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Why Do Ghosts Haunt Us?

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With interests in science and nature, the author explores 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?

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 ghosts 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 haunt us sometimes. If we accept that to be true, the next question is obvious:


I bet you have heard your share of ghost stories in your lifetime. If you feel 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. 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. A flood of questions comes to mind:

  • 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.

Why Don't Ghosts Move On?

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.

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Maybe Ghosts Are Confused

In the movie Beetlejuice, the afterlife is depicted as a complicated and boring place riddled with bureaucracy. 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 a ghost, and kind of comical in a way. Still, it must be traumatic to go from living to the 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?

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 will witness the lives of people as they grow older, share time with their families, experience joy, and do all the things you used to do, back before you died.

How long would it take until you become 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, 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?

Do Spirits Have 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.

It’s nice to think that once their job is 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 being?

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 supposedly 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!

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,

What If 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?

Here things get a little confusing. Remember we started this discussion with the premise that ghosts exist. So if ghosts 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 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. 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 to learn the truth someday.

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

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Shawn Trarbach on February 28, 2020:

This is good information for the reasons ghost haut people

Vivian on May 01, 2019:

So ...I’m quite scared my name is vivian and I’ve always had things happen to me I couldn’t quite explain but recently my friends mom who is a medium that knew Lorraine warren before she passed told me I had a spirit attached to me for a very long time and that it wasn’t a good one which I told her probably was because I used to use the quija board a lot and wasn’t hanging out around the right people and did some other unholy Things back then and she said that makes sense nothing happened until two days ago when I noticed there was writing on my mirror in something where I didn’t know what it was it said he’ll with a sad face .... I wiped it off and tried to just ignore it but then last night on the same mirror was written lude mecum which I looked up and it is Latin for play with me but backwards .... idk what to do this time it was in nail polish ? We don’t have nail polish so that’s really weird what should I do ?

Nancy on April 09, 2019:

Great article. I suggest continued articles on angels here in this lifetime.

Ayon on December 29, 2018:

Frankly, if I were to become a ghost, I'd make a mass announcement that I am here to help, and would assist people with their daily problems? How about you, Cryptid?

cryptid (author) from USA on March 10, 2015:

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 on March 09, 2015:

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 from Northeast Ohio on March 08, 2015:

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 (author) from USA on December 08, 2014:

@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 from East Coast, United States on December 06, 2014:

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 from Other Side of the Sun on December 06, 2014:

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 (author) from USA on November 28, 2014:

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

Timothy Yohe from St. Louis on November 27, 2014:

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! :)


cryptid (author) from USA on November 26, 2014:

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 Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on November 25, 2014:

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.


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