How is a haunting different than poltergeist activity? Can there be a connection?
As mentioned above, a haunting is information recorded into the environment. This information, like the experience caused by an apparition, has a very subjective and perceptual component. Not everyone experiences something in a haunted place, and those that do may experience slightly different perceptions.
On the other hand, poltergeist activity involves physical effects that can be witnessed by anyone looking in the right direction (and can be videotaped, photographed and otherwise recorded).
Poltergeist, while it literally means "noisy ghost," has come to represent a different model altogether from a parapsychological perspective. In poltergeist cases, physical effects are the central theme. These effects can run from movements and levitations and appearances/disappearances of objects to unusual behavior of electrical appliances, from unexplained knockings and other sounds to temperature changes, with all combinations possible as well. Rarely are ghostly figures or voices seen or heard (though not out of the question).
In poltergeist cases, physical effects can run from movements and levitations
disappearances of objects to unusual behavior of electrical appliances, from unexplained knockings and other sounds to temperature changes. The poltergeist scenario as a telekinetic temper tantrum.
So what causes poltergeist activity?
The poltergeist model is that of a situation caused by the subconscious mind of a living agent, generally someone in the household undergoing emotional and/or psychological stress. The agents are people who typically have no method of dealing with the stress on any normal level, so the subconscious takes advantage of the psychokinetic (mind over matter) ability we all have to blow off steam. In other words, you can think of the poltergeist scenario as a telekinetic temper tantrum.
Often the physical things affected in a poltergeist case can be used as clues to determine what's bothering the poltergeist agent (who can be divined, typically, by looking at who is around during all the events). The objects affected may belong to one particular individual in the household, or representative of a role of one of the family. For example, if a husband doesn't want his wife to work, instead asking her to stay home with the new baby (and effectively "in the kitchen"), kitchen appliances may act strangely when the subject is brought up in discussion. Water bursts may be representative of pent-up guilt.
Poltergeist cases have, on rare occasion, also provided visual apparitions, though these are generally distorted, archetypal or even monstrous. In other words, you don't get a basic human ghost, but some other projection of stress, guilt, anger, fear or frustration from the subconscious - a projection that is telepathically sent out to others in the household. (Note: For an ultimate expression of a "monster from the Id" rent or buy the fantastic science fiction film Forbidden Planet; it stars Leslie Nielson before he was funny).
In poltergeist cases, unlike hauntings and apparitions, we don't typically get unusual photos or effects on a magnetic field detector (magnetometer). However, because we are dealing with psychokinesis (PK), and because PK works on many levels, it would not be unlikely for the agent's PK to affect film (like the photo-psychic abilities of Ted Serios) or the magnetometers themselves.
Can poltergeist activity occur with an apparition or a haunting?
Interestingly, many of our cases can have spillover from one category to another. In some fairly rare cases, apparitions have learned to move objects, though they rarely do it with the destructive energy of poltergeist cases (guess they're not too stressed out).
In some haunting cases, the haunt itself triggers something in the witnesses, apparently activating their PK on a subconscious level, and things move. This is rare, but not too rare.
And we have had cases in which an apparition existed in a place that also had "recorded" a past, unrelated event (unrelated to the apparition). I also know of cases in which so much was subjectively experienced (apparitional and haunting phenomena) that the stress of being in the situation caused one or more people in the house to become poltergeist agents.
When we investigate (and try to help folks in their situations), we often have to tease apart not only what's normal from what's paranormal, but also what kind of phenomena we are actually dealing with.
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