When you dive into the paranormal community one of the first things you're faced with are the relentless stereotyps portrayed by Hollywood. You're asked about violent and vengeful ghosts, demonic possessions and all of the 'scary' tropes that media has created over the last century.
When Ghost Hunters debuted on the Syfy channel in 2004 it revolutionized the paranormal community. Suddenly the 'reality' of the paranormal became abundantly clear.
The paranormal is everywhere, ghosts and entities exist and they can do things.
More importantly, anyone can be involved in the paranormal, anyone can be an investigator and help others with their paranormal problems.
Seemingly, ghost hunting groups sprang up everywhere overnight. Even the most remote communities and towns suddenly had their own ghost hunter teams.
The direct result of this increased interest and budding community was that Hollywood needed a different approach to connect with the community. They needed a larger audience and also a more familiar approach to increase that impact.
Hollywood treated it like a formula. Make the paranormal activity more grounded in reality, subtle noises, movements and shadowy shapes. Then take the intimate nature of filming a ghost hunt, take a camcorder and place the audience there with the subjects. Finally, bring the activity to a very familiar setting. A setting that anyone could relate to. "What if it was your neighbor?"
Thus, the Paranormal Activity series was born in 2007(Full Release 2009). Gone were the over-the-top stories of killer ghosts and in was the story of a couple plagued by a ghost.
In Paranormal Activity the couple Katie and Micah start to experience a bit of ghostly activity consisting of moving objects, slight noises and of course, spirit possession/obsession. Through the series of events causing increased activity, the story concludes with a full spirit posession.
Not wanting a cash-cow to fall idle, the second movie was released in 2010, this time following the events of Katie's sister and her family(set in 2006). Hollywood once again needed to 'raise the stakes' so the characters were plagued by increasingly violent and more 'Hollywood Horror' style of activity with full bodied apparitions, invisible spirits capable of dragging people around and fully posessing them. Tying the movies together, previous character Katie returns and abducts the youngest child after killing the family members present.
Falling once again into the Hollywood standard, the next Paranormal Activity (3) movie was a prequel rolling back to the 80's to explain the cause of the activity. The Hollywood influence causes more dramatic activity, an evil coven of witches that sacrifice their family for power and many more deaths.
Now, the upcoming release of Paranormal Activity 4 is set to 'revitalize' the series by swapping characters once again. Taking place five years after Paranormal Activity 2, it follows the life of teen Alice, her boyfriend Ben, her mother, and her brother Wyatt, as paranormal activity starts to occur in their home when Katie and Hunter (now called Robbie) move into the neighborhood. After Katie goes to the hospital, Alice's Mother takes Robbie (Hunter) in, which leads to strange occurrences around the house.
Undoubtedly, several characters will be killed off (Ben? Parents?), more spirit posession and more over-the-top Hollywood style activity.
Despite the rapidly deteriorating paranormal activity into a traditional Hollywood fare, it does raise a number of questions. Since the first movie debuted many people have started associating these fake hauntings with real hauntings and ask if all acitivty is like that.
As a real investigator in the community this posed an interesting thought... "What if it was a real case?" There have been a few cases of hauntings being so powerful that they could mimic some of the activity in this series, cases like The Entity or the Bell Witch or even the Vermont Poltergeist case. There are a lot of strange occurnaces out there.
The investigators/resources portrayed in the series over-react, panicking the clients and never provide a true remediation, worse still is that some demand payment.
If the case was real there would be a number of things that would play out a lot differently.
First, a quick Google search would turn up dozens of ghost hunting teams within a 10 mile radius of any one part of these cases. A quick call would draw the team over in a professional fashion and depending on who the client selected as a team the protocols, manners and solutions would differ.
Regardless of the team, they would separate the family members to interview them separately followed by a tour of the location. The team would then set up multiple cameras and tech to monitor and document the activity. *Yes the team would watch all of the amazing footage already captured but the number one thing about ghost hunter teams is that they want to capture it and experience it first-hand before helping.*
This is a very interesting case because the activity is focused on the individuals not on the location so there is no means to assure that the case would be resolved and activity neutralized if the home was remediated.
