Is Modern Day Ghost Hunting & Investigating Disrespectful?

Photo on 2013-01-19 at 09.17Written by Alex Matsuo

This perhaps may be an armchair critic rant, but given the amount of teams I’ve been working with in terms of consulting for them or doing classes and I’ve been noticing a trend. Now, this is merely an observation that I would honestly love to get input on for anyone who wants to pitch in their .02.

As an investigator and researcher, I’ve always felt as though client work is a form of conflict mediation, which usually results in miscommunication. But I feel like many ghost hunters, teams, etc. automatically pin the presence as the enemy or “the other”. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about that. In most of the cases I’ve worked, the presence has been a deceased human being, and usually the phenomenon is a response to the client’s actions or behavior. Not saying that one or the other is wrong, but where did the whole idea of treating the presence or phenomenon as the enemy right off the bat come from?

When it comes to cases where the client is having a negative experience with an unseen force, of course the team wants to come in and be the problem solvers and help. But keep in mind that client work can be a form of “he said/she said” in terms of miscommunications. What may be the ghost trying to communicate can be interpreted as an attack by the client. And because the client is physically present and able to verbally tell their story, investigators give them the upper hand when in reality, perhaps the client could be inadvertently responsible for some of the conflict.

Couple-Yelling

I feel to approach the presence and communicate with them defensively is a bit disrespectful. And the thing that gets me more than anything is PROVOKING. When there’s no response, you’re either dealing with something that doesn’t want to communicate (and hey as living beings there are people we don’t want to talk to) or there might not be anything there. And if you’re provoking something that is inhuman or evil…even worse. That’s like poking a sleeping dragon and then being shocked when you get burned. Provoking to me can be dangerous in a client case because we’re not the ones who have to keep living in the house after the investigation is over, and the investigators themselves aren’t the ones who usually don’t deal with the consequences. The idea of communicating with the unseen presence as if they’re the enemy right off the bat is very sad to me and takes away many opportunities for more effective communication that could lead to resolution.

I find the world of investigating and research to be a beautiful thing. It’s communicating with someone who is deceased or something from another realm of existence. Asking the presence to perform tricks for our entertainment is just wrong and on the same level of asking a human being to juggle for us just because we asked. Going in and speaking English and not the native tongue of the presence just shows ignorance. Couldn’t we take the time to learn more about the context of the dead before going in? Perhaps if we approach our investigations with a bit more objectivity and respect, maybe the other side will be more open and willing to communicate with us. Maybe instead of letting the client become so dependent on the investigator, we should educate and empower them by talking to them about what could cause paranormal phenomenon, educate them, and let them know that they still have control over the situation even when they feel helpless. In reality, maybe working client cases is a form of conflict mediation where the investigator is the middle-man helping to resolve a problem between the two worlds of the living and the dead.

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10 thoughts on “Is Modern Day Ghost Hunting & Investigating Disrespectful?

  1. You hit the nail on the head. As the founder of G.h.o.s.t. paranormal I preach to my team constantly about this issue. IF there is some type of spirit in the house they MUST be treated with the utmost respect! These were people with families, jobs, et . No different from us. If we cannot get a response we WILL NOT provoke in any way. If the spirit doesn’t want to communicate then so be it as we as people pick and choose those who we prefer to communicate with. No difference. I believe t.v. and movies are horrible examples of what paranormal investigating really is. We are not thrill seekers yet a group who has the desire to help. These are real people with real problems. A fluent education of the paranormal is a must whenever entering an investigation. I personally preach to clients that if they believe they have a paranormal problem and seeking help from a group, research these groups, ask lotsof questions…..what have you investigated? How long have you been investigating? Do you have personal references from past clients? The biggest problem is that there is no qualifications to become a paranormal group. Create a fancy website and business cards and your in! We enter each investigation with an open mind but yet we are there to prove or disprove a haunting. We have found that most of our clients are avid watchers of paranormal shows on t.v. and found that in most cases we are able to find other things such as high emf, overactive imagination, and so forth. Most groups do not follow this protocol and assume every location is haunted based on word of mouth.

  2. Your bang on
    A lot of investigators rush in like a SWAT team wanting to save the day, they don’t take the time to research all available venues and jump to conclusions, nor do they take the time to find out exactly what is going on either, they want to wrap it up and move on to the next place ASAP.
    Provoking should only be used on those spirits that have demonstrated anger to the point of acting out in violent ways, sometimes one has to push a bully back. It should only be done by someone who knows what they are doing as a last resort and in a way that allows the spirit a way to back down and save face.
    Conflict resolution is the best course; the haunter more than likely lived there first or even built the place, therefore they came before the complainants. Most of the hauntings I have investigated have been resolved without further incident, not all but most. It just takes time, patience and a lot of work to figure it out.

    Richard Palmisano

  3. You make several excellent points, Alex. The endeavor should be referred as “investigating” not “hunting” and it is quite telling when one prefers the latter word to the former. Paranormal research is for a higher purpose so it needs to be performed on a higher level.

  4. Alex, the article you wrote does identify many areas that are not commonly addressed. Even in our personal lives, communication is they key to success. Furthermore, the paranormal community is small and negative experiences by the client interacting with teams gives us all a bad name.

    This all boils down to a few things that we have in our team meetings and our policy.

    1). When investigating a home/domicile always go in with the understanding that what you do here, does have and leaves a lasting impression. Not for just any energies, but for your perceived impression from the client.
    2). Establish what are the expectations when working with a client first. I see many teams jump into a home, start a EVP sessions without defining what exactly you are doing or what you are going to do. Define what services you can provide and what you are not capable of providing, and what resources you have available for them. Establish the boundary.
    3). Create a document that outlines what your team does and will be doing. Keep the client involved in all the processes so they do not feel they are being taken advantage.
    4). This is not a television series and stop re-enacting forceful encounters to get some “shock” value and a response. See #1
    5). Do more than just take photos, EVP and video. Do something useful while there, such as: measure the EMF in each room and provide the client with a blueprint of the EMF levels in the home that are from electrical items. Educate them on the importance of EMF and how and when to reduce the EMF in the home.
    6). Educate the client on home cleansing and where they can fond some help for this. If you do not provide this service.
    7). Provide the client with some communication tools; avoid heated arguments in the home that may lead to increased negative experiences. Take the discussion outside and draft a charter that will be followed to ensure communication and conflict are overcome resourcefully.

    I founded our team based on knowledge, experience and how to look at the larger picture. Since we started this process, we have nothing but satisfied clientele. They have been involved from the start and we continue communications weekly to followup with them. Give the client a sense that you are owning the processes and keeping them informed.

    • A few followup items. We all must come together and define the difference between a Ghost Hunt and Investigation.
      1). Ghost Hunt..We define the Ghost Hunt as an opportunity to get some activity in a location that just happens to be present. For example; Let’s hunt in that old warehouse, it can provide a opportunity for each team member to use and know how to work the area and tools.
      2). Investigation… Is investigating a specific claim that is extremely formal and by the numbers. Using set guidelines, process, evidence chain of custody, due-dilligence and validation. The client then gets some kind of document to outline what was claimed, what was discovered and what is/was debunked or explanations.

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