Florida International University
Paranormal Beliefs: Ghost
As told in the book, The Psychology of Mature Spirituality, “Intense enthusiasm for everything from a credit card to a new baby, a foreign vacation to a museum membership has replaced what, in another period of time, might have been a curiosity or even a sense of awe about existence itself and our purpose within it.” (Young-Eisendrath, 2000) Ghosts have traveled their way through human history and have paved their way straight into our American culture. Engulfed by a society where the spiritual connection to the rest of the world seems to be less and less needed, ghosts have still left us perplexed. It is a well-known fact that humans across the globe differ on their beliefs about the spiritual world. The soul, by definition is known in many spiritual, traditional, philosophical and psychological traditions as the incorporeal and immortal essence of a person, living thing, or object. Soul can function as a synonym for spirit, mind or self. One’s beliefs are centered on one’s perception and experiences. While researching the stimulating topic of ghosts, it is plain to see that ghosts have always been cross-cultural. Throughout the history of man, one thing has been sure, it’s that we have always been curious of the Afterlife, these ideas differ across cultures. One thing is undeniable and it is that ghosts serve the purpose of connecting human beings to the spirits on the other side of mortal life. Ghosts stand firm in history, stand tall in a technological world where they still cannot be explained.
In traditional belief and fiction, a ghost is the soul or spirit of a deceased person or animal that can appear, in visible form or other manifestation, to the living. Descriptions of the apparition of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to realistic, life-like visions. The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person is known as necromancy, or in spiritism, an séance.
The belief in manifestations of the spirits of the dead is widespread, dating back to animism or ancestor worship in pre-literate cultures. Certain religious practices—funeral rites, exorcisms, and some practices of spiritualism and ritual magic—are specifically designed to appease the spirits of the dead. Ghosts are generally described as solitary essences that haunt particular locations, objects, or people they were associated with in life, though stories of phantom armies, ghost trains, phantom ships, and even ghost animals and quantities have also been recounted. ("Ghost," 2012)
We all seem to be familiar with scary stories; most often they are ghost tails. Initially introduced to us as children, they follow us into adulthood, as they continue to be entertaining. While ghost stories are often explicitly meant to be scary, they have been written to serve all sorts of purposes, from comedy to morality tales. Ghosts often appear in the narrative as sentinels or prophets of things to come. Whatever their uses, the ghost story is in some format present in all cultures around the world, and may be passed down orally or in written form. (Wikipedia). The thought of ghosts engenders irrational fear of the unknown. Since the dawn of man, during a dark night when wild creatures lurk nearby, spooky stories told around a campfire have had the power to give you goose bumps and send chills down your spine. There is a rich lore about ghosts that has produced numerous stories of sightings and haunting, including such classical tales like "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving. The King James Version of the Bible (Mark 15:37) uses the expression "to give up the ghost" to describe the moment when Jesus died. The expression implies belief in an afterlife where death is the point at which the soul (ghost) leaves the body. Many...