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Parapsychology – Poltergeists

2. A History of Poltergeists

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In this lecture, we think about a history of poltergeist phenomena, focusing in particular on: (i) a quick-fire history of poltergeist cases since the first century; (ii) Pliny the Younger as the first reporter of a ‘haunted house’; (iii) Josephus as the first reporter of poltergeist activity; (iv) Jacob Grimm’s Deutsche Mythologie, which contained accounts of historic cases of poltergeist activity; (v) Giraldus Cambrensis’ accounts of poltergeist activity in a house in Pembrokeshire; (vi) the nature of poltergeists to sometimes have a seemingly paranormal knowledge of individuals present, which could be considered a form of extrasensory perception; (vii) Joseph Glanvill’s book Saducismus Triumphatus, published in 1681; (viii) the Fox sisters’ experiences of poltergeist activity; (ix) some 20th century examples of households in which poltergeist activity has occurred.


In this course, Professor Ciarán O’Keeffe (Buckinghamshire New University) explores poltergeists. In the first lecture, we think about how to define a poltergeist and the characteristics of its activities. In the second lecture, we think about a history of recorded poltergeist cases, starting in the first century. In the third lecture, we think about some alternative, paranormal theories of poltergeists. Next, we think about the story of the Enfield poltergeist and the diversity of witnesses of its activity. In the fifth lecture, we think about the story of the Battersea poltergeist and its unprecedented twelve year duration of activity. In the sixth and final lecture, we think about some key research into poltergeist activity.


Professor Ciarán O’Keeffe is associate professor of education and research and head of the School of Human and Social Sciences at Buckinghamshire New University. Professor O’Keeffe’s research interests include investigative psychology and parapsychology, and has made numerous television and radio appearances alongside an array of celebrities. Some of Professor O’Keeffe’s recent publications include 'Things That Go Bump In The Literature: An Environmental Appraisal of 'Haunted Houses'' (2020) and 'Restorative Justice and Recidivism: Investigating the impact of victim-preference for level of engagement' (2014).

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APA style

O'Keeffe, C. (2022, July 20). Parapsychology – Poltergeists - A History of Poltergeists [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

O'Keeffe, C. "Parapsychology – Poltergeists – A History of Poltergeists." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 20 Jul 2022,

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