I Feel Your Pain ...

How many times have you watched a paranormal reality TV show with an individual in the “cast” who has claimed to be “empathic”?  This type of psychic/sensitive has the ability to feel the emotions, and sometimes – physical – pain of others, so you can usually spot them when they start “connecting” with the environment, and/or the spirits within.   For me, there’s always been a sort of wonderment about how this actually works.  I mean, logically speaking, if you simply “played the numbers” you could come up with some sort of emotion or physical feeling which probably took place in a certain area at some point in the past, so watching someone say something like “I’m feeling tense, there was someone who was tense here…” could very likely apply to numerous people in the past.  There’s absolutely nothing specific about many of these types of claims, when you really stop and think about it.   As skeptics, we need to question everything, because paranormal situations are few and far between, hence the “para” in “paranormal”.  Too many teams, groups, and yes, especially TV shows, are overwhelmingly eager to show the world just how “gifted” they, their psychic/sensitive members, and their “para-celebrity personalities” are because their evidence exhibits they encounter “paranormal” situations more regularly than most.  It’s something to think about when considering how much of these experiences are natural to the individual, and how many are experienced after they’re exposed to the background history of the environment, or after they’ve witnessed someone else having their own reaction/experience to the environment.

That’s the big question at hand – Are those people who claim they have feelings, or vibes, from an environment, experiencing what they say they are as a truly organic and authentic experience?  Or are they experiencing these feelings because someone suggested to them, that this is what you should be feeling because certain events took place in this environment, and the effects of those events are bound to be trapped in that space?  It’s human nature to be prone to experiences simply through the effects of “suggestion”, and we all like to think we’re above that type of influence but the truth of the matter is, unless there’s a social disorder involved, we aren’t.  None of us are.  Some are influenced more intensely than others, some are influenced less intensely than others, but we’re all (for the most part) influenced by what we either know about a location’s past history, or what we’re seeing others reacting to while we’re having our own personal experiences.

Maine Ghost Hunters, by nature, is a skeptic approach investigation team.  We try, very hard, to keep a “sensitive” or “psychic” approach out of the equation when we’re investigating.  The last thing we want any of our investigators to tell us, is how they’re reading (or how they read) an environment we’re investigating.  This is an absolute “no-no”.  When an investigator tells us they don’t want to be in a room because it’s too much for them, or they need to take a break because a certain area is overwhelming to them, it makes them an ineffective investigator and useless to our process.  Granted, if this happens once or twice in an extended period of time, it can be understandable, to some degree.  But the bottom line is, if any one investigator finds themselves that “sensitive” or “psychic” then they’ve rendered themselves useless to us because their outlook on the environment, the skeptic approach process, and the case in general, has been biased by their own personal opinions and experiences. Being caught up in their personal experiences doesn’t help Maine Ghost Hunters do what we traveled to an investigation location to do.  And, honestly, having certain feelings – emotional or physical – does little to help the investigation along if we can’t measure the results of those feelings.  Furthermore, if an investigator is not bothered by their perceptions of an environment but still “reads” that environment, we have to naturally take into account the bias that exists.  It’s natural to have bias, to a certain degree, because that’s part of every person’s individual and personal experience.  However, vocalizing they’ve read the environment, were reading the environment during the investigation (which may be already completed), or are currently reading the environment, really puts into perspective where their mind was during investigation time.  Having our heads in the game and on the same page, conducting our investigation(s) with a healthy skeptic approach, is where Maine Ghost Hunters’ need to be, and if investigators can’t seem to manage that approach, we find they’re better suited for non-investigation team roles.

Empathic abilities may be expressed from time to time, as a natural course of the investigation process – this can’t be denied.  Sometimes, you just feel as if someone is watching you, or you feel like you’re in someone’s space.  It’s understandable, on occasion.  But, for the sake of example(s); if an investigator claims to feel heat on their neck, and we measure their neck and find it’s hotter than the rest of their body, that’s very helpful.  If they tell us they feel like they’re being watched from behind them, and we engage that area of the room, but nothing comes of it – no evidence is presented when we ask for communication from that area – then we find ourselves chasing an imaginary or personally perceived presence which could likely be nothing more than a figment of their imagination at the time.  The point is, we’re not using our time wisely and we’re not making progress when considering what routes we take to reach an ultimate goal, which is to capture and collect evidence we can use to determine if a location has spirit activity or not.

Suggestion plays a huge role in perceived “empathic” abilities and that really is the focus of my blog entry.  Maine Ghost Hunters has seen this phenomena play out so many times it’s hard to keep track, but most of all, it’s disappointing to see who allows themselves to fall victim to it.  People who like to investigate are generally quite enthused about any event which allows them to do so.  MGH puts on a lot of investigations for non-members to participate, and we’ve seen a lot of people from all walks of life join us on these investigation opportunities.  In the excitement of getting to be in a haunted location, and anticipating that moment no one can explain “what just happened” we’ve seen people perceive events so personally they’ve been visibly emotionally and physically effected; to the point it disturbed their investigation time and caught the attention of others around them.  As a great example;  we’ve seen people develop headaches, claiming a spirit presence was too much for them – when the skeptics among us were sure it had more to do with the overwhelming heat in the location and the lack of proper hydration.  But belief is what it is to each and every one of us, and we observe, from the outside, that these people feel they made contact with a spirit, through “feeling” the spirit exerting some sort of impression or force, which resulted in a headache.

Empathic abilities are an interesting area of psychic/sensitive abilities and while I’m sure there are people out there who experience such things, very personally, I still say taking a skeptic approach is the best way to determine if a location is haunted.  Why?  Because when you’re skeptic you look for the hard data; the irrefutable hard evidence.  Capturing a voice, a photo, or a spirit on video and presenting that as evidence.  Having an empathically inclined individual tell you what they’re feeling from an environment, as a primary approach to determining if a location harbors spirit activity or not… it just doesn’t seem to be as dependable, trustworthy, direct, or tangible.  There are many shades of gray when considering human perspective.  There is only black and white if you are recording data. You either have it, or you don’t.  You either recorded it, or you didn’t.

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