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The Paranormal Mind: How Humans Haunt Themselves

“Micah, come quick,” she said. I could already hear the stress in my mother’s voice, and my concern was mounting as I ran out to my car, still holding my cell phone to my ear while my mother explained the strange something that had erupted out of thin air right before her eyes, and then vanished as quickly as it had appeared. 

“I have no idea what it was, just hurry,” she asked again. By now, I was already driving, and before hanging up the phone, I had worked to try and console her about the worrisome “apparition,” for lack of a better term, that had appeared in my parent’s living room. Had the otherwise quiet A-frame wooden structure, built by my father in the early 1980s, suddenly fallen victim to an inexplicable haunting? 

Once I arrived, I entered the living room to find my mother sitting on the couch with a worried expression. “So what happened?” I began.

“Whatever it was had been floating in the air,” my mother said. “It was a strange blue ball of light, and I saw it hovering right there, ” she said as she pointed in my direction. “It was precisely where you’re standing now.”

I asked my mother to describe how the “apparition” had appeared. She began to explain that as she sat enjoying a small plate of fruit after returning home from work for the day, a bright blue swirling ball of light had appeared out of the corner of her eye.

A blue apparition

“I saw it right there where you’re standing,” she said. Discussing the matter further, she told me that she was absolutely certain it had been an omen of some kind; something alerting her to trouble or ill fortune that might be occurring someplace else. “I immediately called your grandparents,” she said, expressing fear that her aging parents, both in their mid nineties, might have suddenly fallen ill. But upon making the call, albeit shaken by the odd orb of light she had seen, my mother was relieved as the mellow sound of my grandmother’s voice answered the call, assuring her from across town that both she and granddad William were fine.

I sat and spoke with my mother, who had recently also been stressed not only about her parent’s wellbeing, but a few health-related issues of her own just as well. She had recently been prescribed blood pressure medication by her doctor, and for the past several weeks had constantly been having to change her diet in order to meet the new requirements of a healthier lifestyle. Furthermore, my examination of the area where the “light” had appeared yielded no results; while I had initially been concerned about a faulty outlet nearby, or perhaps some other kind of electrical discharge that might have occurred, I could find no evidence of scorches or burns, nor any reason why an outlet nearby might have been emitting electrical sparks or other dangerous activity of the sort.

“Mom,” I confided in her finally, “I don’t doubt that you saw something,” I told her. “However, I wonder if this might not be a case of questioning whether the chicken or the egg came first.” I explained that, while she indeed may have witnessed some kind of strange, unexplained illumination, her interpretation of the phenomenon had been primarily negative. In other words, perhaps the stress her mind, and even her body had been under for the last few weeks, led her to reach an almost panicked state upon perceiving what she believed had been a ghostly apparition in the living room.

“Give it another couple of days,” I said to further comfort her. “I guarantee you’ll find that there were, in fact, no deaths or other ill fortune in conjunction with the ghost light you saw.” And as predicted, within a week all had returned to normal at the Hanks residence.

A strange blue light

The story I’m relating here is not intended to be a dismissal of the presumed appearances of strange phenomenon at various locales. While I have written extensively myself on homes that do appear to be haunted, I do often wonder if there aren’t elements that could be underlying the “popular” notion of a ghostly manifestation (i.e. that ghosts are simply “spirits of the dead”) that stem back to the individual witness. As was the case during my research into the haunting that is said to be ongoing at Reynolds Mansion, while the actual owners living on-site at the historic mansion had claimed to see very little, a number of guests at the home (now operating publicly as a bed and breakfast) have nonetheless supplied their stories of ghostly apparitions they claim to have seen at the residence. Could it indeed be that some may be capable of “seeing” a ghost more often, or even more easily, than others?

Perhaps even more important is the question of how the individual who witnesses something wholly inexplicable chooses to interpret the phenomenon; a question about one’s world view does come into play somewhat here, and it becomes something of a matter of how one’s outlook on life will tend to gravitate toward conclusions based on the apparent presence of an apparition. In my mother’s case, a strange, orb-like phenomenon she claimed to have witnessed had seemed to indicate an impending tragedy when, in reality, no such tragedy had (or was even about to) occur. Without having to doubt whether or not anything had been seen by y mother on this occasion, could it be that certain otherwise explicable phenomenon are witnessed from time to time by individuals who merely interpret the phenomenon as being evidence of something it is not? How often might this interpretation lead one to believe that a house might be haunted?


Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.
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