The Psychology of Poltergeists and the Nocebo Effect of Haunted Objects


When paranormal investigators explore a haunted site, usually what is discovered are disembodied voices, full-body apparitions, unidentified footsteps, shadow figures or unexplained equipment disturbances. In rare cases some members may be physically attacked – perhaps being touched, scratched or pushed. In more severe instances poltergeist activity may manifest itself as objects may be moved or even thrown.

From a paranormal perspective, poltergeist activity can be scary and completely unexplainable. From a scientific point of view, RSPK is still not able to be fully explained – but there have been some interesting discoveries.

Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis (RSPK) is the technical term given to poltergeist activity. It has been researched in great detail since the 1960’s and the findings are quite fascinating. In a primer written by Bryan Williams and Annalisa Ventola, the authors approach the phenomenon of poltergeists from a parapsychological perspective with the intent of informing paranormal enthusiasts. Six case studies are performed in locations all over the world – specifically Miami, Florida; the country of Bavaria; Druten, Turkey; New England, USA; a haunted restaurant in Japan; and a horrible murder case in Columbus, Ohio. If you are interested in reading the 30-page primer you can access it at this website –

In each of these uniquely bizarre incidents objects of all sizes, shapes, and weights were moved through psychokinesis. The scientific explanations as to how exactly this was performed still remains elusive. They were, however, able to make certain conclusions:

  • Epilepsy, seizuring, and dissociative states do seem to play a significant part in many poltergeist episodes. Normally these symptoms will peak during the stages of adolescents and teenagers who have been diagnosed with central nervous system disturbances.
  • Psychological situations tied to emotion are perhaps the biggest determinants of RSPK, as children (and some adults) are often confused and may not have good regulation control:

“In general, we find hostility in the [child] which cannot be expressed in normal ways, the main target for the anger being people with whom he [or she] is associated on a daily basis…. [O]bjects tend to move toward the rooms belonging to the person who is the focus of the [child’s] anger.”  – William Roll

  • Here is the most fascinating aspect of these case studies (in my opinion, of course!):

 9103297092_3a7f62f27f_z“Another finding is a possible relationship between RSPK and the activity of the Earth’s magnetic field. Preliminary surveys in which the occurrence of RSPK was compared with recorded magnetic indices indicate that [poltergeist activity] tends to coincide with increases in geomagnetic activity…. Such increases in geomagnetic activity often result from disturbances produced by variations in the solar wind (due to solar flares associated with sunspots, mass coronal ejections and similar stellar phenomena) that interact with the magnetosphere surrounding the Earth.” (p.25)

I have presented this scientific evidence to reveal the fact that poltergeist activity can be a function of the human mind, albeit very unusual and defying complete explanation. Our brains are capable of far more than we may realize. Consider this experiment and try it on your own (as perhaps many of you already may have):

The next time you see someone walking at a distance who does not see you, stare at them intently. You will find that nearly every single time the person will deliberately stop and look in your direction. This can be done from windows, at heights above the person, and in crowds. Now don’t misunderstand me – I am not promoting that you go around stalking people. My point behind this mental task is that it represents a phenomenon that could be considered paranormal in nature, but it is not. Some things are just not what they seem.


In recent news, police officers in Lanarkshire, Scotland have been called to a house where loud disturbances were reported. Lights going off and on, clothes being thrown, and a levitating Chihuahua dog have been observed by officers who have been on the force for 20 years. They are baffled by what they have observed.

A “woman and [a] teenager, described as extremely distressed, had been experiencing violent and unexplained circumstances and in desperation contacted police,” according to the UK’s Daily Record. Investigators are researching the property for any explanations as to its history, but it is interesting to note that a teenager does live on the premises. I am certainly not saying that he or she is the cause of the poltergeist activity – I cannot know this information. However, I am presenting this article to you to give you a context for understanding both poltergiest and potential PRSK activity. It is for you to decide what you believe.

If you have never had an opportunity to check out Flipboard Magazine, I encourage you to do so. You can access the Daily Record full article through their free website here:

The Nocebo Effect

This phenomenon is a sort of evil brother to another effect everyone should be familiar with – the placebo. There have been countless studies performed by doctors and laypeople alike that have shown that the power of positive thinking produces measurable health benefits. Interestingly, the transverse is also true:

“[T]he nocebo effect…[uses] dummy pills and negative expectations… [to] produce harmful effects. The term ‘nocebo,’ which means ‘I will harm,’ was not coined until the 1960s, and the phenomenon has been far less studied than the placebo effect. It’s not easy, after all, to get ethical approval for studies designed to make people feel worse.” – Helen Pilcher

One of the best examples of the Nocebo Effect can be found with Voodoo curses. If you have ever traveled to Haiti or educated yourself on the Voodoo practices there, you know that the ceremonies they perform are serious business. Even African slaves brought here to America back in the slave-trading days were familiar with the power of Voodoo. It has been documented that many of them turned to Voodoo curses in an effort to get back at their masters. Furthermore, within the status quo of the United States and in many socities throughout the world, there is a fearful stigma attached to Voodoo practices and their curses.

