What is a poltergeist? Translated from German, the words “polter” and “geist” mean “racketing ghost”. Indeed, this variety of ghosts who have been chronicled since ancient times are usually loud, noisy and often violent. The inexplicable banging of doors, breaking of crockery or crockery floating through the air and then landing on the floor with a crash, throwing of stones and rocks, overturning and moving of heavy furniture, beds lifted high into the air, sometimes with their terrified occupants, the shaking of beds and swirling of currents and so many other activities are associated with poltergeists. Some of these poltergeist “symptoms” were in evidence when we visited the home of a well known TV channel owner.

But there were other “symptoms” too that were somewhat different. For instance, there was no noise or violence when a plate containing biscuits that had been placed on the table along with tea for us glided silently before our startled gaze from the table to the sideboard, a distance of about three feet. Then the door opened and shut quietly a couple of times but except for an inexplicable gust of wind, no one entered. My tea cup and saucer sailed up into the air but were carefully deposited back on the table after circling the ceiling a few times.

Was it a poltergeist at work and was it this poltergeist which caused crippling slowdowns after very encouraging start-up for the TV channel? The slowdowns were caused primarily by staff leaving because of strange happenings such as computers, cameras and lights, etc getting inter-changed and bunging up programmes shortly before telecast time. In one instance, the teleprompter began swaying sideways and back, sideways and back during news time. 

Research has revealed that many so called poltergeist cases are fraudulent but enough instances have been found to convince researchers that the poltergeist is a genuine psychic phenomena and cannot be explained by normal physical laws. Way back in 1982, a movie called The Unexplained: Poltergeists ought to explain what could be causing these strange phenomena and soon became a favourite with many viewers. It was followed by Poltergeist II: The Other Side in 1986. Incidentally, Carl Jung, one of the founding fathers of modern psychology actually encountered poltergeist activity.

In attempting to understand the forces at work, researchers have surmised that poltergeist’s feats in moving objects which are often seen to fly in violation of the law of gravity, such as gliding, rising and turning corners,  are examples of psychokinesis, or PK,  the ability to influence inanimate objects through mind power.

Even now, the most talked about examples of so-called psychokinesis continue to be those of the Israeli Uri Geller and a Russian woman named Nina Kulagina. While Geller’s feats have been largely dismissed as fraudulent , Kulagina’s feats of moving and affecting small objects without physical contact have been witnessed by Western parapsychologists but were never tested through rigourous laboratory conditions.

However, the PK theory as the cause behind poltergeist phenomena suffers from a major drawback. That’s because the energy involved in the most poltergeist phenomena is far in excess of anything displayed or claimed by Kulagina and other PK exponents. The best that they can manage is to move small objects like pens or a paper whereas poltergeists can lift heavy objects such as beds high into the air in a split second, can cause crockery to fly across the room, overturn and move heavy furniture, hurl heavy rocks and stones, sometimes in quick succession and for a very long spell of time. Then again, poltergeists don’t seem to confine themselves to any one form, say metal or wood, or crockery, or stones. They can work any or all at will, and often more than one form or type at the same time.

Research has revealed that many so called poltergeist cases are fraudulent but enough instances have proved to the researchers that the poltergeist is a genuine psychic  phenomena.

There was a time when researchers hypothesised that poltergeists needed a “youthful” source of energy in the house, such as a young or adolescent girl or boy, but preferably the latter. It was also believed that poltergeist activities could not be sustained. They could at most last for a few minutes but not for continuous hours. Both these conjectures have been found to be flawed. Poltergeist activity has occurred in the house of an old, sedentary couple in their seventies, with no known source of youthful energy. And poltergeist activity has been known to last for more than two months, including more than an hour at a stretch.

Therefore, researchers have tried to zero in on a possible source of energy that might be utilised by poltergeists. But so far, their attempts to explain poltergeist phenomena have resulted, as a major publication summed up, in replacing one mystery with another. And obviously, it is even more baffling why any spirit or being that could marshal and utilise such remarkable energy should “expend it on such purposeless activities”.

But are they as purposeless as they seem? In the case of the TV channel owner, there certainly was and is a youthful source of energy in the form of younger members of his family. The channel owner’s son did in fact describe some very interesting supernatural incidents he had witnessed both at home and at the studio. However, when the poltergeist theory was discussed with him, he had doubts.

Both father and son were more inclined to think it was a dead family member who had been jealous of them in his lifetime who was behind the supernatural mischief. This “whodunit”, “who is it” mystery needs to be cracked and pretty fast at that because the TV channel owner’s already huge financial losses are mounting.  But that’ll be only the beginning. Neutralising whoever it is or whatever mysterious agency is at work is never an easy task because its when supernatural hypothesis and theories become literal that the real challenge takes shape.

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