Ghosts and Hauntings, Introduction

ghost_on_stairsIt seems everywhere we turn we find something related to our field of study within the paranormal realm.  The ghosts and hauntings categories have gained a lot of popularity and attention here recently with Hollywood making movies about it, television shows being produced about it, and more of the general population talking about their experiences and beliefs of the paranormal as a result.  I would like to welcome you to the Ghosts & Hauntings section of the National Paranormal Society.  Here you will find that in order to research and investigate the ghost and hauntings categories of the paranormal field we must first understand what they are.

Despite what I see or hear, my experience in this field has taught me to continue with my skeptic view even though I am a believer.  I believe this mindset balances me when stepping into the researcher mode for an investigation.  Personally it is also my opinion that those of us who have gotten into the paranormal field because we have either lost a loved one that visits us or have had a unique experience know how to truly tell if something is paranormal or not because we tend to compare it our personal experience – whether it’s intentionally or not.  How do we know whether or not we are encountering a ghost or a haunting?  Just because we heard something, think we captured something on film or in a picture, or felt something does that mean it’s really a ghost or a haunting?  That is what this section is about – learning more about ghosts and hauntings.  What is a ghost?  Are there different types of ghosts?  What is a haunting?  What are the different types of hauntings?  How do I know if I am encountering a ghost or a spirit?  Is there a difference?  We have so many questions that we need a place to find these answers and so I have attempted to pull together some sources, information, articles, videos and the like to help us all with our research and investigation skills.

What is a ghost?

My experience in this field has taught me to continue with my skeptic view even though I am a believer. defines a ghost as “the soul of a dead person, a disembodied spirit imagined, usually as a vague, shadowy or evanescent form, as wandering among or haunting living persons.” defines a ghost as “a disembodied soul; especially: the soul of a dead person believed to be an inhabitant of the unseen world or to appear to the living in bodily likeness.” Merriam-Webster also gives a link to the definition of a spirit…”a supernatural being or essence; an often malevolent being that is bodiless but can become visible; specifically:  ghost; a malevolent being that enters and possesses a human being.”

But wait, I thought in our field there was a distinct different between ghosts and spirits?  How is it Merriam-Webster basically refers to them as one in the same?  Some paranormal researchers and investigators see the difference as this:

A ghost is someone who has passed on and stuck between our world and the afterlife.  They do not cross over, or go through “the light,” but they stay here for some reason – either they have unfinished business, emotional trauma, fears, or some other strong connection that holds them here.

A spirit is someone who has passed on but has gone through “the life” or crossed over into the afterlife.  As a result they are able to return to our world, the physical world, and cross back to the afterlife.  Spirits tend to be seen as guardian angels of sorts watching over us, comforting us and guiding us.

I believe there is a difference between ghosts and spirits; when we are researching and investigating, we are looking at (or for) ghosts.  We want to see how we can help them cross over and join the spirits.  As such we should always be respectful in our approaches and try to find peace for these ghosts.

Are there different types of ghosts?

In my research to find the answer to this question I have found lots of confusion.  Some believe there are different types of ghosts – orbs, ghost lights, apparitions, disembodied spirits, spirits, ectoplasm, vortex, shadow figures, poltergeist, and the list goes on.  Some believe there are different types based on personalities – don’t all living people have different personalities?  And if ghosts are dead people, it would be a given they would have different personalities!  I will let you take a look at the different links and websites provided below to form your own opinion, after all, thinking outside of the box is one of the most valuable things you can do when researching and investigating!

What is a haunting?

I have seen lots of definitions of a haunting as well as various types of hauntings so for the sake of sticking to the basics here I am going to provide you with the most general definitions.  You will find links below to other articles and websites that might provide more in-depth discussion and definitions for you.

A haunting is generally defined as “to inhabit, visit or appear in the form of a ghost or other supernatural being.”  Generally there are four different types of hauntings:  residual, intelligent, poltergeist and demonic.

What are the different types of hauntings?

Residual is generally defined as “an imprint left behind by an event with high energy that may have been extremely emotional.  The manifestations seen are not aware of your presence and will repeat their actions time and time again.”

Intelligent is generally defined as “a haunting where the entity is conscious and can interact with living witnesses.”

Poltergeist is generally defined as “an extremely rare occurrence wherein random objects are moved and sounds produced by an unseen force, the sole purpose being to draw attention to itself.  The phenomenon always involves a specific individual, frequently a child or adolescent.”

Demonic is generally defined as “a supernatural malevolent spirit that causes harm and/or extreme emotional distress.  Usually associated with foul odors, visible wounds and aversion to sacred objects.”

Sheri Collins

Sheri Collins

Assistant Executive Director Department Chair Investigation & Research Education Resource Photography & NPS Photography Team at NPS of Texas
Sheri has always had an interest in the paranormal – from watching different paranormal shows over the years to having déjà-vu experiences throughout all her life that she has tried to put an explanation to. When her dad passed away in March 2010she began her journey into the paranormal. She has had several encounters over the years since starting in the field & takes more of an “old school” approach to her research in the paranormal. She is a supporter of today’s modern technology being used on investigations & encourages the use of various tools on investigations. She is always looking for a new ‘old school’ method to try on investigations & employs the use of trigger objects in an effort to get a response. She became fascinated with the pendulum after using a set of original jailer’s keys as a trigger object on an investigation at a local historic jail & they began to sway in response to questions.She is a huge proponent of education in the paranormal field choosing to debunk things immediately by trying to recreate situations & experiment to find logical answers to things that have happened or been captured in photographs or on video in an effort to prove or disprove paranormal activity. She & her team focus on private residential cases as well as educating the public on paranormal investigation & research. You will often find them assisting & consulting with other teams on theircases. Sheri is a certified paralegal and Notary Public for the State of Texas. Her professional background includes working in the legal field, sports marketing, event coordination & business management. She serves as Assistant Executive Director of NPS and the Department Chair overseeing Photography and the NPS Photography Team. Sheri leads the Investigation & Research Education Resources for NPS which provides information, links, & articles surrounding education in the paranormal field. She also writes articles periodically for the NPS’ website that are tied to photography & education. She is one of the founders of NPS of Texas, a paranormal research & investigative team based out of Dallas, Texas.
Sheri Collins