Poltergeists - different cases

We were talking about the movie "The Conjuring 2" in another thread, and my response about the Enfield Poltergeist-case there got a bit longer than I thought, so I moved it to a new thread here.>

Enfield Poltergeist

Even though this story is criticised for instances of some trickery done by this girl, there were many incidents where witnesses watched activity that didn't include any of the kids. Like the two police officers watching a chair slide across the room when they were present, watching it happen right in front of them. Or the photographer that watched the apport of small objects appearing and flying across the room, even hitting him in the head. In many cases with poltergeists a ray of activities can happen very quickly and then go dormant for longer stretches of times. I can imagine that how the whole ordeal of this case was something like this:

- The Hodgsons family was plagued by instances of poltergeist activities, and was dumbfounded and scared of what was happening. As the mother said; it started with the kids claiming they heard knocks and tapping from the walls and furnitures in their room. The mother thought the kids where playing around and was irritated by their nonsense when they were screaming. She then heard this for herself in the room, and watched the heavy chest of drawers moved by itself out in the room, and when she were trying to push it back she was unable to.They initially sought help from their neighbours, a man who went in to Hodgsons house alone - while the whole Hodgsons family stayed at his house - and he could hear these knockings in the wall that seemed to following him around while he was walking around from room to room in the whole house, looking for the cause of them.

They called the police who came and investigated. While there the officers watched one of the chair in the livingroom slide across the room while no one was near it. The officers immediately looked if the floor was tilted, and if the chair could have slide because of that - but it wasn't. They looked for wires or strings and found nothing. As the police said this was nothing they could help the family with 8since it wasn't anything criminal going on), they said that they have to look for help elsewhere. Without knowing who could help them, the mother called the local newspaper to hear if they knew of someone, and they of course sent a news-team there. As I mentioned above, the photographer and reporter watched the apport of small objects appearing and flying across the room, even hitting one of them in the head, while they were in one of the room.

When Maurice Grosse of the SPR got involved in the case I think he got somewhat emotionally invested in this. He stated that he wouldn't abandon them on this case and help them through it no matter what He was staying there and doing vigils days and weeks on ends and eagerly waiting for some poltergeist activity he could record, but the activity was dormant then. I think that especially Janet, whom, as the rest of them, was really afraid of what had happened to them initially, thought of Maurice as a father figure, and really wanted to please him as he was so eager to really get evidence of this poltergeist recorded. But more, I think she felt the comfort of having him around, and if this poltergeist stayed dormant for a longer period of time the risk was that Maurice would eventually lose interest and not come around and stay there. So with this in mind I think Janet started to create some of the activities for that reason. Mind you, that there was things happening during this time that was inexplicable but they weren't as intense as they were in the beginning.

Many other poltergeist activities are like a sparkler; there is and intense line of incidents that happens on top of each other in a short period of time, but as a sparkler they "burn fast" and then runs out of energy and stays dormant for periods of time. So, in a mix of Janet really wanted to give proof of what has happened to them initially, and that she wanted also to please Maurice because his eagerness - and also have him around as a father figure and not feeling frightened when activity stir up again - I think she started to "spice up" some of the events.

This is, I think, the case of many poltergeist activities. The eagerness to convince people of what has happened to them initially, and the sheer frustration that things doesn't happen "on cue" when investigators are there to investigate and record proof. The mix of being believed and not brushed off, and frustration of the "pockets of inactivity" I think can drive those involved to act like this. For debunkers like Randi, French, Nicolls, etc, this is like "christmas" for them. If they can point out that some of the activities was staged and forged they can then claim that everything else - even if they are totally inexplicable and compelling - somewhat also must have been tricks (without giving some explanations to how) and/or are false memories and other bullshit excuses - case closed.

The challenge for paranormal investigators, I think, is to don't get too emotionally invested - even though it might be hard - and always stay objective. Do everything to eliminate/exclude the possibilities of tampering - and if suspicious don't encourage those involved when things, that you cant control for, are happening. And also; don't try to make those involved feeling like you are frustrated that nothing happens during investigations.
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Raining stones - for 6 years

Another case of apport that is really strange - because of the effort made by the police force involved to find the root of this phenomenon, to no avail - is the following one:

The incident of stones bombarding a couple of adjacent houses in Birmingham during the night time initially points to shenanigans and normal means by vandals. But as the police got involved, staking out the place, putting totally 300 man-hours into this case. They heard stones, during the night stake-outs, that seem to come out of nowhere, hitting the house randomly, verticality (falling down ontop of the roof), and horizontally (hitting the housewalls and windows), but they couldn't see, or find any kind of perpetrators even though they, themselves, stood there in the garden.

