Fear of Ghosts – What Does it Say About Us?

Why do we fear ghosts?  It seems reasonable that any paranormal entity we could possibly look after in this long history of mankind is something we should feel reverence for and respect and be curious about, but little is more curious than our very fear of the paranormal entities we have a long lasting relationship with since the dawn of storytelling.  The ghosts of our ancestors and others that walked the Earth are different than us only in one respect – the mysteries of Death are no longer secret to them.  So why are we afraid of them?  And is this fear a novel manifestation of our own perception in the 21st century or has it been around for quite some time?

Ghosts have always had a sort of mystery around them.  The mysterious deceased entities that float aimlessly through our world or with great determination and purpose are more like the embodiment of ideas and ideals than actual people, no longer having to adhere to many of the laws that govern the living.  They do not presumably require food or sleep to keep them moving.  They are not held back by solid objects such as walls.  And they seem to have the ability to actually manipulate these objects at will occasionally.  And they seem to be governed primarily by matters that seem subjective such as human perception.  They only seem to appear to small groups of individuals or people who find themselves alone in their presence.  It seems the very mind of those who see them can have an effect on the entity they perceive.  But then it also seems these ghosts are able to change that perception and make it so they are seen even if the viewer does not wish to.

But there are plenty of reasons not to fear them as well.  There are scattered reports of ghosts harming those they appear to either by altering their perception in a way that psychologically disturbs them or in extremely rare cases causing damage to property and even the physical bodies of people.  But these stories are exceedingly rare, and seem to happen once only every few years.  Given the number of ghosts that are seen as full apparitions, it seems the likelihood of actually being harmed by a ghost is extremely low.  So why are we so concerned by their appearance?

It seems the fear we feel around ghosts as a culture and as an individual spotting one in a room alone comes from the same place in our collective unconscious as our fear of the unknown.  This in time has become ever more profound as the number of things mankind can explain away and quantify grows with each new scientific discovery.  Unlike the paranormal entities of the past, which were seen as mysteries in a world of mysteries, the concept of the ghost is a constant reminder that no matter how well figured out our universe seems in some regards, there will always be mysteries that we quite simply cannot explain.