New psychological research indicates paranormal experiences are the norm, not the exception
A new study published in Spirituality in clinical practice explains that a person who experiences hauntings and ghostly experiences may have “haunted person syndrome”.
“Obsessives are complex, intertwined phenomena involving personality, ideology, culture, and prior experience to make sense of an event or series of events deemed to be haunting,” says psychologist Brian Laythe.
Contributors Jim Houran and Brian Laythe, along with other colleagues, recently completed a five-year research program that resulted in twenty peer-reviewed research articles and their recent book, “Ghosted.”
Their main goal was to use research to better understand hauntings and related paranormal phenomena.
One of the main theories developed from this research was haunted person syndrome.
Laythe and Houran propose four main features of haunted person syndrome, namely:
- The creation of meaning or the narrative created around haunting experiences is influenced by personal background, beliefs, and personality characteristics
- Anxiety and distress about hauntings are a function of the nature, proximity, and spontaneity of abnormal experiences
- Distress and unease make abnormal experiences more likely to occur
- Abnormal experiences tend to be contagious, meaning they can spread to others
According to the researchers, many reports of hauntings and the people involved in them can be understood by treating the events as “symptoms.”
“Like flu symptoms, the severity of diagnosis is a function of the degree and infrequency of symptoms and their duration,” says Laythe.
Another important predictor of abnormal experiences is “transliminality.” As a concept, transliminality refers to the boundary between the conscious self and the unconscious self, as well as the external environment. In parapsychological research, it has been associated with extra-sensory perception, out-of-body experiences, and visionary-type experiences in general.
In trying to understand the factors that prepare an individual for a haunting episode, researchers have found that hauntings are almost always a mix of the right person in the right environment.
Researchers also draw attention to the pressing need to recognize and treat ghostly or paranormal experiences as real.
Laythe points out that ghostly episodes, shamanic experiences, and general high strangeness have been well documented throughout history. Moreover, more than 100 years of modern empirical psychology show that they do not disappear despite changes in the zeitgeist of society.
Therefore, the people who have them should take the experiences seriously (and should be taken seriously), as the model of haunted-person syndrome suggests that the nature of such experiences can be shocking and sometimes anxiety-provoking for the individual. Any denial of such experiences is not beneficial to an individual’s well-being.
“Health professionals certainly don’t tell people with anxiety or depression that their experiences aren’t real or valid,” Laythe points out. “At the very least, haunted-person syndrome is a commonly experienced cross-cultural phenomenon and should be treated as such.”
For anyone who has experienced a haunting and might have a hard time coming to terms with it, Laythe has this advice:
“In these kinds of experiences, it’s often helpful to know that your experience is not uncommon and has predictable elements to it,” he explains.
According to Laythe, whether people choose to interpret anomalous experiences as “paranormal” or not, they don’t have to feel alone or crazy for having had them for the following reasons:
- Having a single paranormal experience is extremely unlikely. According to previous research, long stories of a variety of subtle and sometimes overt paranormal experiences are common.
- Abnormal phenomena tend to be both subjective and objective. Internal aspects of experience include felt presences, or somatic touches or marks, while external aspects include moving objects or apparitions picked up by technology.
“Obviously, this is the most controversial feature of the haunted person syndrome, but we note that our model remains predictive regardless of the reader’s personal preference for mainstream or paranormal explanations,” Laythe clarifies.
In the future, researchers hope to begin exploring transliminality in the context of religious and ritual practitioners, who regularly and deliberately invoke these types of phenomena.
“We strongly suspect that these groups developed significant mental processes and methods to facilitate their transliminality toward spiritual/experimental goals,” Laythe explains. “In addition, we hope to further test and confirm the haunted person syndrome model, both in case studies, as well as by collaborating with clinical psychologists to determine how to include and incorporate haunting and religious experiences into experiences. meaningful and beneficial therapies.”
A full interview with Brian Laythe discussing his research can be found here: Here’s what you need to know to see ghosts and other haunting experiences