Ghosts : psychology or paranormal?

Ghosts : psychology or paranormal?

October 8, 2018 5 By Shan Ellis Williams

I don’t know if I believe in ghosts. I believe there are certain things we can’t explain. I’ve been on ghost hunts, seen and felt some very strange things. But, I’m still not sure because nothing has ever been solid enough to make it certain in my mind. As I’ve said before, I want to believe. I want to believe there is something there for us after death. But I prefer to think that it’s all our family and friends who wait for us when we come to our final breaths.

I’m a dichotomy of belief, I know because I do believe in spirit. For me ghosts and spirit are two separate entities. Your spirit is essentially what makes you, you. A soul if you wish to call it that. I hear spirit. That’s a bit weird too. It’s not something I can turn on and off. It’s just always been there. Personally, I’m open to any opinion. Both my grandmothers were religious in their own ways. One believed stoically in a heaven and hell. The other believed that her soul purpose after death was to protect her family in spirit.

Whatever your religion or belief structure, I think you have to question these things and remain open minded. Do ghosts exist?

Do ghosts exist? A poll

Recently, I ran a poll on both twitter and Facebook, and both yielded very different results. Facebook is far more open minded than twitter!


It seems that Facebook, like me, wants to believe. Only 12% of Tweeters I asked believed. I follow and am followed by many journalists and professionals, maybe a sign of the times?

I searched high and low through the UK society for Psychical research for a definition of a ghost, but all I found was many documentations and journals for hauntings, poltergeist and ‘phenomenon’.  So I tried the Collins dictionary instead:

1.  countable noun
A ghost is the spirit of a dead person that someone believes they can see or feel.
…the ghost of Marie Antoinette. [+ of]
The village is haunted by the ghosts of the dead children.
Synonyms: spirit, soul, phantom, spectre More Synonyms of ghost

2. countable noun
The ghost of something, especially of something bad that has happened, is the memory of it.
The Rams have finally laid the ghost of seasons past to rest.
…the ghost of anti-Americanism. 

3. singular noun
If there is a ghost of something, that thing is so faint or weak that it hardly exists.
He gave the ghost of a smile. 
The sun was warm and there was just a ghost of a breeze from the north-west. [+ of]
Synonyms: trace, shadow, suggestion, hint

So already the dictionary is telling me that ghost and spirit are the same thing. Are they?

What is a ghost?

There are many theories. Energy, maybe caused by a dramatic event. I have to add here my mate Gwyn Williams made a fair point of asking why are there no ghost dinosaurs. Surely extinction was a huge and devastating event? Fair question!

Imprints from history? When I was a young girl we used iron tapes to record the radio. Could iron ore in stones record dramatic events like murders or painful deaths? This is called the stone tape theory, proposed in the late seventies and explains why some events are replayed sporadically over and over. To certain extents it explains that the energy from ley lines beneath the earth also contributes to a haunting or history recording in the stones.

Is it just a trick of psychology? We rarely have any ghosts documented in plain daylight, there are a few which I will discuss later on, but is it just that we humans want to fill in the gaps in our own knowledge by interpreting natural phenomenon as paranormal? Do we see faces, where there is just a random pattern? Can we misinterpret a sheep’s bleat or random night time noise as a child’s cry? Are we more likely to encounter the ghosts of loved ones if we are feeling low and vulnerable?


My personal experiences have not proved to me that ghosts definitely exist, only left me with more questions. I read a really interesting comment on a feature in The Guardian about speculative science, here it is:

THERE IS as much scientific evidence to support the existence of ghosts as there is for black holes: pictures purporting to be of what are called black holes/ghosts exist; black holes/ghosts are claimed to have been seen by a small group of people; black holes/ghosts have observed effects on their surrounding environment (things flying through space, power drains and surges, changes in temperature); no-one has manged to capture or create a black hole/ghost for laboratory study – or indeed at all; the cause of the percieved presence of black holes/ghosts is subject to many theories – each claiming to be correct. On the other hand, is there any supernatural evidence for the existence of scientists?

Malcolm Minchin, Wokingham, Berks

Read this for some more evidence. There are photographs, videos. YouTube is full of ‘evidence’ that may or may not be real. I invited comments on my Facebook page and got some interesting opinions.

Rhona Easton commented:

Lived in a house where we saw a figure at the end of the bed. Odd things happened all the time and it was just Very weird.
After we moved out my ex mil was accosted in the street by the new occupants asking if we had ever had anything odd happen in the flat ? They went on to explain they had to have the flat blessed by their priest as the spirit in the house didn’t like her husband and kept doing things to him eg. Objects would fly across the room and hit him!
Strangely similar things happened to my now ex husband when we lived there but I always felt like someone was watching me/ looking after me. Apparently an old spinster lady occupied the flat prior to us.

Carly Berry commented:

I worked in old pubs. I’ve seen glasses fly off shelves and lettuce literally shoot across a kitchen. I also used to live in some old houses so I’ve heard things, felt things, you name it. A little girl screaming from In front of me when my daughter was in my arms was probably the scariest. I like living in a newer house with no ghostly activity now!

I want to believe!

The most unnerving thing I’ve experienced is hearing a growl in Gainsborough Old Nick theatre. I have felt things that have given me goosebumps, sent shivers down my spine and set my nerves a tingling. Do I think they were ghostly? I DON’T KNOW! That’s the bloody annoying thing! I’ve visited places where there is spirit. They don’t scare me. I can tell you exactly what’s in the house when I walk in.

What scares me is the unknown. What if the something that goes bump in the night is something I really can’t explain that’s coming after me and the kids? Or what if it’s all in my head. I often tell the kids, and this is where I’ll leave the rest to you dear reader, that the living can hurt you far more than the dead can….

My other Blogtober offerings

On Being A Witch

Momento Mori : The Book Of The Dead

My five fave horror films

A history of witchcraft : A feminists perspective


The Body Shop Drops of Youth Review



are ghosts real?

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