ResearchED: Why Do Ghosts Haunt Some People More Than Others?

There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who are exceptionally scared of ghosts, and those who are exceptionally interested in them. We might all have had our jump scare situations. Whether it was a feeling that someone was walking closely behind us, that made us turn only to find out that the […]

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November 29, 2021

Lifestyle

17 min

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There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who are exceptionally scared of ghosts, and those who are exceptionally interested in them. We might all have had our jump scare situations. Whether it was a feeling that someone was walking closely behind us, that made us turn only to find out that the road was empty, or that someone was sitting at that dark corner of the room, to scare us enough to not turn towards that side at all. 

Whether there are any ghosts or not, is in itself, a rather one-sided argument. Those who believe will have no way of proving that they do, those who don’t believe will have no way of proving that they don’t. However, everyone can agree to the fact that certain things happen that cannot be explained. There can be theories, and explanations of those theories, but the fact remains unknown. 

Like, in India, it is really common to fry dried chillies to ward off an evil eye. Those of us who have witnessed this have often felt confused. Why does it not smell when chillies are being fried with intentions of casting off an evil eye, and burning our internal organs out when it is being fried for cooking something! Some things cannot be explained.

Ghosts are one of those things. Let’s, for argument’s sake, agree that there are ghosts. If there are ghosts there must be people who feel them, right? What about the Warren couples from the infamous Conjuring franchise?

Let’s Talk About Energy

Computer Generated image depicting the seven levels of energy field of a human being
Computer Generated image depicting the seven levels of the energy field of a human being

Death can be pretty scary a thought for some. No one knows what happens after. Everyone has their theory, but death cares for none. It comes, it takes, it goes. Let’s try to understand what may happen. Our friend Einstein proved that energy cannot be created nor can it be destroyed. Hence, the atoms we consist of will continue to exist till the end of the universe, with those we love. But, are we just a heap of atoms and molecules? That makes us sound so mechanical, doesn’t it? What about our consciousness?

A groundbreaking paper was published in the year 2017. Dr Susan Peck studied the change in energy fields during death or near-death experiences.

She writes, “This case report, addressing the aspect of the art of nursing devoted to end-of-life care, discusses subtle energy changes identified in the literature and observed in 3 case studies during the dying process. Biofield changes were noted during 3 case studies using assessment procedures of hand scan and pending. Comparisons were made with near-death experiences reported in the literature and reports of care providers regarding subtle energy changes observed during their care of the terminally ill as they moved through the dying process.

Consistent with reports in the literature, patterns of changes in the biofield observed during the dying process included the biofield decreasing in size and intensity from the feet upward, and chakras closing or reducing activity, from the root to the crown as the person moved closer to death. The energy field moved up and outward from the crown with death.

In the course of my research, I interviewed two people. One is a neurosurgeon, and the other is a life coach. The neurosurgeon believed that there is nothing after death. That consciousness is merely some chemical reaction in our brain, and once it dies, everything ceases to exist about us. There’s no “energy”, there’s no “after”. There’s just darkness, but one does not have to fear it, because we won’t be able to see it. Because we won’t exist.

The life coach, who specialises in Chinese astrology, was from a much different school of thought than the neurosurgeon. He said that it is indeed true that our consciousness ceases to exist after we die. What continues to exist, isn’t conscious anymore. It’s the life energy that escapes from the body and continues to live on. If the person was bad, Hollywood has done its part to tag it as “evil spirit”, if the person was good, it’s “good spirit,” he had said jokingly. 

This explanation was even scarier because what if someone is dead, and he or she is standing beside their body, unable to communicate with anyone, just seeing their loved ones break down with sorrow. But energy does not need to have a consciousness of its own.

So, if our consciousness does cease to exist, and our life energy turns good or bad, then why do people claim to have seen ghosts in the form of people? If it were energy, there would have been just a bad feeling, right? 

Also Read: Mysteries, Paranormal Activities, Exorcisms, Possessed People, Curses: 5 Intriguing Stories of India

What Are Ghosts? 

Conceptual image of a ghost, produced with the help of VFX
Conceptual image of a ghost, produced with the help of VFX

In India, a ghost is called “Bhoot”, which means “past”. A lot of people have different interpretations of this, but I believe that ghosts are merely a projection of their past selves. Of course, assuming that they exist in the first place. 

Some of us have experienced certain things which were bad enough. An acquaintance shares their experience-

One stormy night, I woke up at 2:30 am. My window was open, and the rain was gushing in with the wind. I got up to close the window, but it was stuck. I did not know where it was stuck, but no matter how hard it pulled, it did not budge. I kept on trying, almost drenched. I did not want to wake anyone up. Then, my eyes caught something in the garage below. We live on the second floor, so everything is quite visible down below. But it wasn’t a regular night. It was a stormy night. It was dark, and none of the street lights was on. But you could make out the silhouettes of things. 

At first, there was nothing. But I got a terrible feeling. Then, I don’t know what I have actually seen, but I swear on all the holy books the world can produce, a man was standing there. At 2:30 am, amidst the torrential rain. I just stood there for long enough to make sure that it was a man. I ran back inside, got under my blanket, despite being wet, and suffered through a terrible mental breakdown that week.” 

A lot can be made of this enclosed. It might have been a thief, it might have been an illusion, a delusion, but try to convince someone scared. It is more difficult when you are having to resort to “maybes” and the other person is certain of what they saw!

