Although our Apparitional Experiences Primer is not meant to be a complete and thorough overview, we have covered a lot of ground about what parapsychologists and psychical researchers have learned about ghosts and apparitions since the 19th century. We hope that it is clear from our efforts that, contrary to some claims, there has indeed been a great deal of research – past and present, beginning and ongoing – regarding a number of aspects of the apparitional experiences.
Over the last few months, we have discussed the following:
- Types of Apparitions
- Characteristics of Apparitions
- Spontaneous Apparitional Cases and Field Research
- Apparitions in the Laboratory
- Characteristics of Apparitional Experiencers
- Theories and Perspectives on Apparitions
So what could paranormal enthusiasts possibly take away from all this that may be useful in their own field investigations? On the basis of our overview, we offer a few tips:
1.) Despite the efforts so far by parapsychologists and psychical researchers, there is still much to be learned about ghosts and apparitions. Paranormal enthusiasts can be quite helpful in this regard, and can potentially contribute to the efforts. We recommend that, in documenting reported cases of apparitions, paranormal enthusiasts be as thorough as possible, noting specific details such as the type of apparition, the characteristics it seems to display (according to the witnesses), the conditions at the time it was seen (e.g., place, time, activities of the witnesses), any possible patterns related to its appearance (e.g., does it only appear at certain times of day, or in a certain area?), etc. We further recommend that these details be thoroughly recorded in a timely manner; keeping a detailed log book is always a valued effort, and documentation through audio or video recording can be quite helpful so that details are not lost to memory and can be double-checked later on for clarification and follow-up.
2.) In considering possible ways to account for apparitional experiences, we recommend that paranormal enthusiasts pay attention to the personality and psychological state of witnesses, being alert for characteristics related to those discussed in Section 6. In relation to this, we further recommend that paranormal enthusiasts carefully consider the psychological state of the witness, being respectful of his or her needs and wishes. Since apparitional experiences often tend to be spontaneous in occurrence and seem out of the ordinary, they may be disorienting or even frightening to some witnesses. In the case of crisis or post-mortem apparitions that occur soon after death, the witness may be in a state of grief or depression. In such cases, it is suggested that the investigators either have a mental health professional accompany them during the investigation of the case, or be able to refer the witness to the appropriate professional should it seem necessary.
With still so much to be learned, we leave this primer open-ended, with the hope that efforts from both parapsychologists and dedicated paranormal enthusiasts may continue to open new doors to better answers, and thus shed more light on the nature of ghosts and apparitions.