from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The front page of a French magazine from 1911 with a report on poltergeist activities in an Algerian household, the witness and victim is the 14-year-old maid Therese Selles .

As Poltergeist is called often worldwide phenomenon with which the parapsychology , the psychology , the psychiatry and the demonology deal. It is supposed to describe a certain form of spirits and demons as well as their supposed work.

Poltergeists are said to nestle in houses and regularly visited buildings, to make themselves noticeable there through supernatural events - such as knocking noises and flying furniture - and to deliberately harass the residents or visitors there . According to those affected, the spirit itself is formless and does not manifest itself. According to parascience, poltergeist activities differ from traditional spooks in their short duration and their primarily physical - acoustically perceptible nature. Scientists , psychologists and the church are opposed to the explanation of the phenomenon as a "supernatural" event by parapsychology. There is no scientific and therefore credible evidence for the existence of poltergeists, especially since many of the alleged phenomena could be exposed as fraud .

Description and definition

Paroscientists define the phenomenon “poltergeist” as follows: The spirits themselves should be invisible to the observer, only their activities are visible and perceptible (so-called poltergeist activities ). In contrast to classic ghosts and ghosts, the poltergeist does not take on any form during its activities and cannot be filmed or photographed. Its activities include a wide variety of acoustic, sensory and visual phenomena. These are often very limited in their duration and in most cases should be related to the mental and physical condition of individual, rarely several, people present at the scene of the incident. This, too, distinguishes poltergeister from classic spooky ghosts: The former are personal, can appear at any time and in any place, and their behavior changes abruptly between activity and inactivity. Haunted spirits are tied to a specific location and last a long time, mostly over centuries or even millennia. Finally, poltergeists are invisible but noisy, and ghosts are visible but completely silent.

According to the para-scientific definition, “typical” poltergeist activities include scratching, knocking and popping noises , cold spots , voice perception and the turning on and off of electronic household appliances such as televisions , radios , lightbulbs and computers without any recognizable cause or visible involvement of those present . The "higher" poltergeist activities include levitations of people or objects, the disappearance and reappearance of objects and light phenomena such as B. Ball lightning and will- o'-the-wisps ( known as Hitodama in Japan ). Almost all poltergeist activities result in the destruction of home and property facilities, especially furniture, dishes and / or window panes , but people have never been seriously injured.

Popular belief

In western popular belief , especially in the USA and Europe , poltergeists are often seen as the souls of the deceased who died or were killed suddenly, mostly violent deaths, or as the work of elves and goblins . In Japan and China , poltergeist activities are attributed to certain demons such as the Bakeneko , Nekomata, and Rokurokubi . Due to the violence and destructiveness associated with poltergeist activities, poltergeists are always perceived and classified as malicious. Poltergeister are also known as "Neckgeist" or "Klopfgeist" in some regions.


The phenomenon of poltergeists has been and is being researched from a para-scientific, psychological and ecclesiastical perspective. The background is certain, recurring patterns and processes within the Poltergeist activities as well as repeatedly observed relationships between incidents and those affected.

The research began with the spiritualism - cult and its revival around 1848. At that time acquired the Fox sisters of Hydesville in the US state New York celebrity. The alleged poltergeist activities, all of which later turned out to be tricks and deceptions, have been studied by skeptics and researchers alike. Over time, such exposures damaged the reputation of spiritualism, but also the reputation of renowned researchers, and the phenomenon of poltergeist was more and more rejected and ridiculed by serious science. However, since the phenomenon of poltergeist persisted, researchers and scientists are still trying to find out the causes of poltergeist appearances. Several prevailing theories have developed and established:

Recurring, spontaneous psychokinesis

Paroscientists and psychologists such as B. Nandor Fodor and William G. Roll examined hundreds of alleged poltergeist activities and put forward the thesis that these incidents could be the result of unconsciously and impulsively released psychic energy. The background to this statement was the observation that many of the Poltergeist victims were prone to epilepsy and similar convulsive disorders or suffered from severe psychological stress. The thesis was supported by works and dissertations by well-known neurologists and psychologists such as Michael A. Persinger and Dean I. Radin , who assumed that the human brain could be able to influence the environment by means of neurological impulses and thus to produce poltergeist phenomena . This phenomenon is known as psychokinesis .

Geomagnetism and natural forces

Michael A. Persinger, WG Roll and other scientists also suspect that geomagnetic impulses could be responsible for electrical phenomena such as the turning on and off of household appliances, the appearance of light phenomena and interference in radio transmissions . Persinger found that many houses and places with alleged poltergeist activities are in geological fault zones and in zones with weather- rich soils. Persinger then considered whether excessive, geomagnetic bursts of energy could be responsible for electrical poltergeist incidents. He also found numerous buildings whose foundations rose and fell after heavy rains and frosts, whereupon cracks appeared within the building, furniture supposedly tilted by itself and unexpected noises such as crunching, popping and groaning could be heard.

