Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Would You Do? The Haunted Closet


I've been doing this blog for over 3 years now and one thing I've learned is that everyone who reads this really has a good angle on ghost hunting and hauntings in general. This is the beginning of a new series "What Would You Do?" in which I give you a hypothetical situation for a ghost hunt and you tell me how you'd approach it.

The home is a 30 years old. It's been lived in by two families. One lived there for 27 of those years. A nice family with a blue-collar working father, a mother who stayed home and two perfectly healthy and happy children. Nothing unusual occurred in the home. Nothing that would warrant a haunting, but the new tenants who had been in there for just over 2 years, but things began to fall apart six months ago when their 8-year-old daughter began to have trouble sleeping.

She complained that there was something in her closet, shuffling around, making noises. Her parents had gone way out of their way to try and ease her fears, use logic on her, inspect the closet and even let her sleep in their room, but they realized they couldn't continue that forever.

They learned something about the land and that a prior home was on the lot somewhere, perhaps not precisely where the house sat now, but it had been the site of arson, being burned down by an enraged husband who came back from war and found his wife was cohabitating with someone else. They also found out the wife died later of smoke inhalation from the event, though she did not die on site.

This made the parents even more concerned that perhaps the house was haunted. Their daughter was beginning to talk of a ghost in the closet and the mother was getting spooked by the whole thing. They call you in to investigate.

Where do you begin and how to you deal with their daughter's fears?

31 comments:

  1. I can't advise on the ghost part, but, until the issue is solved, the daughter should not be left to sleep in the room by herself. Either she continues to sleep with her parents, or they rotate sleeping in their with her, but at no point should the parents' convenience or pleasure trump the needs of the daughter to feel safe and cared for.

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  2. Jude;
    Nice catch. Yes, I do agree that the needs of the child are foremost. There's always the risk that by whisking her from the room or sleeping with her, the parents are telling her in effect there is reason for concern. So, how do you go about making the girl feel safe and proving or disproving the haunting? Ah, quite the dilemma, hmm?

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  3. No dilemma at all from my end. Something is happening which her parents can neither explain nor control. Until something changes, the only responsible thing to do is to focus on making the child feel safe and their number one priority.

    It makes me crazy when I see and read accounts of hauntings where the most vulnerable members of the family are left on their own to cope with what is happening.

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  4. Jude;
    I do hope you ghost hunt, because you really seem like you have good commonsense. Proving a ghost is the last on the list of priorities. The first on the list is to deal with the mental health of the people who are unsettled by events in the home. Your priorities are spot-on.

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  5. I explain to the daughter that she has a special skill that very few people have - the ability to communicate with people who have passed on. If she feels fear, then she should try to find out more about those who occupy the closet and help them find peace and closure.

    If that fails, then just tell her to run like hell.

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  6. No ghost hunting for me til we're an adult-only home. I don't want to risk bringing anything home when there are children in the house.

    Til then, I sure do love following the adventures of others. Thank you for all the time and effort you put into this blog.

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  7. Isn't this the time when parents turn to kids therapy?

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  8. MM;
    We'll discuss your running concept later. When enough people have chimed in, I will tell you what I actually did in this real-life scenario. It is an example of what will be in my ghost book coming up; practical techniques, commonsense. I get the distinct feeling your kids just hang on your every word. You have a very open heart in such matters.

    Jude;
    You have to go with what works for you. I actually included my son in on many of my hunts when he was a teen. In fact, had I not taken him to a certain cemetery, he wouldn't have gone back after hours and encountered something that his skeptical logical mind that believes in NOTHING paranormal got slapped open with a new realization--the paranormal exists. Now, he understands why I'm driven to do this. His logical mind is still reeling 5 years later.

    Echo;
    If this were a long-term problem, it might be worth a little therapy, but sometimes there's easy ways to deal with kids that can kill a fear right away. When my son was little, if the door was partially open it cast a shadow of a triangle on the ceiling. He said it was an alligator's open mouth. I told him it wasn't much of an alligator, it had no teeth. It looked more like the PBJ sandwichs I made him and cut into triangles. Henceforth, he asked me to keep the door partially opened so he could see the PBJ.

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  9. I'd ask it to pay rent or at least clean the closet out.

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  10. CB;
    Yes, I agree. The ghost should kick in or at least shine the little girl's shoes while it's in there.

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  11. With a child involved, you definitely want to take it seriously. Shuffling noises could be animal related, mice or something. I'd get a better understanding of what the noises sounded like but would also ask if they called in an exterminator to inspect the closet. I don't know how their daughter's inability to sleep in her own room because of shuffling noises has the parents immediately looking in to the property's history. It sounds like a logical step to take unless one or both had an unexplainable experience. A definite question I would ask.

    A property's shady past doesn't necessarily mean it's linked to the problem. The story doesn't specifically state when the little girl started talking about a ghost or if she went in to any detail about what the ghost looked like. It's possible she began talking about a ghost because she overheard her parents talking about it.

    Just from the details of the scenario, it sounds as if the problem may be more natural than supernatural.

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  12. Andrea;
    I do so adore the readers on this blog. Y'all have big hearts and smart minds. I like where you're going with that. It is both logical and skeptical, yet compassionate.

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  13. Why does Major Payne shooting the bad man in the closet come to mind?

