THE EXISTENCE of “ghosts” and “ghouls” remains a mystery to many. Some claim they are creatures of faith and fear. Others say they reveal a reality we resist to see.

Throwing light into the shadows, the Varsitarian hunts for answers from the numerous accounts of these so-called “beings from the grave.” Are they from the unchartered realms of the spirits, or are they creatures of our brains?

Beings of the mind

Some scientists and doctors dismiss reports of ghosts as uncanny and scientifically explainable.

For instance, most people see “ghosts” at their sides, at the corner of their eyes. According to American psychic Ellie Crystal, this is because ghost sights are just the work of the eye’s peripheral vision, which is rich with motion-sensitive rod cells. This can fool a seer into thinking that he is actually seeing a ghost, when in fact, it could only be a randomly moving body, say a firefly passing by.

In the Skeptic Dictionary, Robert Todd Carroll attributes ghostly sightings to the psychological phenomenon called pareidolia, which occurs mostly at night when vision is obscured. Carroll said that an image is perceived mistakenly, just like when people think that they can see an image of Jesus Christ on a burnt tortilla chip.

Meanwhile, hearing ghostly moans of disgruntled spirits at night might be due to the auditory phenomenon called apophenia, or hearing unexplainable sound patterns that in reality does not exist.

In an interview with MSNBC.com, Psychologist and New York University Prof. James Alcock stated that appliances, like showers or teapots, emit a broad spectrum of sounds. The ear, being highly sensitive, picks a certain sound from this spectrum. The sound singled out may be interpreted as plights or moans, which people might think as calls from the grave.

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In an interview with BBC.com, Dr. Richard Lord, acoustic engineer of Britain’s National Physical Laboratory, and Prof. Richard Wiseman, an experimental psychologist of the University of Hertfordshire, connect the thought of hearing ghostly plights to infrasound, or frequencies lower than 20 hertz, sounds too low to be detected by the ear. These sounds give a feeling of some ‘presence’ within a room.

Some believe in the paranormal existence through electromagnetic field (EMF) detectors, but their skeptic counterparts insist that these are only EMF anomalies. Readings mostly register near electronic devices or appliances so the investigators are detecting electricity, not ghosts.

Meanwhile, sociologist Antonino Tobias IV of the Faculty of Arts and Letters believes that it is culture that shapes paranormal beliefs, especially mythical creatures.

He said that the country’s cross-culture plays a role on tales of earthly elementals such as the tikbalang, which bears a horse’s head and a man’s body. He said that it is a Filipino derivation of the centaur.

Tobias said that the aswang folklore can be attributed to a political move used by the Spanish when they took over the country, to spread fear of the babaylans or native priestesses.

To see is to believe

But seeing is believing, especially to those who have been blessed with a “third eye.”

A clairvoyant and member of the University of the Philippines Paranormal Society, Sharon Navera-Gonzales, frequents the University for “spirit questing.” Gonzales believes that susceptible or highly-sensitive persons who feel ghost ‘presences’ have the tendency to sense more manifestations as they grow old.

“The person’s level of development and her choice to see are significant factors,” Gonzales told the Varsitarian. “People harboring strong yet repressed emotions like depression tend to see ghosts too.”

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Gonzales said that her susceptibility to ghostly presences led to the opening of her extra-sensory perception (ESP) or third eye when she was only five, mistaking a ghost for a playmate.

However condescending the term “third eye” may be, she said that “having it does not necessarily mean possessing an extra sense.

“ESP or third eye is perception without sensory process. But nevertheless, it revolves around the function of the five senses,” she said.

Gonzales categorizes ESP into three: precognition, telekinesis, and clairvoyance. Among these three, clairvoyance is the most common.

Clairvoyance is the ability to perceive images and energies not normally perceptible to humans. These images and energies take many forms, such as apparitions, which are commonly transparent and disappear quickly as they appear; phantoms, which resemble the living until they walk through walls or vanish; and poltergeists or active spirits, which are often noisy and disgruntled.

As to why these different ghosts appear to a chosen few, Jaime Licauco, who deals with paranormal phenomena, said that most of them “only wish for prayers to be elevated to a higher plane of consciousness.”

“They respond positively to sincere acts of prayer and spiritual assistance from the living,” he said. Licauco echoes the Catholic doctrine of praying for the dead so they can “rest in peace.”

Some ghosts, like murder victims, communicate with their loved ones or even mediums to ensure that their offenders are detained and justice is served.

Licauco added that most ghosts are harmless and oblivious to the fact that they are dead, so they continue to roam the earth.

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Whether driven by motive or just clueless of their death, ghosts present themselves through three ways of hauntings: residual haunting, which is more of a ‘film loop’ or a memory that repeats; psi-projection, or movement brought about by psychokinetic abilities of surrounding people such as psychics; and “genuine haunting” or interaction with the living.

These types of hauntings are usually identified through EMF detectors, as ghosts are believed to be made up of electromagnetic or static electricity. Parapsychologist Dr. Andrew Nichols of Discovery Channel’s Ghost Detective series is one of the many “scientific” ghost hunters who use these gadgets in his quests.

“There is a strong correlation between low-frequency EMF activity and ghost activity. It affects the brain of people who are sensitive to these, jumpstarting their psychic abilities and allowing them to perceive ghosts,” Nichols said.

With their penchant for the paranormal, Filipinos have a stronger tendency to believe in visiting spirits. Perhaps science will find a way for us to grapple in the darkness of spooky secrets, and make the paranormal finally normal. Raychel Ria C. Agramon

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi!
    I believe that “my ghost” haunting is by residual haunting or like a film loop or a memory that repeats? Can you elaborate on this way of haunting? so I can assess if there is really a ghost haunting me or it’s just a figment of my imagination? Also, please help me how to get rid of this kind of a ghost?
    Thanks.

  2. Hi im ace of san pedro, laguna.. naka meet po ako ng psychic she said that my ability is weakening… what shoul i do????? hindi ko na xa nakausap after that eh… my visions din po ako usually pag nag fo-focus ako and hot palm po ako lagi…. pls help me…… thanks i post my number….09336279048

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