This article is from 2021 and may be outdated. We're working on restoring a newer version.
The simple answer is: Nothing happens to them. They’ve seen something that looked like a ghost. That’s all.
I’m sorry if that’s disappointing. It happens to be the truth. After decades of paranormal research, I’m used to ghosts and things that just look like ghosts.
Seeing an apparition — or any other evidence of ghosts — may change how a person reacts to ghost stories. Aside from the emotional and cognitive impact, I don’t think anything else happens to the person.
No one dies from it. The person isn’t cursed. People who see ghosts aren’t personally haunted for the rest of their lives.
If you see a ghost, that’s usually described as an apparition. An apparition usually looks like a person, or at least part of one. You might see just a torso, or just a face. The apparition might be solid, translucent (it lets light through), or nearly transparent.
Generally, the ghost appears as he or she wants to be remembered.
Few apparitions look gory, gruesome, or even elderly. When someone thinks they’ve seen something really creepy… it’s rarely a ghost.
Seeing a ghost is like witnessing any other extraordinary (but natural) event. It’s an unusual experience, like seeing the Aurora Borealis, or visiting an active volcano.
Maybe it’s memorable. Maybe the viewer would prefer to explain it as “an overactive imagination” or “the power of suggestion.”
I never try to convince someone that they’ve seen a ghost, even if I’m 99% sure they did.
Spiritual contexts make a difference.
- Seeing a ghost might be startling, particularly if the person had been a skeptic.
- To a believer, it affirms the idea of an afterlife.
We can’t prove anything, one way or the other. All we can say is: The person believes he (or she) saw something like a ghost.
That’s a personal, subjective experience.
For some people, seeing a ghost answers all their questions: Ghosts are real. After that, the individual may quit ghost hunting.
Or, the experience might trigger new questions. If so, the researcher may be even more enthusiastic about ghost hunting.
Meanwhile, nothing terrible happens to a person who’s seen a ghost. Real life is different from movies and TV shows.
And, to be honest, apparitions are extremely rare. Most ghost hunters never see a ghost… not one that they’re sure was a ghost, anyway.
You’re more likely to win the lottery.