Helen Pilcher relates one of these stories in the context of the Nocebo Effect:  

“Late one night in a small Alabama cemetery, Vance Vanders had a run-in with the local witch doctor, who wafted a bottle of unpleasant-smelling liquid in front of his face, and told him he was about to die and that no one could save him. Back home, Vanders took to his bed and began to deteriorate. Some weeks later, emaciated and near death, he was admitted to the local hospital, where doctors were unable to find a cause for his symptoms or slow his decline. Only then did his wife tell one of the doctors…of the hex.”

Understanding the power of the mind can be a very complex issue. There is the consideration that as we get older that we want to do things our bodies cannot. Here is where the saying comes in that “the mind is willing, but the body is weak.” Despite this fact, though, there is definitely good credibility in regards to both the placebo and nocebo effects. In Pilcher’s article, she elaborates further:

“The ultimate cause of the nocebo effect, however, is not neurochemistry but belief…. [S]urgeons are often wary of operating on people who think they will die – because such patients often do. And the mere belief that one is susceptible to a heart attack is itself a risk factor. One study found that women who believed they are particularly prone to heart attack are nearly four times as likely to die from coronary conditions than other women with the same risk factors.”

Haunted Objects

At the Haunted America Conference in Alton, Illinois this past June I had the opportunity to meet Greg and Dana Newkirk – the owners of The Traveling Musuem of the Paranormal and the Occult. You can check them out at:

Through their work (and Nick Groff, formerly of Ghost Adventures), I came across the Idol of Nightmares – which has some amazing claims that anyone who has touched this wooden doll has had horrible things happen to them. It was discovered in a basement crawl space in Dayton, Ohio and, once the burlap sack was removed off of it, gave the owner’s son horrible nightmares. This figure has been touched by several people and it will consistently appear in dreams.  It is blamed to be responsible for car accidents and other traumatic events. I will be posting a paranormal perspective on this haunted object on my sister site Paranormal Insights. (


When you look at the doll, it clearly has the insinuations that its roots may be in Voodoo. Could it be possible that this haunted object may simply be a catalyst for the Nocebo Effect within the mind? The reported activity of this figure has reached many different people from many walks of life and so this could be a stretch in reasoning. But think further – might it be possible that whoever created The Idol of Nightmares designed it knowing that its physical appearance would warrant spooky, paranormal responses? Following this line of reasoning and, as it has been presented in the Vance Vanders case, these haunted objects were designed with the Nocebo Effect in mind. That is what gives the relic its power – the human brain.

What do you think?

I encourage you to offer up your thoughts in the comment box below or whatever social media site you may find this article! 

Radioactive Material in Granite: A Paranormal Perspective


Granite is a very popular item to use in homes, especially in the kitchen where there may be several square feet of this material adorned as countertops. This gorgeous Tuscan kitchen (photo courtesy Nancy Hugo, CKD – Flickr) is a wonderful example of how dazzling Verde Peacock granite can be in the warmth of your food preparation and socializing area.

Although they are very beautiful and provide a nice addition to any home, there are minor safety concerns that need to be taken into consideration. By studying these potential issues a little more in-depth, we may be able to further ascertain evidence as to why spirit activity increases with the presence of granite.

The definition of granite, according to  “a light-colored igneous rock with grains large enough to be visible with the unaided eye. It forms from the slow crystallization of magma below Earth’s surface. Granite is composed mainly of quartz and feldspar with minor amounts of mica, amphiboles, and other minerals.”¹

Quartz is naturally well-known as a great conductor of energy, as it is used in many different devices that we rely on everyday – watches and navigational equipment, to name a couple. What also exists within it structure are Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Materials, known by the acronym NORM.

“All minerals and raw materials contain radionuclides of natural origin. The most important for the purposes of radiation protection are the radionuclides in the U-238 and Th-232 decay series. [Potassium-40 is a third radioactive element in granite]”²

A Few Terms Defined:

Radionuclide – “An unstable form of a chemical element that radioactively decays, resulting in the emission of nuclear radiation. Also called a radioisotope.”³

Alpha Rays – “Alpha radiation occurs when an atom undergoes radioactive decay, giving off a particle (called an alpha particle) consisting of two protons and two neutrons (essentially the nucleus of a helium-4 atom)…. Due to their charge and mass, alpha particles interact strongly with matter, and only travel a few centimeters in air. Alpha particles are unable to penetrate the outer layer of dead skin cells, but are capable, if an alpha emitting substance is ingested in food or air, of causing serious cell damage.”♣

Beta Rays – “a form of ionizing radiation emitted by radioactive substances (such as radium), more penetrating than alpha rays, and consisting of negatively charged electrons.”♥

Generally the radioactive material within naturally-forming granite has little affect on human health, but there have been a few cases where concern was warranted. Alpha and Beta rays are a product of radioactivity and can cause damage to the human body. Is it possible that they may have some effect in the spirit realm?

The decay products of the 3 radionuclides – uranium, thorium, and potassium 40 – are radium and radon. Radon poisoning in the home can be hard to detect.

