Studies of “The Other” often seek to explain one unknown with another. When a consensus is reached for a plausible explanation it evolves from plausible to accepted whether there is anything concrete to back it up or not. This happens across the paranormal spectrum.
While there are those still calling the disturbances associated with poltergeist phenomenon demonic, the consensus in parapsychology is that the activity is linked to an individual. Usually an adolescent on the edge of puberty, frequently female. The theory is that the phenomenon are the result of unconscious psi effects generated by the focus individual.
In the age of Freud the most widely held theory was that the poltergeist is some kind of unconscious manifestation of adolescent sexual energy; but no one has so far offered a theory as to exactly how this can occur. – Colin & Damon Wilson The Mammoth Encyclopedia of the Unsolved
Other variations of this idea refer to things like “personality fragments” of a distressed individual causing the disturbance. Those to offer little explanation as to how that works.
The modern clinical concept of Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis was coined by Dr. William Roll. Roll headed up the Psychical Research Foundation from 1964-1985, and published extensively on matters of psi, poltergeists and related phenomenon. In “1996 (he) was awarded the Outstanding Career Award from the Parapsychological Association and in 2002 he received the Tim Dinsdale Memorial Award from the Society for Scientific Exploration.” – (from his Amazon Authors Bio). Suffice to say, he was doing earnest research. I just picked up Roll’s book, “The Poltergeist” so perhaps that contains the specifics that never seems to make it into discussions on how RSPK occurs.
This is a 4 part documentary that is made up of cobbled together segments from other shows. It goes into RSPK theory, some famous cases, identifies the focus individual, but doesn’t go into the how the person was unconsciously causing these things to happen.
I’m not doubting psi abilities. Psi is one of the few areas of The Other that has been quantified and tested successfully. Focused remote viewing successes, precognitive reactions to stimuli, knowing you are being watched remotely, concentrated telekinesis, etc – are a far cry from unconsciously manifesting the activity associated with poltergeists. It’s remarkable that we don’t see this on every street corner given the distressed lives we drift through knowing and unknowingly everyday. That is what makes it feel like something more to me. It may be a cooperation of the internal and external, but if pain and trauma were the catalyst the world would look like the last act of Cabin In The Woods on any given day.
While looking into this I came across this paper from P. Brovetto and V. Maxia “Some Conjecture about The Mechanism of Poltergeist Phenomenon” Published in the journal – NeuroQuantology, Vol 6, No 2 (2008). The paper looks at how characteristics of physics and chemical changes in the pubescent brain may contribute to the poltergeist activity attributed to the focus individual. I’m not going to pretend that I understand the science that they are putting forth here.
… arguments can be summarized as follows..A decrease in entropy (creation of order) in brain of pubescent people throws a greater amount of entropy (disorder) into the brain environment, which, in exceptional cases, originates poltergeist disturbances. In practice, poltergeist is interpreted as a by-product of the entropy increase (dS/dt) Env expected in consequence of the second law. This interpretation is based on two sound achievements of the past century physics, that is, quantum electrodynamics of vacuum and nonequilibrium thermodynamics. To develop further the proposed interpretation, topics about thermodynamics of perturbations in vacuum and of transformations in brain should be considered.
This is interesting in that it does seek to explain what is actually happening and how the phenomenon might be generated by the focus individual. I don’t know that they have cracked it, but it’s nice to see this kind of theory crafting happening in academia.
An angle that got me rethinking all of this material again was the work that Jeff Ritzmann is exploring with The Numinous Den. Jeff is digging into how liminality, marginality and anti-structure appear repeatedly in manifestations of The Other. I’d encourage you to read up over there, and try to catch Jeff on one of the more long form podcasts that really give time for conversation like Where Did The Road Go? or Radio Misterioso.
If we accept that the primary focus in poltergeist cases is an adolescent, (exceptions abound), that is most certainly a liminal and marginal time of life. If The Other seeks those conditions as point of entry, the options among kids on the edge of puberty are endless. Coupled with that, there is another consensus that children are more open to the things that are beyond our understood reality. This is an age where the doors of perception start closing under the pressures of life. Imaginary friends go away, in the case of children who have past-life remembrances the memories fade, curiosity and wonder are exchanged for more social and material pursuits.
As a thought experiment I began wondering if the manifestation of poltergeist activity wasn’t The Other throwing a tantrum that another young, curious mind was being sucked into adulthood. A last reminder that the world is as deep and unreal as it seems when you are young.