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Why Do Ghosts Haunt Us?

Updated on February 22, 2016
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With interests in science, nature, and the paranormal, cryptid explores fringe topics from a unique and sometimes controversial perspective.

Why do ghosts haunt us? What do they want? Why don't they simply move on?
Why do ghosts haunt us? What do they want? Why don't they simply move on? | Source

Haunted by Ghosts

The belief in ghosts and the wayward spirits of the dead is prevalent in most cultures around the world and dates back to ancient times. Certainly we can imagine good reasons our ancestors may have invented the idea that people linger beyond the grave.

Anyone who loses a loved one goes through a traumatic period of mourning, and the thought that our dear departed might still live on in one form or another can provide solace from a purely psychological point of view.

Such is the position of the unbeliever, and the debate over whether or not ghosts really exist is a matter for another article. However, for the purpose of this article, let’s proceed with the assumption that ghosts exist and they really do haunt us sometimes. If we accept that to be true, the next question is obvious:

Why?

Certainly you have heard your share of ghost stories in your lifetime. If you feel like you’ve missed something, take a few moments to check out the television listings and you can find plenty of shows about the paranormal.

If you want to, you can watch hours upon hours of programming each week dedicated to ghost stories, haunting and the like. Some of these tales are pretty incredible, but many have evidence to back them up.

If these stories are true, even some of them, we have to wonder what the heck ghosts are doing. Why do they bother haunting us, and to what end? Why don’t they simply move on, or at the very least mind their own business?

Do ghosts choose to be here? Are they trapped? Is there something more to the spirit world that we have not considered? Are ghosts not what they seem?

Of course nobody knows, but that doesn’t stop us from wondering. In this article you’ll read about a few theories that may explain why ghosts insist on being so bothersome.

Fear of the Afterlife

Many people reason that spirits cling to this world because they are afraid to move on to whatever is next. That makes sense when you think about it. After all, we really have no way of knowing what happens to us when we die.

Many cultures believe judgment of some type awaits us after death. Depending on how you lived your life, the ultimate thumbs up/thumbs down awaits you when you die. Some people may not be so keen on facing it just yet.

Most of us who live in societies based on the Judeo-Christian ethic have an awareness of the Biblical concept of what comes after death. In other words, failing post-mortem judgment means you end up in that H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks place.

Go into the light? Nope. I’ll stay right here, thank you.

Whatever really awaits us after death it makes sense that those who lived in a culture that promised joy and happiness in the next life, rather than one that promised judgment, would be less likely to linger in this world.

Ghosts are Confused

In the movie Beetlejuice the afterlife is depicted as complicated and boring and governed by obscure rules. While the truth is probably nothing of the sort, it is easy to imagine that a recently deceased human being would be fairly confused about what exactly they are supposed to do next.

Those who go peacefully and have accepted death may have an easier time moving on, but for people who pass away suddenly or by some violent means it may be a different story. For them, it may take a long while even to realize they are dead. There may be a sense of denial, especially for those who really don't believe in life after death.

It’s hard to imagine what it must be like to realize you are ghost, and kind of comical in a way. Still, it must be traumatic to go from living to not-so-much living. What do you do next? What if someone sees you? How long will you be here? What are the rules, anyway?

Ghost Hunters Investigates a Haunting

Angry Apparitions

A spirit left behind would have a lot of time on his hands, and a lot to think about. How would you handle it?

If you have a clear view of the living world you would witness the lives of people as they grew older, shared time with their families, experienced joy and did all the things you used to do, back before you died.

How long would it take until you became jealous, angry and resentful of the living? Do you think you’d have the fortitude to remain a friendly ghost as the decades rolled by, with generations of people passing through your former home? Would you torment the living just for spite, or try to chase them from your house?

Even if you managed to remain pleasant about the whole after-death thing, you’d probably get a little bored. If you realized you could scare people a little bit, would you do it just for fun? Would you try to communicate?

Of course this doesn’t explain why ghosts are here, but boredom and anger are pretty good explanations for why they do what they do.

How Would You Haunt Someone?

If you end up a ghost someday what will be your plan?

See results

Spirits with Unfinished Business

Some ghosts may hesitate to move on from this world simply because they aren’t done living yet. The reasons could range from avenging their own murder, to protecting a loved one who is still alive. These spirits believe they still have more to do in this life, and so they remain.

Do some ghosts remain to watch over the living?
Do some ghosts remain to watch over the living? | Source

It’s nice to think that once they perceive their job to be finished they would move on and find peace, but in some cases their “unfinished business” may extend outside the bounds of their control.

Some religions and cultures believe in curses that can doom a person to walk this world forever, or become trapped in a specific situation after death.

Whatever the reason, some spirits may be waiting for a trigger or an event of some kind to occur before they can move on. In some cases, if we are able to figure it out, we may be able to help them.

Sometimes they are on their own, and in other unfortunate cases they may be doomed.

The World Beyond the Grave

So far we’ve examined the spirit world with the assumption that there is someplace ghosts would rather be, if they could only get there. Some people call it Heaven, or maybe something else, but many people believe there is a postmortem prize for people who lived good lives.

But what if that’s not true? What if the afterlife is so bizarre that we can hardly fathom it, a hodgepodge of lost energy, fragmented minds and semi-lucid spirit beings.

Worse still, perhaps there is some kind of pecking order after death, and spirits that are able to grow stronger are able to dominate the newly deceased and others. These more powerful spirits are the ones we are aware of, while the weaker ones remain silent.

Seems weird, but I base this theory on an Ouija Board session I experienced long ago. According to the entity we contacted, it sounds like life beyond death is something akin to entering a maximum security prison. Only the strong survive.

As an interesting aside: Because of some chilling threats made by the spirit entity during this Ouija session, I decided never to touch a spirit board again!

