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Do Ghosts Exist Only In Our Minds?

Do Ghosts Exist Only In Our Minds?

More Folks Than You Might Think Have Seen A Ghost

Personal encounters with the supernatural are surprisingly common among people in cultures around the world. In fact, an impressive portion of us have had a personal experience with a spook. In the majority of cases, the ghosts are those of departed loved ones, including pets. But a significant number of reported paranormal events involve the disembodied spirits of complete strangers.

In addition, according to a roundup of public polling results published in Psychology Today, belief in ghosts among Americans almost tripled between 1978 and 2005.

In its October, 2012 article, Psychology Today cited Gallup surveys saying that 32 percent of Americans polled in 2005 agreed that in certain situations spirits could come back from the dead—up from 11 percent who answered the same question in the affirmative nearly 30 years before. The article also contained results from the Pew Research Center, which found “twice as many Americans reporting that they had seen or been in the presence of a ghost (18%) in 2009 than in 1990 (9%). In 2009, 29% reported that they had felt in touch with someone who had already died, compared with only 17% in 1990.”

According to Scientific American, people most likely to see a ghost are the recently bereaved. The magazine cited a European study whose conclusion was that fully 80 percent of elderly people who had lost their spouses saw or otherwise experienced seemingly real contact with those deceased partners within the month following their passing.

Vaughan Bell, the article’s author, assumed that these supernatural experiences were hallucinations. But he added, “As a marker of how vivid such visions can seem, almost a third of the people reported that they spoke in response to their experiences.

“Thankfully . . . distressing experiences tend to be rare, and most people who experience hallucinations during bereavement find them comforting, as if they were re-connecting with something of the positive from the person’s life. Perhaps this reconnecting is reflected in the fact that the intensity of grief has been found to predict the number of pleasant hallucinations, as has the happiness of the marriage to the person who passed away.”

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