Hallucinations and cheating

The third theory on the origin of supposed poltergeist activities is stated that it is a matter of simple hallucinations as a result of psychological stress or deliberate deception in the form of child pranks and staging . The former can be caused by emotional disorders such as stress, hysteria or frustration , while the latter may be motivated by the simple desire for attention. Persinger, Roll and Radin observed that many so-called Poltergeist victims were manic-depressive and / or mentally unstable . Hence, they suspect that poltergeist activities may, on the one hand, express a desire for attention and compassion and, on the other hand, result from suppressed feelings such as anger, sadness, and despair. Those affected invented or staged poltergeist activities in order to get to the center of empathy dedicated to them .

Cases of fraud and staging are often said to children and adolescents in particular, and there is usually suspicion that puberty plays a major role, as people are more often exposed to emotional fluctuations during this development phase . However, according to Persinger, Roll and some other researchers, this view is more of a cliché . Case studies have shown that children are more likely to notice unusual occurrences than adults and also react more openly. Adults, however, would suffer much more from (supposed) poltergeist activities, deal with them more emotionally and try to repress and forget what they experienced as quickly as possible. In addition, children were more inclined to deal with unusual experiences over the long term and to recreate them later in the form of pranks. Overall, according to Persinger and Roll, there does not seem to be any age limit among Poltergeist victims.


Reports on poltergeists and their work can be found in all known cultures and epochs . The Roman consul Pliny the Younger reported (around 100 AD) about a haunted house in Greece that caught his attention.

With the conclusion of the Reformation within the Church in the early 17th century and the split into the Roman Catholic and Evangelical Churches , a fierce religious struggle began over various theological views and doctrines , including those dealing with the afterlife.

In the course of the spiritism movement from 1848 onwards, there was also "Poltergeistswemmen". However, as more and more skeptics, scientists and psychologists investigated and questioned such incidents, more and more cases of fraud became known.

In the following, the four best-known cases of poltergeist will be presented.

The Tidworth Drummer

A well-known, historical Poltergeistgeschichte is that of the so-called drummer of Tidworth ( Tidworth ) (formerly Tedworth ) in the British county of Wiltshire in the year 1661. A tramp named William Drury was, according to tradition middle of the year due to an arrest warrant to the high judge John Mompesson Arrested for "fraudulent misrepresentation of money". A drum that Drury always carried with him was confiscated by Mompesson ; Drury was to be released for the time being until the judicial investigations were over. According to tradition, Drury was very angry about this. When Mompesson returned from a business trip to London, he found his wife and children completely distraught. They reported that they were startled by loud drum noises almost every night. Soon afterwards, the drumming could be heard even above the roof of the house and could be heard by passers-by. Furthermore, furniture began to fly around and people levitated, even domestic workers were no longer safe. Poltergeist activities reportedly ended in 1662 when Drury was brought to court and exiled for witchcraft . In the meantime, Mompesson had destroyed the drum out of desperation. In the meantime, King Charles II learned of the incidents and sent the royal architect Christopher Wren and the court chaplain Joseph Glanvill to Tidworth. While Wren remained skeptical, Glanvill is said to have witnessed poltergeist phenomena himself.

The Fox Sisters from Hydesville

The Fox sisters, lithograph around 1852

Another famous, historical case of alleged poltergeist activity is that of the sisters Margaret and Kate Fox, who claimed around 1848 that they heard strange knocking noises in a house in Hydesville, New York, which they had recently moved into Attributed to the ghost of a peddler who was murdered and buried in the basement . The family adopted the long-established technique of “communication” with such “knocking spirits”, in which each letter in the alphabet is assigned a certain number of knocking symbols, and sought publicity with great success. Seances and Poltergeister were henceforth part of the regular daily program of the Fox family. The first public demonstration of the girls' "skills" in Rochester in November 1848 was attended by 400 paying guests. In 1888, the Fox sisters admitted to having faked all of their "poltergeist activities" and "necromancy". The case of the Fox sisters is therefore one of the most well-known fraud cases in poltergeist research.

Haunted Rosenheim

A series of events that took place in a law firm in Rosenheim in the fall of 1967 is referred to as the Spook of Rosenheim . The case also attracted a great deal of international attention in the mass media. The approach of the lead parapsychologist was heavily criticized and, according to skeptics, the case was exposed as a hoax.