If a ghost were energy, it would lack a physical body, right? If it does have a physical body and is energy then it may be capable of producing one when it thinks fit, right? Then it must have consciousness!

But it doesn’t. 

With the help of modern science and technology, a lot has been made possible. From capturing thermal videos to capturing sonic or ultrasonic waves, or any minute change in the atmosphere. A lot has been made possible to figure out whether someone is standing behind you right now, or sitting in that dark corner of the room. 

Ghosts are shown to have physical bodies in movies, but they choose to possess and use someone else’s body to fulfil their needs. 

Let’s hear the Chinese side of this, as well. After people die, they become energy. Energy does not have consciousness. Energy is simply positive or negative. It is self-evident what is implied by negative energy. A bad feeling. Bad vibes. 

A research paper was published by doctor E H Kua called “Spirit possession and healing among Chinese psychiatric patients”

The abstract of the paper goes-

This is a study of the illness behaviour of 100 Chinese psychiatric patients referred consecutively to the psychiatric unit of a general hospital in Singapore. More women than men felt that their illness was due to spirit possession, but belief in possession was not related to educational status. Thirty-six patients or their relatives had consulted a traditional healer before going to the hospital. Duration of illness, sex and educational status were not associated with the tendency to seek help from the traditional healer; there was also no significant difference between psychotic or neurotic patients. The majority of depressed patients (72%) presented with somatic complaints of chest discomfort, headache and abdominal discomfort. Somatization was not related to the educational level or sex of the patients.”

After the British Imperialist policies were imposed on China, a lot of their folk belief and culture were derogatorily categorized as being “superstition”. But even before that, if we look into the history of Chinese Shamanism, it is very much different from Japanese, or Korean counterparts. Chinese Shamanism doesn’t or didn’t involve violence, but rather believed in healing through mental care. 

What is negative energy supposed to do? Make you feel depressed. What cures it? Mental care. Although there are Chinese folk beliefs of mythical spirits like the “Fox Spirit” which possesses its victims, Feng Shui entire deals with energy, and believes that possession is simply when negative energy latches itself with its victim.

Whether it is a physical form or an invisible energy field, some people are more sensitive to it than others.

Why do some feel while others don’t?

A still image from Netflix's blockbuster show 'The Haunting of Hill house'
A still image from Netflix’s blockbuster show ‘The Haunting of Hill house’

We are going to look at three possibilities that may answer this question. The first, being of course, from the perspective of “Feng Shui”. As we’ve discussed, it’s all about energy. So, someone harbouring a lot of negative energy, maybe from the place where they live, the people they mix with, or other issues, such as childhood trauma, mental abuse. People as such are more prone to experience paranormal things. 

If you are living in darkness, then darkness is where you are. It does not merely follow you, it is where you live. 

People See What They See

Everest is one of the most dangerous places on Earth. Recently the average death toll has quadrupled
Everest is one of the most dangerous places on Earth. Recently the average death toll has quadrupled

At often times, it has been observed that those who have been through a life-threatening situation claim to have felt a presence, or seen something that did not actually exist, or happen.

In an article published by Dr Frank T. McAndrew, he claimed that he once interviewed a mountaineer, who was stuck in Mt Everest. He admitted that at night he saw a lone rescuer trying to help him, but then he fell asleep. Later he woke up at the hospital, and when he asked for the person who helped him, his rescuers answered him, they spotted him from the helicopter, and an entire group approached to help him. And it was at daybreak. Another is the story of a miner, who claims to have seen a ghost while stuck in a coal mine.

These might have been hallucinations. These might have been true. We will never get to know. But according to the research carried by Dr Frank, it is during near-death situations, when our mind receives the most amount of signals, thus making it possible to see things that are and are not there. Can it be said that during these times, a connection with the paranormal realm is formed? When our soul is in between both states, of becoming energy and continuing in the human form.

People Believe They’ve Seen, But They Haven’t

Reality shows and YouTube videos concerning ghost hunting are often proven to be fake
Reality shows and YouTube videos concerning ghost hunting are often proven to be fake

Sometimes, and more often than not, people believe that they see something. It may have been a coincidence. It may have been a shadow, an illusion. Or not. 

Most of those who believe, try to approach this conclusion before assessing all the other possible outcomes.

Sometimes, medical conditions may pertain to such sightings, sometimes it may just be the idea of being followed by someone or something that convinces the person to believe that someone or something is following them. Sometimes people just maybe lie for some personal reason.

Sometimes, there may have been an actual apperation, and we will never get to know. 

People and Beliefs

A crossing in China, which depicts that the world is a mosaic of different emotions. Of individuality
A crossing in China, which depicts that the world is a mosaic of different emotions. Of individuality

Everyone is an individual. As an individual, it is our right to have a belief of our own, and not just join the bandwagon. What if the majority is atheist? If you wish to follow a certain order, it’s your wish. 

However, mental health is as important as physical health. If someone says that they have seen something, and are genuinely scared, instead of making up possible theories about what it might have been, it is always better to try to help that person. 

Whether ghosts are true? If we knew everything we would not have been so curious, eh? What if someone is in fact sitting in that dark corner? What is something is in fact standing behind you? If you knew, it would be a death of curiosity. The curiosity which makes you turn your head. 

Alice Walker said-

What the mind doesn’t understand, It worships or fears

It doesn’t have to be that way. Everything can be explained. We just have to be patient enough to not jump to the easiest conclusion.

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