"Ghosts"

#1
I don't like to use that word, but it's the only term that I can use where we all seem to understand what I am talking about.

I wanted to relate an event that occurred in my own life when I was very young. I was in the 1st or 2nd grade of elementary school so I was maybe about 7 or 8. I don't know what it was that I saw, or experienced, but I wanted to share with you guys for insight.

In the house that my family lived in at the time there were 3 bedrooms. Despite this, no one ever used the third bedroom because we all thought there was something odd about it. Sometimes we thought we felt or heard things in there, but since we were kids I can't rule out imagination. However even though we (my siblings and I) were kids, my parents too were put off by that room. As a result no one ever slept or claimed that room as their own.

Because of that, I slept on the couch in the living room, and my siblings did as well.

One night when I was sleeping on the couch, I woke up in the middle of the night. On the couch that I slept on there was a bookshelf directly in front of it about 8 feet away. As I woke up I noticed a young girl running her hand across the top of the bookshelf as if searching for books. The shelfs were empty aside from a few a decorative items my mother placed there.

The young girl had her back turned towards me so I couldn't see her face. Even though she was bluish and white, I thought it was my older sister acting weird in the middle of the night, and the moon light merely colored her that way.

So weirded out, I call out my sisters name, and ask her what she's doing. Suddenly the young girl turns around and looks directly at me, and I can immediately recognize that it was not my sister. It was somebody that I did not recognize at all.

As she looks at me it was as if someone started erasing her. From her feet to her head she started to slowly but steadily vanish.

Obviously I was scared, so I covered myself in my blanket and started praying for protection.

Over time I moved past that event and left it out of my mind. However, the strange thing is I don't believe in ghosts. As an adult I look back on that now and wonder if maybe I was hallucinating.

At the same time because I was able to move and talk, and the way the "thing" responded to my words I am not sure what to think of it.

I still remember it vividly, and I plan on sketching out what I saw now that the memory has been on my mind lately.

update: Pics

Here is the top view showing the layout of the room:


Here is my first person perspective of what I saw, before the thing turned around and looked at me:
 
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#2
...I wanted to share with you guys for insight.
You're lucky for the single experience. If it occurred regularly, by now they'd have you on a steady course of medications.

A paranormal site I've frequented for a number of years gets a steady stream of posers and wannabe's. There is a core group whose character I've become familiar with over time: a graduate of the Yale Divinity School, a retired actuary, a retired police officer. All of us have seen or experienced something exceptional that we can't explain. Note the singular.

These are among the few who have impressed me as having had a legitimate event.

Any more, we spend most of our time discussing anything besides ghosts; most all of the topics attributed to ghosts have been explained away as insects crawling across a camera lens, dust, lens flare, animals in the attic and imagination. We've yet to discover a video or picture out of a countless number submitted that could be verifiable proof of a ghost.

It doesn't help that tv shows about the visibly challenged prefers surprised reactions and "...didja see that?..." lead-ins for commercials instead of investigative substance.

But, we know something is "going bump in the night" because we've experienced the damned thing. We can't repeat it, we can't find for certain where it occurs, we don't know when it will happen.

So, even with our combined decades of examination into this phenomena, we can only offer speculation instead of fact. Whatever answer you come up with is as good as any.
 
#4
I doubt it. No mention of steady courses of medication in this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypnagogic

Linda
Thank your the link to the hypnagogic wiki. I'm sure you felt quite assured of yourself as you slammed this case close.

I'm not opposed to writing it off as some sort of hallucination, it very well may have been. What I am opposed to is writing it off so easily.

The hallucination/hypnagogic thing is what I have been telling myself for years. Lets face; it ghosts are pretty damn scary.

Yet when I think about it now from a braver perspective it's difficult.

I've experienced sleep paralysis, lucid dreams, and hypnagogic dreams before.

Sleep paralysis and dreams obviously don't compare to what I experienced, since I was obviously awake, moving, and talking.

The hypnagogic dream that I experienced was when I suddenly bolted awake, and saw a dog next to my bed, and it quickly disappeared as I became less groggy, and more awake. It was like when you stare at a bright scene, close your eyes and still see a burn in image for a split second.

However with this "ghost" experience. It did not disappear as I became more awake. I actually sat up, stared at it for a few moments trying to figure out what I was seeing, talked to it, it responded to my words, stared at me and then disappeared.

If I had the resources to make some sort of video I could literally reenact the scene perfectly. I remember it vividly.
 