It was going on (as far the police involved) for 18 months, with incidents almost every night, regardless weather or seasons. And it was ONLY hitting these particular houses, even though these five houses was chain-houses connected with others The full length of incidents was going on for 6 years!.

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BORLEY RECTORY - "The Most Haunted House in England"

The most famous case in the career of Harry Price was undoubtedly that of Borley Rectory, a deteriorating house in Essex.

The tiny parish of Borley is located in a desolate, sparsely populated area near the east coast of England, near the Suffolk border.

Harry Price got involved in the case after a newspaper carried a story about a phantom nun at the house in June 1929. Price was asked by the paper to investigate and he was told about various types of phenomena that had been reported there, like phantom footsteps; strange lights; ghostly whispers; a headless man; a girl in white; the sounds of a phantom coach outside; the apparition of the home’s builder, Henry Bull; and of course, the spirit of the nun.

The ghosts at the rectory had been relatively peaceful, but all that would change in October 1930 when Smith was replaced by the Reverend Lionel Foyster and his wife, Marianne. Their time in the house would see a marked increase in the paranormal activity. People were locked out of rooms, household items vanished, windows were broken, furniture was moved, odd sounds were heard and much more.

However, the worst of the incidents seemed to involve Mrs. Foyster, as she was thrown from her bed at night, slapped by invisible hands, forced to dodge heavy objects which flew at her day and night, and was once almost suffocated with a mattress.

Soon after, there began to appear a series of scrawled messages on the walls of the house, written by an unknown hand. They seemed to be pleading with Mrs. Foyster, using phrases like “Marianne, please help get” and “Marianne light mass prayers”.

Here is actual photographs of the writings:

Because nearly all of the poltergeist-like activity occurred when Mrs. Foyster was present, Price was inclined to attribute it to her unknowing manipulations. However, he did believe in the possibility of the ghostly nun and some of the other reported phenomena. The rectory did not fit into pre-conceived notions of a haunted house, which was one of the reasons that it would go on to gain such a reputation.

Despite the implications of the phenomena centering around Marianne, Price maintained that at least one of the spirits in the house had found the rector’s wife to be sympathetic to its plight. This was the only explanation he could find for the mysterious messages.

Link to whole story
This next case is by far more gruesome.

The Amherst Poltergeist

Background: The Amherst Poltergeist is one of the most frightening poltergeist accounts in Canadian history. The activity centered around Esther Cox, age 19, who lived on Princess Street in Amherst. After nearly being raped by a local shoemaker named Bob MacNeal, Esther started experiencing violent poltergeist activity including moving objects and loud noises. Her body even swelled mysteriously.

Some ghost stories live on because of the sheer terror they brought into the lives of those who experienced them firsthand. For the most part, ghosts and apparitions are harmless to those who witness them, flickering briefly into view to perform some timeless task or to relay a message to a loved one, and then fading back into the unknown. Poltergeist activity, however, is another matter entirely. Seeming to center around an individual, a poltergeist produces physical phenomena that have been known to cause serious harm and otherwise scare the daylights out of its victims.

Esther Cox of Amherst, Nova Scotia was such a victim in a case that became one of the most frightening poltergeist accounts in Canadian history. The strange events were witnessed and documented by many people, and even became the subject of a book.

A jump to the middle of the story:

Up to this point, the events could have been attributed to the active imaginations of the two girls, especially given Esther's recent, harrowing experience at the hands of Bob MacNeal. But the third night would provide evidence to all in the Teed house that something far out of the ordinary was happening with Esther Cox. That night, Esther excused herself to bed early, complaining that she felt feverish. At about 10 p.m., soon after Jennie joined her in bed, Esther jumped up from the bed to the center of the room, tearing at her nightclothes and screaming, "My God! What is happening to me? I'm dying!"

