13 Examples of Poltergeist Activity to Be on the Lookout For

Updated July 23, 2021
Floating bed

Would you know a poltergeist if you encountered one? Poltergeist activity is one of the most misunderstood forms of paranormal phenomena. While it can come from spirits, poltergeist activity more often occurs as the result of a living person who unwittingly emits of bursts of recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis (RSP). These energetic disturbances can cause a range of frightening effects.


In poltergeist cases, often one of the first manifestations of the activity is via sounds. These are actual physical sounds that everyone present hears, although they have no obvious source.

  • Knocks or raps
  • Objects making sounds without an apparent physical cause, such as a telephone that doesn't work ringing
  • Crackling sounds
  • Disembodied voices
  • Music
  • Growls or animal noises


Poltergeists may also generate aromas or substances with no observable source. The smells are often unpleasant; such as the smell of sulfur or smoke, but they could also be aromas such as cinnamon or flowers.


Poltergeists can also cause substances to appear. For example, walls may appear to bleed or sweat or globs of water may fall from the ceilings. As with other poltergeist phenomena, these substances appear seemingly out of nowhere with no detectable cause.


In the presence of a poltergeist, small or large objects might vibrate. This may be subtle or extremely noticeable. For example, in the San Pedro poltergeist case, investigators observed objects such as an air horn vibrating slightly, and the children living in the house felt their beds vibrating significantly as they lay in them at night.


Likewise, in poltergeist cases, witnesses might observe objects levitating with no known cause. Objects that levitate might be something small, such as a pot lid, or they may be large, like a piece of furniture or even a person. In fact, in the Enfield Poltergeist case (depicted in the movie The Conjuring 2), witnesses watched a child levitate.

Objects Flying or Moving on Their Own

Objects may also fly or move on their own in poltergeist manifestations. These may be small things, such as a building block seen flying through the air, or even large objects like furniture apparently being lifted or moving. Movement may also be much more subtle. For example, a lamp might move an inch or two along a tabletop or a ball may roll less than a foot.

Doors and Drawers Opening

Another manifestation of physical movement involves doors or drawers opening and closing on their own. These may be large doors, or they might be cupboards or drawers. Sometimes, witnesses see this first hand and in other cases, they may enter the room after the doors have already been opened or closed.

Temperature Changes

Another type of activity that may occur in poltergeist cases is temperature changes without any obvious outside intervention. For example, an object sitting at room temperature may suddenly feel hot or very cold to the touch for no apparent reason.

Apports and Deports

In poltergeist cases, physical matter may appear out of thin air (apport) or abruptly disappear (deport).

System Disturbances

In buildings with reported poltergeist activity, witnesses sometimes report disturbances with systems such as electricity or plumbing. For example, televisions or radios may turn on and off without human intervention, or faucets may turn water on and off.

Physical Injury

One of the scariest but rarest types of poltergeist activity is the creation of actual physical effects on humans. For example, someone might feel as if they are being pushed, punched, or strangled, and they may display bruises, scratches, or other marks they cannot explain.

Spontaneous Combustion

Another scary manifestation of poltergeist activity is object combustion with no apparent cause. For instance, an object may begin to smolder and smoke or even burst into flames without any discernible source of ignition.

Indoor Weather

Poltergeists can even create indoor "weather systems" such as a room filling with fog. Likewise, they can cause rain, snow, wind, or even lightning in an indoor location.

Recognizing Poltergeist Activity

Poltergeist activity may be subtle or significant. Its hallmark is that the psychokinetic energy in poltergeist manifestations creates actual physical phenomena witnesses can observe or experience with their five senses.

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13 Examples of Poltergeist Activity to Be on the Lookout For