Monday, July 23, 2012
What Causes Poltergiest Activity?
Poltergeist activity has historically been some of the most interesting supernatural activity. Take, for example, stone throwing poltergeists. Stone-throwing poltergeist phenomena cases date back, at least, to 530 CE when it was recorded that Deacon Helpidium, King Theodoric of the Ostrogoths’ physician, was besieged by stones. One of the more interesting cases of stone throwing poltergeist activity is the Grottendieck case. In 1903, a Dutch engineer living in Indonesia, Grottendieck, awoke to a storm of rocks falling through the roof of his hut and hitting him on the head. Grottendieck was perplexed, but the serving boy was horrified and he ran away into the jungle.
No sooner had the boy fled than the rocks stopped falling. Grottendieck saved several of the stones. Grottendieck published a story on this incident in the Journal of the Society of Psychical Research. His hypothesis was that the stones had been sent by the ghost of his dead sister who was trying to communicate with him from beyond the grave. Many other researchers disagreed and believed that the rocks were a product of poltergeist activity brought on by the serving boy's subconscious mind. There was never any consensus on the cause of this strange case and people still conjecture as to what might have caused the strange falling stones.
This disagreement on the cause of poltergeist activity in general persists to this day. People don't seem to entirely know what causes poltergeist activity. There are three main theories on what causes poltergeist activity.
The first theory is the most obvious. This is that a particularly hostile spirit is causing the activity. In the infamous Bell Witch case from Adams, Tennessee, Betsy Adams was tortured by a malignant spirit that they called the Bell Witch. Betsy Adams attacker was aggressive and hurt her and those close to her physically. Betsy eventually died of her injuries. In this case, the belief was that a hostile spirit in the form of the Bell Witch was causing the moving objects and the harm to young Ms. Adams.
The second theory is less obvious but can be seen as possible in both the Grottendieck case and the Bell Witch case. Poltergeist cases usually seem to center around one person. The activity only occurs when that person is present and the harm occurs only to those within proximity of the target person. In the Adams case, it was Betsy who was the center of activity. In the Grottendieck case, the young serving boy was the center. Those who have observed this argue that poltergeist activity is caused by psychokinetic activity of the target person. Here is a quote from Wikipedia on the subject that I think sums up this theory very well:
"In parapsychology, Nandor Fodor proposed that poltergeist disturbances were caused by human agents suffering from some form of emotional stress or tension. William G. Roll studied 116 different poltergeist cases and found that the agents were often children or teenagers, and supposed that recurrent neuronal discharges resulting in epileptic symptoms may cause recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis (RSPK), which would affect the person's surroundings."
Of course the last theory of poltergeist activity needs to be mentioned. It is the belief that all of these cases are pranks or hoaxes. I don't think I need to discuss this too deeply because it is the obvious belief of all skeptics.
So it is hard to say what causes poltergeist activity in the end. I tend to believe Fodor. My childhood home was filled with poltergeist activity when I was young. Keys moved across the table on their own. Our ping pong table was crushed. Stack of boxes migrated. My father, an engineer who thinks the paranormal is utter nonsense, has never been able to explain these events despite all of his logic and engineering knowledge. The events began when my sister fell into a depression and ended when she left the house.
I am always open to other explanations of poltergeist activity, but I tend to believe the person centered theory.