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Ghost perception influenced by culture?


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#1    Parsec

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 11:38 PM

Hi everybody,

after reading many of the news titles in this forum (I admit that I rarely read the full articles), a question popped in my mind: is it possible that so many places are haunted in US?
It seems that almost every abandoned building in the States has its ghosts, and same goes for old houses.

Here in Italy there are fewer reports of this kind.
Of course there are stories of ghosts, but in percentage they're much less.
And we have far older buildings than US: we should be literally crowded with ghosts!
"Old" houses in US are usually 200-300 years old, not more (correct me if I'm wrong), while here we have houses 800 years old.
I grew up in a XVI century house, and no ghost activity (luckily).
Some friends of mine live in a house built in 1200 AD, and they never experienced anything paranormal.

Keep in mind that I start here from a neutral point of view, I'm not saying ghosts exist or not. For the sake of the reasoning, let's just assume they exist.

So I was thinking if maybe our perception of supernatural things, and ghosts in particular, can be influenced by our culture and cultural heritage.
Maybe there are so many ghost reports in US because of its Anglo-Saxon culture, that differs from our (Italian and Catholic)?
Or maybe in US are more keen to pay attention to such things?
Or could it be connected to the place, so America is more "sensitive" to supernatural activities than Europe?


What do you think?


UPDATE:
just before starting to write this topic, I was in my bedroom talking with my girlfriend, when all of a sudden the tv in the living room turned on alone! And there're only the two of us in the house (and no animals)! We clearly heard it turn on (it was in standby)!
I went in the living room for a check, the tv was still on and the remote controls on the couch, where my girlfriend left them (we have one remote for tv and one for the decoder, so you have to turn both on, in order to see something).

Really, really creapy.

Maybe my basic assumption is wrong?
Now I'm writing in the living room (I turned off the tv), and I do hope that if there's a ghost, he can't read english!


#2    Phenix20

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 12:05 AM

Some locations in the US have very strong history (war of secession ect) and that can be the cause of hauntings. Though I do not really know very well your country, I think you might find some places in Italia as well to be haunted. It's just that most popular Ghost Hauntings shows on TV are US made. It kinds of give the perception that United State is the most haunting country in the world which might simply not be true.

For your EDIT:

It maybe some malfuction of your TV, electronics is not a perfect and can act starbgely on it's own. Though it is unusual for a TV to turn on by itself. Do not be paranoid but if other stuffs working unusally, that could be a sign but I wouldn't say a place is haunted because of a TV that turned on.

Edited by sam_comm, 29 June 2013 - 12:06 AM.


#3    Ashotep

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 12:53 AM

I'm not sure that everyone can see a ghost.  I don't know but I saw one.  Was in the right place at the right time.

You would think places like the coliseum would be filled with ghosts considering what went on there.


#4    _Only

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 03:25 AM

View Postsam_comm, on 29 June 2013 - 12:05 AM, said:

Some locations in the US have very strong history (war of secession ect) and that can be the cause of hauntings.

I don't know if it's so much a strong history, as much as a strong energy of emotion, like extreme stress, memories, emotional events, etc. Some of the more militant skeptics scoff at the idea of the word energy being used in matters like ghosts, etc. but the fact of the matter is that emotions are powerful 'things' that metaphorically spread through the air like invisible clouds of gas. Emotion can be sensed and shared simply by being exposed to them. Where do these high intense emotions go when the person suddenly disappears from life? Do they disappear, or float in the area where they have been left, waiting to share themselves with someone else? This is a question a lot of ghost hunter/enthusiasts/etc. sometimes wonder.

Edited by _Only, 29 June 2013 - 03:26 AM.

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#5    Brian Topp

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 04:07 AM

I honestly feel Ghost sightings has grown in popularity recently due to the media such as Paranormal Movies, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures etc.

Being on this forum and others I notice peoples threads are based off the current trends going on.

When Twilight and Underworld was popular in the movie theaters, we had a sudden burst of members posting they saw, heard or ARE vampires/Werewolves.

When Slenderman grew popular since 2009, Then popular once again from the slenderman game came out. We get a trickle of threads claiming they been stalked by the slenderman.

