By Deborah Kauflin, Ph.D.
Many people believe their homes are haunted. In fact, they are downright convinced of it. Yet in a lot of cases, the ‘ghost’ is nothing more than a mixture of family trauma and negative life situations. What I mean by that is a large number of cases where homeowners believed they were haunted were actually not haunted at all. Well, they may have been haunted by a horrible life tragedy, but there was nothing paranormal going on.
You have to be careful if you think that you are being haunted. Because if you come to believe that there is a specter watching your every move, then you can become anxious, paranoid, and even frightened. I’ve worked with people who thought that they had ghosts in their homes. In reality, there was no ghost or demon. The things that they mistook for supernatural happenings were actually just everyday occurrences that were misinterpreted.
Life is hard. For some people, it is excruciating. Whether they go through a chronic painful illness which doctors seem unable to help, or they suffer from tragedy after tragedy, the trauma can be too much to handle. When this happens, the human mind searches for an explanation. Sometimes that leads them to the paranormal.
For example, Minnie was left by her cheating husband with four young children. Naturally the cheater skipped out of town and on alimony too. Minnie was overwhelmed. Then life hit her with a brick. She came down with all kinds of weird symptoms. Her eyes would go in and out of focus. She’d feel numb in her legs and arms. Sometimes, she had trouble walking. To the doctors she went, and the doctors failed her. They saw her as a middle aged woman who was malingering. In truth, she was suffering from early Multiple Sclerosis. It took several years before she found one competent doctor who was able to diagnose her.
In the meantime, Minnie had convinced herself that a bad spirit was haunting her home. The walls seemed to bang out of nowhere. Her wallet was never in the last place she left it. There was a cold spot in the dining room. Then there were those horrible dreams where something was chasing her. Because she was so stressed, every time one of these things would happen, she told her young children that an evil spirit was after them. It follows that the kids then began noticing every noise and bump, and they too, became convinced that a dark entity was stalking them.
When dinner was left in the stove too long, it was obviously the ghost. When Minnie tripped over the bathroom carpet, clearly it was the ghost. When the kids had nightmares, to them, it was a demon out to get them. Whatever goes wrong in the course of a normal day was attributed to the paranormal. And it made this family wild with fear.
They all ended up sleeping in the same room, taking turns trying to get rest so the ghost wouldn’t get them. The kids would go to school exhausted because, well, the demon had kept them up. At least in their mind it had. Their school work began to suffer, and Minnie simply collapsed. As sick as she was, she couldn’t go on and was absolutely convinced that the evil spirit had caused her divorce, her illness, and kids’ problems. Minnie’s behavior got bizarre as a result. She went so far as to run out of the bathroom with the trash when she was having her menstrual cycle. The reason? She felt if any blood was left in the house that it somehow ‘fed’ the demon. Minnie ended up having a priest come bless her home, she was so scared.
After this went on for almost a year, Minnie’s mother ended up taking the children and Minnie in. At first, every time they heard a snapping noise or bump, they would all jump with fear until Minnie’s mother reassured them that it was just the wind outside, the ice tray, or the refrigerator. It took several months of Minnie’s mother making great efforts to explain things and clam them down before they began to understand that they had not been haunted at all.
Still terrified of the whole thing, Minnie wanted her home (which had sat vacant for three months) to be tested by paranormal investigators. She wouldn’t believe her mom, but she would believe them. Investigators took a look at Minnie’s house and did several overnight stays. It didn’t take long to figure out that the bumps and bangs that the family had heard were the results of the pipes and the heating ducts moving and banging. The cold spot in the dining room? The window had been left open a tiny bit by accident. So chilly air was coming in at that spot. Minnie kept tripping on the bathroom carpet because one of the tiles underneath it had come loose. Where the tile was loose was the exact spot Minnie kept tripping on. And the nightmares were just that: nightmares. No more. No less.
Poor Minnie and her children had been so scared that they let fear override their common sense. If Minnie had investigated instead of jumping to conclusions, she and her children would not have lost a year to an unfounded terror. However, she had been horribly scarred from her divorce and disabling illness. It was too much.
After the investigation showed her that there was nothing in her home, she and the kids moved back in. With the window closed and tile fixed, there were no more cold spots or tripping accidents. The paranormal investigators had told her to have a plumber secure the pipes, which she did. Then the noises were no longer heard. Problems solved. Her son admitted to being the one who had been moving her wallet when he was sneaking dollars here and there. It was just one big mess.
Now don’t make the mistake of thinking that it is just females who have this issue. Unfortunately, there have been some scientists in the paranormal field who have painted women who have supernatural experiences as nutcases, and these scientists have done a great disservice to the field by using a broad brush. To these scientists, women who have paranormal experiences, especially poltergeist experiences, are hysterical personalities and attention seeking. While this may be true of some people (male and female) who are encountering paranormal happenings, it is certainly not true of all. This ghastly mischaracterization sets the field back. I’ve known women who have experienced actual poltergeist activity, witnessed by others, and these women are solid emotionally.
Both men and women can mistakenly come to believe that there is a ghost in their homes when nothing is there. I know of a man who became convinced that he had a demon in his house. Despite many different investigative groups over a period of years showing him that his demon consisted of his air compressor blowing, faulty wiring of his dishwasher, and raccoon families in his attic, he still walked away from the house and let it go into foreclosure. He had convinced himself that an evil spirit was after him, so to him, an evil spirit was after him.
The point is that you should never jump to the conclusion that your house is haunted. There are so many other things that it could be. Be especially careful when you suffer from illnesses or tragedies, because those things can impair your judgment. After all, if you have gone through horror after horror, it is easy to turn to the paranormal when looking for answers. People can mistakenly think that if doctors can’t help them or if several family and loved ones die in the same year, then maybe there is a dark entity making it happen. They look to the supernatural for answers because this world cannot provide them with the answers. Some illnesses are yet to be discovered. Doesn’t mean someone isn’t dealing with it right now. Doctors just don’t know what it is. And in some years, several people you love can just die. It is rare, but it does happen. Bad luck perhaps, but not bad spirit.
If you think you have a ghost in your house, then get it checked out. Have good investigators who will look at your heating/air system, pipes, windows, and other things to rule out something mundane. Whatever you do, don’t get scared when you don’t need to be. Life is too short.