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Haunted People Syndrome: Study sheds new light on paranormal experiences

Our fascination with hauntings has spawned countless TV shows and movies, feeding our morbid obsession with the afterlife. Picture: Pixabay

Our fascination with hauntings has spawned countless TV shows and movies, feeding our morbid obsession with the afterlife. Picture: Pixabay

Published Jun 22, 2022

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People who have experienced paranormal events are often told it’s all in the mind.

Many choose to believe these ghostly apparitions are sent to them for a reason - restless souls trying to find closure while others are hell-bent on causing terror.

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Our fascination with hauntings has spawned countless TV shows and movies, feeding our morbid obsession with the afterlife.

But what if it’s all just truly in our minds?

A recent study published in Spirituality in Clinical Practice may have touched on the phenomenon on a more tangible level.

The five-year research has now resulted in a new book ‘Ghosted’ after the study authors went through twenty peer-reviewed research papers, Forbes reported.

The findings of the study have even coined a new term for hauntings and ghostly experiences - ‘Haunted People Syndrome.’

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“Haunting phenomena are complex intertwined phenomena involving personality, ideology, culture, and previous experience towards making sense of an event or series of events deemed haunting,” psychologist Brian Laythe explained to Forbes.

The study’s primary goal was to use research to build a better understanding of hauntings and related paranormal phenomena, research collaborators told the publication.

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What they proposed was four core features of Haunted People Syndrome:

  • The meaning-making or narrative created around haunting experiences is influenced by personal backgrounds, beliefs, and personality characteristics
  • Anxiety and distress regarding hauntings are a function of the nature, closeness, and spontaneity of anomalous experiences
  • Distress and unease make anomalous experiences more likely to occur
  • Anomalous experiences tend to be contagious, i.e, anomalous experiences can spread to others

Haunted People Syndrome could also be tied into ghost sickness.

It’s a cultural belief among some traditional indigenous peoples in North America as well as among Polynesian peoples, according to Wikipedia.

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Reported symptoms included general weakness, loss of appetite, suffocation feelings, recurring nightmares, and a feeling of terror.

Touching on symptoms of hauntings, Laythe told Forbes, “Just like symptoms of the flu, the severity of the diagnosis is a function of the degree and rarity of symptoms and their length.”

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