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What Makes a House Haunted?

What Makes a House Haunted?

By: Dr. Mark Farley

What makes a house haunted? A question that is usually asked at some point during every ghost tour. To be completely honest, when I started doing my research on this topic, I thought this would be a rather lengthy blog. As I conducted my research however, I kept reading the same explanation over and over again. There were slight variations, but they were basically saying the same thing. "A place becomes haunted when a tragic event imparts some sort of “psychic energy” on a place, somehow trapping the spirit at that location." I paraphrased it a bit, but that was pretty much the jest of the best explanation I could find.

I am always skeptical when an explanation for paranormal phenomena is explained by using the term "energy." The term energy has a very specific meaning in science. If you remember from your high school chemistry or physics class, "Energy is the ability to do work (EIA)." There are particular types of energy in our realm of existence. Energy cannot simply manifest. It is usually the result of one action causing an effect or a "reaction" in something else. Now, here is the peculiar thing about energy, due to the Law of Conservation, energy cannot be created or destroyed. The energy in the universe is therefore constant. Remember that term "reaction" I used a couple of sentences ago? Due to the Law of Conservation, that reaction experienced in one object becomes the causal effect of another action. These actions and reactions can cause an infinite chain of events to happen.

The term I have heard the most pertaining to energy in the paranormal community is "Psychic Energy." So I researched the question: What is Psychic Energy? To be truthful, I didn't think I would find a real answer.

According to Sigmund Freud, Psychic Energy is; "The concept of mental energies moving or displacing between various adjoined, conscious and unconscious, mental systems (Freud)." As I was typing this definition, I thought to myself, "Mark, you just muddied the waters of this argument." But then I thought, are Freud and the Paranormal Community talking about the same thing? Because up to this point, I was thinking of energy as only a physical concept. A property only exhibited in physical matter. Psychic Energy, however, is something totally different.

In Freud's definition of Psychic Energy, he refers to another form of energy called "Mental Energy." Mental Energy is; "a mood and a measure of the willingness to undertake cognitive tasks (Chidlow)." So, Psychic Energy is a measure of one's will. In Freud's definition, Psychic Energy would not affect a material object in the physical world but would have tremendous power over one's thoughts, emotions, and even intellect.

I always thought of a spirit or a soul as a cognitive being without a physical body. As a cognitive being, it would have thoughts, emotions, and knowledge, just like a physical being. Therefore a disembodied spirit would have the ability to manifest its thoughts, experience emotions, and have wisdom.

So for a house to be haunted, it isn't a physical force or energy holding a spirit there, but mental energy or a will to stay. Simply put, it's the willingness of the spirit to remain behind, which happens to be a long accepted concept in the Paranormal Community. A haunting is nothing more than a spirit's mental attachment to a physical place. Humans have free will, and if a soul is the essence of a physical being that has passed, then the soul has the ability to exercise free will. The reason a house is haunted, the spirit has a mental or emotional attachment to the location. There are no physical forces or mysterious energies trapping the spirit, just its will to stay. The spirit chooses to stay, nothing more, nothing less. I have heard Psychics claim they can cross over spirits. If it's the spirit's will that determines the attachment, it's not the strength of the psychic's abilities that forces them to leave. It's the spirit's conscious choice to leave.

Works Cited

  • Chidlow, Charlotte. "What is Mental Energy and How to Maintain a High Level of It." 8 June 2021. Life Hack. Blog. 9 May 2022.

  • EIA, The U.S. Energy Information Administration. What is Energy? 13 December 2021. 9 May 2022.

  • Freud, Sigmund. The Ego and the Id. Vienna: W. W. Norton & Company, 1923.


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