    Major Payne wiped out the enemy with extreme prejudice!

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  14. Okay, Barry, I think we need to investigate you because I have no clue what you're referring to.

    So, everyone, I will tell you this was an actual case and in this instance, I made sure the parents had the child away from home when I came so there was no involvement with the "G" word in front of her. I did a sweep of the home and found nothing unusual about it. Interviewing the parents, they had not experienced anything. So, with no reason to believe the house has a bad history, that only the child is experiencing it, the most obvious issue is separation anxiety. I had a look at her closet. It was a mess. So, I told the mom this. "Tell your daughter that the closet is making noises because the things inside are shifting and it's overpacked." Then, she was to have the daughter help her remove everything from the closet for a week. Let the daughter sleep in the room and report if anything happened. Show her confidence that with nothing in the closet, it will prove that she had packed the closet too messily. In fact, the child went all week with no sounds in the closet, so the mother proved it was the objects inside shifting as they were stacked up so messy. So, they reorganized the closet and got cool shelving units and containers and the daughter hung her clothing up by color and style and they had a fantastic mother/daughter moment making the closet a total blast to use. In fact, the daughter slept with the door open to see the pretty setup inside. She gave her daughter a real-world explanation for the closet issue, kept her mind away from ghostly explanations and in turn found out her daughter adored having a clothing shop in her closet and they spent time redoing the rest of her room with mirrors and a model's runway. It wasn't a ghostly situation, but one look at the closet and it was pretty obvious that, yes, she was hearing things and no wonder. There were crumbling boxes under heavy weight and shoes dumped into and to top it off, the washer and dryer were on the other side of the wall where her mother did the laundry late at night, making the wall vibrate inside. Not a glamorous house call but definitely a relief.

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  15. What a terrific approach and resolution! :)

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  16. Jude;
    I go into every case with just plain old good commonsense. I don't go in there all giddy that it's a haunting. I look at the family dynamics, the land, the history, who's seen what, and use a little of my psychic senses to see if there's anything active occurring, to gauge people's stories. Sometimes, it just comes down to the silliest things. I've only done a couple house calls that I think were haunted, but like 98% of them they're not, so it's not even worth getting all EMF-ready, IR-camera happy. I don't even do a check of the place until I've had some good shooting the breeze time with the homeowners. If TAPS kept the lights on a while and investigated, then turned the lights out as the last deed when they're in a home, I think they'd be able to dismiss cases without getting families all hyped up about the hunt.

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  17. Speaking of turning out the lights, I've never understood the focus on middle-of-the-night investigations. I'm not convinced ghosts are nocturnal, so I am guessing the timing of investigations is some combination of wanting to add drama, plus night-time is usually quieter, with fewer distractions, and when most people are home.

    What do you think?

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  18. Jude;
    That's one of the most asked questions. The usual reasons involve traffic. Places are quiet, emptied out, no daytime interruptions, no noises and lights that will distract. It's purely logistics, but some hunters believe that IR cameras pick up things regular cameras can't and there's still those die-hards out there that believe getting orbs on flash pictures is proof of ghosts. I won't even touch that one. There is another reason that means the most to me--it's not because it's the witching hour and it's not because IR is spectacular (not!), it's because when you are in a quiet building, nearly no light, your vision becomes sharper, you notice shadows moving that might not show up in daytime light, you hear every sound in the place, your senses are much much better at picking up activity.

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  19. Jude;
    I'm always up for answering questions. You get any more, don't hesitate to email
    psychic62@hotmail.com

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  20. Mister Sharaf; (BTW, I love your profile pic!) I'm glad you enjoyed it. Expect me to do this weekly. I will toss real life cases at y'all and see where you take them. I love to hear great minds thinking about these things and giving lots of angles. Everyone teaches me even more about the industry by their ways of attacking these problems.

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  21. I would move the daughter. A fear of the closet is a common fear, ghost or no and children have vivid imaginations so I wouldn't consider thi proof of a haunting, but it certainly seems to be interrupting the child's sleep and that is reason enough to move the child away from the offending closet.

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  22. Yay for happy endings to scary stories!

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  23. Jessica;
    I can see your point of view. The parents hadn't even tried anything other than letting her sleep in their room which was making things worse. I wouldn't advise anyone to teach the child to run from their fear. If they learn to deal with anxieties using good healthy rational cognitive skills to change the way they explain things to themselves, then they give them a skill for life. This little girl has learned that trying something can change everything. I was pleased with the outcome and her future excitement about being a clothing designer. That was adorable.

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  24. I dont know if someone else proposed this already(didnt read :( comments-too many) but I would first clean the closet. Looks like a sty. if theres something shuffling around couldnt it be a cat or mice/rats...etc. empty the closet and you'll see if Freddies waiting!

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  25. Major.Mack. If you read my long comment above, you'll see my solution. Great minds think alike, my friend!

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  26. At least they know it's not Barney Frank in there.

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  27. Talk to the daughter about her abilities, and let her know that if she becomes uncomfortable for any reason; she may sleep elsewhere. I'd also go through the closet to ensure there is nothing there that might bring in activity; along with any nearby rooms. I'd also set up a 27/7 cam and recording device to see what is going on; if the parents aren't sensitives. Entities are often draw to children, as they are most open. That said; the child's safety is first and foremost!

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