By Amanda Rogers
Ghouls and goblins grab all the headlines around Halloween, but ghosts make the news year-round.
But are they real? Are things that go bump in the night wandering spirits or just coincidences and easily explained? That depends on who you ask.
When my son was 8, we were staying at the historic Menger Hotel in San Antonio. We were all taking an afternoon nap when I woke up and saw him sitting and talking to someone. But no one was there. He explained that he was talking to the lady in the long dress. Later, we asked a member of the hotel staff if there could have been a lady in our room. She asked some questions – did she have long hair, what color was the dress? And then said, “oh, that’s the Sallie. She’s a ghost.” Turns out Sallie White is well-known at the Menger, she’d been a chambermaid there when she was attacked by her husband. And she had been dead since 1876.
So what did he see?
According to science, my son could have been dreaming with his eyes open, or sleep paralysis, where the person feels awake but they are unable to move. They may see things or talk to people, hallucinating different kinds of things.
Other people have hallucinations while they are awake when their brain tells them there is something there that isn’t. This can happen when there is too much information coming in for the brain to process. This can happen with images and sounds.
Another explanation for ghostly experiences can be inattentional blindness, in other words, missing something that happened and then giving the credit to a ghost or spirit. Like when your dog slips through the back door and the screen slams, but you didn’t even know your dog was in the house because you weren’t paying attention when your husband let the pup inside.
Some people like to believe in ghosts because they’re missing someone they have lost and want to feel closer to them. If Grandpa’s pipe is moved or you smell a whiff of pipe smoke, your mind wants to believe that he was there.
Cold spots, uneasy feelings, doors that slam, sometimes homes just aren’t cozy and it’s easier to explain it with ghosts than admitting that you have a badly sealed house.
Of course, there’s always the chance that ghosts real. No one has proven that ghosts do exist, but no one has proven that they don’t. And one in five Americans admit that they believe in spirits.
Dozens of people have reported seeing the ghost of the Menger Hotel chambermaid Sallie White. Seems kind of strange that they all hallucinated the same thing, doesn’t it?
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