Jennie lit a lamp and looked at her sister, horrified to see that her skin was bright red and seemed to be swelling unnaturally. Olive rushed into the room and assisted Jennie in getting their sister back in bed as she now seemed to be choking and struggling to breathe. The other adults watched in disbelief as Esther's entire body, which was remarkably hot to the touch, swelled and reddened. Esther's eyes bulged and she cried in pain, fearing she was literally going to burst through her stretched skin. Then from beneath Esther's bed came a deafening bang - like a clap of thunder - that shook the room. Three more loud reports exploded from under the bed, after which Esther's swelling subsided and she fell into a deep, deep sleep.

Four nights later, these terrifying events repeated themselves - Esther's unexplained swelling and torture ended only by the thunderous noises from under the bed. At a loss to cope with this unearthly ordeal, Daniel asked a local doctor, Dr. Carritte, to examine Esther. And he was witness to some of the most frightening events of all.

Attending at Esther's bedside, he watched in astonishment as her pillow moved beneath her head, untouched by any hands. He heard the loud bangs from beneath the bed, but could find no cause for them. He saw her bedclothes thrown across the room by unseen hands. Then the doctor heard a scratching noise, like a metal tool scraping into plaster. Dr. Carritte looked to the wall above Esther's bed and saw letters nearly a foot high etching themselves into the wall. When it was done, it had spelled out: ESTHER COX YOU ARE MINE TO KILL. A jagged clump of plaster then tore off the wall, flew across the room and landed and the doctor's feet. After two hours, the house fell quiet.

Dr. Carritte - out of courage, compassion or curiosity - returned the next day and bore witness to more unexplained manifestations. Potatoes hurled themselves across rooms... the deafening noises now seemed to be coming from the roof of the house, yet when the doctor investigated, there was no apparent cause. Of these events, years later he would write to a colleague: "Honestly skeptical persons were on all occasions soon convinced that there was no fraud or deception in the case. Were I to publish the case in the medical journals, as you suggest, I doubt if it would be believed by physicians generally. I am certain I could not have believed such apparent miracles had I not witnessed them."

The doctor could, of course, do nothing to help Esther or settle the disturbances at the Teed home. The haunting continued and, in fact, became more destructive and threatening:

* unexplained fires erupted around the house

* knives and forks were thrown by some entity, sticking violently into woodwork

* lit matches materialized out of thin air and dropped onto beds

* furniture moved about by itself, flipping over or slamming into walls

* loud slaps were heard, followed by the appearance of red finger marks on Esther's face

* sewing pins appeared from nowhere and were jabbed into Esther's face

* a pocketknife was ripped from the hand of a neighborhood boy and stabbed into Esther's back

Poor, tormented Esther tried several times to escape the devilish entity, but it followed wherever she went. One Sunday, Esther attended a Baptist church service and sat in one of the rear pews. Once the service had begun, knockings and rappings echoed throughout the church, seeming to come from the front of the church. The noises grew louder and louder, drowning out the minister's sermon. Knowing she was the cause, Esther left the building and the noises stopped.

She even tried to spare her family from the malevolent haunting. At first she moved to a neighbor's house, but the poltergeist followed and she was forced to return home. The Teed's landlord, fearing the destructive nature of the phenomena, wanted to evict the family. Again taking responsibility for the events, Esther moved herself out instead, finding work at a nearby farm. When the farm's barn burned to the ground, however, the farmer had Esther arrested for arson, for which she was convicted to a four-month sentence.

Fortunately, Esther served only one month in jail and was released. The short sentence may have at first seemed like a low-point to the much-troubled Esther, but it did have its upside. After she was freed from jail, the poltergeist activity seemed to just fade away. There were minor instances for a short time, and then the haunting stopped completely.

Esther later married, twice, and died in 1912 at the age of 53. Walter Hubbell published his book, The Great Amherst Mystery, after her death, and it included an affidavit signed by 16 witnesses of the horrific events at Amherst.

Testimony: A number of eye-witness accounts support this story, including Dr. Carritte who examined the girl because of the swelling. While attending to the girl, the doctor reported watching the words "Esther Cox you are mine to kill" etch itself into the wall plaster by unseen hands. According to The Great Amherst Mystery by Walter Hubbell, the doctor later wrote to a colleague regarding the case, expressing the sentiment that no one would believe him if he published what he had witnessed. In fact, he wouldn't believe if he hadn't experienced it for himself.

