This article is a reprint from The Hauntmasters Club, a link is provided below. I thought it was incredibly interesting and wanted to syndicate:
The composition of ghosts has been debated since the philosophy of spiritualism began in the 1840s. Even with sound arguments that ghosts are hallucinations and antiquated sermons that ghosts are demons, the most commonly purposed hypothesis is that “ghosts are energy”, but what exactly does that mean?
The book Hauntings in Time-Life’s 1989 Mysteries of the Unknown series covers the different ideas of the composition of ghosts:
One of the first hypotheses on ghosts was purposed by the spiritualist movement beginning in the 1840s. Proponents of this philosophy believe that “the soul leaves the body at death . . . Under certain circumstances; this spirit may tarry on earth instead of proceeding to the Other Side and thus may be observed as a ghost.” (Hauntings, p. 22)
The Society of Psychical Research (SPR) began investigating claims of after-death communication. According to their website, the organization was formed in 1882 “for the purpose of investigating ‘that large body of debatable phenomena designated by such terms as mesmeric, psychical and ‘spiritualistic’ . . .” (The Society of Psychical Research). Eleanor Mildred Sidgwick [(1845 – 1936)] of the Society for Psychical Research proposed that ‘objects absorb psychic impressions and then broadcast them back to people who are in the vicinity.’” (Hauntings, p. 23) This phenomenon has become known as “residual haunting” in parapsychology, where images of the past are seen but do not seem to interact or even acknowledge the still-living.
In contrast, an “intelligent haunting” is a discarnate consciousness that interacts and sometimes communicates with the still-living. To explain this, “Italian psychical researcher and spiritualist Ernesto Bozzano [(1862 – 1943)] proposed that ghosts ‘are not the souls of the dead but rather telepathic messages from their lingering bodiless minds . . .’” (Hauntings, p. 22).
Believing in multiple dimensions, “Welsh philosopher Henry Habberley Price [(1899 –1984)] proposed the ‘psychic ether’ hypothesis, stating that ‘an image born of mental activity lives on in another plane or in multiple planes . . . even after its creator has died.’” (Hauntings, p. 23)
One of the most common theories even held by some parapsychologists is that ghosts are hallucinations. Psychologist William G. Roll ‘contends that in many cases the percipient’s mental state plays an active role, unconsciously creating haunting phenomena to satisfy emotional needs.’” (Hauntings, p. 23) Cognitive neuroscience researcher Michael A. Persinger explains this theory further in a 1988 paper titled “Increased geomagnetic activity and the occurrence of bereavement hallucinations: Evidence for melatonin-mediated microseizuring in the temporal lobe” for Neuroscience Letters, and purposes levels of endogenous melatonin is greatly reduced in the brain when exposed to electromagnetic radiation, causing visual and auditory hallucinations. Hallucinations occur because of complex partial seizures (CPS). If these seizures “[occur] in the area around the hippocampus and amygdala, it may briefly evoke a memory-like image of a person that can be subjectively experienced as an apparition.” (Public Parapsychology)
Another belief is the antiquated and medieval idea that ghosts are really demons. According to a forum on a website titled “Ghosts Are Really Demons In Disguise According To The Bible Why Do You Think?” some people believe that ghosts are demons masquerading around in disguise of the deceased.
In ghost-hunting, it seems the most commonly held hypothesis is that “ghosts are energy”. One of the first books to propose that “ghosts are energy” was Ghosts: A Strange Science Book by Sylvia Funston and Joe Weissmann in 2001.
However, simply saying “ghosts are energy” is cliché. If this is so, what type of energy are they? The U.S. Energy Information Administration explains on a website titled “Forms of Energy” that there are nine forms of energy which can be classified as either potential or kinetic energy. Potential energy includes chemical, mechanic, nuclear and gravitational energy; the website Apache Installation also includes elastic energy as a form of potential energy. Kinetic energy includes radiant (including electromagnetic radiation and light energy), thermal (heat), motion, sound and electrical (including magnetic) energy. Hypothetic dark energy is its own classification.
Another platitude often proposed is that ghosts mysteriously drain batteries and even people to respond to ghost hunters. First, ghost hunters are not taking into account battery life in a digital camera is measurable by how many pictures are taken. There is a vast difference between taking photographs at a birthday party and taking them during a paranormal investigation. During the latter, over 1,000 pictures can be taken in the span of an evening. No wonder batteries seem to “drain” during an investigation. As for investigators being “drained of energy,” one may look no further than circadian rhythms, which are “A daily cycle of biological activity based on a 24-hour period and influenced by regular variations in the environment, such as the alternation of night and day.” (Dictionary.com) The textbook Psychology: an Exploration, Vol. 2 by Saundra K. Ciccarelli explains that the longer through the night someone stays awake, the more melatonin they produce. Melatonin is an endogenous hormone that plays an important role in sleep. Since most ghost-hunts take place at night, there is no wonder ghost hunters feel like they are being “drained”, as they become more and more tired.
The majority of ghost-hunters purpose that ghosts are composed of radiant energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation because of anomalous spikes of electromagnetic radiation, without taking into account geophysical variables that is most likely the cause of aberrant electromagnetic radiation.
Thank you to the author, Justin Guess, and his permission for use of the piece. The full article can be found here.