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Signs and Symptoms of a Haunting: Am I Being Haunted?


A common question people ask about ghosts is related to the typical signs and symptoms of a haunting. People generally ask: "How do I know I am really experiencing a haunting," or “how do I know that what I am experiencing is related to paranormal activity?” The answer to the latter question can be rather complex; a number of elements need to be examined in order to determine the existence of a legitimate haunting, and there are a number of common signs and symptoms of a haunting that seem to turn up again and again in reported cases of paranormal activity. Further, a haunting can only be determined through the processes of observation, documentation, evidence analysis, and rational deduction. Such processes may seem tedious and may sometimes feel like a "wait and see approach" to determining the legitimacy of one’s experience, but each process is essential in establishing whether or not an experience can be identified as a true haunting.

First, it is important to note all observations, and/or sensations. Observation is the main investigative technique used by paranormal investigators to determine the legitimacy of reported activity: it is used in collecting data, and analyzing evidence.

What specifically should one look for when trying to determine if they are haunted? The signs of a haunting include, but are not limited to auditory experiences, visual experiences, and physical as well as environmental experiences. Our team strongly recommends to those individuals that believe that they may be experiencing a haunting that all experiences be documented as fast as time will allow so that the human memory does not hinder the truth in reporting paranormal experiences to investigation teams in the future, should a team be called into investigate a location. Below is a breakdown of the different, yet common elements, often reported in hauntings, or in cases where paranormal activity is suspect.

~ Auditory Experiences ~


Whispers: individuals reporting paranormal activity commonly complain about hearing whispering voices, sometimes discernable and sometimes not. Interestingly, many electronic voice phenomena (EVPS) captures contain whispering voices that are in response to the questions posed by paranormal investigators during an investigation.

Recognized voices: : sometimes individuals report hearing voices of someone that he or she knows, but the person the voice is associated with isn't present at the location at the time the voices are heard, or the individual that was heard did not actually speak at the time that the voices were recognized.

Unrecognized voices: some voices are heard with amazing clarity at a haunting or a site that has paranormal activity. This of course causes some concern for the paranormal investigator, because in some mental illnesses, auditory hallucinations are possible, and the investigator will need to rule out the possibility that an individual is experiencing auditory hallucinations.

Calling Ghost Phenomena: the latter phenomenon involves hearing one’s name called when no one else is present at a location or when no one called out an individual’s name; this is often referred to as the "calling ghost phenomena." For more information about the calling ghost phenomena, read our article about calling ghosts.

Rapping and banging: unexplained banging, rapping, and strange sounds are commonly reported by individuals experiencing paranormal phenomena. Rapping and banging are also commonly reported on sites experiencing poltergeist activity. For more information about poltergeists, read our article about poltergeist activity.

Sounds of movement: Unexplained sounds can be just about anything that an individual hears but cannot later be explain away with a logical source for the sound produced. Such sounds can include the sounds of glass breaking, footsteps, floors creaking, doors slamming, and the sound of furniture moving when no one is present to cause such noise. Further, in many instances, when the individual checks out the location where the sound is coming from, when paranormal activity is present, there is usually no sign of disturbance in the area whatsoever. However, that is not true in every case and must be examined on a case-by-case basis.

Phantom phone calls: these phone calls are sometimes reported by individuals who are experiencing a haunting and consist of an individual receiving a phone call from a deceased individual. When an individual actually receives a phantom phone call, it may sound as if the individual on the other end of the line is quite clear in terms of clarity, but the individual fails to respond to the individual that has answered the phone, or the caller speaks at the call recipient and not directly to them. Other phantom phone calls may sound static-sounding, while still others may sound like a vacuum sound. Usually attempts to trace the call via caller identification methods fail to provide any information about the call or where it came from.

Unexplained scratching noises: In some instances, individuals will report hearing scratching noises coming from various areas of a location. Scratching noises, like all other reported noises, need to be examined carefully to determine if they can be ruled out and explained by mundane experiences. Sometimes mice and small animals can get into walls and ceilings and produce similar sounds.

~ Physical and Environmental Experiences ~


Cold and hot spots in a location: Temperature fluctuations without mundane explanation or that cannot be attributed to drafts, open windows, heating and cooling sources and the like, are sometimes detected in locations with paranormal activity, and are therefore included in the various signs and symptoms of a haunting. Cold spots, in theory, are attributed to spirits draining the environment of energy so that the spirit can act or manifest. In contrast, hot spots, in theory, are indication that a spirit has recently manifested or is preparing to manifest in a certain location. Cold and hot spots in haunted locations are detected with digital thermometers after being compared to base readings collected at the location.

