I talked extensively in my book, "Was That a Ghost?" about the use of a ghost as a scapegoat within a trouble family dynamic. The "scapeghost" as I like to call it, is blamed for everything that no one wants to deal with in their relationships. A trouble rebellious teen suddenly is on the parents' team as a cohesive group for the first time since the social issues began, simply because they are up against a ghost and that ghost is responsible for all the bad feelings in the home.
It is human nature when one feels nervous or
angry or sad to want to explain it. We struggle to look around us for
the reason for that feeling. Here's an example from the fantastic book "The Feeling Good Handbook" by David Burns:
man has a girlfriend. She wants to go to her high school reunion. He
has to stay home and study. He says "go ahead, have a good time." She
leaves and instead of recognizing his feelings of insecurity at her
meeting her old boyfriends, he focuses on a bruise on his skin. Then, he
starts to focus on his body signals and pretty soon he's convinced he
has AIDs, even though he has no risk factors. He needed a reason for the
feelings of doom. Now, he has a "legitimate" reason for feeling poorly
instead of the real issue--jealousy.
Here's an extreme case of scapeghost:
(From this article) JANUARY 20--A Wisconsin man charged with domestic abuse told cops
that a “ghost” was actually responsible for injuries suffered by his
wife, according to police.
The bizarre claim by Michael West, 41, did not prevent the Fond du
Lac man’s arrest for strangulation, battery, disorderly conduct, and
resisting arrest. West is pictured in the mug shot at right.
According to a January 18 criminal complaint,
West and his spouse got into an argument Sunday that turned violent.
The victim told cops that West twice strangled her, and that he punched
her in the face when she tried to dial 911.
When cops arrived at the couple’s home, the crying woman was bleeding from the nose and had blood on her Packers jersey.
During police questioning, West claimed his wife sustained her
injuries to her face and neck during several falls. When pressed by a
cop--who pointed to marks on the woman’s neck--the intoxicated West
shifted his story. “A ghost did it,” he said.
working on a house-call case, investigators have to first and foremost
determine if it is only one family member who is either witnessing the
phenomena (and what context-like sleep) and how the others in the family
are reacting to that situation--are they rallying around that member to
support them and feel lots of empathy or is it causing a rift? These
are very telling signs.
Attention-seeking is probably
present in about 85% of the cases I've dealt with. Sometimes, it comes
in the form of hoping they get on a paranormal TV show or wanting to
have bragging rights or attention from family and friends who say "oh,
poor you" and sympathize. Some also enjoy thinking that something has
its attention focused on them when others around them ignore them. These
folks do not want to get rid of the activity, but they want someone to
confirm its existence so they can continue the histrionics and get
sympathy from others who are skeptical.
dynamics are tricky in ghost hunting cases, especially since humans are
the main interpreters of ghostly phenomena with all the limits of our 5
senses and the unpracticed confusion of using the 6th sense.
are a phenomena that hunters the world over know and recognize. We have
to deal with it daily. Wading through those murky waters to find out if
there is a genuine haunting is complicated. Sometimes, a genuine
haunting is overshadowed by the gains certain family members get blaming
the ghost for everything from lost car keys to arguments and changes in
the son's behavior.
Welcome to the true reality of paranormal investigation and the very real part that scapeghosts play in the investigations.