Basic Types of Hauntings

Have you ever seen a ghost?


Have you ever heard someone call your name when you know no one is there? Ever seen the shadowy figure of someone out of the corner of your eye, then turn and see nothing? Or, have you ever seen someone that looks exactly like yourself, only to watch them disappear into a crowd? All these are examples of hauntings. Delving into the different types of hauntings can be a fascinating journey into the supernatural, and being able to put a name to the type of haunting you may have experienced can be useful in understanding what the origins or purpose of the haunting may be.

First of all, What is the definition of a haunting? A haunting is the presence and appearance of a ghost or spirit often with unexplained activity over a long period of time and are thought to be connected to a particular location, object, or person.

There are many different types of hauntings, and interestingly enough there are different types of ghosts or spirits.

Here we look at the different types of hauntings and what to look for.
(Disclaimer – Most of these are general theories only)

Residual Hauntings

This type of haunting is much more common than people realize.

The easiest way to explain this type of haunting is to compare it to an old film loop. Imagine an old movie tape is stuck in the VCR or DVD player for the younger crowd and the same clip keeps repeating itself. In locations where these hauntings take place, a powerful event or a series of events may be imprinted on the atmosphere. It can then suddenly pop up and play itself at random. But it’s not necessarily visual; they are often replayed as unexplained sounds. The famous “phantom footsteps” reported in many haunted locations are a perfect example of this.

How does this kind of thing happen? The sounds and images are related to traumatic events that took place at the location, causing some sort of disturbance sometimes called a “psychic impression.” This is the reason why so many battlefields have become famous for their hauntings over the years. In other situations, the images have been created by events or actions that were repeated, which caused an impression. Reputedly, that is why so many haunted staircases exist, because of the number of times people go up and down them and the amount of energy that is expended in doing so.

These kinds of haunted places act as giant storage batteries, saving up the impressions of sights and sounds from the past. As time goes by, these impressions appear again as if the VCR had been turned on. While apparitions are most commonly connected to these types of hauntings, much of the activity may be in the form of sounds, and even smells.

Traditional / Intelligent Haunting

An intelligent haunting is a haunting in which the afflicting spirit can and will interact and often communicate with the client and or investigators. This type of haunting can manifest itself in several ways. It can do this by making contact through dreams or through some sort of low-level PSI ability (i.e. by sending its thought to you). Another form of contact is an interaction between the person who is seeing a ghost and the ghost itself. One way this can be done is that the ghost will recognize that you are there and will either make a gesture towards that person or will acknowledge that person.

The other criteria to determine if it is an intelligent haunting is to determine if the ghost conscious or aware of its surroundings? This one is the hardest one to determine. You have to really look at the entire event that a person has had with the ghost and see if there is a pattern of awareness, such as the ghost randomly going from room to room, walking through a room stopping in the middle of the room and looking at you then continued walking through the room.

This type of haunting occurs sometimes, this is not the most common form of haunting but will be encountered more than most other forms.

Signs of an intelligent haunting

  • Responsive and interactive activity
  • Objects being moved or influenced
  • Random acts of paranormal activity



The term poltergeist means Noisy Ghost.

In this type of haunting the activity that occurs can be very intense. There may be loud banging noises and objects moving about the room. However, this activity is not related to spirits, but to the living. Usually the events center around a single person, usually a teenage female going through puberty, but it can also be someone in physical or emotional pain or just under a lot of stress. This person is unconsciously creating the activity themself through a subconscious form of psychokinesis called Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis (RSPK). They can make their own bed shake and make knocking sounds on the walls, because they are rebelling on a subconscious level. In more advanced cases, objects fly across the room, and you can be slapped or scratched. If you have a lot of stress or trauma in your life, it can continue and it can follow you from house to house until you solve whatever emotional problem is causing it. The activity is usually a metaphor for what is going on in the person’s life at the time. For instance, a shaking bed can be a metaphor for sexual frustration, and water dripping from the ceiling can be a metaphor for sadness. In more advanced cases, objects like stones can fall on their house. It’s believed that the things like water and stones are “pulled” there by psychokinesis. RSPK often runs in families, since it’s triggered by trauma and stress and usually if a person has experienced a lot of trauma in their life, then others in their family have too. But not everyone with trauma in their lives experiences poltergeist activity, and maybe it’s because belief might be a factor too. In many of the poltergeist cases, the human agent is someone who is at least open to the idea of ghosts. It’s also possible in a poltergeist case to see apparitions, but what’s actually happening is the human agent is telepathically projecting something from their subconscious to other people in the vicinity, since after all their subconscious is what’s causing the RSPK. This can be witnessed by multiple people at the same time, but no activity is experienced when the human agent is gone.

Poltergeist activity could be a kind of seizure that goes out instead of in.

One of the hypotheses put forward about poltergeist agents is that the RSPK may simply be, for some people, another form of epileptic seizure. In some cases where such activity was found in the brain, agents felt “better” or “relieved” after an RSPK attack, or the RSPK occurred at times in which there were no seizures.

Characteristics of a Poltergeist

  • Movement and hurling around of inanimate, often extremely heavy, objects.
  • The opening and closing of doors and windows by no visible means.
  • Unexplained noises such as voices, moans, screams, explosions, crashes, raps, thumps, scratches and knocks on floors, doors and walls, heavy footsteps, bed-shaking.
  • The breaking of household objects such as crockery.
  • The destruction of garments, the throwing of stones, rocks and dirt, bad smells, mysterious fires.
  • The appearance of pools of water on floors, the malfunctioning of electrical equipment, telephone ringing, the unexplained appearance of objects, apparitions and even physical assault.

