You've seen them depicted in movies, read stories of their unnerving activities and have seen television shows and documentaries sensationalizing them. You have probably seen rare photos of them and have likely heard of first-hand ghostly encounters from friends and relatives. I receive dozens of reports from readers every month. Perhaps you have even seen a ghost yourself.
But what are ghosts? I'll give you the answer straight out: No one knows for certain.
There are, however, many theories to explain the thousands upon thousands of documented experiences that people around the world have had since the beginning of recorded history. Ghosts and hauntings seem to be a relatively common part of the human experience. And there appear to be several types of ghosts or hauntings, and more than one theory may be needed to explain them all.
The traditional view of ghosts is that they are the spirits of dead people that for some reason are "stuck" between this plane of existence and the next, often as a result of some tragedy or trauma. Many ghost hunters and psychics believe that such earth-bound spirits don't know they are dead. Veteran ghost hunter Hans Holzer says, "A ghost is a human being who has passed out of the physical body, usually in a traumatic state and is not aware usually of his true condition. We are all spirits encased in a physical body. At the time of passing, our spirit body continues into the next dimension. A ghost, on the other hand, due to trauma, is stuck in our physical world world and needs to be released to go on."
Ghosts exist in a kind of limbo in which they haunt the scenes of their deaths or locations that were pleasant to them in life. Very often, these types of ghosts are able to interact with the living. They are, on some level, aware of the living and react to being seen on the occasions that they materialize. Some psychics claim to be able to communicate with them. And when they do, they often try to help these spirits to understand that they are dead and to move on to the next stage of their existence.
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