The Terrifying Amherst Poltergeist
I bet some Canadian here can chip in on this story
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The Unexplained Poltergeist

This chilling and eye-opening documentary examines four very different cases of paranormal activity in the U.S. and England. From a Kentucky roadhouse to ancient English universities, viewers are taken on location and introduced to the people who encountered these poltergeists firsthand. As psychics and scientists grapple with the mystery of poltergeists, the real answers may lie hidden in the minds of those who have met them.
I remember reading about this when I was a young teenager and it scared hell out of me! I'm a little less scarable these days thankfully.
Yeah, the cases were people are actually handled physically, and attacked, are pretty scary.

For those who experience poltergeists, they usually first react with disbelief and dismissal, and when the phenomenon persists they start to doubt their own sanity and try to rationalize it ad absurdum - coming up with the most far-fecthed explanations. Most people appear to be sceptical, but I believe it's not just scepticism, it's more like fear. They dont wanna lose foothold of their conviction of what they "know" about how this world works, in nature, physics, and the whole environment of their existence. A poltergeist "doesn't fit" there , and therefore they will rationalize and rationalize it ad absurdum, until they finally have to accept it - regardless of how "impossible" it might be. That insight are quite scary, but at the same time it is transcendental, when they realize the implications of this being a fact.
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The Poltergeist at Stans, Switzerland - in the 1860's

"One of the fullest descriptions of poltergeist activity is a nineteenth century case that took place in Stans, Switzerland. I first came across it in Gauld and Cornell's Poltergeists, and from their summary and extracts found it to be one of the most dramatic cases I'd ever come across. Pure Hollywood. The source is a pamphlet written in the mid 1860s by Melchior Joller, the lawyer whose household had been torn apart, and who was anxious to give the true story of the events, based on the diary he kept at the time.

However it's in German, so is not as well known as it deserves to be. So I've been amusing myself in my spare time by doing an English translation. It's quite long, about 40 pages in the original. You can read the full version here if you're interested, and I plan to make it available on Kindle in due course (for free). In the meantime, here's a summary.

We're talking about a large ramshackle old house on the outskirts of Stans, a small town in the central part of German-speaking Switzerland, near Lake Lucerne (see picture - it was torn down quite recently). It was occupied by Joller, a 42-year-old lawyer and member of parliament who had lived in it all his life, and his wife and seven children. The events started slowly in late 1860, when various members of the household - although not Joller himself - started hearing odd knockings from bedsteads and walls. They were especially alarmed when, as happened in some cases, the knockings appeared to respond to their spoken commands. However whenever they told Joller about it, he told them it was superstitious fancy, and to forget about it.

One day when the children were alone in the house, things started to get more serious:

During the course of the morning 14-year-old Melanie was alone with the housemaid when she mentioned that her younger sister Henriette often heard a peculiar knocking on the wall of the bathroom, so the two of them went there to look. Henriette came by at that moment and confirmed what she had said. But Melanie couldn't hear anything and wouldn't believe it, calling out loudly 'in God's name, if something is there, then come out and knock!' And immediately there was a knocking, like someone rapping with his knuckles. Then Oscar turned up, and hearing what had happened made the same demand, and again it immediately answered with the same knocking. When their older brother Edward heard what was going on he too rushed up and made the same request and for the third time it gave the same answer.

Terrified, they flew headlong out of the house and sat on the bottom of the front steps. At this point an oval stone, roughly the size of a fist, flew between Melanie and the youngest boy Alfred, who was standing quite near to her, however without hurting either of them. After a while they plucked up enough courage to go back in and get their lunch, finding all the cupboard doors in the downstairs living room and chamber, big and small, wide open. They closed them and went into the kitchen, from where they saw that the door of my study was also standing open. They closed it and took out the key, but soon it was standing wide open again. Thinking it might be because of an air current, they closed the windows and shut the doors firmly, and then stood by the front door, to see whether it would open again. Nothing happened, but the moment they turned to go the door stood wide open. Again they closed it. Now they clearly heard the muffled steps of someone coming down the stairs. Then the bedroom door opened again; they closed it and bolted it but the moment their backs were turned it opened again. As things were getting ever more peculiar, they again left the house.

It was time for lunch so the maid went back into the kitchen. Looking towards the corridor, she thought she saw someone hanging a sheet from one corner down the stairs from the upstairs banister. Observing more closely, it seemed to be rounded off at the top and with two long black marks at the bottom, like the tips of two feet. Shocked she called out, "who's there?" With a sound like "Wuh", the form suddenly vanished, at which the girl went white and stumbled outside screaming.

