There are many books available that tell true stories of hauntings, but Denning's angle here is to try to view the experiences from the other side from the spirits' point of view. What are they going through? Of what does their existence consist? How might they view the living? What is the psychology of a ghost? Why do they haunt?
Few are more qualified to attempt to answer these questions than Hazel M. Denning. For over 65 years she has been investigating paranormal phenomena, and to many she is considered the grande dame of the field. Moreover, she has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and is one of the most respected past-life therapists around. In her investigations, she has also worked with some of the world's best psychics, who have been able to provide their insights into the minds and emotions of spirit world.
Traumatic deaths, for example, can sometimes trap the victim's spirit energy in the place of death. Denning experienced this firsthand when she was in her 20s in her own home. She awoke on several nights with the intense and heavy feeling of a foreign presence in her bedroom. Unexplained noises and items falling inexplicably from shelves led her to suspect that a spirit haunted the place. Research into the home's past revealed that a woman suffering from pneumonia had suffocated in the bedroom. Apparently, the poor soul did not know how to leave.
Fear, guilt and anger can be the consuming emotions that keep a spirit from moving on. The weight of these emotional burdens can even delude the spirit into thinking she is still alive. This is illustrated by the case of a house haunted by three spirits: a grown brother and sister, and her boyfriend. The brother had murdered the boyfriend and buried his body in the fireplace. After the brother and sister died, the ghosts of all three remained, resenting and tormenting any new occupants.
Comfort and vengeance
Sometimes spirits remain because they need help or resolution to a problem or situation that could not be satisfied in life. And sometimes it's to settle a score. An interesting case that Denning relates is that of a good-natured woman who would inexplicably lash out in violent outbursts. Under hypnosis, the woman began to speak in a strange voice, announcing that he was a French architect who was executed in 1692 for constructing a faulty bridge that resulted in the deaths of several people. Why did he torment this woman through possession? Because she, he said, was one of his condemning judges in a previous life.
This story has a happy ending, fortunately, but would have been been a stronger case had Denning been able to verify the architect's tale through historical records.