Sensitivity and Ghostly Encounters, New Theories on Hauntings and More

If you are interested in a scientific approach to ghosts that is not overly techy or bogged down by boring details then you want to read The Ghost Studies by Brandon Massullo.

Easy to understand science combined with accounts of ghostly encounters is used to explain a new theory on haunted places. 

Massullo believes that one explanation for ghostly encounters is that energy created as the result of interactions between people during emotional distress manifests as a haunting. This “telepathic distress call” can be stored in any environment but perhaps not everyone can access it. Some people may be more sensitive to encounters and apparitions than others.

This would explain why there are so many hauntings in places where they are no records of people dying...because they didn't die there. But maybe someone they cared about was in that location when they sent the psychic distress call at the moment of their death.

Example- Joe is an accident. His mom is at home. As Joe dies he calls out to his mother. She hears his voice, sees a vision of him in front of her. That energy is imprinted in that location where Joe's mom is, not the location of his death. 

Michael Jawer's Feeling Too Much blog on the Psychology Today site did a series titled "Unimagined Sensitivities" which describes a similar concept in relation to prodromal dreaming and telesomatic perceptions.

He goes over several examples-

"There are certainly many accounts of such ‘distress signals’ occurring during waking hours. Despite their seeming strangeness and intangibility, it’s striking that they involve such palpable physicality. Some examples: 

A mother was writing a letter to her daughter when her right hand felt as though it were burning and she dropped the pen. Less than an hour later, she received a phone call telling her that her daughter’s right hand had been severely burned by acid in a laboratory accident. (Dossey 2001, p. 253) 

A man felt himself choking inexplicably, only to learn later that his father had been choking at the same time thousands of miles away.  

A man and his wife were attending a football game when the man got up and announced they had to return home because their son had been hurt. Once home, they discovered that the boy had shot a BB into his thumb, which would require emergency surgery. (Dossey 2001, pp. 253-4)

A nurse received a call after midnight concerning a patient she had been seeing.  The patient’s daughter had already called 911. The nurse went to the patient’s home and found her looking terribly ill, with low blood pressure, chest pains, and breathing difficulties. After the ambulance left with the patient, the nurse returned home to try to sleep. She was suddenly awakened by “a violent jerk that went through my whole body.” As she was trying to figure out what had happened, the phone rang. The patient’s daughter was on the line, saying that her mother had just experienced cardiac arrest but that the doctor was able to “shock her back” to life. (Dossey 1999, pp. 136-7)"

Jawer connects Massulo's theories in Part 11 of his series:

"In my book with Dr. Marc Miocozzi, The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion, I discuss the way a life-threatening emergency marshals the complete attention of body and mind – and how the energy involved may, in some cases, upend the normal convergence of space/time so that anomalous perceptions result...

This theory is elaborated upon in a soon-to-be-published book by Brandon Massullo, a therapist practicing in suburban Cleveland.  According to Massullo, it’s plausible that “traumatic events trigger conscious and unconscious processes [that] seek to alleviate our distress or communicate it to others.” (Massullo, p. 67)   A person who is dying or facing the threat of death may – especially if the circumstance is sudden or unexpected – experience “a myriad of…volatile emotions” ranging from fear to sadness to regret to anger.  These feelings may emanate, like a distress signal, to certain others. (Massullo, p. 119) "

I do find it interesting that Jawer never uses the term empath or connects any of his theories to people being empaths (at least not in what I've read so far). He just mentions that some people recognize their sensitivities. One woman he discusses said "I've been overly sensitive for as long as I can remember….If someone walked into the room with a headache, I would get a headache. If they pulled their back, mine would begin aching the minute I made eye contact…I was definitely more in tune with my environment and the feelings of others than almost everyone else I knew…." Which is a perfect example of an empath. I did find one use of the word empathetic in a blog post titled "Do Some People Sense the Unseen? Part 1 Allergic to ghosts? Strange but possibly true"

Jawer and Massullo's work and theories have much in common. 

Massullo's dissertation, Environmental Sensitivity and Paranormal Experiences actually quotes Jawer's theories and research. You can read the entire dissertation here.


"The physical environment affects every individual differently, however past research suggests that certain individuals exhibit a greater susceptibility to environmental factors than the general population (Jawer, 2006). According to Jawer (2006) these environmentally sensitive individuals are also significantly more likely to report paranormal experiences than non-sensitives. The current study set out to test the hypothesis that environmentally sensitive individuals will report more past paranormal experiences as well as more haunt-type experiences in a natural setting. The study also looked at whether subtle differences in electromagnetic fields (EMFs) led to an increase in reported haunt-type experiences among sensitives. Methods: Participants (N=251) completed a questionnaire which categorized them as either environmentally sensitive or non-sensitive and were then led on a guided tour of an allegedly haunted location where they reported any unusual phenomena that they experienced. EMF readings were taken of the rooms visited on the tour and based on those readings the rooms were either designated as ‘High EMF’ rooms or ‘Low EMF’ rooms. Results: Sensitives reported significantly more past paranormal experiences and haunt-type experiences in a natural setting. Overall there were significantly more haunt-type experiences in ‘High EMF’ rooms than ‘Low EMF’ rooms suggesting an association between increased EMFs and reports of haunt-type experiences. Further analysis showed that sensitives reported significantly more haunt-type experiences in ‘High EMF’ rooms than ‘Low EMF’ rooms; however there was no significant difference in reported experiences between rooms among non-sensitives which suggests that sensitives could be picking up on subtle EMF differences leading to an increase in reports of haunt-type experiences."