The children spent the day outside in the barn, venturing near to the house every so often. But things became so extremely weird - groans, strange shapes flitting around, doors constantly springing open, and other bizarre events - that when their mother came back in the evening she found them outside weeping with terror.

Joller seems to have been typical of many educated men of his time, conventionally religious, but at the same time holding a modern, progressive outlook and an interest in science. So far he had no direct experience of the phenomenon, and was exasperated at repeated mention of it. If they bothered him any more about it, he warned his children, he'd take a stick to their backsides.

Soon afterwards his wife heard the familiar knockings in the corridor and made him come and listen. He agreed it was odd, but since it was getting late he said he'd get to the bottom of it the following day. In the meantime he read aloud from an improving book on the evils on superstition, in the hope that it would persuade his family to stop being so stupid. Right on cue, the noises started up again, and he spent the rest of the evening in a fruitless search for the cause.

The next day the disturbances started in earnest:

The din began again at six o'clock in the morning and spread all over the house. It started underneath the living room door, two or three quick blows as if made by a heavy wooden mallet; this was followed by a heavy knocking on the doors ... and in various places upstairs, with short pauses between. The knocking on the doors sometimes ended with strong blows...

All the time the racket was going on all over the house - now here, now there; now upstairs, now downstairs - with increasing strength. I narrowed my investigation down to the phenomenon itself, which seemed to occur at short intervals mainly on the doors and floors of the living room and lower bedroom. I placed my hand on the door, variously on the inside and outside, and on the upper half around which the blows were perceptible, yet without feeling anything on my hand, not even a draught or disturbance of air. I also held the door half-open, so as to observe it from both sides; the rapping occurred again without my perceiving any cause.

I went and stood outside while my family observed from inside - for a long time in vain. Eventually there were such mighty thumps on the door between the bedroom and the kitchen that each time, being made of soft pinewood, it visibly bent. At around ten o'clock I went and stood by the bedroom door and gently pulled back the bolt so that the door was only just held on the latch. My wife stood with one of the boys some twenty-two paces behind me, placed so that when the door opened she could see the kitchen window in the background, whilst I could only see the dark kitchen wall.

After a little while the door was so powerfully struck that it flew open and hit the wall. In that moment I saw - I was certain of it - something dark, although I couldn't make out its shape precisely against the dim background. It shot like lightning from the door to the side of the chimney. Rushing after it, and before I could say a word, my wife and son called out that they had just clearly seen a dark-brown half arm bone dart back from the door, and their assertions were so quick and simultaneous there could be no doubt this apparition had passed in front of them... I made a stringent search of the chimney, but found it empty, with no mark on the fallen soot, nor any other clue.

The next day Joller got back from work to find the whole family outside, shaking with terror. He went inside and found that the disturbances repeated every few minutes, including blows on the floor "so violent, it was as though a wooden mallet was being swung with all the strength of a powerful arm, causing the living room table to spring in the air and displacing the objects sitting on it." The heavy living room door burst open and slammed shut again "with the greatest force", and there were blows on the bedroom door that were so strong he feared it break into pieces at any moment.

Joller was becoming seriously alarmed, especially as crowds were starting to gather in the street outside. He got various local worthies to come and help, who although they could plainly see and hear what was going on, could only offer vague speculations that led nowhere. He then told the police, who also observed the phenomena, and by the middle of the next week the town council had authorised an official investigation.

Joller seems to have hoped this would take over the burden, but to his bitter disappointment it petered out without achieving anything. This seems at least partly because the family had temporarily moved out while the investigation was in progress, and in their absence the phenomena largely disappeared. Yet as soon as the investigation terminated and the family returned, it all started again in force.