Any way, Best example was the witch hunt back in the 14th and 15th century and died in the 16th. Yet I rarely hear about witches now except "Good" witches who are wicca and one with the nature and flowers and stuff. Give it enough time, evil witches will be trend again in the public eye in the future.

It is easier to claim it is paranormal than taking the hard route and find out what really happened.


#6    Frank Merton

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 04:31 AM

There is a large difference between the ghosts reported in the States and the ghosts of Vietnam.  Americans are eager to encounter ghosts, Vietnamese are terrified.  An American ghost seems to be a sort-of transluscent shadow of the dead person, a Vietnamese ghost is a bloody, horrific personage liable to cause you to have a heart attack on the spot.  Being haunted tends to increase property value in the States, makes a property unmarketable in Vietnam.

I remember being in a small dinner party when a young boy comes running down the stairs shouting "horror, horror."  (I translate the word he used as "horror" rather than "ghost" because he didn't use the normal word for ghost ("mah").)  

The Americans present went running up the stairs to try to get a look, the Vietnamese present all left.


#7    Jessica Christ

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 06:06 AM

View PostParsec, on 28 June 2013 - 11:38 PM, said:

Hi everybody,

after reading many of the news titles in this forum (I admit that I rarely read the full articles), a question popped in my mind: is it possible that so many places are haunted in US?
It seems that almost every abandoned building in the States has its ghosts, and same goes for old houses.

Here in Italy there are fewer reports of this kind.
Of course there are stories of ghosts, but in percentage they're much less.
And we have far older buildings than US: we should be literally crowded with ghosts!

*snip*

It is indeed cultural to a degree.

Consider that Italy has had a longer history with the Church and when the last rites are done that is it, no spirit remains earthbound. Italy has supernatural beliefs in fortune telling. Whenever there are social upheavals the Italian society already has these traditions to rely on. Now that secularism is on the rise all throughout Europe this could change and the spiritual vacuum created will be filled by something else.

In America, after the Great Awakenings, after the Civil War, it left our society in a bit of a quandary. First is that we had no established national religion so it was more difficult for us to deal with our first Industrial Era wars. Before that many Christians here, Protestants mainly before the arrival of Catholic immigrants, believed the dead who were buried would have their bodies rise out of their graves to meet the saints (living Christians) at the Last Judgment.

Due to the Civil War so many bodies were mutilated by the new machinery of war. The Second Great Awakening was one way they dealt with that by turning to religion in an increased fashion. People also stopped believing the dead would wait until the Last Judgment to be resurrected fully in the bodies they died in, because so many of our sons had no bodies, they were mutilated by the new technology of better artillery weapons. The old belief was no match for iron machines and with it the idea of heaven changed. People would now nstantly go to heaven to lead quiet lives there as they had here before the war. The dead would now wait for their family and loved ones to also die natural deaths and meet them and welcome them into heaven.

This new concept of heaven allowed Spiritualism and Spiritism to also take a foothold. Seances, mediums, channeling the dead became en vogue. People who thought their loved ones were taken away before their time could now have another chance for connection. This led to the peculiar belief in ghosts we have today in America. This is the reason the Spirit board or Ouija board was invented and marketed here in America and why we have so many entertainment products about ghosts such as movies and television shows. It was in party a way to fill a spiritual vacuum and deal with Industrialization.

Other countries have all kinds of ghosts, ghosts that come back for revenge, ghosts that serve to show they were killed unfairly, ghosts that serve as a warning, ghosts that try and possess or trick the living, but in America they were primarily our loved ones at best who want to hang around or give us messages and at worst they haunt houses, cemeteries, and battlefields scaring strangers. Its if of course a cultural myth to a degree and that cultural narrative can heighten any actual energy that does exist and interpret it through a uniquely American lens. With globalism the American concept of ghosts has added in some other elements especially after the Grudge movies came out here.

In America though some psychologists even view hallucinating recently dead loved ones as part of a healthy grieving process.

Edited by The world needs you, 29 June 2013 - 06:28 AM.


