“Do you think it’s evil?” is typically one of the first questions asked at the onset of a paranormal investigation. I understand the reason why clients ask this question, but what I don’t understand is the desire that many have for it to be true. For the average person, the possibility of their home being haunted is a terrifying proposition, and as a paranormal investigator, I feel that it is my job to mitigate their fears by not carelessly sensationalizing their situation.
In my professional experience, demonic infestations and malevolent hauntings tend to be very rare. What concerns me is how quickly many investigators jump to this conclusion. Our clients already consider us experts, and what we say carries a lot of weight. Simply mentioning the word “demon” creates fears and skews client’s testimony.
I experienced firsthand the anxiety caused when a colleague flippantly mentioned the “d-word” during one of my first investigations. The very next night I received a frantic phone call from the client, pleading with me to come over after work and rid them of their demonic infestation. When I arrived around midnight, they had yardsticks nailed together to form crosses and were performing a makeshift exorcism. I ended up spending the night on their couch and encountered absolutely nothing. The next morning, they were noticeably embarrassed by their behavior, and I felt somewhat responsible.
After the investigation, I instituted stricter guidelines. The most controversial was that there would be only one point of contact between the client and the investigation team. All questions about the investigation were referred to the lead investigator. By instituting this rule, it gave our team a unified voice. The second was that cameras were not to be passed around during an investigation. I witnessed several times the client’s nervous reaction when an investigator quickly passed their camera to another investigator after taking a photo. The third rule was that we never review our evidence on site, nor discuss our conclusions with the client until all evidenced has been carefully reviewed. The last and most important guideline implemented was that we were never to mention the word “demon” or “evil” in front of the client until we had a chance as a team to discuss the possibility of a malevolent presence.
Paranormal investigative techniques are not proven, and in cases that involve demonic or malevolent spirits, our options are limited. There isn’t much an investigator can do against a demonic presence. Most investigators do not possess the knowledge or experience necessary to combat such a situation. Combine this with the reluctance some have to seeking spiritual help, some investigators tend to promote their client’s worst fears and cause them unwarranted, and in some cases dangerous levels anxiety.
If you want to help your client, then you must do everything to not exacerbate their situation. Before you jump to the very worst-case scenario, try ruling out the explainable and then most probable. Remember, a scared client is not a help, but a hindrance. Your client is your primary witness and one of your most important sources of information. Fear only taints their testimony and skews their perspective. If you want to help your client and promote the success of your investigation, do whatever you can to alleviate your client’s fear. By taking a more sensible and less sensationalized approach during your investigation, you will not only promote your team’s professionalism, but also help eliminate the sensational and comical reputation the paranormal community often suffers.