Poltergeist from Enfield

Among the most famous modern cases of alleged poltergeist activity of the so-called part Poltergeist of Enfield (also known as Enfield poltergeist and haunting of Enfield known). The location of the events was house 284 on Green Street in Enfield, a borough of London , the victims of the events were the Hodgson family. The poltergeist activities occurred in the period from August 1977 to September 1978 and comprised the classic repertoire of "typical poltergeist phenomena" (knocking noises, flying furniture and levitation). They were documented audio-technically and photographically . The phenomenon was investigated by two renowned members of the Society for Psychical Research , Maurice Grosse and Guy Lyon Playfair . George Fallows , the photographer of the Daily Mirror, captured the events . The results of the investigations, which were followed closely by the press around the world, are still controversial today . The majority of research rates the “Poltergeist of Enfield” as a case of fraud, as family members retrospectively admitted to having staged several incidents . The film The Conjuring 2 and the British miniseries Invisible Visitors (The Enfield Haunting) are based on this case.

Cultural reception

In the modern world, especially in Western culture, poltergeists and poltergeist activities are popular main characters and themes in antagonistic form in:

In countries like the USA and Japan, the phenomenon of poltergeister is sometimes taken seriously, sometimes mocked, which is reflected, among other things, in countless video fakes on various video websites and in joke news and newspaper ducks . In modern film and literary works that deal with poltergeist activities, people primarily play with the fear of confronting an event that eludes previous rational explanations and knowledge and can hardly be controlled.


  • Loyd Auerbach: Hauntings and Poltergeists: A Ghost Hunter's Guide . Ronin Publishing, Berkeley 2004, ISBN 1579510728 .
  • Robert Aziz: CG Jung's Psychology of Religion and Synchronicity . SUNY Press, Albany 1990, ISBN 0791401669 .
  • Debbie Felton: Haunted Greece and Rome: Ghost Stories from Classical Antiquity . University of Texas Press, Austin 1999, ISBN 0292725086 .
  • Pat Fitzhugh: The Bell Witch: The Full Account . The Armand Press, Nashville 2009, ISBN 097051560X .
  • Brian Haughton: Famous Ghost Stories: Legends and Lore . The Rosen Publishing Group, 2011, ISBN 1448848407 .
  • James Houran, Rense Lange, Gertrude R. Schmeidler, John Beloff: Hauntings and Poltergeists: Multidisciplinary Perspectives . McFarland, Jefferson (North Carolina) 2007, ISBN 0786432497 .
  • Brian Inglis: Natural and supernatural: a history of the paranormal from earliest times to 1914 . Prism Press, Dorset 1992, ISBN 1853270741 .
  • Billy Roberts: Psychology of a Medium: And a Look at the Paranormal and the World of Mediums . O Books, Cincinnati 2012, ISBN 178099396X .

Web links

Wiktionary: Poltergeist  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h i j James Houran, Rense Lange, Gertrude R. Schmeidler, John Beloff: Hauntings and Poltergeists . Pp. 3-7, 66-68, 163-166.
  2. a b c d e f g h i j Loyd Auerbach: Hauntings and Poltergeists . Pp. 13-17.
  3. a b Pat Fitzhugh: The Bell Witch . Pp. 247-251.
  4. ^ Elli Kohen: World history and myths of cats . Pp. 48-51.
  5. ^ MW de Visser: The Dog and the Cat in Japanese Superstition . P. 31.
  6. ^ A b c Brian Haughton: Famous Ghost Stories . Pp. 172-176.
  7. ^ A b Colin Wilson: Poltergeist: A Classic Study in Destructive Haunting . P. 14 & 29.
  8. ^ A b c Robert Aziz: CG Jung's Psychology of Religion and Synchronicity . Pp. 96-98.
  9. Debbie Felton: Haunted Greece and Rome . Pp. 34-38.
  10. ^ Brian Inglis: Natural and supernatural. Pp. 120 & 121.
  11. ^ History of the Tidworth Drummer
  12. ^ Allan, H. Schiff, G. Kramer: Falsche Geister - Echte Schwindler , Zsolnay 1969.
  13. Kendrick Frazier: Science Confronts the Paranormal . Prometheus Books, 1986, ISBN 978-1-61592-619-0 , pp. 35ff ..
  14. ^ Billy Roberts: Psychology of a Medium : pp. 48 & 49.
  15. James Wan: The Conjuring June 2, 10, 2016, accessed December 1, 2016 .
  16. Harald Keller: The horror in the child's eye. October 27, 2016. Retrieved February 28, 2017 .
  17. Ken A. Jackson: Perceptions of Modernity . P. 82.