#8    Parsec

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 01:04 AM

View Postsam_comm, on 29 June 2013 - 12:05 AM, said:

Some locations in the US have very strong history (war of secession ect) and that can be the cause of hauntings. Though I do not really know very well your country, I think you might find some places in Italia as well to be haunted. It's just that most popular Ghost Hauntings shows on TV are US made. It kinds of give the perception that United State is the most haunting country in the world which might simply not be true.

For your EDIT:

It maybe some malfuction of your TV, electronics is not a perfect and can act starbgely on it's own. Though it is unusual for a TV to turn on by itself. Do not be paranoid but if other stuffs working unusally, that could be a sign but I wouldn't say a place is haunted because of a TV that turned on.

As I wrote in the OP, of course here in Italy there're places labelled as haunted, and they're especially old castles or mansions. Haunted from centuries, and with a very well documented activity (or better, with a very well studied activity).
What I find weird, is that in US every bulding older than 50 years seems to contain at least one ghost.

About locations with a very strong history, altought surely your Secession War was gruesome and many poor people died and suffered there, I'd say that here on average there's a much stronger history, from that point of view: even if we want to start only by the Roman Republic, we have 2000 years of slaughters, massacres, wars and hard feelings as pain, fear, rage, revenge. So, we're back: we should be literally crowded with ghosts! You should find a ghost in every street corner!
Further, if it's true, US and especially the fields and old mansions of Southern States should be filled with ghosts of black slaves, since they suffered the most, living Hell on earth and full of pain, fear and spirit of revenge. I turn this thought in a question: are there reports of this kind as far as you know?

For my edit, I specify that now I live in a new house (it's been built in the sixties), so I don't know. Surely it wasn't electronics, but I'll try not to think about it.


View PostHilander, on 29 June 2013 - 12:53 AM, said:

I'm not sure that everyone can see a ghost.  I don't know but I saw one.  Was in the right place at the right time.

You would think places like the coliseum would be filled with ghosts considering what went on there.

You made two good points, maybe only few people can see how crowded we're and the Coliseum (or any other Roman arena here in Italy) is a perfect example of what you should expect to find, instead they're ghost-free.


View PostBrian Topp, on 29 June 2013 - 04:07 AM, said:

I honestly feel Ghost sightings has grown in popularity recently due to the media such as Paranormal Movies, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures etc.

I agree with you, that's surely true, but I think that US folklore is more "ghost-friendly".
I ask you a question: where you grew up were stories of haunted houses or places? How many?
I grew up in a medieval city (well, it dates back to Romans, but never mind), and we basically don't have stories of that kind.
The only "haunted" place I know of is an old structure built in the sixties and never finished: it's isolated on a hill in the woods and falling apart, so the perfect place for ghost stories, but there's nothing, it's only an old creepy and creacky place.


View PostThe world needs you, on 29 June 2013 - 06:06 AM, said:

It is indeed cultural to a degree.

Consider that Italy has had a longer history with the Church and when the last rites are done that is it, no spirit remains earthbound. Italy has supernatural beliefs in fortune telling. Whenever there are social upheavals the Italian society already has these traditions to rely on. Now that secularism is on the rise all throughout Europe this could change and the spiritual vacuum created will be filled by something else.

In America, after the Great Awakenings, after the Civil War, it left our society in a bit of a quandary. First is that we had no established national religion so it was more difficult for us to deal with our first Industrial Era wars. Before that many Christians here, Protestants mainly before the arrival of Catholic immigrants, believed the dead who were buried would have their bodies rise out of their graves to meet the saints (living Christians) at the Last Judgment.

Due to the Civil War so many bodies were mutilated by the new machinery of war. The Second Great Awakening was one way they dealt with that by turning to religion in an increased fashion. People also stopped believing the dead would wait until the Last Judgment to be resurrected fully in the bodies they died in, because so many of our sons had no bodies, they were mutilated by the new technology of better artillery weapons. The old belief was no match for iron machines and with it the idea of heaven changed. People would now nstantly go to heaven to lead quiet lives there as they had here before the war. The dead would now wait for their family and loved ones to also die natural deaths and meet them and welcome them into heaven.