Ghosts Were Never Human

Finally, is it possible we don’t live on beyond death at all, in any form? Or, as some religions believe, is it possible that human spirits end up in either Heaven or Hell, but never remain as ghosts?

Perhaps the truth about the afterlife is stranger than we could ever imagine,
Perhaps the truth about the afterlife is stranger than we could ever imagine, | Source

Here things get a little confusing. Remember we started this discussion with the premise that ghosts exist. So if ghost aren’t the remnants of deceased humans, what are they and what do they want?

Almost any answer will do here. Aliens? Interdimensional beings? Time travelers? Who knows? However, there is one theory that allows many people to maintain a traditional view of spirits and the afterlife:

Ghosts are demons.

If ghosts are malevolent entities and not people we can imagine a whole bunch of reasons for why they are here. For one, if demons really are agents of evil battling God for our souls, then it makes sense that they would try to confuse and confound us about what happens to us after we die.

One way of doing this would be to masquerade as human spirits. The more confused we get about this Heaven and Hell thing, the more likely we are to abandon God.

Another reason may be simply to torment us. I sometimes wonder how many people who claimed they were tormented by demons and ended up with a psyche diagnosis were telling the truth, and driven to insanity by evil forces.

Whatever they are up to, if ghosts are demons they are certainly not on our side.

The Mystery of the Supernatural

I hope this rambling and semi-cohesive article on ghosts and why they haunt us provided some food for thought. Whatever theory you believe is correct, I think it is always important to keep an open mind about such things.

The bottom line when it comes to the supernatural is that we just don’t know. All we can do is look at the available evidence, try to decide what makes sense, and form our own opinions and theories. The good news, if you want to look at it that way, is that every one of us is going learn the truth someday.

What awaits us beyond the grave? Eventually, we all find out.

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    • cryptid profile image
      Author

      cryptid 2 years ago from Earth

      I've heard that theory before K&T. I am not a very religious person, but I find the idea that ghosts are actually demons or fallen angels attempting to trick humans both interesting and plausible.

    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 2 years ago

      There is a answer to your hub and it is found in God's word the Bible, in a short

      Explanation .

      Jude 6 ,And the angels who did not keep their original position(heavenly sons) but forsook their own proper dwelling place, he has reserved with eternal bonds in dense darkness for the judgment of the great day.

      New World Translation

      Re 12:4 and its tail drags a third of the stars of heaven, and it hurled them down to the earth. And the dragon kept standing before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she did give birth, it might devour her child.( God's New Government)

      These are the spirit angles that live here on earth with us.

      One of the advantages that they have over humans is they are spirit creatures with spirit bodies, they are transparent most of the time.

      They have existed for centuries and know every human living and dead.

      People call them ghost. But they are fallen Angeles who are rebels against The heavenly Father and Jesus.

      There purpose is to get humans to get envolve with them by means of witchcraft, magic,sorcery, fortune telling, or psychic reading, they are able to fool people into believing they are talking to dead loved ones.

      They are very dangerous and many times the heavenly Father protects us from their darkness and Evil intentions that can lead to death physically, or spiritually in having a healthy relationship with our heavenly Father.

      We do not want to entertain them but stay away from the activities that can draw them. Because we could receive their condemnation of death eternal.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Nice hub on why ghosts haunt us from beyond the grave. Very interesting. I never had a ghost story before. It boggles our mind. Voted up!

    • cryptid profile image
      Author

      cryptid 2 years ago from Earth

      @CM: It interesting to ponder the influence personal perspective has over the spiritual and the supernatural. Perhaps we all interpret the same forces in different ways.

      @Dolores: I like your ghost story. Fascinating!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 2 years ago from East Coast, United States

      My favorite (fictional) ghost is Jacob Marley who, though terrifying, comes to warn his friend, Ebenezer, to amend his ways in order to escape a miserable afterlife. I like to say that I don't believe in ghosts, yet do think that I saw one at a park that was once a fort. He was just standing there leaning on a fence looking tired. The oddness of the guy scared me yet when I signaled to my companion who did not see him, the "ghost" simply disappeared.

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 2 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Interesting hub cryptid. I think some of the major appeal of ghosts and the paranormal is that we can never be sure it is real and it is all about personal experience and belief. So maybe ghosts do mean something different for everyone and none of us experience the paranormal in the same way?

    • cryptid profile image
      Author

      cryptid 2 years ago from Earth

      Thanks yohewriter! Ghost psychology- I never thought about it that way!

    • yohewriter profile image

      Timothy Yohe 2 years ago from St. Louis

      Nice work on this hub, cryptid! I write a lot about the paranormal, but have never thought to take the approach of ghost psychology. Your points are well thought out and your content fleshes out nicely. Thank you for writing this article. You've given me more to contemplate! :)

      yohewriter

    • cryptid profile image
      Author

      cryptid 2 years ago from Earth

      Thanks Suhail + Dog! I do agree that some people seem to have more of an aptitude for interacting with the paranormal, and it does seem to be somehow hereditary. Makes you wonder if it is a sense we all may have to varying degrees, and some people are simply more genetically gifted in that regard.

      As for pets, they sure do seem to have a heightened sense for sketchy activity, as do kids. For what reason? Who knows?

      Interesting discussion!

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Good hub, especially because we, dog lovers, were discussing this topic on Facebook. Two points that stood out for me from our discussion there:

      1. witnessing ghosts and super-naturals run in families and some people and families have a good sight for seeing them.

      2. dogs have superb smelling and hearing senses, but lower intellect. They confuse smelling and hearing strange noises with shadows, shining pieces of glass, bush, etc. and get scared. Humans think they have seen ghosts.

      But I digressed. Thanks for sharing an interesting hub on a very interesting topic.

      Regards,