Can ghosts hurt people?

Ghosts can hurt people, but probably not the way you’d expect.

Generally, you have a body but the ghost doesn’t. Most of the time, a ghost cannot hurt anyone physically. Not severely, anyway.

Can ghosts hurt people? A professional says "maybe."We’re not sure how – or why – some ghosts scratch people or leave red welts on an investigator.

In over a decade of research, I’ve never been scratched or slapped in any haunted location.

But, at the Myrtles Planation, unseen hands pushed me on a stairway, and I did fall a few steps.  (I still believe that was a mischievous ghost… nothing that intended to hurt me.)

I’m sure something is scratching and hitting some ghost hunters.

How or why it happens… that’s still baffling. Either way, I still insist that most ghosts do not harm people, physically.

If someone is injured during an investigation, or a client describes repeated, physical harm, I don’t think it’s a ghost.  (I don’t mean to scare anyone, but when serious injuries occur during ghost research, it might be something demonic.)

The exception is poltergeist phenomena which may be ghostly… but it might not.

Normal Explanations

In many cases, normal things explain or contribute to the problem.

First, make certain that you and your team are safe. That’s always the highest priority.

Then, see if you can debunk whatever seemed dangerous.

  • In a house, it could be something as simple as loose or uneven floorboards.
  • Outdoors – at a haunted cemetery or battlefield – it could be a depression in the ground, a vine that’s easy to trip over, or a low branch (or thorny plant) that’s practically invisible in the dark.
  • Also, I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but if you’re in an area with biting insects, spiders, or snakes, always examine the wound. See what the marks look like, in case first aid needs to be administered, quickly.

Once you’ve studied possible physical explanation, also look for one or more of the following. They can disorient people, and it can be so subtle, the person doesn’t even realize it.

– Elevated levels of EMF from something like exposed wiring.

– Infrasound. This includes underground streams and highways — especially bridges — within a quarter mile.

– Unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide. Every home should have a carbon monoxide detector. If you’re regularly investigating abandoned buildings, a portable carbon monoxide detector should be part of your investigation kit.

– Something else that might alter perceptions and behaviors at that location. (Environmental allergies, drug reactions, etc.) Check the correlation between ghost reports at that location or in that area, against spikes in pollen and other allergens.

Is it a Poltergeist?

The subject of poltergeists is very controversial, even among those who believe.

The word poltergeist, translated literally, means “a noisy ghost.”

Poltergeist reports have included unexplained voices, knocking on walls and tables, the sound of musical instruments, and so on.

Poltergeists have been blamed for stones raining on (or inside) a house, and people being pushed, slapped, or scratched.

Ghostly assaults are unusual. Even then, it’s very rare for someone to be seriously injured.

(However, if it happens around stairs, it can be dangerous. Stay away from stairways that have a history of falls or ghostly activity.)

What are Poltergeists?

Some psychologists think that real poltergeist phenomena are self-generated. That is, the apparent victims are responsible.

aloneAccording to this theory, victims are individuals with extraordinary abilities. They can affect their own bodies, and remotely influence their environment.  (They’re grouped with people who receive stigmata.)

Other people, including me, suspect that two entities are involved.

– One is the person most consistently connected with the activity. He or she provides the energy, and – as a result – feels somewhat drained after a bout of activity. This person may not realize anything extraordinary is happening.

– The second “partner in crime” is an entity, perhaps unknown or paranormal, that makes the activity occur. That entity is, in a way, a parasite as well as the tormentor.

The two combine to manifest poltergeist activity.

How to Deal with a Poltergeist

Scientists and parapsychologists are still studying poltergeists phenomena. Patterns and answers are emerging.  No matter what your theory about poltergeists, the following  things may help.

– Treatment seems to help when it focuses on the living person most connected with the activity.

– At other times, it’s a matter of waiting for the poltergeist activity to diminish on its own.

Don’t treat the situation lightly. It’s not a “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” problem. If anyone is at risk, mentally, physically, or emotionally, take action immediately.

Analyze the situation from every possible angle, both normal and paranormal.

If the energy involves only one person, remove that person from the environment.  Don’t just escort the person outside.  He or she needs to be at least a dozen miles from the site.

Then, see if the alarming activity continues.

Test that several times.  If the activity always stops when the person is far from the site, that person is part of the activity.