This new concept of heaven allowed Spiritualism and Spiritism to also take a foothold. Seances, mediums, channeling the dead became en vogue. People who thought their loved ones were taken away before their time could now have another chance for connection. This led to the peculiar belief in ghosts we have today in America. This is the reason the Spirit board or Ouija board was invented and marketed here in America and why we have so many entertainment products about ghosts such as movies and television shows. It was in party a way to fill a spiritual vacuum and deal with Industrialization.

Other countries have all kinds of ghosts, ghosts that come back for revenge, ghosts that serve to show they were killed unfairly, ghosts that serve as a warning, ghosts that try and possess or trick the living, but in America they were primarily our loved ones at best who want to hang around or give us messages and at worst they haunt houses, cemeteries, and battlefields scaring strangers. Its if of course a cultural myth to a degree and that cultural narrative can heighten any actual energy that does exist and interpret it through a uniquely American lens. With globalism the American concept of ghosts has added in some other elements especially after the Grudge movies came out here.

In America though some psychologists even view hallucinating recently dead loved ones as part of a healthy grieving process.

The world needs you, I disagree on some points with your reasoning.
What do you mean with your first paragraph?
Christians, no matter which church they belong to, think that when a person dies, her soul usually goes to Heaven or Hell (from XIII Century souls can also go to Purgatory, but since it's only temporary, the final destination are still those two).
So, are you saying that when a person dies in US, her soul doesn't go to Heaven (or Hell)?

I don't know where did you get your informations about fortune telling, but I'd say that we don't believe in it more than you do. On the contrary, I'd say that lately, from what I can read, in US there's a stronger fortune telling stream than here.
Anyway, I agree that we believe much more in "bad luck" and curses, and many Italians have a real obssesion with it and with apotropaic gestures.

What do you mean with "Great Awakening" and "Second Great Awakening"? I don't know them.
I can tell you anyway, that to me what you wrote about Civil War and all its deads and mutilated is a bit weak: you are not the only ones who had many lives taken by modern weapons in XIX Century, here in Europe we had them too, before, during and after that period, but this change of view didn't happen here. I don't believe that "the old belief was no match for iron machines and with it the idea of heaven changed", but it's my point of view. It would have been a very weak belief, if some machineguns, rifles and cannons could change it.
As far as I know, it has always been the Christian belief that when a person dies, the soul goes to Heaven, waiting for the beloved ones to rejoin. Only at the end of times they will descend on earth, taking their bodies again and fighting the final battle. So I don't see any difference.

I agree with you that there was and still is a spiritual vacuum, but I'd address it more on Positivism and Scientism. Anyway, that's another topic.


To me Frank Merton's post is a perfect example on how cultural this phenomenon is.
If we think on how ghosts are portraid around the world, we see that based on the country, we have different types of ghosts. Why? Shouldn't be the same manifestation of a dead person? Why (with all the exceptions) in Vietnam (and Asia in general, like the korean gwishin or the japanese yurei or obake) ghosts are bloody, horrific and deadly, while in Europe and US they're usually harmless? They can be dangerous, tricky, annoyng, but seldom deadly.
Rather, in many cases they're portraid as bearers of messages for the living, if not even a species of "guardian angels".
If a person dies and becomes a ghost, it shouldn't matter if he/she spoke japanese or spanish, if he/she was Christian, Buddhist or Atheist, the "transformation" process should be the same, if it's really objective and not connected to their previous experiences.
Don't you think?

Edited by Parsec, 30 June 2013 - 01:12 AM.


#9    Parsec

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 11:18 PM

Well, maybe with my last (long) post I've killed the discussion, but I'd like to know your opinion about this topic, and especially about what I've wrote in the last part of my post: If a person dies and becomes a ghost, it shouldn't matter if he/she spoke japanese or spanish, if he/she was Christian, Buddhist or Atheist, the "transformation" process should be the same, if it's really objective and not connected to their previous experiences.

What do you think about it?


#10    Frank Merton

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 11:24 PM

It seems to me the cultural variation makes a pretty clear demonstration that ghosts are not real phenomena but things we imagine, what we imagine largely determined by our cultural expectations.

