When something just doesn't seem right
One of the most popular questions an investigator is asked is "What is your favourite piece of equipment?". One of the most common answers given is "Myself". We are pretty intune with ourselves, our environment and with other people. It is that 'gut' instinct that tells us if something is a good or a bad idea. Sometimes we don't even want to walk into a room because it doesn't feel right. The same can be said about dealing with certain people within the paranormal field. Do you ever have someone contact you either wanting help, advice or maybe even a fellow investigator wanting your help and suddenly you see lots of red flags and something does not feel right. Your gut is telling you that something is up and to walk away. What are the common scenarios that you will most likely face that may make you feel like running for the hills?
The most common place that an investigator will likely be put in a situation where they feel like something is up is in a private case. Anyone dealing in a private case will have some sort of pre interview protocol. A series of questions that they ask to get a gauge on the situation. It helps them to evaulaute what is going on, if their help is really needed and how urgent it is. Quite often, it is during this process that some red flags might start appearing. You will find that your inital gut instinct is usually correct. It is up to you to decide whether or not you want to invest your personal free time in this scenario. Remember, you don't have to take every case that comes your way. Other times it isn't until you are out there at their house investigating that suddenly things are what the seemed. What are some of the stuations that you may find yourself in?
First of all, anyone that you suspect is abusing drugs or alcohol or may have some sort of underlying mental condition, these need to be addressed first. Make sure you are well armed with contacts and referrels that you can give so that these people can seek help. They are most likely not just going to head off the doctor. If it was that easy they would have done that already. They might need some help in doing that and that is where having the people that you can refer them to can help. It is also realising that there is only so much you can do and at some point you will most likely have to walk away knowing that you cannot do anymore.
At home DIY investigations
One of the most common things from a request for help or some advice I receive from people is on the back end of when they have conducted their own investigations in their house. They watch tv shows like ghost adventures and suddenly every little noise in the house is demonic. So they break out their phone and start snapping away. Lack of paranormal and experience will usually come into play. They have lots of spirits around the house in the form of 'orbs'. There are faces in the smudges in the mirror. They are very much attached to the idea that their home is haunted and they are not going to listen to anything else. I encounted this years ago on my very first private case. Armed with hundreds of photos in a mobile, it was clear that the stories of the haunting had been grossly exaggerated. Walking around the house, we noticed a mirror with smudge marks. Of course we were then shown photos of the 3 ghosts whose faces always appear in the mirror. It was an old house with extremely high EMF readings due to old exposed wiring. There was a lot of dust with renovations. You can see where this is going. The client was not interested in hearing anything but wanting validation. People can actually become angry and abusive. It is really no different to when somene puts up a photo in a facebook group. While some are very much open to a rational explanation and this will be enough for a lot of people, the majority only hear what they want to hear and will only listen to those who 'agree' that there photo is 100% paranormal. All you can do is offer your opinion and again at some point you will just have to walk away. You can give your advice on what you think it is and some advice on how you can 'take ownership of your home back' and feel more comofrtable, but beyond that in a case like this, there is not much more you can do. If one of your questions is "why do you feel your house is haunted" and the response is one of these photos, it is probably a pretty big indicator of what is to come.
On top of photos, people also like to do their own ouija board and evp sessions. Now I personally do not think Ouija boards are the demonic force that Hollywood makes out. This wherein lies the problem. A lot of private cases seem to start AFTER a drunken night around a Ouija board. Crazy stuff usually happens and the power of suggestion can become a very big factor here and they come out and say it is all because of the Ouija board. Perhaps they have built up this fear from the stigma of the Ouija board and the simple sounds of the house are now paranormal because it is a result of a Ouija board. The 'haunting' has become their own fears getting the better of them. Sometimes people want to hide the fact that they were using a board and you either stumble across it or they give you the information halfway through your investigation. There are also other pieces of information they could be hiding from you as well. If you suspect that your client is not being fully truthful with you from the very beginning, think about if they are worthy of your time.
EVP is probably the other most popular easy to do 'at home' type of communication. Anyone can set up their mobile phone and do an EVP session. One of the things that I will always tell someone that tells me that they are investigating at home is whether you are using a Ouija board or a digital recorder, spirit box whatever it is, you are opening that door of communication. You are saying I invite whatever is around to come and talk to me. The more you do it, the more you are letting in. A lot of investigators won't investigate at their own home for this reason. The thing is, you don't get to decide what comes to say hi. Maybe they are nice, maybe not so nice. I once told someone stop doing EVP sessions in your lounge room and see if the activity decreases. They firmly told me no because they only talk to the nice ones.
People wanting fame
If you get a call out and someone wants you to investigate their house and they want you to do a live stream and put up photos, I would seriously question their motives. Why does it need to be streamed on facebook? If they are so terrified living in their house that they need help, why do they need it broadcast to the world? You may also encounter this not just in private cases, but with fellow investigators as well. Some groups have large followings on facebook because people like what they do and how they do things. If you are perhaps teaming up with another group and their first order of business is wanting you to do a live stream and share their page, again I would be questioning why they are wanting to investigate with you. Is it because they want to learn or is it because they want to try and ride your coat tails? If someone is constantly name dropping to try and benefit themselves, this is usually a bit of a red flag. This being said, there is an amazing network of geniune hard working good investigators out there that are a pleasure to work next to. The above is certainly the minority.
The person that everybody has already tried to help
Sometimes there is a case that comes your way that no one else wants to touch. They have already contacted a bunch of people and are still seeking help. Why is that? While they may tell you that no one else has been able to properly deal with their problem (which could also be true) there may also be a reason why so many people have tried to help them. It is most likely possible that either the person is not getting the answer they are looking for so they keep going through investigators until they find someone that will tell them what they want to hear, or the person is so difficult that the investigator walks away. This is where is it helpful for you to be friendly with other investigators. Give them a ring and ask them about the case. You may get a clearer picture and you can make a more informed decision as to if you want to proceed.
Trust your gut!
This is really just scratching the surface. I could sit here all day and write a long essay of things that may make you double take. At the end of the day, you need to trust your gut feeling. Talk to your collegues and consult with other investigators in the field. What is their feeling of the situation? Sometimes you just need someone to reassure you that your instincts are on the right path. Remember you don't have to do anything that you do not want to do and there is no harm in telling someone, Im sorry but I am unable to help you any further. Cutting the cord can be a very difficult thing to do and that is the reason I don't do personal cases anymore beyond offering intial advice and referring to people better equipped. The last case I worked with my group, the person involved had some minor things happening in the house but her problems were much more than a possible haunting. She became emotionally dependant on me and I was getting text messages at all hours of the night every time she felt afraid. It got to that point where we as a group had done everything that we could to help her but she was not listening and was leaning on me for emotional support. I myself became too invested in wanting to help her and it took a toll on me emotionally as well. As much as we all have the natural urge in us to help another human being in need, sometimes we are unable to help unless they are truely willing to be helped. So trust your gut instinct, you will find in most cases, you were right!
So now I want to hear from you! What are some of things that have happened or that you think can happen out in the field that make your stomach flip and make you pause and think something is not right here? What are the common trends you see happening? What do you do about it? Do you continue working on the case or do you walk away? What advice do you have for other investigators? Please tell me in the comments below!
Please remember that not all private cases are like this and quite a lot of people are in need of help and willing to listen and do what you tell them. If you are like me and don't want to go out to houses, don't just leave someone high and dry, get them in touch with an investigator that you trust to take over the case.
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