You’re not likely to encounter dangerous poltergeist activity, ever.

Sure, you might witness an object flying across a room or a TV turning itself on or off, but even that is pretty rare.

What should you do if you can’t debunk the danger, and a poltergeist doesn’t seem to be the cause?

If an entity seems intent on causing deliberate physical harm – nothing playful – that might not be a ghost or a poltergeist. 

The Demon Issue

As I’ve said: generally, ghosts do not seriously injure people. They may be mischievous. Some of them might play pranks.

That’s very different from anything demonic.

If there’s any possibility that demons are involved, get professional, experienced help immediately.  That means talking with minister, priest, or other member of the clergy in real life, face-to-face.

Demonic issues are spiritual, and the clergy have spent years (often decades) studying spiritual matters, in depth.

Too many well-meaning amateurs (and a few trolls) are online, claiming to be exorcists. If someone’s life (or spiritual well-being) may be at risk, you cannot take chances.

I don’t want to scare you. Really, 99% of ghost hunters will never experience anything demonic. If I thought it was a genuine risk, I wouldn’t encourage others to get involved in paranormal research, and I wouldn’t be in this field myself.

But, if you want more information about protecting yourself from ghosts and other entities, this is the most complete guide I’ve ever read:  The Ghost Hunter’s Survival Guide: Protection Techniques for Encounters with the Paranormal, by Michelle Belanger.

Paranormal Parasites by Nick RedfernOn the other hand, if you’re fascinated by the idea of dangerous, supernatural entities, you may like Nick Redfern’s book, Paranormal Parasites.

He and I disagree heartily on many points. I don’t accept most UFO/conspiracy theories… but that’s just my view on this. I haven’t read this book, but – seeing comments left by some visitors – some people may enjoy this view of dangers in paranormal realms.

My Experiences

In over 30 years of investigating haunted locations, I have encountered some very scary, malicious entities. For example, I won’t go within 10 miles of Vale End Cemetery in Wilton, NH (USA).

I don’t think that was a ghost. I’m not sure what it was, but it didn’t fit the “ghost” profile.

Also, I’ve only been injured once. I don’t believe the injury was deliberate; it was simply a prank by a childlike spirit. And, I happened to be on a stairway when the spirit pushed me, and I lost my balance.

That happened at the Myrtles Plantation, and I believe it was a ghost.

During ghost investigations, keep this in mind: You have a more to worry about from the living than the dead.

But, that doesn’t mean ghost hunting is risk-free. You may still encounter some vicious, angry ghosts, and some of them can injure you.

Take reasonable precautions. If something alarming happens, see if you can debunk it.

But, if the physical dangers persist, leave the site immediately.

And then warn others about it, too.

Author: Fiona Broome

Fiona Broome is a paranormal researcher and author. She describes herself as a "blip analyst," since she explores odd "blips" in reality. But mostly, she investigates ghosts and haunted places.

29 thoughts on “Can ghosts hurt people?”

  1. Can you beable to tell me since my partner moved into his place weird stuff happens…just a question…most nites you see a shadowey type in the passage…then as soon as tele of clicking starts from kitchen then stereo on th a Tele starts makin like a bass noise from speaker..and last nite he was in kitchen and it felt like summin like he been scratchef or pinched…woke up this morning has got bruise on tummy…any explanation please…

    1. Hi, Jackie,

      The telly + stereo issues could be from a passing vehicle. It has to do with the radio frequencies, and it’s unusual, but not rare. I’ve witnessed it myself, many times, especially in areas where a few people own really old trucks, vans, etc.

      The pinching and scratching is a concern. My advice is to talk to a local minister about it, immediately. (Church of England ministers are fine, and many other mainstream faiths – including Catholics – are good in that field, too. It’s important to chat with someone who understands your concerns, and has some background in this.)

      Physical attacks can be dangerous and from a spirit realm, and that possibility should be ruled out first, especially if there’s a shadowy figure.

      Otherwise, that could be poltergeist activity; most reports of pinching and minor physical annoyances seem to be. (I don’t want to trivialize this. You’re the best one to decide how serious this is.) But, if it is activity we categorize as “poltergeist,” it should decrease over time.

      I hope that’s helpful.


