Breakdown of What Causes Poltergeist Activity

Updated July 16, 2021
Sunshine through and open door

Poltergeists are some of the most feared paranormal entities, and it's easy to see why. Poltergeist activity can be violent, destructive, noisy, and completely terrifying. So, you may be surprised to learn that ghosts seldom cause this scary phenomenon. Instead, to discover the main cause of poltergeist activity, look to living, breathing human beings.

What Is a Poltergeist?

Also called a noisy ghost, poltergeist phenomena covers a range of physical manifestations that can be subtle and barely noticeable or downright destructive and horrifying. In subtle cases, objects may slightly vibrate or move a few inches, or you may hear a few quiet raps or bangs. In extreme cases, activity can be loud, violent, and terrifying and might include things such as objects levitating or flying across a room, doors slamming open and closed, loud bangs and screams, or electrical disturbances. What makes this activity so scary is that there is no observable or obvious cause for them; that is, if an object flies across a room, there's nothing you can see that threw it, or if a loud bang occurs, you can't find anything that would make the sound.

Psychokinesis Causes All Poltergeist Activity

Poltergeist activity is sometimes called recurrent spontaneous psychokineses (RSP). In an interview with LoveToKnow, parapsychologist and paranormal expert Loyd Auerbach pointed out that while there is a misconception poltergeists are noisy ghosts or evil entities, they are in fact manifestations of psychokinetic energy (a type of psychic ability also known as PK or telekinesis). The Society for Psychical Research (SPR) further explains that while the activity can be attributed to ghosts or paranormal entities, the bursts of psychokinetic energy often come from someone who is alive.

Living People Can Cause Poltergeist Manifestations

According to Auerbach, someone living or working where the poltergeist manifestations occur may unconsciously be creating bursts of psychokinetic energy that result in what is commonly viewed as poltergeist activity. This person may be undergoing significant unresolved stress or emotional pain and without being aware they are doing so, they relieve the pressure of that stress by emitting spontaneous bursts of PK energy. These bursts of energy are so strong they affect physical objects. While this type of stress and energy (and much poltergeist activity) is often attributed to teenagers or kids going through puberty, a person of any age experiencing unresolved emotions and stress can cause the manifestations. In many cases when someone is identified as the agent of the telekinetic energy, they are unaware they have been doing it. Likewise, when they are given appropriate intervention, the activity stops.

Ghosts May Also Cause the Activity

In a haunting, some spiritual entities may also be able to use telekinetic energy to affect matter. Typically, when a spirit is the source of the PK manifestations, occurrences are subtler and less distinct than those coming from a living agent, although this isn't always the case. The SPR notes poltergeist cases are quite a rare form of paranormal phenomena and in many cases, they are relatively short-lived. However, in the case of a ghost or haunting, the PK manifestations may grow stronger over time as a spirit grows more adept at affecting physical objects.

Other Theories of Poltergeist Phenomena

While people involved in paranormal and parapsychological research theorize psychokinesis causes poltergeist activity, the actual physics behind the manifestations is unknown and remains in the realm of the theoretical. Many skeptics do not believe PK energy is real and advance other theories about the causes of poltergeist manifestations. Theories run the gamut, ranging from fraud, to psychological explanations (imagination, wishful thinking, mental illness), to misperception. Chances are, there are examples of each of these occurring in various poltergeist cases.

Noisy Ghosts

Research into these fascinating manifestations remains ongoing. For those in the fields of paranormal and parapsychological research, poltergeist cases represent a rare and unique opportunity to explore the unknown.

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Breakdown of What Causes Poltergeist Activity