#5
I doubt it. No mention of steady courses of medication in this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypnagogic

Linda
Hmmm. Yah. I thought about putting a smiley face after that sentence. Guess I should have.

In contrast to Anon5's experience, the people mentioned in my previous post were on their feet and awake during their experience. A couple of them were at work. In this case, while its likely to be shrugged off as hypnogogic - I understand the protest.
 
#6
Thank your the link to the hypnagogic wiki. I'm sure you felt quite assured of yourself as you slammed this case close.
I wasn't slamming the case closed. I don't think it hurts to make reference to other people's experiences related to sleep/wake transitions when figuring out whether your experience is unusual/unexpected (i.e. whether it requires medication).

I'm not opposed to writing it off as some sort of hallucination, it very well may have been. What I am opposed to is writing it off so easily.

The hallucination/hypnagogic thing is what I have been telling myself for years. Lets face; it ghosts are pretty damn scary.

Yet when I think about it now from a braver perspective it's difficult.

I've experienced sleep paralysis, lucid dreams, and hypnagogic dreams before.

Sleep paralysis and dreams obviously don't compare to what I experienced, since I was obviously awake, moving, and talking.

The hypnagogic dream that I experienced was when I suddenly bolted awake, and saw a dog next to my bed, and it quickly disappeared as I became less groggy, and more awake. It was like when you stare at a bright scene, close your eyes and still see a burn in image for a split second.

However with this "ghost" experience. It did not disappear as I became more awake. I actually sat up, stared at it for a few moments trying to figure out what I was seeing, talked to it, it responded to my words, stared at me and then disappeared.

If I had the resources to make some sort of video I could literally reenact the scene perfectly. I remember it vividly.
You are lucky, then, that you've had relatively 'normal' sleep and transitional experiences, and none of the more elaborate (and terrifying) experiences others have.

Linda
 
#7
Hmmm. Yah. I thought about putting a smiley face after that sentence. Guess I should have.
Sorry, I did know you were making a joke...it's just a pet peeve. :) People tend to think that hallucination-type experiences are unusual or 'not normal', not realizing their commonness. And because hallucinations can be a symptom of mental illness they then think that it suggests mental illness to suggest hallucinations (quick, name that logical fallacy :)) It irks me a little when these mistakes are reinforced.

Linda
 
#8
More than once in this thread I've seen it suggested that ghosts are "scary". I'm not sure that is always true, or even whether it is generally true. I did as a child once see a person who later I realised could have only been a ghost. I wasn't afraid at the time or afterwards, and I'm sure there are many accounts where the main witness reaction is puzzlement or surprise, rather than fear.
 
#9
More than once in this thread I've seen it suggested that ghosts are "scary". I'm not sure that is always true, or even whether it is generally true. I did as a child once see a person who later I realised could have only been a ghost. I wasn't afraid at the time or afterwards, and I'm sure there are many accounts where the main witness reaction is puzzlement or surprise, rather than fear.
I agree that the two ("seeing something" and "emotion") shouldn't be conflated. I didn't mean to suggest it by mentioning terrifying hallucinations. I was thinking of some hallucinations I've found terrifying, which I assumed was because of their content, but it could have been that the emotion was also a hallucination.

Linda
 
#10
Thank your the link to the hypnagogic wiki. I'm sure you felt quite assured of yourself as you slammed this case close.

I'm not opposed to writing it off as some sort of hallucination, it very well may have been. What I am opposed to is writing it off so easily.
I'd definitely go with the generic 'hallucination' label when it's proffered. I used to have a problem with it, now when people label an experience as a hallucination, particularly when it's used as an attempt to suggest they are somehow explaining the experience, I seize it. It's a lovely admittance of something we don't understand.
 
#11
I'd definitely go with the generic 'hallucination' label when it's proffered. I used to have a problem with it, now when people label an experience as a hallucination, particularly when it's used as an attempt to suggest they are somehow explaining the experience, I seize it. It's a lovely admittance of something we don't understand.
I agree. I think that "hallucinations" should be thought of as a description of a kind of experience (with an emphasis on the idea that the sensations are not from obvious external sensory input), rather than an explanation as to the source of those sensations, in order to avoid unstated assumptions about cause. After that, one can begin to look at specific kinds of hallucinatory experiences, some of which could be said to offer an 'explanation'. This helps to clarify when "hallucination" describes the type of experience but isn't an explanation. And hopefully, would let the term not be automatically regarded as dismissive.

