Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Carol Syndrome

For this auspicious holiday, I thought I’d leave you with a thought about ghosts and their potential role in our lives. My favorite part of ghost hunting (besides getting evidence and being in scary dark places) is helping people reframe their interpretation of the phenomenon they’ve encountered. It can actually be a testing ground for a family and its coping skills. Sometimes, however, it is a sample of a much deeper problem.

There’s a phenomenon I personally call the “Christmas Carol Syndrome.” This occurs when a family dynamic is so dysfunctional that the ghost becomes the scapegoat for everything that’s wrong. The family looks to the unseen to blame for their fear, anxiety, sleeplessness. It’s not the father that drinks too much or the mother who is absent or the siblings who are depressed, it’s the ghost.

The unexpected sounds, feelings of being watched, hair pulling, and visitations at the bedside become an obsession. There was a family on “Ghost Hunters” show (probably more than one, but one that I know of) who had several teams to their home, were on several ghost hunting shows. They seemed really normal. They must have a ghost problem, right? One has to wonder. When a family seeks out so many teams, so many shows to come inside their home to prove “it’s the ghosts,” they’re either attention seekers or desperately wanting confirmation from others, “no, no, it’s not you, it’s the ghost.” These are the sort of folks who need to feel helpless and victimized, tormented, and afraid. They need it because the ghost explains why they’re feeling these things in their home life. Therefore, they don't need to place blame where it belongs and face issues they really don't want to try to approach.

In the tale “A Christmas Carol,” the main character is visited by ghosts from his past, present, and future to show him what he did wrong in the past, how it led to his miserable present, and how much worse it could get in the future if he continues this path.

There are times I wish I could send those three to certain family’s homes.

It’s true that a family in distress can create poltergeist-like activity. What does one do about that situation? Every poltergeist situation I’ve seen involved a repressed anger. Getting the open talk going about the elements that might be unspoken of amongst the family members is the ideal start. Presented to them in the form of everyone putting their cards on the table to band together against the ghost, presents it in a positive light. If they feel helpless, they will continue to feel fear. And the reverse.

I have been very interested in the concept of feng shui and home organization in terms of keeping the house energy flowing properly. You’ve probably noticed the cluttered and dark houses that attract ghostly happenings on the ghost hunting shows. You don’t see ultra modern, neat, and bright homes that have issues. The same goes for families. The energy of the family itself can become balled up and twisted. If they clean out their closets (get their frustrations off their chests), there are no dark places to hide, no taut energy inside their bodies and minds, no feeding source for activity. It sounds rather new-age, but these are trends I see in homeowners complaining about hauntings; congested homes, congested emotions.

The ultimate question is, do these people attract spirit activity, somehow cause phenomenon? Or, do they create a haunting to blame for their bad dynamics? Perhaps they move into a house that is haunted and don’t handle it well because of poor coping skills or team work? It’s really all three of these reasons.

The Christmas Carol Syndrome may sound like a hokey name for a complex problem, but whenever I think of that term in my mind, I immediately want to ask “what about your past? What about your present?” To determine their future.

Have a happy holiday and perhaps take the time to review your own ghosts from the past and the present to determine your future, especially at this time when everyone is prepared to turn a new leaf and resolve to change their habits. If you put it down in writing, for example, “I tend to think of others and their feelings and want everyone around me to be happy. As a child, I hated to see my family sad, so I would be extra cheerful and accommodating. Nowadays, I anticipate loved one’s needs and rush in to fulfill them and make their lives easier.” What is this person’s future? “I will continue to neglect my own needs at the risk to my dreams, goals, and health.”

So, I wish for you a chance to get a visit by the 3 wise ghosts. Don’t forget, these ghosts don’t just show you what you’ve done wrong, but also what you’ve done right. For example, someone might realize, "I am not afraid of hard work. As a child, I could work for weeks on a treefort and not give up. I'd find older kids to teach me how to do it right, ask my parents for the right tools, and work away. Today, I don't give up on projects. If I don't know everything, I find someone who will teach me, a mentor. In the future, I see that no matter what happens, I will always work hard at my projects and have success." Look at your past, your present, and your fate. You can’t get anymore powerful and in control than that.

