Ectoplasm: Is it Real?

Our physical world is the most tangible thing we can know. We have spent centuries forming scientific theories on the natural laws and how things function and interact with each other. Our knowledge is based on a provable scientific method that is able to be reproduced at will.

The spirit world is a bit more tricky. We cannot prove through the scientific method that ghosts exist or that any of the paranormal activity experienced can be reproduced for verification. Ghost hunters can track information through their equipment and they have an ability to interact and communicate with spirits, but that is about the extent of the “proof.”

The study of ectoplasm is perhaps the most challenging of all. It is a hybrid of spirit energy and the physical world. It is one of the rare few things that has this ability to combine both realms. There have been claims of its existence for centuries. Furthermore, there are an abundance of photos asserting that it is real. Through quick research, though, anyone can find that ectoplasm was known as a bogus attempt by certain people in the paranormal community to lay claim that they possessed supernatural abilities. Their attempt to defraud people has led many to dismiss ectoplasm as merely a tool for deception.

Despite this trickery, there are certain instances that are not so easily debunked.

Could it be possible that the human body, mind, and spirit have an ability to exude a quirky fluid-like substance from numerous orifices?

This article will delve into this supernatural mystery and see if there is any possible way that ectoplasm could be real. We’ll take a brief walk through its controversial history and then see what scientists have to say. In the end I’ll make some conclusions based on the compiled information.

What IS this Stuff?

Ectoplasm is a slimy substance that most of us became familiar with after watching the production Ghostbusters. Here’s a quick scene from the movie:

Many folks have humorously treated this substance as just the fictional creation of a writer’s mind. Ectoplasm seldom has been taken seriously. But, at one point in history, this goop was viewed as a real, tangible thing. At the turn of the 20th century it had been reported by many witnesses that this creepy substance was seen oozing out of psychic mediums when they were in the height of their spirit connections.

“…it is a kind of gelatinous protoplasm, formless at first, that exudes from the body of the medium, and takes form later. ‘In the early stages there are always white veils and milky patches and the faces, fingers, and drawings are formed little by little in the midst of this kind of gelatinous paste that resembles moist and sticky muslin.'”¹

Ectoplasm is almost alive when it comes out of its host. It doesn’t just ooze out and pile up where it landed. “It was described as not simply remaining in place as a lifeless substance, but moving—sometimes rapidly—over the surface of the body and organizing itself into shapes and forms.”² Some of the common shapes were faces of ghosts or different body limbs.

Charles Robert Richet is the first documented scientist who attempted to study ectoplasm and is credited with coining this same term. “Richet won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1913 for his research on anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.”² Twenty-three years earlier he led the study of this phenomenon and he came to the conclusion that ectoplasm was simply a substance that all human bodies created when they were consumed with hysteria. That said, he believed that mediums were hysterics. Since his study, five other scientists across the globe have performed similar studies on the mysterious ectoplasm. Here is perhaps one of the more interesting interpretations:

“German embryologist Hans Driesch saw this so-called ‘materialization’ during séances as comparable to embryological development. He termed the form-giving ability of this ectoplasm ‘entelechy.’ He wrote: ‘Think of the little material body, called an egg, and think of the enormous and very complex material body, say, an elephant, that may come out of it: here you have a permanent stream of materializations before your eyes, all of them occurring in the way of assimilation, of a spreading entelechial control.'”²

Of all the scientists who devoted their valuable time to the study of ectoplasm, none of them were able to bring about any definite conclusions – let alone scientific proof. As the popularity of mediums began to wane, mainly because many of them were being exposed as frauds, so too did interest in ectoplasm. Some mediums today, though, still claim that this substance is real and that they do exude it during seances.

The biggest catch with verifying the existence of ectoplasm is that there never has been a documented sample. There have been claims that chunks of it were obtained and put into sealed containers, but then they mysteriously disappeared inside. In many cases the ectoplasm would suck itself back inside the medium before anyone could capture a piece of it. There have been warnings, as well, that no one should try to take any of the exuded ectoplasm, as it would have a fatal effect on the person communicating with the spirits.

So… does our search for credible evidence end here? Um, not really….

Spirit Mist

At the beginning of this article you saw a photo taken in a graveyard at night. You will clearly notice that a mist is present which almost takes on the shape of an angel. My wife and I captured this mist in the Alton National Cemetery in Illinois. She was walking with a set of divining rods and we were following a spirit that was leading us through the gravestones. I walked behind her and held a digital camera over her head and constantly snapped photos.

While we were walking we did not see any kind of a mist in front of us. The photo was a surprising shock to us. Please keep in mind that we tried to debunk the mist by analyzing our breath and observing any possible environmental conditions. The mist remains unexplained.

Ectoplasm may very well take the form of this mist-like substance much like the one we captured. We believe the spirit we were tracking was attempting to manifest to us – as the camera’s batteries died very quickly. This phenomenon of pulling lithium power to manifest is quite common and has been captured by many more cameras than just ours. Here’s a few from Pinterest:


You will notice that these mists tend to either take on the shapes of spirits or they simply manifest as a cloud over a particular area.

Could it just be coincidence or pareidolia?


Consider, though, that these clouds of mist are never seen with the naked eye, but they do tend to exist in the presence of higher EMF readings. High EMFs signify the presence of a ghost and perhaps the mist is just a precursor to the spirit developing into a full-bodied apparition. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to manifest in this way and so usually the mist form is as much as a spirit can muster up.

The bottom line is that science has not been able to prove that ectoplasm is real. All of the documented experiences that can be found about mediums and this sticky substance continue to leave us scratching our heads. There is no physical evidence of such a substance and until it can be found, ectoplasm will continue to live in the realm of pseudoscience.

On the other hand, many paranormal investigators like myself have more than one photo that shows an ectoplasm-like mist forming in the presence of ghosts which we know are in front of us because of the various types of tracking equipment being used. Spirits do manifest into physical form and so it doesn’t seem to be too much of a stretch to say that ectoplasm does exist.

It depends on which side of the fence you are on, and… because there is no tangible proof… we cannot bring this paranormal phenomenon to scientific closure!

What do you think?

Please feel free to submit your thoughts in the comment box below or any social media site where this article is found and thank you!! 

Works Cited:

¹ Brain, Robert Michael. “Materialising the Medium: Ectoplasm and the Quest for Supra-Normal Biology in Fin-de-Siècle Science and Art.” Vibratory Modernism. page 115.


Photo courtesy:


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