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The Cause of Hauntings?

PSI’s Dave Wood casts a glance over ‘trigger events’, those moments when people first start to think they are haunted.Pips

When a patient visits his local doctor, he or she may present with multiple symptoms or just one. They may have no idea what the cause of the problem is, they may not even have recognised it as a problem until multiple symptoms presented. Or they may have made an assumption about the underlying illness. They may have experienced this illness before, a friend or familiar member may have. They may have read about it in a magazine or seen it on the television. The role of the medical professional is to work out how the symptoms do, or do not, relate to one another and which are relevant and which erroneous.

Hauntings are similar to such medical conditions. It is fairly rare – in this century, at least – for people to think they are ‘haunted’ on the basis of one event. Until relatively recent it would be not unusual for a client to say they had simply seen an apparition. In the twenty-first century a client is far more likely to present a plethora of less dramatic symptoms. People feeling they are suffering today are far more likely to talk about cold spots, feelings of being watched, objects behaving unexpectedly and strange sounds – and probably no apparition at all.

One striking aspect of the multiple-symptom haunting is why clients feel they are haunted at all. The sighting of an apparition – if so interpreted – would probably leave little doubt in the mind of the client. However on an individual basis why would a strange feeling, or a cold spot, or losing ones keys be attributed to a haunting at all – apart from the fact that the media teaches us that these are symptoms of hauntings?

People feel all of these – or even a combination of these things – on a regular basis. Why do only a small number of people link these events together and call them a haunting?

The key to the puzzle box seems to be the idea of a ‘trigger event’. A trigger event is a single meaningful event that first places the idea of a haunting in a person’s mind. This might be someone telling you your house or place of work is haunted. It might be a particularly strange feeling, or any number of things. Put simply, the event sets the context for a haunting.

Once this trigger event has embedded the idea of the haunting in the mind of the client, it becomes a powerful influence. Subsequent – or even previous remembered – experiences are internally assessed with the haunting in mind. So each time he or she loses his keys, or feels a cold spot, or feels a bit strange the ‘ghost’ is suddenly blamed.

By the time a paranormal investigator interviews the witness a potentially impressive range of symptoms may have developed. The ethical paranormal investigator should not immediately think ‘wow, this place is really haunted!’ but should take a step back. Effective interviewing techniques can tease out the original trigger event. It is this trigger event that should be assessed and investigated most thoroughly, as there is a risk everything else could be primed misperception.

The paranormal investigator often cannot see the wood for the trees. The right focus is scientifically and ethically important.