Unusual plumbing problems: Many haunted sites experience issues with plumbing, for example, some homeowner's or business owners experience trouble with toilets flushing by themselves, pipes leaking, and faucets turning on and off without aid. Issues with plumbing may have something to do with the fact that paranormal activity has been noted to occur with frequency near large bodies of water, and that, in some theories, water acts as a conduit for paranormal activity.

Odors from an unexplained origin: Both good and bad smells have been reported by individuals claiming to experience paranormal activity. Some reports indicate smelling things like cigar smoke, or perfume at a site, while other reports include smelling things like sulfur, smoke, or something foul. The key here is that nothing of the mundane can explain the origins of the smells when they are detected.

Unusual or unexplained physical and/or emotional feelings: Many of our cases have revealed reports where our clients experience being touched by something that cannot be seen, either lightly or with more aggression. In addition, clients frequently report the sensation of being watched by something unseen and the latter assertion is not in conjunction with any form of paranoia.

Physical attacks: In extreme cases, some of our clients have reported being physically attacked by something unseen. Attacks can include being shoved, pushed, slapped, kicked, scratched, or bitten.

Animals behaving strangely: people are not seemingly alone when it comes to experiencing the paranormal; many animals living in haunted locations or locations where activity occurs also experience paranormal activity.

Physical illness with no medical relief or reason: In some cases, individuals will report having the sudden onset of rare illnesses, or un-diagnosable ailments after moving into a location that is paranormally active. Lesser signs of illness are also reported and include sleep disturbances, fatigue, and general malaise with little or no relief while in the location in question. When the individual is free of the location however, the latter symptoms either fade or disappear all together.

Sleep paralysis: Certain instances of sleep paralysis may be associated with paranormal activity. Some reports shared with us indicate that there is a common factor with the experience of sleep paralysis, where the individual’s body is temporarily paralyzed immediately upon waking.

Frequent nightmares or night terrors: nightmares tend to increase, as well as instances of night terrors in children, instances of sleep walking, and other sleep disturbances also increase with paranormal activity in many cases. The frequency of nightmares may be attributed to stress and anxiety on the behalf of the client, or it can also be attributed to the workings of negative energies in the vicinity.

Frequent insomnia: some clients report having difficulty with sleep or they report a pattern of interrupted sleep, which is worse than getting no sleep at all. The individual is left tired, drained, and worst of all, vulnerable to any energies in the location where paranormal activity is present.

Sudden unexplainable activity after recent remodeling of the location: A large number of the sites we have investigated, as well as sites investigated by other paranormal investigators in the field, have been remodeled prior to the commencement of strange, unexplained activity. Some theories suggest that remodeling and paranormal activity is inextricably linked, and one theory suggests that any spirits/entities attached to a location are displeased with the changes that remodeling produces so they act out accordingly. Meanwhile, other theories suggest that remodeling creates noise disturbances, and therefore is simultaneously creating vibrational disturbances as well.

~ Other Unexplainable Experiences ~


Electrical appliances turning on and off by themselves: When activity begins to increase at a location, in many instances the electrical appliances will either turn on by themselves, off by themselves or both. On the same token, many electronic instruments and other electrical devices fail to work during random intervals, and such failure to operate cannot be attributed to anything mundane like faulty wiring.

The rapid and repeated burn out of batteries and/or light bulbs: Batteries tend to drain quickly in places where paranormal activity is occurring, and light bulbs will burn out with great frequency. The theory behind the latter events suggests that spirits are draining the energy sources from electrical items and batteries to act and/or manifest.

Items being moved by an unseen force: Witnesses to paranormal activity sometimes report seeing items move without anything in the physical plain to aid the objects’ movements.

Objects that come up missing and then appear in a strange location: In a number of cases our team has investigated, clients have reported their personal belongings coming up missing without explanation. Everything from car keys, to jewelry, to money has been reported as suddenly missing, and later, the items turn up in unexpected places like beneath the burner on the kitchen stove or some other unusual location.

Strange objects appear out of nowhere or in unexplainable locations: In some instances, clients may discover strange items that were not in the home before and cannot explain how the items got into the home. Coins, jewelry, pictures, letters, and other items are sometimes found. Sometimes, the latter objects are found when the home is remodeled, inside the ceiling and walls of the location.

