theories which reportedly cause the mysterious knockings and movements of objects to exist.
A consensus among parapsychologists is that poltergeist activity is caused, perhaps subconsciously, by a young person angry at someone in his family or at his or her lot in life. “Agents can be people who typically have no method of dealing with the stress on any normal level, so the subconscious takes advantage of the psychokinetic ability to blow off steam,” says
According to the most popular theory these days, it takes an odd combination of stress in the poltergeist agent, along with a unique brain and the ability to tap into a nearby energy source which causes household items to fly around a room, pictures to fall off walls and even furniture to levitate with people aboard.
Agents brains may be unique. In 92 poltergeist cases, famous parapsychologist William Roll found that four agents were diagnosed epileptic, which is higher than the world average of 0.5 per cent of people who have epilepsy.
The late parapsychologist, Andrew Green of
Where do the agents get the energy to move objects? Research suggest they may tap into nearby sources of energy, such as common household electricity, geomagnetic storms, magnetic fields or even energy from the mind/body.
Yes, there is electricity in the beat of the human heart and electrical signals also move along your nerve cells. When you walk across a carpet, your body can pick up or rub off extra electrons and this slightly changes your body’s electrical potential. Then, when you touch a doorknob, zap!
Then there is the matter of what I call fear energy, produced by powerful hormones from the mind/body’s fight-or-flight system. As a fear researcher, I believe we are just beginning to understand some of the amazing capabilities of the fight or flight, which is hardwired into each of us by nature.
When we become emotional, we have enhanced powers, including sharper focus, which has propelled athletes and police in gun battles into a slow-motion zone. Yet we don’t know if, and how, fight or flight can manifest itself in movements of objects.
There may be another component in this riddle wrapped inside an enigma – many poltergeist agents are entering puberty when the phenomena begin.
In a celebrated
Whatever energy the alleged poltergeist agent uses, it apparently causes a temporary suspension of gravity, according to one modern theory, called zero point theory, and then objects start to move.
“It’s still just speculation,” Roll said. “But I think something interferes with inertia and gravity, allowing objects to gravitate. Scientists have found an electromagnetic field that fills the universe, but it’s hard to detect. But it is detected in experiments. It’s called zero point energy and it interacts with gravity and inertia. The theory in cases of RSPK is that the weak electromagnetic signals from the brain affect this field. It’s temporary and it cancels gravity and inertia.”
Fewer researchers these days believe that poltergeists are related to ghosts.
However, Virginia psychiatrist Dr. Ian Stevenson believe there is a link between spirits of the dead and poltergeist activity and they sometimes suggest to victimized families that a séance be held to “cleanse” a home. Others believe that a poltergeist agent is possessed by a spirit or a demon and they sometimes suggest a type of exorcism to try to bring the person back to himself or herself.
Some poltergeists cases are outright fraud. In
“If you knew my daughter-in-law, you’d understand, mate,” the man said.
In some cases, there may be incidents of fraud and paranormal phenomena, which I call the When the Circus Comes to Town Syndrome. Since many agents are young people, they may cause actual poltergeist events but may not be able to produce them in front of others and the media. But to keep attention on themselves, they may physically tip over a lamp and get caught, as Resch did.
Such acts can bring a legitimate case into disrepute and can be fodder at the hands of a skeptic like The Amazing Randi.
Dr. Michael Persinger, a neuroscientist and professor of psychology at Laurentian University in
People with sensitive temporal lobes get frequent bursts of electrical activity and may be more susceptible to paranormal hallucinations than others, he said. They may also be creative and have experiences “resembling those of epileptics.”
Persinger believes that these people are particularly susceptible to hallucinations when they are near an electromagnetic field. He said he has been able to prove his theories in the laboratory by putting helmets on people and exposing them to electromagnetic signals. Four of five people, he said, report a “mystical experience, the feeling that there is a sentient being or entity standing behind them or near them.” Some weep and some feel God has touched them, but others say they feel in the presence of demons or evil spirits.
And yet Persinger admits it’s possible that real poltergeist energy exists. He is currently testing a Canadian woman who reportedly caused poltergeist activity when her husband upset her, but is now turning her force into the less harmful event of spinning a homemade wheel with her mind.
We will discuss in a future column how recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis (RSPK), or poltergeist energy, might be turned into less destructive psychokinesis (PK).
Michael Clarkson is a non-fiction author and professional speaker who has spent 37 years as a print journalist, winning numerous awards for his investigative pieces, including the Canadian National Newspaper Award twice. He currently lives with his wife, Jennifer, in