      1. Fiona hello I used to live in a flat and was on my own watching TV as my family was out all at once apples and oranges floating around the room later missing me in time I started to sleep but was restless to find out someone was in me years on it’s still with me

        1. Margaret, that’s classic poltergeist activity. It can continue for some time, and I’m sure it’s distressing. Since poltergeists tend to “attach” themselves to people dealing with other life challenges, my best suggestion is to talk with a cognitive psychologist about this. It’s what I’d do. The more you can reduce the stress in your personal life, the fewer paranormal problems you’ll have. (I know how odd that may sound, but I’ve seen this happen over & over again.)

  2. Hi Fiona,

    I hope you’re well.

    I’m using this comment section to contact you so please feel free to delete this comment.

    Would it be possible to publish my article on your site? It’d be unique, not published anywhere before and obviously about ghosts and spirits 🙂

    Please let me know here if possible: (deleted for Oscar’s privacy)

    If you say yes, I can sand you over some ideas for an article that I have.

    Looking forward to hearing from you

    1. Hi, Oscar, and thanks for the offer. In general, I don’t publish others’ articles at my websites. But, your blog – – looks very good, so I hope people will read your articles there.

      1. No problem, I totally understand. Should you change your mind in the future then please let me know 🙂

  3. So I just recently have moved and EVERY single time I lay down in my bed it’s like a hand is reaching under the back of my pillow or there’s a hand in my mattress pushing up in my butt gently. Or touching me like just with one finger on my back… and it’s only happening to me, no one else… constantly hearing a dog panting too if I’m sitting down and awake it’s a little bit aways. But when I’m laying down covered up(including head) and the activity gets closer and a little more frequent

    1. Blake, tell it – out loud – to stop doing that. Usually, that’s enough to get the annoyances to stop.

      A stronger measure – which nearly always works – is to put a bowl of salt (I use kosher sea salt from the grocery store) in any container underneath the bed.

      However, if the problem is caused by a poltergeist, you may have to ignore it until the entity (and/or the person empowering it) gets bored and goes somewhere else to play.

  4. I recently snapped both bones in my right lower leg. Happened @4am
    I fell.Right after my leg snapped. It felt like some thing was very angry and stomped on my leg. Also, i will wake up smelling sulfur, but not every night.

    1. Sarah, what you’re describing isn’t ghostly. (The sulfur is an obvious clue: that’s definitely not ghostly.) Since the entity sounds deliberately malicious, I recommend finding a local, mainstream priest or minister who will take your concerns seriously. He or she is trained in spiritual issues including topics far beyond the scope of 99% of ghost hunters.

    1. Ray, at the level of “prank,” it could be an attempt to attract attention… the same as any person might. It’s annoying, but rarely anything to worry about.

      The problems occur if there’s risk of injury or excessive stress to those living with whatever-it-is.

      But, at this point, we’re layering guesses upon guesses. The fact is, we can use words like “ghost” and “poltergeist” and “demon” to describe the phenomena, but we don’t really know what the entities are. So, attributing a motive… that’s going way out on a limb.

      Once we’re talking about people being at risk, I think it’s important to address safety concerns, first.

      After those are resolved, the rest is speculation. Entities that want to hurt or upset people… I think the less attention we give them, the better. But, for those who want to look for motives, I suggest taking up writing. Related stories – fiction or speculative nonfiction – have an eager audience, always ready to read fresh, new tales.

  5. Okay so a friend and i went to a friends place and myself i can feel when there is spirits and or ghost or what you may call them are there as soon as i walk in.
    So we walk into the kitchen with our friends and my friend was spending it was by a window and by the stove and I felt the spirit there and then my friend she was feeling on easy and she looked up at her other friend and said don’t think I’m weird but I feel like something is touching me and it’s an uneasy feeling she didn’t like that.
    She looked at me and asked if i felt it too and i told her yes. But everytime this (man/ spirit ) touched her arm it would go numb and she will drop everything she has in her hand.and like i said i can see them and hear them i seen him trying to not let her go I really don’t know how to explain it all I know is I moved her out of the way and stood in the way of him and her he then put his hand on my back and was rubbing my back and told me that he wanted the woman that lived in that apartment dead I did like it my friend told her that she needed to get some help and then me and my other friend left and came home and the only thing I can remember after that was I stepped out the door and then that was it I snap out of whatever happened to me which I think the ghost or Spirit or Poltergeist whatever could have been attached itself to me a friend of mine was picking with me I guess when I walked in the door I just turned and looked at my friend pointed at him and said in a very evil way fuck you I don’t ever talk to him like that and ever since the man touched my back up it hurt like it hurts and like a burning way… And the only think that saved me from what ever that Spirit was trying to do to me was my husband’s father who is deceased he was cremated and we have his ashes here and he’s always here I feel him here and I soon as I snapped out of whatever happened to me when it attached itself to me my husband’s father was not here and I think he thought off that evil thing on me if you could get back to me as soon as you can I would appreciate it I really need some help

