Poltergeist, living or dead?

Polter – noisy, nusiance’ ‘-geist – ghost’

On Thursday 5th June 2014 the Society of Psychical Research organised an interesting lecture on the topic of Poltergeists held at Kessington Library, London. The speaker was Dr Barrie Colvin who himself is an SPR member of the Spontaneous Cases committee and after many years of investigating Poltergeist cases has formed the Poltergeist Research Group with special interest in psycho-kinetic rapping phenomenon.

After the initial introductory discussions on some of the more famous poltergeists cases e.g. Enfield, Rosenheim, and the wide ranging theories attempting to explain poltergeist phenomena such as psychological factors, environmental, geological and simply just fraud. The lecture went on to highlight some of the common phenomena found to occur in the poltergeist cases and discuss the commonly observed peculiarity that many poltergeists cases only occur around a certain individual. In other words there would be no poltergeist activity without a certain person being present, referred to as the agent. For example in the Enfield case the agent was a young girl named Janet and likewise in the Rosenheim case where the activity occurred in a lawyers offices, the agent was a 19 year old secretary Annemarie Schaberl. So it is not surprising to see how many skeptics based with this information are prepared to regard all poltergeist cases as being fraudulent.

Dr Colvin on the other hand detailed some personal experiences investigating the Enfield poltergeist and seemed convinced that the activity he witnessed could not of been caused fraudulently, at least not by Janet herself.

So raised the question, if we assume the activity is not intentionally fraudulent, is the activity that only occurs around certain individuals caused by some unknown energy or perhaps substance surrounding a living agent e.g. the way ectoplasm is used in physical mediumship, or is the activity caused by a discarnate influence e.g. spirit? Is poltergeist activity caused unintentionally by the living or intentionally by the dead?

As the evening proceeded it was clear that this was many factors to consider and obviously no possible conclusions would be found in the 90 minutes lecture slot that evening other than it’s again another phenomena we can’t satisfactorily explain away with current scientific understanding.

Chris Connelly 2017