Linda
 
#12
I think the problem with the term "hallucination" here is that it bundles the experience in a category alongside many other experiences. That in itself might not seem an issue, however many of the others in that category are things which would typically be considered as "unreal". On the other hand, the experience of "seeing a ghost" is in itself already a very broad category, and includes many which would typically be considered as "real". It is that shift across the boundary from the "generally real" to the "generally unreal" which I consider inappropriate.
 
#13
I think the problem with the term "hallucination" here is that it bundles the experience in a category alongside many other experiences. That in itself might not seem an issue, however many of the others in that category are things which would typically be considered as "unreal". On the other hand, the experience of "seeing a ghost" is in itself already a very broad category, and includes many which would typically be considered as "real". It is that shift across the boundary from the "generally real" to the "generally unreal" which I consider inappropriate.
Yeah, would it be possible to recognize that we are talking about different kinds of categorization? "Hallucinatory" is different from "unreal" is different from "ghosts".

Linda
 
#14
...with an emphasis on the idea that the sensations are not from obvious external sensory input...
I dunno, I'm not sure we can distinguish them qualitatively (as opposed to objectively). Seems to me a visual hallucination of a banana, looks identical to a banana. Also they are not always 'positive' type, some are 'negative'. Is the driver who appears in court for causing an accident by pulling out of a junction into the path of an oncoming cyclist whom they claim they did not see, lying, driving without due care an attention, or is it a faulty recollection, or perhaps for them the cyclist really wasn't there?

I also note that some apparently leave an afterimage, like mine did. That could of course be part of a metachoric hallucination. But some neuroscientists now suggest that there must be some type of nerve feedback effect from the brain back to the retina, as an attempt to explain these afterimages.
 
#15
Yeah, would it be possible to recognize that we are talking about different kinds of categorization? "Hallucinatory" is different from "unreal" is different from "ghosts".

Linda
It would definitely be useful to categorize them. In this case, a hypnagogic hallucination is possible. In the Capt. Bob case, it was visual, auditory, and occurred when he was awake not in a hypnagogic state. Then there are cases where there are multiple witnesses, as in Barry Taff's entity case. I've also personally known 2 people who reported witnessing apparitions while awake, with more than one witness.

Cheers,
Bill
 
#16
I don't like to use that word, but it's the only term that I can use where we all seem to understand what I am talking about.

I wanted to relate an event that occurred in my own life when I was very young. I was in the 1st or 2nd grade of elementary school so I was maybe about 7 or 8. I don't know what it was that I saw, or experienced, but I wanted to share with you guys for insight.

In the house that my family lived in at the time there were 3 bedrooms. Despite this, no one ever used the third bedroom because we all thought there was something odd about it. Sometimes we thought we felt or heard things in there, but since we were kids I can't rule out imagination. However even though we (my siblings and I) were kids, my parents too were put off by that room. As a result no one ever slept or claimed that room as their own.

Because of that, I slept on the couch in the living room, and my siblings did as well.

One night when I was sleeping on the couch, I woke up in the middle of the night. On the couch that I slept on there was a bookshelf directly in front of it about 8 feet away. As I woke up I noticed a young girl running her hand across the top of the bookshelf as if searching for books. The shelfs were empty aside from a few a decorative items my mother placed there.

The young girl had her back turned towards me so I couldn't see her face. Even though she was bluish and white, I thought it was my older sister acting weird in the middle of the night, and the moon light merely colored her that way.

So weirded out, I call out my sisters name, and ask her what she's doing. Suddenly the young girl turns around and looks directly at me, and I can immediately recognize that it was not my sister. It was somebody that I did not recognize at all.

As she looks at me it was as if someone started erasing her. From her feet to her head she started to slowly but steadily vanish.

Obviously I was scared, so I covered myself in my blanket and started praying for protection.

Over time I moved past that event and left it out of my mind. However, the strange thing is I don't believe in ghosts. As an adult I look back on that now and wonder if maybe I was hallucinating.

At the same time because I was able to move and talk, and the way the "thing" responded to my words I am not sure what to think of it.

I still remember it vividly, and I plan on sketching out what I saw now that the memory has been on my mind lately.
I'm assuming that by posting this in the CD forum, you are welcoming alternative explanations...it's not very exciting, but I would offer the distinct possibility that your memory of the incident is not reliable after so many years (assuming that you are of an adult age now). I wouldn't trust many of memories of my experiences from when I was 7, particularly the intense ones, as they have probably morphed over time into whatever narrative I think best fits them. I think it is virtually impossible to trust the details of memories formed so long ago...you are likely remembering the memory, remembering the memory of the memory, etc., effectively playing a game of telephone stretched out over multiple decades. Now, I don't know if this is what happened to you, but I offer it as an unavoidable possibility, and again, since you posted your story in the CD forum, I'm assuming that you are welcoming such input.