Doors opening and closing by themselves: Doors may open and close by themselves without human aid. The latter report is suspect if the door is installed improperly or if the doors do not open and close the way they should in the first place.

Frequent mechanical failures: Electronic equipment that frequently and suddenly does not work, despite it being of good working condition or despite the fact that new batteries have been put into the electronic item: may be an indication of paranormal activity.

One or more rooms being significantly colder than other rooms in the house: Unexplained room temperatures that are not associated with poor heating or insufficient insulation, drafts, or other mundane causes are common in reported hauntings.

One or more individuals in a group may experience a strange occurrence when others experience nothing at all out of the ordinary: Sometimes, in areas that have activity, the entity or spirit responsible for the activity will focus in on an individual at the location and only act and/or manifest in front of that individual. Often times this is the case when negative energies or entities are present, and the theory behind the latter act suggests that the entity or spirit is seeking to break down or weaken the individual’s will or to make the individual anxious and stressed via purposefully established isolation.

~ Visual Experiences ~


Mists and fogs appearing: Mists and fogs are sometimes reported. They must not be mistaken for the sighting of one’s breathe in colder weather or in colder temperatures, and they should not be able to be attributed to smoke or other environmental factors.

Apparitions: both partial and full apparitions are reported in some hauntings. Some apparitions appear only once and are never seen again, and in some cases, individuals may see an apparition at certain times or on specific days repeatedly. Seeing orbs with without the aid of equipment: usually orbs are not seen with the without equipment use, and only appear on camera. However, there have been several cases where orbs of light have been seen by claimants and reported to our team.

Fleeting shadows out of the corner of one's eye: the latter event is sometimes referred to as “shadow beings” or “shadow people,” and the shadows are usually seen from a skewed angle, and are rarely reported with being seen head on. This is sometimes also associated with shadows being cast from an unknown source.

It is important to remember that it is not necessary in any case for an individual or family to experience all of the signs and symptoms of a haunting or paranormal activity mentioned above in order for the individual or family to be experiencing a valid haunting or paranormal occurrence, and that every experience is different. Further, paranormal activity is in no way an exact science, and it is impossible to predict what may occur at any given, active location. The above signs and symptoms of a haunting/paranormal event are for general use and consideration only.

While considering your experiences and comparing them to the above lists of haunting/paranormal commonalities, it is a good idea to write down all experiences. If the experiences have happened previously, then document them to the best of your ability. If the experience is recent or immediate, we suggest you note them straight away and to be as descriptive as possible. Note the time of day, the date, what you were doing before the questionable incident occurred, what specifically happened, who was present when it happened, and what you did immediately afterward. It is also recommended that you note the weather and the moon phases as well. Such notations will prove invaluable--not only to yourself as a form of self-validation, but should you consider calling in an investigative team later, your notes may provide evidence that correlates to the evidence the team may or may not capture later. For more information about why the act of documenting paranormal experiences is so important, review our article, “Journaling Paranormal Experiences.” Finally, you may want to do some research on the history of the location in question. The history of the house or land may provide insight into current occurrences and historical references can be found in local libraries as well as on the Internet.

Now that you have noted your experiences and observations, before you call in the ghost investigators there is one more thing you need to do. Analyze your observations by using rational deduction. Can any of your experiences be logically explained? For instance, have you perhaps been experiencing a lot of insomnia, while at the same time, you have been over-using caffeine? Alternatively, maybe you feel like you are being watched all the time. Have you given any consideration to the fact that you may be experiencing paranoia? Perhaps you can explain away nightmares with the fact that you are under a lot of stress or you may be able to explain their occurrence from a new medication you are not accustomed to. Once we have written off the explainable, if there is anything left that is unexplainable, then perhaps you are experiencing a haunting or a paranormal event.

Once everything has been documented and you have thoroughly and rationally viewed your situation and there still remains unexplained activity, you may want to contact someone knowledgeable from your religious affiliation, or you may want to call in an investigative team. Keep in mind however, that in regard to paranormal activity, unfortunately there are no guarantees that you will find a resolution to your situation.

There are many good paranormal investigators all over the world and they can be easily found on the Internet. If you or anyone you know requires an investigation, these teams will be more than happy to help, and many perform their services free of charge. If you live in the New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont area and are interested in an investigation, you can also email our team anytime. If we cannot assist you, we will try our best to help you find someone who can.



Article written by: Dayna Winters and Patricia Gardner

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