    1. Natasha, if you’re still dealing with frightening entities, you do need help… but what you’re describing sounds more like an entity masquerading as a ghost. In my opinion, you need to speak with someone in a mainstream church in your community. Ghosts don’t “attach” themselves.

      Remember, we’re arbitrarily using terms like “ghosts,” “spirits,” “entities,” and “demons” to describe different phenomena. Those terms aren’t absolute, but – as I use them – a ghost is an entity that was once a living person (or, in some cases, a pet) in our world. So far, I’ve seen nothing convincing to indicate that ghosts will deliberately and maliciously attack people.

      In general, if you don’t like what you experience at a “haunted” location – especially if it involves being touched by an entity – the best thing to do is get out of there, immediately. You might not be dealing with a ghost.

      The fact that your group stayed there long enough for your friend to be touched multiple times… that’s putting yourselves at risk. And the danger is not a ghost… it’s something else.

      My research focus includes what we call “ghosts” as well as “faeries.” They’re different kinds of entities. Of the two, ghosts are less likely to cause harm.

      My research does not delve far into demonic or malicious entities. For that kind of spiritual matter, I believe your best resource is someone who’s made a career out of spiritual studies… and that’s usually someone you already know in your community, whose full-time job is ministering to others.

  6. We see dark shadows , talking in other rooms . Cold spots in different areas of the house. One day I thought I would get a nap in and at this time it was around 8:00am I got woke up by something falling to the floor what a loud noise that woke me up and my arm was burning and Stinging I had scratches on my right arm and they was Whelped and one was bleeding. I cleaned my self up. The next two days go by and daughter had her friends stay over and one night she yells for me I go downstairs to her room and her friend had the same marks but on his stomach and back . What do you think I should do? I know there’s something here .. now it’s getting worse. I don’t know what I should do

  7. Thinking about trying to get the best proof i need … Going to a house with noise cancelling head phonez and eyes covered …. But was scared that i could get hurt badly but a ghost that wants me out …but im cant see or hear it , no fear.. Like whays the worst a ghost can do? … Probaly some great evidence

  8. I was 13 when this happend and people called me crazy but it was the back of 3am and I was just going to go to bed then I heard footsteps and I went to check my mum and das room but ther were both sleeping so I went back to my room and got back into bed and I heard the footsteps come all the way around my bed then I felt like someone or something was standing right beside me then I felt like I was getting choked and after I fell I felt really cold and I don’t know if it was in my head or what?

    1. Sophie, I’d say that was a “night terrors” episode, except that you were already awake.

      Whatever it was, it wasn’t a ghost. Ghosts don’t choke people.

      If it happens again, talk with someone at a mainstream church – someone who’ll take you seriously, and someone you trust. What you’re describing might be in a different spiritual realm than ghosts (and faeries), and outside my area of expertise.

  9. Hello Fiona, I’ve recently been feeling some strange vibes.
    1. I was getting a water bottle in a garage and we have a little space in there, and I saw a black figure in the space.
    2. I was getting some ice cream after the water bottle situation and then as soon as I open the ice cream tub I need to go do something real quick. I put the spoon perfectly balanced in the bowl. When I came back the spoon was on the floor.
    3. I was putting the spoon back when I saw a plain black figure walk by the window (He was outside).
    4. When I went to tell my parents about the news, I heard a very, very, VERY, deep voice saying “NO” and “HERE”, coming from the guest bedroom. I was freaked out. Thanks!

    1. Grayson, some of those things could be explained in normal terms. Others lean towards paranormal activity, so I think it’s appropriate to freak out about this.

      Because you’re describing black entities and deep voices, I recommend speaking with a mainstream minister about this. Find someone you trust. After all, this is (literally) a spiritual concern, and ministers (etc.) have the most training – and experience – in spiritual matters.