Similar to how a home can be remediated (either through the use of blessings, exorcisms, smudging, and other methods), a person can be remediated as well, and in a similar manner.
The method in which a person is remediated varies depending on their religious and cultural background. An client who is Catholic and believes that they are being personally plagued by an entity will be 'cleansed' in a manner different than someone of a different theological background. The Catholic church has measures in place to deal with paranormal problems, even if the are not always in support of the existence of these problems. These measures include blessings, utilizing holy water to cleanse the home and individual, and in severe cases, an exorcism, combining blessings, holy water, and the reading of select Bible passages.
The reason why theological belief is so critical to the success of a remediation is because belief is the key aspect in having these methods be successful. If the client is not convinced that the remediation will work, it will most likely fail. Absolute confidence in the success of the measure is what ensures that it will be successful.
The second type of remediation that would most likely be attempted would be a smudging. This involves the use of incense to remove negative energy from both a home and an individual. This method is not tied to any religious beliefs, but requires confidence in the metaphysical world, and that incense can be used as a way to cleanse negative energy. Of the types of remediation presented, smudging is the easiest and fastest method. It is also very effective.
The last method of remediation is the scientific method. Science and research seems to indicate that spirits and entities are made up of an energy field which retains some level of personality and intelligence. When looked at not as a spirit, but viewed as a simple energy field, scientific methods of cancelling those energy fields begin to emerge.
The first scientific method is utilizing a humidifier in a home. Water is a conductor of electricity, which is why we can be electrocuted while standing in water. The water spreads the electricity out, but as that electricity spreads, it becomes weaker and weaker. We can still be electrocuted, though, because that electricity has a powered source that is continually pumping power through the water, maintaining it's lethality.
When talking about a spirit or entity, however, that energy is a finite resource. They only have so much power to use, and once that is gone, it leaves them very weak. When additional water molecules are added into the air, it makes the air more conductive. When the energy pattern of a spirit comes in contact with that conductive environment, that energy pattern is spread out within the room. This greatly weakens the spirit, and makes them unable to do much. If a client is disturbed by a haunting, this is the first method suggested to help remediate the situation. Unfortunately, this is not a permanent resolution, and is not effective outside of the home.
The second scientific method is the use of EMF correctors. These are sold by electrical supply companies, and are designed to offset EMF field caused by ineffective wiring, or for utilization by those who live near high-tension power lines. The EMF correctors put out an electrical field designed to counteract the high EMF fields caused by the situations listed above, as well as spirits and entities. Again, this only works within the home, although pocket versions do exist, and can continue to work as long as there are working batteries in the device.
Given the long periods of inactivity and the activity appears to increase with the increase in emotions, the paranormal activity entity behaves very similarly to a poltergeist case. The haunting is centered on a female subject beginning with a pre-teen to teen state and recurrs with repressed emotion, or heightened emotions. While it is never clearly defined in these cases, therapy and counseling have shown in poltergeist cases to aleviate the acitivty for extended periods of time.
It becomes obvious that the scientific methods are effective when the paranormal activity occurs within a home, and is not specifically tied to an individual. With the Paranormal Activity movies, it appears that the entity in question is tied to specific members of the family, but with the exception of the 3rd movie, nothing is mentioned as occurring outside of the home, which seems to indicate that the entity in question is tied to an individual, but it's comfort zone is within the home. If a case with these circumstances is encountered, it may be beneficial to utilize the more temporary scientific methods, while a plan is developed to remediate the situation for the long term.
Looking at the remediation methods outlined, depending on the religious beliefs of the client, smudging and blessings/exorcisms, are the best way to manage a situation where a negative entity has attached to a client. But again, it is important to be aware of a client's religious beliefs, and make sure that those beliefs are addressed.