Do you think it's evil?
"Do you think it's evil?" is typically one of the first questions asked at the onset of a paranormal investigation. I understand why clients ask this question, but I don't understand the investigative team's desire for it to be true. For the average person, the possibility of their home being haunted is a terrifying proposition. As a paranormal investigator, I feel that it's my job to mitigate their fears by not sensationalizing their situation.
In my professional experience, demonic infestations and malevolent hauntings are 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. Merely mentioning the word "demon" creates fears and skews the client's testimony. I experienced firsthand the anxiety caused when a colleague flippantly said the word "demon." The night after our investigation, I received a frantic phone call from the client, pleading with me to come over after work and rid them of a demonic presence. When I arrived, they had crosses made from yardsticks 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.
Soon after, I instituted a strict set of guidelines. The first was there would be only one point of contact between the client and the investigation team. All the client's questions about the investigation were referred to the lead investigator. By instituting this rule, it gave our team a unified voice. The second rule was that investigators were not allowed to pass cameras around during an investigation. I witnessed too many times the clients' reaction when investigators passed around their cameras to show others what they had captured. The third was that we were never to review our evidence on-site nor discuss our conclusions with the client until we had the chance to review our evidence in its entirety. The last and most crucial 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 in private the possibility of a malevolent presence.
Paranormal investigative techniques are not proven, and in cases that involve demonic or evil spirits, our options are limited. There isn't much an investigator can do against a demonic presence. Most investigators do not possess the knowledge nor experience necessary to combat such a situation. Investigators often make the mistake of sensationalizing what they have witnessed. Causing unwarranted fear, and in some cases, dangerous levels of anxiety.
If you want to help your client, then you must do everything not to exacerbate their situation. Before you jump to the very worst-case scenario, try ruling out the explainable and the most probable. Remember, a scared client is a hindrance to your investigation. Your client is your primary witness and one of your most important sources of information. Fear will only taint their testimony and skew their perspective. If you want to help your client, do whatever you can to alleviate their concerns. By taking a more sensible and less sensationalized approach during your investigation, you will not only promote your team's success but also help eliminate the sensational and often comical reputation the paranormal community often suffers.