      Someone – in real life – needs to visit your home and evaluate whether you may have a malicious or even demonic presence. (Those are labels I use to describe phenomena and how they affect people… I don’t want this to sound like you’re in extreme danger, but it’s smart to rule that out, for everyone’s peace of mind.)

  10. Hi I did a seance in my haunted pub and we did find out who was haunting it and it was confirmed that this person died there by one of his family members but it was after the problems started
    One of my daughters got locked in the cellar and her baby wouldn’t settle at night
    The dart board fell off the wall but landed on the other side of the room against a wall
    Lights would be on in the morning
    And since then my eldest daughter after staying for a week has suffered mentally
    She sees shadows of a black wolf and visions of a man with a beard that talks to her and we often hear her saying things like ‘I’m not going to do it’ and she has took to harming herself and always tired to the point she thinks she has a mental problem
    I wondered if something in the pub could have latched on to her and been getting stronger
    Is this possible or just plain stupid

    1. Sue, it’s a reasonable question.

      It’s possible something latched onto your daughter. That’s my immediate concern. The fact that she’s harming herself and talking to a shadow (or something) is a powerful reason to get professional help, immediately.

      I recommend talking with a mental health professional and talking with a local minister you trust. Between the two of them – and particularly if they work together to help you and your family – you’re likely to cover all the possibilities.

      Do not delay. Get help immediately.

      Sincerely, Fiona

  11. (This Question is long and may need to be read more than once carefully to be understood…………)

    Can a full bodied ghost only repeat i.e do the exact same actions/things it did in its previous physical life as a living person when it appears in our living physical world?or can it/does it have the ability to do completetly different actions/things as a full bodied ghost in our living world(that it wants to do)or that it did’nt do(i.e get round to doing)when it was a living person?

    1. Ashley, in my opinion, many ghosts do exactly what they did when they were alive in our physical world. They haven’t learned the futility of that, yet, and that may be why they’re still here.

      Ghosts who remain here by choice are different. They seem to be able to do what they like. An example is “Ocean-Born Mary” of Henniker (NH, USA), who protects a house that her family lived in. In the 20th century, she actually manifested and helped firefighters extinguish a fire in the house.

      I hope that answers your question.

      Cheerfully, Fiona

  12. My daughter has came to us recently and said when she was about 4 a guy use to pick her up out of bed and throw her on the floor. Nothing in about 10 years and all of a sudden she woke up and told me it happened again and she could see him. Moving into our house we knew a guy killed himself in our garage work lots of research I found a picture of him and just randomly showed her and she said that was him. Since then he has scratched her grabbed her and last night he told her he was going to kill her. She sleeps with a rosary and a Bible under her bed. Can he really kill her does he have that power? He has shoved me kicked my bed tapped me until he woke me up even told me he wanted it whatever it is.

    1. Sarah, you need to talk with someone, preferably in the mainstream faith community, in real life. You’re describing a series of worrisome things, and each could have a different spiritual – or physical – cause. In your situation, especially with a child (even if she’s a teen), I’d go directly to the nearest inclusive, mainstream church and get their recommendations. Ghosts can’t kill anyone, but demons are dangerous, and religious symbols like a rosary and also a Bible can antagonize them. Since you’ve mentioned a rosary, I’m guessing that you’re Catholic. If so, please go speak with your local (or favorite) priest, and tell him what’s going on. Sincerely, Fiona

  13. hi! i know this isn’t much but around one year ago i was laying in bed, about to go to sleep and my back was facing the wall, and i felt like a cold long finger trace down the middle of my back (where the spine is) and it felt like it went till my hips and then just stopped. my bed and wall are directly next to each other so there is no room for anyone to be down there. another thing is, i was reading my book at about 1:30-2:30am and i heard like a “husshhh” sound from behind me and it was in like a high pitched voice and i just thought it was my breathing so i held my breath for a bit and heard it again. it repeated itself for about 3 minutes and then i just said “stop” and turned off my light and went to sleep and it didn’t happen again. is this anything paranormal or am i just being paranoid? thanks!

    1. tara, it’s difficult to know whether it was paranormal. But, since it hasn’t happened again in the past year, I think it’s best to decide it was just “something weird,” and not worry about it.

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