Make Some Noise: The Poltergeist Phenomenon

by Tony Harrington

poltergeistchairsThanks largely in part to Tobe Hooper and Steven Speilberg, when people hear the word “poltergeist” it immediately conjures images of a young blonde girl perched before her television set and proclaiming, “They’re here.”

In actuality, as scary as many found the film, the actual phenomenon is much more terrifying even if less outlandish than what the film depicts.

To start, we should define exactly what a poltergeist is. In short, it is an amalgamation of two distinct German words: poltern, a verb meaning “to make noise”, and geist, which basically means “spirit”. So poltergeist can literally be translated to “noisy ghost”.

For the most part, that is exactly what a poltergeist haunting typically entails. Rattles, bumps, scratching sounds, footsteps, and moans and groans of indeterminate origin.

You can search YouTube for videos on poltergeist activity and be rewarded with a bevy of amazing clips showing objects moving by themselves: cups sliding across a table, cabinets opening and slamming, drawers sliding open and utensils inexplicably being tossed across the room. It is not uncommon to see chairs sliding across the floor or tipping over. Most, if not all, of the videos are fabrications though created by crafty filmmakers, but do a better job at depicting the true definition of poltergeist activity than the actual film mentioned above.

In addition to the specific physical manifestation of poltergeist activity, it should be noted that the spirit is most often associated as being attached to a particular person or object rather than a location. Families having experienced a poltergeist indicate that even moving to a new location did not stop the activity.

In rare circumstances poltergeist activity has escalated into vicious attacks on an individual within the home. Historically, some of the most well-documented cases of violent poltergeists attacking the living revolve around young girls and teenage women.

The famous Bell Witch legend recounts the story of young Elizabeth Bell, the youngest daughter of the Bell household who became the target of an angry witch spirit. She was shaken, burned and scratched.

In the Enfield poltergeist case of 1977, 11-year-old Janet Hodgson allegedly showed signs of manipulation and possession by a the spirit of a prior tenant of the rented home. Prior to the attacks on Janet, the poltergeist activity was limited to the manipulation of furniture, toys and the requisite knocks, bumps, and moans.

The Amherst Poltergeist case of Esther Cox, a 19-year-old secretary who began being viciously attacked after having survived an attempted rape at gunpoint. The case took place in Amherst, Nova Scotia in 1878 and is perhaps one of the most infamous cases due to the level of violent activity which involved fires and Esther vomiting needles and pins.

In all cases of reported poltergeists, the activity stops as suddenly as it began. Most cases span one to two years before the spirit departs giving the family much-needed peace.

But is activity of this nature supernatural? Science offers many explanations for falling and moving objects. A common belief is that underground rivers, streams, and aquifers cause vibrations that can knock pictures from walls, cause furniture to tip, and cause the sound of moaning.

There is also the belief that paranormal activity of this type stems from the afflicted themself. Most documented cases of poltergeist activity involves troubled youth who are often victims of physical and sexual abuse. That is not to say that the trauma welcomes spirits, the implication is that the victims themselves are causing the activity. They are the ones throwing things and blaming disembodied spirits, they contort their bodies and claw at their skin, and fabricate scenarios as part of a dissociative disorder, similar to the survivor of a violent or sexual crime developing a split personality to disassociate themself from the trauma.

Interestingly, most cases of paranormal activity occurred in the late 19th and early twentieth century and have slowly tapered off over time. Only a small handful of documented cases have occurred in the USA with a majority transpiring in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. (source:

Not surprisingly, reports of poltergeist activity climbed in the US at the time the film “Poltergeist” was released.

Whatever the case, for those experiencing a poltergeist activity, the situation is real, frightening, and confusing. The fact that there does not seem to be any means of leaving the spirit makes a family feel trapped and seeds of discord begin to bloom.

It is a wide belief in the paranormal field that some negative spirits feed on the energy of distress and grow stronger from it. So perhaps the poltergeist activity is self-sustaining, allowing a mild nuisance ghost to blossom into physical attacks.

Have you had any personal experiences in dealing with a poltergeist? Share your story by leaving a comment. The link to do so is at the top of this article.


7 thoughts on “Make Some Noise: The Poltergeist Phenomenon

  1. Hello (my name is Keith Linder

    I’m reaching out to gaining insight and more importantly drawing attention to the events we’ve experienced. I currently reside in house in Bothell, WA

    See time line attachment

    1. Loud Bangs
    2. Scratches on the wall(s)
    3. Three Bible burning(s) . 3 other Bibles missing
    4. Fire being started in Office
    5. Cabinet Doors being swung-open
    6. Fire alarm goes off
    7. Loud walks, footsteps noises
    8. Door slams
    9. Tapping noises For the past 3 years ( 2012, 2014 especially) these activities and more have picked up. And we’ve reached out to local and regional churches and no responds to help us. Please to listen to these with headsets or speakers* 2015 Environmental factors you should know about the rooms and house. House is empty. Only one occupant. Myself.

    Events started May 1st 2012, until now.

    1. Keith:

      Thank you for sharing your story and the evidence supporting your claim.

      Based on what I have seen, it would seem to be that you have a “classic” poltergeist infestation.

      The biggest issue with Poltergeist hauntings is that there is no real rhyme or reason as to why they manifest. Though it is widely believed that the entity is more likely attached to a person rather than to the home itself.

      The burning of holy relics seems to imply demonic activity, though to be honest, it is most likely trying to scare you rather than being a real demon.

      The first incidents you describe are conducive to an “Infestation” period where the poltergeist begins to manifest and make itself known. From there, activity will usually escalate.

      Poltergeist activity ebbs and flows, and things such as construction or maintenance on the house can cause increased activity.

      Some things you can look into as well, if you are not remodeling or doing any type of rearranging of the home:

      1) Is there an underground water source running under your home. The presence of running water underneath or nearby the home can cause activity to spike.

      2) How old is the home? If you are not the first occupant, consider doing some research to determine if any of the previous occupants have encountered paranormal activity.

      3) consider running a report to see if there are any reports of people having died in the house. The report is about 12 bucks but you don’t get to see it before you buy it so you run the risk of buying a report with no results.

      4) Research local paranormal investigation teams in your area. Talk with them, ensure you are comfortable with them and that they don’t seem sketchy. If they seem legit, as in they do not charge a fee, and they seem educated on paranormal phenomena, invite them to investigate. They should be able to determine what type of activity you are facing. They might even be able to perform a cleansing or refer you to someone who can.

      Please let me know if you have additional questions or if you need additional help. We are located in Texas and Arkansas and most likely won’t be able to investigate your home, although it would be awesome to do so.

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Tony Harrington
      Editor in Chief

      1. thanks for the response. Yes it does seem our culprit is a very nasty, testy Poltergeist. A creek does run behind the house and the house+neighborhood does sit on land with a sad Native American history say back in the early to mid 1800’s. Cleansing, Catholic Mass, And even Exorcism have not proven to be effective. It seems to know when to lay and wait and when the dust settles re-appears and when it re-appears it acts out and escalates the violence. Things have sort of died down for now. Whats left is the poking and prodding while sleeping. Sheet tugs and constant foot steps throughout the hall while sleeping.

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