This article is from 2021 and may be outdated. We're working on restoring a newer version.
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.
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.
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.
According 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.
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.
On 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.
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.
For more answers and insights about ghosts, haunted places, and ghost hunting, read my book, 101 Ghost Hunting Questions, Answered. It’s FREE in Kindle Unlimited.