Thursday, February 5, 2009

What the Surgeon General Forgot to Tell You...

Teenagers becoming possessed after paranormal investigations. People becoming obsessed to an unhealthy degree with EVPs. Evil spirits coming through Ouija boards. These are just a few of the topics tackled by the Southern California Paranormal Research Society (SOCALPRS) on their website, Dangers of the Paranormal.

The aim is to show the downside to ghost hunting. The situations are a tad bit extreme, wouldn't you say? Now, most of us who have been on and conducted investigations don't lie awake at night overcome with paranoia that something horrible will happen. More often than not, nothing happens. In the words of Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Neuman, "What, me worry?"

In my 13+ years in the field, I've never been so much as slapped. Perhaps they're afraid I'd slap back. Maybe I'm just lucky or put up a good defense without realizing it. My head hasn't spun around and spit out pea soup. I've never been mauled by a demon dog. No vampire bunnies bit me. No hand has ever tried to strangle me through a television set. And the one time I used a Ouija board as a child, my sister moved the planchette to spell out a woman's name of who I would marry.

Oh, dear sister. How wrong you were...

Does it mean there aren't any concerns to be had? Hardly. Abandoned buildings and remote locations pose physical risks to health and safety. I've known people who have been temporarily possessed, had cameras smacked out of their hand, and been hit by unseen forces. Some of it might have been a bit of a stretch for me to wrap my brain around (especially the seemingly sane people who've told me their car was attacked by cults or Bigfoot, without any evidence to substantiate the claim), but I keep an open mind. If my best friend starts speaking in tongues in front of me, who am I to judge?

At the same time, the horrific accounts you hear about on this and other sites are few and far between. If it really were so hazardous to your health, none of us would dare do it. More often than not, this is the most boring field to enter. You sit. You wait. Nothing happens. You doze off listening to 12 hours of blank audio tape. You spend $50 bucks to stay overnight at a "haunted" business and don't even get a stupid t-shirt. The only time hairs raise on the back of your neck is when that creepy guy with the lazy eye won't stop staring at you and breathing in your face with pizza-tainted breath.

So, I may chuckle a little at the site. But I've known better than to stay in certain locations when I feel very uncomfortable. Maybe common sense has kept me in the clear for all these years. Yet it is good to err on the side of caution. Good judgment is sound advice. It's better to know the extreme (and occasionally absurd) than walk into the field blind as a bat. It is my nature to find humor in everything. So when I come across a site listing dangers including "insomnia" (hey, I have that naturally), "unexplained financial difficulties" (you spent five grand on a thermal camera instead of paying a bill?), "arrest" (I told you not to trespass), and "mental problems" (I know people who qualified long before becoming investigators) among many others as hazards of the field, I can't resist a little 'tee-hee'.

But on a serious note, there is good information to be found out there. The site has interviews with investigatiors, demonologists, and everything in-between. Here are some very good words of advice and answers from Chip Coffey's interview. It best sums up my own thoughts on the field and I couldn't have said it better myself (and yes, believe it or not, I have the ability to be serious on an investigation... sometimes):

4 comments:

Judy AKA "Spookannie" said...

Nice post. I agree, it is wise to keep our humor foremost, lest we spook ourselves!

Liam said...

If you've never been smacked or thrown into a wall, consider yourself lucky!

Dragon said...

Yes, I would think that would be lucky. Granted that hasn't happened to me yet either but life is still young and I have many more years of this ahead of me. Anything goes.

Cullan Hudson said...

Good advice. There are some out there who do take these things very seriously, too seriously. It is good to step back now and then and keep perspective.