Cumulative Energy Haunting

This is more common than residual haunting. Ever walked into a room where two people just had a bad fight and the moment you walked in you knew that something just happened? This is called Cumulative Energy haunting. Any location that has been inhabited or visited regularly will collect energies from all those who have visited it over time. Homes, apartments, hospitals, malls, will all absorb this energy. This is what gives a location its ambiance or personality. Most of the time this “energy” will go unnoticed. Some people will sense a slight mood that seems natural or the “energy” is very distinct and demanding.

Portal Haunting

A portal is a “doorway” where a ghost or a spirit can move from our world to another.

This is one of the most controversial topics in the field of the paranormal. This is the least understood type of haunting. Most ghost researchers consider this quite a way out-there idea. However, this could be why some locations are haunted when there are no reasons for it to be haunted.

There is no true way of detecting a portal. One possibility is that the location has more ghosts at the location than in a traditional haunting and they are not connected to the history of the location.

Crisis Apparitions

This may not have anything to do with a haunting or a ghost.
Crisis apparitions are usually a one-time paranormal experience, when a ghost is seen at the time of its death by family & friends as a way of saying goodbye or giving important information. For example, you’re watching T.V in your living room after visiting your mother in the hospital, and turn around to see her standing over you smiling and then she vanishes. A second later, the phone rings and when you answer, her doctor tells you she has just passed. If someone visits you more than once to give you information or comfort, that is a good sign they have progressed to your self appointed guardian angel.

Ghost Lights / Spook Lights

These are when a luminous ball of light appears in remote locations. They will sometimes react to noise and other type of lights and will appear in the same location on a regular basis. Most of the lights have been explained naturally as “earth lights” that appear near earthquake faults, water sources, swamps, and railroad tracks.

Shadowman-3Shadow People

This is a type of haunting activity that has no real explanation and are different from ghosts. They are usually shapeless dark masses mostly seen with your peripheral vision. They are known to do things that are different from ghosts. They can move between walls, they have no human features, they wear no clothes. People who encounter them, have a feeling of dread. Clairvoyants that encounter Shadow People, say they do not feel they are human and consider them non-human.

Shadow People have no discernible mouth, noses or facial expressions. Some are seen as child sized dark humanoids. Some people say they seem to be made up of dark smoke or dark steam. At times when they move, they appear to be moving on an invisible track from one place to another, such as a toy train on a small scale railroad track. They have been seen to hop or what appears to be a strange dance. They are known to stare at the floor.

Two common types of Shadow People are the ‘Hat man’, that looks like he or she is wearing a 1930’s fedora hat and the ‘hooded figure’, which looks like the shadow person has a hood over their head. The hood and hat stand out as clothing, but otherwise, they are not wearing any clothing at all.

Doppelganger Haunting

These are extremely rare and a case example is best used to explain this. The woman victim was standing on a street corner and with her peripheral vision saw the image of herself on a bus. The image of herself was staring back at her. One week later she again faced her doppelganger in a crowded mall, it stared at her and seemed to disappear amongst the mass of people. It wore the same clothes that she wore. One week later, she was diagnosed with cancer.

Doppelganger haunting activity is considered the evil twin, the harbinger of misfortune, the omen of death.

In most cases, the victim of this haunting activity is in danger with her immediate surroundings, her family or in some cases the victim themselves are in grave danger of illness or death.

These types of hauntings are just a belief or common theory among the paranormal community as of now.

“Old Hag” Syndrome

This is where a person wakes up and finds that they’re paralyzed in bed, and they either see (usually a dark shadow figure) or sense something sitting on their chest. It feels completely real to the victim at the time.

One valid theory on this is that it is a form of sleep disorder, a type of Sleep Paralysis. When you go to sleep, all the muscles in your body shut down to stop you from getting out of bed and acting out your dreams. Sleep paralysis is where you don’t wake up properly and so your muscles haven’t come back on yet, so you’re momentarily paralyzed. You can open your eyes but you’re still technically dreaming, so you can have hallucinations like the dark shadow figure (or “old hag”) sitting on your chest. For a long time people thought this was a kind of ghost, but we know now that it’s not because in different cultures people will see different things, based on their beliefs. For example, in Cambodia people will see demons instead of the shadow person; in Hawaii people will see the volcano god sitting on their chest. Some stories of alien abductions also bear resemblance to accounts of sleep paralysis. The person will awake in bed paralyzed and see gray aliens come into their room and abduct them, but it’s really all in their head. Sleep paralysis usually comes after a person has had a really stressful day, or if they just have a lot of stress or trauma in their life. It should be noted that poltergeist activity is also brought on by stress, so someone who experiences poltergeist activity may also experience sleep paralysis. It’s also possible to have sleep paralysis without the hallucinations.


Demonic Haunting

This is a religious faith based entity. Demonic infestations or “inhuman” hauntings are often debated but are one of the oldest reported types of hauntings. This often is associated with and suggests the presence of demons, which are deeply rooted in many religions. For non religious people, these types of occurrences are simply hard to believe. But ask anyone who has had a personal experiences with a demonic infestation and they will tell you that they are very real. These types are usually classified by their human (or super human) like intelligence and interaction. The entities responsible for these infestations are believed to be non human and exist on completely different plane. Demonic possession, in which the body of a human victim is “taken over” by the demon or demons responsible, is also commonly reported. These entities are often extremely violent and are known to harm it’s victims both physically and emotionally. This is why demonic infestations are feared tremendously throughout the world. The Catholic church has a number of people with the responsibility of investigating and dealing with this type of phenomenon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *