Why Are Ghosts Frightening and Not Sad?

When we think about ghosts in general we usually associate them with feelings of fear and perhaps a mystical enchantment over what mysteries they may unveil to the witness seeing one for the first time.  But why do we default to fear when the emotion most likely to arise from hearing their story in context would be one of sadness?  It’s strange how we associate things like ghosts with fear, but it may not actually be purely novel, but related to how we empathize with one another.

Empathy is one of the most tremendous emotions we can feel.  It is what connects us all together and scientists have linked empathy to feelings of life satisfaction and even generalized health.  Meanwhile, fear is an emotion that is very polarized and perhaps is one of the most active emotions physiologically.  And the way we look at ghosts is perhaps telling of our own culture and our species.  And if in the coming years we were to shift from a confrontational and isolated species to a more accepting and inclusive one that dealt less in focusing on differences, then perhaps at some point in the future we will see ghosts not as disturbing creatures that likely don’t cause us any harm, but rather are generally startling because of the mysteries behind life and death that they suggest.  The fear we feel around ghosts is often reflexive, and reflexive fears generally surround feelings of wellbeing and endangering that wellbeing.  But in only a few cases have we ever seen ghosts who actually can or have harmed the living.  More often than not it is a psychological harm and even that is rare when we take into account just how many ghost sightings happen around the world each year and how many seem to escalate into something truly horrific.

While there is no right or wrong way to feel about ghosts – just as there is no truly objective right or wrong way to feel about anything, we can say a truly empathic emotion would more likely be one of love and sympathy for the departed.  And this is also one of the things suggested by empathic psychics to better contact spirits from beyond.  And when exploring why ghosts so often sound distant and isolated in EVPs it may be because they are sensitive to the motives of those seeking them out.  Perhaps there is no generalized way of telling how a ghost will react, but it is possible the methods involved are more impacting a ghost’s perception of us than we realize.  And in fact there is even the possibility that the ghosts themselves are reacting more to the situation than the fact that we are living and they are dead.  The strangeness of paranormal investigating is that it must always be seen through the lens of a paranormal investigation.

Psychics do, however, propose that those attempting to communicate with spirits do so as respectfully as possible when looking to make contact.  Perhaps the term “ghost hunt” in itself is problematic because it gives the impression that those attempting to make contact should be running around armed with cameras and recording equipment.  But there is a very real possibility that they will be offended if their first contact with the living is more of a game than a relatively solemn affair.