“Radon poisoning can occur where there are high concentrations of radon gas. This typically occurs in areas with poor ventilation, such as underground mines, crawl spaces, or basements in homes or buildings. Scientists first identified that underground uranium miners were being exposed to radon and dying of lung cancer at very high rates. Since radon originates in the soil through its decaying process, it also gives off tiny radioactive particles that can be inhaled into the lungs. These radioactive particles can then cause damage to the lungs, possibly resulting in lung cancer.

Radon poisoning symptoms resemble those of lung cancer: a persistent cough that doesn’t get better, difficulty breathing, chest pains, the coughing up of blood, wheezing, hoarseness and recurring respiratory infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis.”♠

Keep in mind that, yes, these symptoms are very dangerous. However, all homes are usually tested for radon levels and you can test your home yourself if you have any concerns. My point in mentioning this information is not to scare you with an off-topic, but rather to put forth a possible theory in regards to the paranormal:

Many paranormal investigators can affirm that sites with high amounts of granite exhibit more spirit activity than sites that do not. In our current technological study of ghost activity, investigators use equipment that measures electromagnetic energy that tends to fall in the visible light spectrum and its surrounding infrared and ultraviolet frequencies (as you can see on the bottom of the chart):


I have personally talked with a victim of oppression who felt his experience was borderline possession. He claims that a Geiger counter was placed close to his chest and that it spiked up considerably. I am currently researching to find anyone else who can confirm this phenomenon. The point behind this research is to suggest that the alpha, beta, and gamma rays further down the light spectrum may play a strong role in paranormal activity. So far it seems to just be true with negative entities. That being said:

Could the radionuclides found in granite play some sort of role in the transference/absorption of energy by spirits?

Could the half-lives of uranium, thorium, and potassium help explain how it is possible for energy to remain in rocks for thousands of years?

What do you think? Drop me a line and let me know! 🙂

Check back with this site over the next couple of weeks as we further explore the possibilities of science and the paranormal!!


Works Cited:









Hospice, Death-Bed Visions and the Paranormal

Here is the link to my latest post on Paranormal Insights. I encourage any comments, experiences or feedback you may have. All of us should be able to relate to the hospice or final days moments in some way. Thank you in advance for sharing a many times difficult story! Check out the post by clicking here.

Magnetotactic Bacteria and Limestone


What exactly are magnetotactic bacteria and why would they have anything to do with the paranormal?

“Magnetosomes (or magnetofossils when found in the sedimentary record) are submicron crystals of magnetite (Fe3O4) or greigite (Fe3S4) that grow intercellularly, forming chains, within magnetotactic bacteria to assist them in navigation within aquatic environments. [They] are important in Earth science because they have ideal sizes for recording stable paleomagnetic signals.”¹

Translation: These bacteria incorporate iron into their bodies to travel through water using electromagnetic fields as guides. MTB (the short abbreviation for them) make up a huge part of our oceans and lakes throughout the world. While alive, they are responsible for stable magnetic iron compositions in sediment layers. While dead, they contribute strongly to a rock’s magnetic capabilities – especially limestone.

“[B]iogenic magnetite, formed by magnetotactic bacteria and/or other magnetite-precipitating organisms, is responsible for much of the stable magnetic remanence in many marine sediments and sedimentary rocks…. The ability of sediments to record accurately the geomagnetic field depends on the constant influx of suitable magnetic carriers….”²

Translation: The functions of this bacteria are largely responsible for limestone’s ability to record electromagnetic fields. The strength of these fields is dependent on the concentration of MTB in the sediments. This is very important in understanding how much energy is available for spirits to extract from a limestone environment.

¹ Larrasoaña, Juan C., et. al. “Paleomagnetic and Paleoenvironmental Implications of Magnetofossil Occurences in Late Miocene Marine Sediments from Guadalquivir Basin, SW Spain.” Frontiers in Microbiology. March 2014. Vol. 5. Article 71. Pg. 1.

² Chang, Shih-Bin Robin and Kirschvink, Joseph Lynn. “Magnetofossils, the Magnetization of Sediments, and the Evolution of Magnetite Mineralization.” Annual Review Earth Planet, Science. 1989. Vol. 17. Pgs. 169, 179.

Copyright © Timothy Yohe, All Rights Reserved.

Thank You for Dropping In!

I appreciate you taking a peek at the new site currently under development. On December 31, 2013 I launched Paranormal Insights and since then have created a growing audience with some very unique perspectives. On October 7, 2015 I self-published my first book entitled Limestone and Its Paranormal Properties: A Comprehensive Approach to the Possibilities. This past Sunday I graduated with an Honors Degree in Education, strongly focused on Science. All of these endeavors have led to this current project.


As I am not a professional web designer, you will see small changes happening over the next few weeks. The goal of this site is summed up in the tagline you see in the above banner:

 “Seeking Scientific Closure for Paranormal Phenomena”

I encourage you to reach out to me through the contact page about any communications or experiences you may have had with the paranormal. Specific areas of interest are geology, quantum physics, pregnancy and the paranormal, and experiences in tuberculosis sanatoriums. I look forward to hearing from you and our journey into the future….