From early September to the third week in October the Jollers were effectively left to cope on their own,. By this time they dared not sleep in the house, and instead lodged nearby, but the phenomena raged during the day while they were there. The backdrop was the bangings and door slammings, which occurred at more or less short intervals, although not necessarily continuously. They also found themselves being bombarded with objects - stones, mainly, but also things like apples and pears (which presumably were lying under the trees or were being stored somewhere). There were sounds - brooms sweeping, spinning wheels, water running, etc - that sounded entirely realistic but had no visible source, as in this example:

As we were sitting at the table after lunch, two of my children saw a transparent fuzzy silhouette tripping towards them from the front door, and through the corridor to the open living room door, where there were several loud knocks; the door then slammed shut in the usual way. Around one o'clock in the afternoon the sweeping was again to be heard in the dark corridor, and it carried on in front of the opened door; there, heavy muffled steps were heard, as if someone was walking away. Soon afterwards I heard a sound in my study as if someone in the little closet next door was working a spinning wheel, with the thread being turned in long pulls. The whirring of the spindle was so clear and lifelike that I was sure it was just what it sounded like. Yet I found no trace of such a thing, and it seemed that wherever I went it was always in the next room - nor did my investigations seem to disturb it. The maid claimed she had already heard this spinning several times of late; it sometimes sounded to her like the grinding of cogs, like an old Black Forest clock being wound up.
Objects were also displaced, in an apparently mischievous manner:

While the family were sitting down to coffee, the maid, sweeping by the open living room door, drew our attention to a noise upstairs. We hurried up, together with three students who had dropped in out of curiosity. In the upstairs living room a strange sight of disorder met our eyes. On the left wall a big tableau (of Amazons fighting) had been taken down and was lying upside down on the floor, as were both mirrors from the further wall. A glass sugar bowl, which normally stood on the right on the high chiffonier, lay likewise tipped over on the floor in front of it, the cover at its side. A fruit basket that had been standing on the chest-of-drawers at the backwall lay in the same condition, and the oil lamp at the far wall had moved. Next to an ornamental lamp a little sun-blind that had previously stood in a corner of the room now hung from its handle, stretched wide open. Under it a red cloth that normally hung by the window had been laid on the floor and nearby a uphostered chair lay upside down. Many of these items were fragile, yet none were broken... Meanwhile a neighbour who had just come into the house was gazing in astonishment at the weird arrangement in the living room, where all the chairs lay upside down around the table.
And in another example:

When I got to the house I discovered that shortly after my departure in the morning there had been three quick and very violent blows from under the living room floor. My wife, who was in the bedroom, went with Emaline and stood by the door; in this moment both saw a stool in the living room move slowly from its place and then in a flash turn over with its legs in the air, hitting the floor so violently that the dust from the grooves in the floorboards blew up. Then the living room doors slammed so violently that the noise could be heard far over the neighbourhood.
As a busy professional, Joller was under immense pressure to keep up with clients and court cases, while simultaneously dealing with the constant havoc in his household. Being an MP he had a reputation to think of, and to be the centre of unexplained disturbances that made him an object of gossip, speculation and innuendo, must have been intolerable. For the next six or seven weeks the Jollers had crowds gawping outside, many of them on a day-trip from nearby Lucerne. There were numerous curiosity-seekers in the house itself - probably admitted by Joller in order to back up his own claims about the inexplicability of what was happening - and at one point the crowds outside managed to break in.

In our age we're used to the phenomenon of ordinary people being suddenly engulfed in a media firestorm, often through no fault of their own. We have a lively sense of the ghastly destructive havoc it causes in their lives. In Joller's time, I guess, it wasn't so common, but this is effectively what happened to him. He calls it a "public stoning", and says: "Woe betide anyone unlucky enough to get mixed up in such a thing. He will be shown no mercy, thrown as prey to the raging monster."

By mid-October Joller was beginning to lose heart, and around the 23rd he and his family moved out of the house for the last time. As far as I'm aware, little is known about their movements after this, except that they fetched up in Rome, where Joller died some three years later.

What are we to make of it? Is any of it true?

If we think such things don't happen, and must always be attributed to hoaxing or misunderstandings, then I suppose we have to dismiss it as a confabulation, however convincing it sounds. On the other hand the case is well-known in Germany and Switzerland, and I imagine there must be documentary evidence of it, in newspaper reports, town records, personal reminiscences, and so on. In which case it could not be completely made up.

But then could it be a hoax played by one member of the family, a line that was vigorously promoted by sceptics and scoffers at the time? I think that's hard to sustain, if you accept at face value what Joller described. There was far too much going on for one person to have achieved it on his/her own, and the sheer variety of the phenomena would have required not one bit of trickery but a whole range of different devices. Nor is plausible that that a household of ten people would not have quickly discovered the tricks. It's slightly more plausible that Joller was the victim of a hoax by the rest of his family, or by a group of his children. But if you read Joller's account, you will quickly see that he was careful and methodical in his observations, and it's hard to believe that he would not quickly have figured out what was really going on.