I wouldn't say that ghosts don't exist, but if they do they aren't going to be what is being reported.  A person who has died has left their body.  They are therefore incorporeal, and as such incapable of manifesting in any way our senses could detect.


#11    HollyDolly

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 04:23 PM

I'm sure there are lots of ghosts in Italy. My dad was there during World War 2.He mentioned going to an old fort,forgot where.Several people had died there. It was a tourist place,but i forgot where. When he was there,he decided to get another view of the countryside from this tower, so he started to walk away from the guys he was with. As he started to walk towards this other area,he started to get the feeling something or someone was following him. He looked around,but there were no humans behind him.So he kept walking.As he was going to this other area, the feeling got stronger. He then heard this voice warn him that if he went over to this other part of the tower, the spirit who was following him would push him off the tower. I don't know if it was his guardian angel or his patron saint, but daddy told me right away he started walking away. He kept going until he got to the ground and then just hung around waiting for the others.He later on made some inquiries and found out that that area or corner of the tower he was headed to was where people had fallen to their deaths. It was a very old place. Had some connection to the romans.
Now  this must have really bothered my dad. He was at the battle of Monte Cassino, and he told me once  that he had no problem bombing the abbey as it was a legitamite military target.This from a man who had an aunt and cousins who were nuns .He also saw the famous mummies of the Capuchins,and when in Rome ,he and a friend got a tour of the Catacombs by the priest who was in charge of them. Daddy said the father took them into areas that were off limits to tourists.
Even visited Pompeii too. That was the only spooky experience he ever mentioned about the war, the tower one.
He used to sometimes tell us kids ghost stories that his family had brought over from Germany to America. Don't know any from momma's side who are hungarian

I don't know why aisan ghosts are bent on revenge,etc. It has to be something to do with culture, but i can't explain the roots of it.
Even in western culture you have those that are evil or hurtful,and yet others that are helpful. And the process as you say when we die should be the same regardless of faith. Jesus says "In My Father's House is Many Mansions" what this means, not sure, but it may mean that God has a place for those who regardless of belief system, have a place to spend eternity.


#12    scowl

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 04:29 PM

If war creates ghosts then Italy should be one of the most haunted countries on Earth.


#13    Big Bad Voodoo

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 10:52 PM

View Postscowl, on 08 July 2013 - 04:29 PM, said:

If war creates ghosts then Italy should be one of the most haunted countries on Earth.

You forget about China.

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#14    Brian Topp

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 11:38 PM

Quote

I agree with you, that's surely true, but I think that US folklore is more "ghost-friendly".
I ask you a question: where you grew up were stories of haunted houses or places? How many?
I grew up in a medieval city (well, it dates back to Romans, but never mind), and we basically don't have stories of that kind.
The only "haunted" place I know of is an old structure built in the sixties and never finished: it's isolated on a hill in the woods and falling apart, so the perfect place for ghost stories, but there's nothing, it's only an old creepy and creacky place.

Acutally, I grew up in Australia, I currently live in America.

When I grew up there were a lot of ghost stories, Some I experience yet not fully understood since I was young and was impressionable back then. My town had a lot of ghosts, some aboriginal some were settlers, others were car crash victums.

Freemantle powerhouse (thankfull that thread was banned on here) was a major interest by the locals. It was an empty building, people would make up stories or mix up stories they heard about some other haunted location. Truth is, no one died yet it looked "creepy" (i hate that word) and people think creepy = haunted.

There is one thing that baffled me, as a skeptic this really messed my head when I was young. The cursed dead corner in my town. If you drive a certain speed and turn a certain angle down Gentle road that connects to wellard road cars seem to die on a certain spot.

My parents cars did it a few times and we seen people do it as well but as an adult now i know the most likely thing is that Gentle road is not gentle, it's a jerk of a hill that makes your car go on a funny angle so most likely causing fluids to move and cause the car to choke it self.

Edited by Brian Topp, 26 August 2013 - 11:42 PM.

It is easier to claim it is paranormal than taking the hard route and find out what really happened.


#15    Frank Merton

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 03:26 AM

I think there probably are ghosts, looking for a womb to parasitize so they can be reborn, but hauntings and so on, I doubt it. ;)





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