Interpreting the behaviour of spirits is not an easy task. But, are we getting it right ?

Waking up with a start because you heard an unusual noise. The door moves slightly, and the creak is there again. Heart rate rises, a cold sweat appears, and the mind goes crazy, thinking of what could have possibly made that door move.

Did you really see it? Hear it? Are you still dreaming? Suddenly you no longer feel alone.

According to YouGov, 1 in 4 people in Britain (39%) believe that you may not be alone and that the noise you hear, the sights you see are a sign that ghosts exist. 9% also believe that they have communicated with the dead and 5% have experienced this more than once.

In a similar poll for America, 20% of respondents said that ghosts “definitely exist”. A further 25% say that they “probably exist.”

There have certainly been some plausible events that lend support to these claims.

The Enfield Poltergeist haunted a family for 18 months in 1977, with many people witnessing the levitation of an 11-year-old girl, temperature drops, and furniture being propelled. The events came with a signed affidavit from a police officer stating that she had seen the paranormal activity, while reporters left with bruises after items caught them while flying around the kitchen.

With more and more witness statements substantiating the claim, as well as over 2,000 inexplicable incidents, Janet; the girl mostly affected, still can not understand how people called their traumatic experiences a hoax.

This was not the only family to have witnesses for the poltergeists in their home. On 8th and 9th August 2016 police were called to a house in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire.

Officers were said to have witnessed paranormal activity via clothes soaring around a room, a levitating dog and oven doors opening and closing. The family were so scared that they moved in with family members to escape the ordeal.

When attending, police officers expected to be met by mental health issues, yet very quickly called for superiors to join them. An active inquiry was swiftly initiated. As there was no crime, nor mental health issue, they called on the church to eradicate the poltergeist.

The Vatican officially recognised The International Association of Exorcists in 2014, following the increasing reports of demonic possession. This has raised concerns with nonbelievers and 1500 child abuse cases per year are linked to witchcraft and possession.

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There are some schools of thought that suggest science and Eidolism; the belief in ghosts, cannot co-exist.

MACKAYAN: if ghosts could talk

Believing in ghosts, spirits and possession has become so frowned upon within the medical profession that in 2015 a doctor had his licence to practice revoked for taking a mental health patient to a church for an exorcism.

The Catholic Church has made attempts to ensure that exorcisms are appropriate, by implementing a panel for making such decisions. This group includes psychiatric experts who weigh up all of the available information and if deemed suitable, allow the eradication of the demons to be carried out by an ordained priest.

Despite this agreement from professionals, demonic infestation is still more likely to be considered a symptom of mental health illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Following this belief, all the witnesses to the Enfield and Rutherglen poltergeists have one of these disorders. Do the 39% of Britain and 20% of Americans also have a mental health issue?

Scientists may have the answer when they describe sleep paralysis. Baland Jalal, a neuroscientist from the University of Cambridge describes this as dreaming with your eyes open. This could explain the individual experiences; however, can it explain the witnesses. It is quite farfetched to believe everyone had the same dream, at the same time. Especially with some observers, such as the police, being in the middle of a working shift.

Another scientist, Davis Smailes has promoted hallucinations as the cause of such events. Hallucinations can include anything that your senses pick up by accident. For example, thinking that your phone has vibrated in your bag, that you can smell toast when you are hungry or that your name has been said when it not the case.

There are some schools of thought that suggest science and Eidolism; the belief in ghosts, cannot co-exist. Then again, with many scientists also believing in ghosts; Marie Curie & Pierre Curie, Thomas Edison and William Crookes, to name a few, what is the real story? Do the ghastly ghouls really exist or are they a part of your mind playing tricks? If only they could talk.

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