What Exactly is A Poltergeist?
Poltergeist (German for noisy ghost) is a term for a supposed spirit or
ghost that manifests by moving and influencing inanimate objects (rather
than through visible presence or vocalization). Stories featuring
poltergeists typically focus heavily on raps, thumps, knocks, footsteps,
and bed-shaking, all without a discernable point of origin or physical
reason for occurrence.
Many accounts of poltergeist activity detail objects being thrown about
the room, furniture being moved, and even people being levitated. A few
poltergeists have even been known to speak (The Bell Witch, 1817; Gef
the Talking Mongoose, 1931). Most classic poltergeist stories originate
in England, though the word itself is German. Forteans sometimes will
informally refer to poltergeists as "polts".
Poltergeist phenomena are a focus of study within parapsychology.
Parapsychologists define poltergeist activity as a type of uncontrolled
psychokinesis. Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis (RSPK) is a phrase
suggested by parapsychologist William G. Roll to denote poltergeist
phenomena. The longevity and consistency between poltergeist stories
(the earliest one details the raining of stones and bed shaking in
ancient Egypt) has left the matter open for debate within the
activity originates with agents:
Poltergeist activity tends to occur around a single person called an
agent or a focus. Focuses are often, but not limited to, pubescent
children. Almost seventy years of research by the Rhine Research Center
in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, has led to the hypothesis among
parapsychologists that the "poltergeist effect" is a form of
psychokinesis generated by a living human mind (that of the agent).
According to researchers at the Rhine Center, the "poltergeist effect"
is the outward manifestation of psychological trauma.
Poltergeists might simply exist, like the "elementals" described by
Another version posits that poltergeists originate after a person dies in
a powerful rage at the time of death. According to yet another opinion,
ghosts and poltergeists are "recordings." When there is a powerful
emotion, sometimes at death and sometimes not, a recording is believed
to be "embedded" in a place or, somehow, in the "fabric of time" itself.
This recording will continue to play over and over again until the
energy embedded disperses.
However some poltergeists have had the ability to articulate themselves
and to have distinct personalities, which suggests some sort of
self-awareness and intent. Practitioners of astral projection have
reported the existence of unfriendly astral life forms, which Robert
Bruce called "negs" (who we might also identify with elementals). If
they exist, these may well have the ability to affect the physical
Caused by physical forces:
Some scientists propose that all poltergeist activity that they cannot
trace to fraud has an explained physical explanation such as static
electricity, electromagnetic fields, ultra- and infrasound and/or
ionized air. In some cases such as the Rosenheim poltergeist case, the
physicist F. Karger from the Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik and G.
Zicha from the Technical University of Munich found neither none of
these effects present, and psi proponents claim that no evidence of
fraud was ever found, even after a sustained investigation from the
police force and CID, though criminologist Herbert Schäfer quotes an
unnamed detective watching the agent pushing a lamp when she thought
nobody was looking, however if this is true or not police officers did
sign statements that they had witnessed the phenomena.
John Hutchinson has claimed that he has created poltergeist effects in
the lab. Also worth noting is that some scientists now propose that
poltergeists and ball lightning may be linked phenomena. Some scientists
go as far as calling them pseudo-psychic phenomena and claim that under
some circumstances they are caused by obscure physical effects.
Self-delusion and hoaxes:
Skeptics think that the phenomena are hoaxes perpetrated by the agent.
Indeed, many poltergeist agents have been caught by investigators in the
act of throwing objects. A few of them later confessed to faking.
Skeptics maintain that parapsychologists are especially easy to fool when
they think that many occurrences are real and discount the hoax
hypothesis from the start. Even after witnessing firsthand an agent
throwing objects, psi-believing parapsychologists rationalize the fact
away by assuming that the agents are only cheating when caught cheating,
and when you do not catch them, the phenomenon is genuine. One excuse
given is that the agents often fake phenomena when the investigation
coincides with a period of time where there appears to be little or no
'genuine' phenomena occurring, which the agents believe makes them look
The Spirit Research Society!