Happy holiday!


  1. another great post! i love the way you make me think in a different way. thanks for your wonderful insight.
    again, wishing you the best for the end of this year and great things for the new year.

  2. Hey Sandra;
    I sure hope you and the family have a great Xmas and next Xmas--hope it's white! :-)

  3. Merry Christmas!!! hope you have a great one! my neighbor's son killed himself 3 weeks ago so i am making them a surprise christmas dinner. i feel awful for them!

  4. Hello there! Great post! Christmas carol syndrome...nice! I know that type of family. The most unfortunate thing of all about them is that the children of these families are taught to not accept responsibility for their actions! Which is horrible, because i believe that accepting responsibility is the key to grow!
    Your cookie idea is lovely! Noone has to get out of his way to buy stuff! Plus, everybody likes cookies!
    Happy holidays!

  5. Hello there! Great post! Christmas carol syndrome...nice! I know that type of family. The most unfortunate thing of all about them is that the children of these families are taught to not accept responsibility for their actions! Which is horrible, because i believe that accepting responsibility is the key to grow!
    Your cookie idea is lovely! Noone has to get out of his way to buy stuff! Plus, everybody likes cookies!
    Happy holidays!

  6. Hey Georgina;
    Glad you enjoyed it. Yeah, I run into these families a lot in ghost hunting. I understand because my own family had a lot of screwed up dynamics and you had to break through the bullshit to get to the substance of what was going on. However, unlike most families, mine did not like blaming things on the ghosts at all. In fact, most members were scared of the whole thing and didn't want to discuss it. Those who did discuss it, would simply report something that occurred over the breakfast table very matter of factly. I remember many times having witnessed the same thing and feeling relief someone else brought it up. My parents have a very no-nonsense view about the haunting and that helped me to want to be of aid to those who suffer phenomenon. My parents always said that ghosts are just people in need of a home and family and like ours, so they stick around. They're handicapped in that you can't see them usually, but we shouldn't be prejudiced about their deficiency. The soldiers that died there were only walking the halls to guard their new family--us. I remember as a kid feeling very protected and happy about the whole situation. I even occasionally called out a thank you. People's fears, often times based on religious superstitions, can really get them scared of something that is so very natural. I can't explain exactly how my TV works, but I don't think it's evil. I wish to open more minds and hopefully help one family at a time. I hope you're having a cozy holiday time. I want 2010 to bring you lots of success, warmth, and contentment.

  7. Thank you for a great suggestion: to review "ghosts from the past and the present to determine your future".
    Happy Holidays!

  8. First off, I LOVE your new photo profile! (Maybe it's not so new, but seeing how far behind I am on reading your posts, it's new to me! ;)

    Second, I like when you bring up how we can influence the "ghostly activity" in our lives. Be it via our emotions or a house full of clutter. This was a neat post and a neat way to reference Ghost of Christmas past...but also how to use them to better our future.

  9. Hi again Autumn,

    Just catching up here. I agree with your commenters; great post.

    I was taught that fear absolutely feeds activity. And that, with proper training and perspective ... and caution when and where it's called for ... there is nothing to fear but fear itself when it comes to the paranormal. I think you make an excellent point about dyfunctional family dynamics and the energy in a home ... environmental and otherwise ... can make trouble where there doesn't have to be. And it can make problems worse.

    My teacher always said that sensitive people are usually frightened by paranormal experiences because the experience is controlling them. And in all but the extreme cases, reassuring people and educating people's perspective will give them back a sense of security. That was certainly true for me.

    There was one episode ... of ... I think it was Paranormal State ... where they had the family clean up the extreme clutter as a first step toward resolving the paranormal issues. I thought that was an excellent first step. It just makes sense not to feed negative energy ... to be aware of how we may do so. No matter what the ultimate paranormal diagnosis.