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Parapsychology – Poltergeists

6. Research into Poltergeists

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In this lecture, we think about research into poltergeist cases and the sceptical perspective, focusing in particular on: (i) the relatively limited research available into poltergeists and the clear presence of fraud in some of that research; (ii) the presence of some fraudulent creation of phenomena in the cases discussed in this course; (iii) the nature of these cases generating extreme pressure on the individuals around whom the poltergeist activity is centred, forming an explanation for why some of the phenomena were found to be fraudulent; (iv) environmental explanations, such as infrasound and geo/electromagnetic fields creating object movement and psycho-physiological effects which might be interpreted as poltergeist activity; (v) the role of belief and bias in attribution of unusual events to poltergeist activity; (vi) the presence of visual and auditory hallucination in states of mind, such as sleep stages; (vii) the power of suggestion, through implying that a location is haunted; (viii) the ‘Hutchison effect’, as a potential explanation for objects movement through unseen forces.


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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O'Keeffe, C. (2022, July 20). Parapsychology – Poltergeists - Research into Poltergeists [Video]. MASSOLIT.

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O'Keeffe, C. "Parapsychology – Poltergeists – Research into Poltergeists." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 20 Jul 2022,

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