If I See a Ghost Are My Senses

Topics: Sense, Perception, Paranormal Pages: 6 (1723 words) Published: October 8, 1999

To complement the full apprehension of the terms which will be used throughout this argument, a number of meanings taken from The Lexicon Webster Dictionary is provided:
The soul or spirit of a dead person. A disembodied spirit.
(psy) an apparent perception, as by sight or hearing, for which there is no real external cause, as distinguished from illusion
A false impression or belief. False perception or conception of some object of sense. A perception of a thing which misrepresents it, or gives it qualities not present in reality.
Creator and ruler of the universe, eternal, infinite spirit, the Supreme Being.

“Hobgoblins, ghoulsand other malevolent forces are part of our cultural heritage. But can these nightmares simply be dismissed as superstitious by-products of the medieval mind?” Introduction to Creatures from Inner Space by S. Gooch

The subject will be argued from the two possible, yet opposite, sides: the “ghost” as a non-existent and the “ghost” as an existent spirit. This will be done through the elements of perception. Perception, although being so complex, is the medium by which individuals receive information from the surrounding world.

Let us consider the situation where a person believes that s/he has perceived a ghost. This can be an optical illusion created by the classical example of shadows, or by sound (the wind) which when applied to them the Gestalt psychology we can understand how anyone of us can derive a form from the few elements perceived and rush to a conclusion. Gestalt psychologists have shown how humans use their interests to structure the information perceived, therefore not considering the different parts making it up. As we can see clearly, in an illusion it’s the minority of the outer senses which are stimulated. Same thing with hallucination, but this time the inner senses do probably play a stronger role. We all know how young persons, when exposed to ghost stories, do have nightmares and/or restless nights. From this we can understand how this retrieval of memory together with imagination and lack of “common sense” can bring about hallucinations.

In fact these same “tricks” are what wannabe mediums use in order to deceive their clients. The client has already a strong interest to, for example communicate with a dead relative. This desire will enable the subject to let himself or herself be deceived by blocking out unwanted data and accepting only the information that fits the pre-structured form.

All these examples fall under error of perception but the following is an interesting experiment carried out by the Toronto Society Of Psychical Research. They discovered that séance phenomena might be attributed, at least in part, to the same psychokinetic force that is commonly believed to be responsible for poltergeist (unquiet ghost) activity. They suggested that this force could be produced by the minds of the sitters, fuelled perhaps by their unanimous belief that such phenomena would occur during the séance. They theorized that the role of the medium was that of a placebo, and that no particular psychic sensitivity was necessary for a successful séance.

Apart from considering all the forms of perceptional errors, we can explain the existence of such spirits that are perceived (but not always believed!) If we want to stick to the Rationalist philosophy and therefore state that such presences should be reasoned out, rather than just experienced, we can say that this subject has brought together many professionals from around the globe, using their knowledge and their equipment to get the truth out. This type of philosophical approach is what I am trying to use to explain these so called ghosts.

“Visitations are experienced today by intelligent,...

Bibliography: S. Gooch, Creatures From Inner Space, Hutchinson Publishing Group: London, 1984

S. Borella, L’Io Nella Percezione, Citta` Nuova: Rome, 1983

W. G. Chase (Ed.), Visual Information Processing, Academic Press: New York, 1973

R. Boar and N. Blundell, The Worlds Greatest Ghosts, Hamlyn: London, 1995

C. Green and C. McCreery, Apparitions, Hamish Hamilton: London, 1975

The New American Bible, Good Counsel Publishers: Chicago, 1971

D. F. Kellerman (Ed.), The Lexicon Webster Dictionary, Lexicon, 1977

J. Ritchie, Inside The Paranormal, Fontana: London, 1992
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