I am utterly fascinated by both Jawer and Massullo's theories, especially in regards to how they connect to me.

Jawer created a survey. It "drew 62 self-described ‘sensitives’ along with 50 individuals serving as controls who did not profess any outstanding forms of sensitivity. Persons in the former group were 3.5 times as likely, on average, to assert that they’d had an apparitional experience (defined as perceiving something that could not be verified as being physically present through normal means). Sensitive persons were also 2.5 times as likely to indicate that an immediate family member was affected by similar physical, mental or emotional conditions.

Overall, 8 of the 54 factors asked about in the survey were found to be significant in the makeup of a sensitive personality:

Being female
Being a first-born or only child
Being single
Being ambidextrous
Appraising oneself as imaginative
Appraising oneself as introverted
Recalling a plainly traumatic event (or events) in childhood
Maintaining that one affects—or is affected by—lights, computers, and other electrical appliances in an unusual way."

I fit 7 of the 8 criteria. The only one that doesn't fit is that I'm not single.

He discusses his theories in his blog series titled "Do Some People Sense the Unseen?"

"Ghost stories, of course, have persisted across every age and every society, no matter how modern or scientific. Something so pervasive, so characteristically human, deserves not to be put down or waved away but seriously investigated. In my estimation, the correspondence of apparitional reports with environmentally sensitive people gives us a significant new way to begin unlocking the puzzle."

I live an overly sensitive life (sensory issues, fibromyalgia, etc.) and have had many ghostly encounters throughout my life though I have never "seen" anything with my eyes. All my other senses have experienced things I can't explain away by household creaks, cats, or anything else that makes "sense" in a rational way. Noises, voices, music, scents, being touched by an unseen hand, things disappearing or being moved in my home...and I identify as an empath. I plan to dive into this more in future blog posts.

But for now this blog post is here to simply to introduce these theories and the works of these authors.  I sure plan to dig deeper into their research.

The Ghost Studies: New Perspectives on the Origins of Paranormal Experiences  
Brandon Massullo

Book Description:

You've just laid down for the night when suddenly doors slam and the curtains shift. The lights begin to flicker and a white mist forms in front of you. You shut your eyes and keep muttering, "ghosts aren't real." But then you open your eyes and realize that "harmless" mist has shifted into the form of a man, staring intensely at you, as he floats above your bed.

What causes ghostly experiences?

Are ghosts real?

Why do certain people report numerous ghostly encounters and others none?

For centuries these questions have intrigued, puzzled, and bedeviled science, skeptics, and even believers. Based on cutting-edge research and new theories, The Ghost Studies provides insight into some of life's greatest mysteries.

This fascinating book is far more than a compilation of ghost stories. The Ghost Studies provides scientific explanations for paranormal occurrences, including:

New and exciting scientific theories that explain apparitions, hauntings, and communications from the dead.

The latest research on the role of energy and electricity in hauntings.

The role that emotions, bioenergetics, and the environment play in supernatural phenomena.

New research into why some individuals are more prone to ghostly encounters.

The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion: How Feelings Link the Brain, the Body, and the Sixth Sense

Michael A. Jawer, Marc S. Micozzi 

A cutting-edge examination of feelings, not thoughts, as the gateway to understanding consciousness 

• Contends that emotion is the greatest influence on personality development 

• Offers a new perspective on immunity, stress, and psychosomatic conditions 

• Explains how emotion is key to understanding out-of-body experience, apparitions, and other anomalous perceptions 

Contemporary science holds that the brain rules the body and generates all our feelings and perceptions. Michael Jawer and Dr. Marc Micozzi disagree. They contend that it is our feelings that underlie our conscious selves and determine what we think and how we conduct our lives. 

The less consciousness we have of our emotional being, the more physical disturbances we are likely to have--from ailments such as migraines, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and post-traumatic stress to anomalous perceptions such as apparitions and involuntary out-of-body experiences. Using the latest scientific research on immunity, sensation, stress, cognition, and emotional expression, the authors demonstrate that the way we process our feelings provides a key to who is most likely to experience these phenomena and why. They explain that emotion is a portal into the world of extraordinary perception, and they provide the studies that validate the science behind telepathic dreams, poltergeists, and ESP. The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion challenges the prevailing belief that the brain must necessarily rule the body. Far from being by-products of neurochemistry, the authors show that emotions are the key vehicle by which we can understand ourselves and our interactions with the world around us as well as our most intriguing--and perennially baffling--experiences. 

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