What especially weighs with me is the rich literature around these sorts of unexplained knockings. Some of the other phenomena - stone throwing, realistic sounds, misplacement of furniture and objects - have been reported in several hundred other cases as well. So it's by no means an isolated example. If we accept that such things can occur in nature, then this would seem to be an authentic example.

But then we may go on to ask whether it has to do with psychokinesis of the living or spirits of the dead. The narrative describes a strong sense of presences in the house, and many visual sightings - in the early stages, of fuzzy or transparent shapes, but then towards the end of faces at the window glimpsed from the outside. There are also frequent sounds - of unseen people groaning, and occasionally also of speech. In this context an incident that occurs early on may have some relevance. The children are sheltering from the disturbances outside when an old crone hobbles past and engages them in conversation: it appears she knew four young girls who used to live there, and who were drowned in the nearby river in a tragic accident. So there's something there to support the idea of a haunting, although Joller does no more than hint at it and clearly does not want to go into detail.

What strikes me most about this narrative is its immense pathos. Always the most interesting thing about the paranormal for me - by far the most interesting - is that vortex of interaction between the normal and the utterly, absurdly abnormal. Many people in modern secular society are exactly like Joller. Their ideas are informed by science, and it's natural for them to abhor superstition. Tales of ghosts and things-that-go-bump are for inferior types, the weakminded. Yet very rarely, such a person is badly bitten by the real thing. Suddenly he becomes an outcast, a denizen of the world he once complacently despised, of the supernatural believer, desperately semaphoring his discovery to the world - which merely jeers, as he himself would surely have done, and takes no notice.

Throughout the narrative you sense a man clinging to the hope that if he only observed everything that was going on, and faithfully noted it down - in such a way that he could get the rest of the world to accept it - then he would remain sane and untouched. Alas for him, this did not happen. The fact that he died so soon afterwards, and in exile - ruined and perplexed - makes his story all the more poignant.

Source: http://monkeywah.typepad.com/paranormalia/2011/10/-the-ghosts-at-stans.html


Lost Pilgrim
Yeah, the cases were people are actually handled physically, and attacked, are pretty scary.

For those who experience poltergeists, they usually first react with disbelief and dismissal, and when the phenomenon persists they start to doubt their own sanity and try to rationalize it ad absurdum - coming up with the most far-fecthed explanations. Most people appear to be sceptical, but I believe it's not just scepticism, it's more like fear. They dont wanna lose foothold of their conviction of what they "know" about how this world works, in nature, physics, and the whole environment of their existence. A poltergeist "doesn't fit" there , and therefore they will rationalize and rationalize it ad absurdum, until they finally have to accept it - regardless of how "impossible" it might be. That insight are quite scary, but at the same time it is transcendental, when they realize the implications of this being a fact.
Don't know if you read my introductory post when I joined Skeptiko
---Introduce yourself---

I still try to rationalize it to this very day!:eek:
Don't know if you read my introductory post when I joined Skeptiko
---Introduce yourself---

I still try to rationalize it to this very day!:eek:
No, I hadn't read that. Interesting story. Imagine you get poked on a regular basis? - the declining curve for rationalization drops radically after each poke, I tell ya. :)

. Getting that physical interaction, and how scared one might be, is also depending on how intense it is. A poke though can for some people be scary as hell, and for others just puzzling & interesting. I was looking for a particular videoclip of some rather violent interactions, to show you, but I couldn't find it right now. I gotta look for it some more and get back to you.
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Poltergeist Phenomena: A Primer on Parapsychological Research and Perspectives

We present a basic primer for paranormal enthusiasts on the current state of parapsychological research and perspectives relating to phenomena traditionally labeled "poltergeist." Topics such as case characteristics, experimental approaches, theoretical aspects, and the similarities and differences between poltergeist and haunt cases are discussed and supplemented with illustrative examples and anecdotes from the published case literature. We wish to dedicate this primer to Dr. William G. Roll of the University of West Georgia, in acknowledgment of his substantial and significant contributions to the parapsychological study of poltergeist phenomena over the past 50 years. Thanks in large part to his continuing efforts, our advancement in the understanding of poltergeists has reached the point where it is today.
http://publicparapsychology.org/Public Parapsych/Poltergeist Phenomena Primer Final.pdf