To add- I'm not saying that you did not have this experience, or that it was not a ghost, or had to be a hallucination, etc. I'm simply pointing out that our memories are not things that age well, and so the specifics of the event may have changed over time, and so when you consider what happened, it might be wise to acknowledge that you probably are mistaken about some of your recollections of the event.
 
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#17
Interesting hypothesis. I recall when as a child I saw something unexplained, part of the memory consists in the subsequent reaction, (ridicule and laughter) from others in my family. Thus, though those others were not witnesses to the original event, they too carry part of the memory of it. In other words it is not dependent upon the memory of a single person, but there are multiple participants carrying some portion of that memory.
 
#18
I'm assuming that by posting this in the CD forum, you are welcoming alternative explanations...it's not very exciting, but I would offer the distinct possibility that your memory of the incident is not reliable after so many years (assuming that you are of an adult age now). I wouldn't trust many of memories of my experiences from when I was 7, particularly the intense ones, as they have probably morphed over time into whatever narrative I think best fits them. I think it is virtually impossible to trust the details of memories formed so long ago...you are likely remembering the memory, remembering the memory of the memory, etc., effectively playing a game of telephone stretched out over multiple decades. Now, I don't know if this is what happened to you, but I offer it as an unavoidable possibility, and again, since you posted your story in the CD forum, I'm assuming that you are welcoming such input.
Absolutely.

As I mentioned, I don't believe ghosts exist. Which might seem strange considering my OP.

However I did post it because I wanted to get other peoples feedback. I anticipated that I would get the hypnagogic dreaming explanation because it is the easiest solution.

But if I'm being honest with myself, accepting that explanation without question is a cop out. I remember clearly that I was awake and not disoriented, and I have had hypnagogic dreams and they are very brief. Less than a few seconds brief. This experience lasted I would say about a minute or two.

I am very confident that my memory is not playing tricks on me. Two days ago, whilst thinking about this experience I asked my older brother if he remembered about what I told him "the time I thought I saw a ghost".

He replied the exact same thing I remembered. I asked him if he remembered when I told him, he replied that I told him the very next day after it happened.

I find it unlikely that my memory of the event, and his memory of what I told him just happened to change over time in the exact same manner and ended up being the exact same exaggeration after all these years.

I'm not opposed to alternative explanations. I don't want ghosts to be a real thing if I'm being honest, so obviously I would be more open to a non paranormal explanation. That doesn't mean that I can lie to myself and accept one that I know doesn't fit the evidence.
 
#19
I am very confident that my memory is not playing tricks on me.
Then you are the exception to the rule, especially after so many years. I'm a psychiatric social worker who has worked with people and their memories for the past 15 years, and I find memory to be an exceptionally tricky thing to pin down and trust completely.

I do an exercise each year with my students where I have them remember a significant event from their immediate past (last birthday, fight with someone close to them, spiritual experience, etc). I have them write down as many details as they can remember from this event (I keep the descriptions). I then ask them 4 months later to do the same exercise about this specific memory, and then again four months after that...in just 8 months we find that no one can escape this exercise without making some significant mistakes. I have some students that I have run this exercise with over the period of three years or more, and their stories change in ways that are fascinating, including incorrect aspects of initial re-tellings becoming consistent aspects of future re-tellings, complete shifts in the emotional content of the experience, people disappearing and re-appearing, etc. I can only imagine what would happen after 20 years or more!

Anyway, I mention it just as something to consider when you are working through this process of trying to remember and make sense of your memory. Good luck!
 
#20
Hmmm. Yah. I thought about putting a smiley face after that sentence. Guess I should have.
In contrast to Anon5's experience, the people mentioned in my previous post were on their feet and awake during their experience. A couple of them were at work. In this case, while its likely to be shrugged off as hypnogogic - I understand the protest.
I had a pretty dramatic ghost sighting when I was on my feet and awake and was accompanied by another person. We didn't actually discuss the details of what we saw at the time. So, it was neat to run into her 20+ years later and hear her recount almost verbatim how I describe what I saw back then.

Anyhow, I'm still perfectly capable of explaining it all away, lol. Funny how that works ...
 
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