Hauntings and Poltergeists

Multidisciplinary Perspectives


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About the Book

Few people can claim the distinction of experiencing first-hand such occurrences as hauntings and the presence of poltergeists, but countless numbers of people are fascinated by these unexplainable events. Written by the world’s most knowledgeable authorities in this field, the essays in this work promote a better understanding of the manifestations of and various reasons for hauntings and poltergeist phenomena. The experts come from such backgrounds as anthropology, history, philosophy, psychiatry, and sociology, and provide sober yet highly readable in-depth discussions of numerous ideas and rationalizations for hauntings and poltergeists, from a critical and scientific perspective. Divided into three major sections—sociocultural, physical and physiological, and psychological perspectives—this work provides an overview of each perspective and also addresses the general psychology of belief in the paranormal and how that belief relates to experiences with ghosts and poltergeists.

About the Author(s)

James Houran is a former faculty member of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine (Dept. of Psychiatry) and is currently President of 2020Skills.com (TM) at HVS International—an online assessment business for human resource screening and selection.

Rense Lange is a statistician with the Illinois State Board of Education and an adjunct faculty member of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine (Psychiatry Department).

Bibliographic Details

Edited by James Houran and Rense Lange

Foreword by John Beloff

Afterword by Gertrude Schmeidler

Format: softcover (8.5 x 11)
Pages: 336
Bibliographic Info: 68 photos, tables, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2007 [2001]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3249-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1316-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

About the Contributors      vi
Foreword by John Beloff      2
Preface      3

I: Sociocultural Perspectives      7
1. Historical Introduction: The Example of Early Modern and Nineteenth-Century England      9
2. An Experience-Centered Approach to Hauntings      18
3. The Ghost Experience in a Wider Context      41
4. The Sociological Investigation of Haunting Cases      62
5. A House That Tries to Be Haunted: Ghostly Narratives in Popular Film and Television      82

II: Physical and Physiological Perspectives      121
6. Investigations of Poltergeists and Haunts: A Review and Interpretation      123
7. Seeking Spirits in the Laboratory      164
8. Predicting the Characteristics of Haunt Phenomena from Geomagnetic Factors and Brain Sensitivity: Evidence from Field and Experimental Studies      179
9. From Haunted Brain to Haunted Science: A Cognitive Neuroscience View of Paranormal and Pseudoscientific Thought      195
10. Phantoms, Frauds, or Fantasies?      214

III: Psychological Perspectives      225
11. A New Look at Haunting and Poltergeist Phenomena: Analyzing Experiences from a Semiotic Perspective      227
12. Apparitions and Kindred Phenomena: Their Relevance to the Psychology of Paranormal Belief and Experience      248
13. Relation of Hypnosis-Specific Attitudes and Behaviors to Paranormal Beliefs and Experiences: A Technical Review      260
14. Ambiguous Stimuli Brought to Life: The Psychological Dynamics of Hauntings and Poltergeists      280

Afterword by Gertrude R. Schmeidler      307
Bibliography      310
Index      329

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Provides a multidisciplinary collection of articles…provocative…. All collections supporting study in this area of psychology”—Choice
  • “Very important…essential and indispensable”—Cuadernos de Parapsicologia
  • “Should be on the shelves of anyone with a serious interest in the topic of ghosts and poltergeists, whether the reader is a skeptic, agnostic or believer…fascinating…Editors Houran and Lange have done a good job in assembling the contributing authors into a coherent presentation of the field…a very valuable and extensive bibliography”—Australian Journal of Parapsychology
  • “Fascinating…very good…a lot of very interesting and potentially useful information”—Morbid Curiosity
  • “This book presents a thoughtful, well-balanced investigation of a subject that should be of vital interest to all of us”—The Journal of Parapsychology
  • “Meaty tome”—Fortean Times
  • “Most interesting…readable and complete”—Baywood Reprints
  • “Drawn together todays leading experts…required reading…an extremely useful update on the state of the science…excellent…important”—Journal of Scientific Exploration
  • “Sets a benchmark for the study of the supernatural in mind and culture…an admirable model to guide future scholarship of extranormal belief”—Thomas E. Bullard, Indiana University
  • “Destined to become a classic of parapsychological literature…highly recommended!”—Harvey J. Irwin, University of New England (Australia)