by Dale Kaczmarek
With more and more people believing in ghosts and many of those having paranormal problems with the same, a logical and orderly investigation must be performed to properly explore all areas of the phenomena, whether they be natural or supernatural explanations. By the time the victims of the paranormal attack finally contact a professional psychic or paranormal researcher, they have usually exhausted all other natural means at their disposal. They have, on occasions, actually done their own form of research themselves only to find that it doesn't fit in with the natural order of things. They then need to turn to someone who has the knowledge, experience and expertise necessary to discern what exactly is going on and to also put a stop to the phenomena on a whole.
That's where the Ghost Research Society comes into play. Our organization founded back in the mid-1970's by Martin V. Riccardo is dedicated to the investigation, research and study of paranormal phenomena. Current President, Dale Kaczmarek, has been involved with psychic research since 1975 but has a long-standing interest which goes well beyond then. By first becoming Research Director in 1978 and later the President in 1982, I have been involved with many investigations both into private and public buildings, restaurants, churches, cemeteries, Indian burial grounds, historic locations, battlefields and murder sites. I have found that no area can claim to be totally free of ghostly activity.
Most areas seem to begin to produce phenomena after a sudden, violent, emotional, tragic or traumatic death such as a murder, suicide, or tragic accident like a car or plane crash. The current theory is that because of the way that the people met their demise, an energy is released at that location and can be seen, felt, smelled or sensed in some way by people passing through the area. Other times a location where a person might have spent a great deal of their time such as a house, restaurant, church or tavern could become haunted by the deceased simply because the ghost might come back to "check in" once in a while to see loved ones or the structure itself.
If the structure is changed in some manner, it seems to agitate the ghost because they would like it to remain as it was while they were alive. Sometimes internal construction or remodeling is attempted such as the removal of a stairway, then occupants or visitors to the area could see an apparition apparently floating in the air. Actually they aren't. They are simply climbing that non-existent stairway that they remembered while alive even though it no longer exists.
Ghosts are not harmful and should not be feared if encountered in a house or structure. I have never came across a case yet of a spirit or ghost actually causing physical harm to a living person. There are reports of broken arms and legs being caused by ghosts but in further investigation of the report, the person upon seeing the specter became so frightened that he/she simply fell down a flight of stairs and broken their appendages. The ghost only caused the accident indirectly and did not "push" the person down the stairs.
However, some people still refuse to live with invisible house guests and need and want help in identifying and removal of the ghosts. This is where I come into the picture.
The first step in all investigations usually comes via a phone call. This could be the actual party itself or a friend calling on behalf of the plagued family or individual. They might come across my name and number in a variety of fashions. Newspaper reports that I've appeared in the past, word of mouth, library or college referrals, media appearances, the many newsletters and reference books that the organization is listed in such as the Encyclopedia of Associations or the National Directory of Newsletters, or through this website.
During the initial telephone interview I attempt to screen my cases and receive as much detailed information concerning the phenomena as possible without asking any leading questions until the end of the session. This insures that the individual being interviewed will not embellish the case or add anything that didn't actually occur. Important information would include name, full address, religion, marital status, children and ages, when did the phenomena start, any certain rooms or time of day, and how the phenomena was observed.
Much of the above is extremely important as it could actually classify the case into one of several categories; hauntings, poltergeists or natural explanations. If their are children around when it happens perhaps the poltergeist phenomena is the answer. If, however, visual apparitions are seen, verbal communication heard or the person actually recognizes the ghost, then a haunting might be in effect.
I also try to ascertain the emotional state of the family as to whether they are under any undue stress or strain either at work or at home which could contribute to the ongoing phenomena. Past investigations prior to our involvement, if any, are considered very important as we would like to have the opportunity of talking with the previous team of investigators. And if a priest or clergy was called in to bless the house is another real important question as it shows the religious state of mind of the individuals and also whether it helped or hurt as far as frequency of the events reported.
Other phenomena sometimes encountered could be musical sounds, teleportation, apports, and movement of objects. These could be the result of either a haunting or poltergeist activity as all have been recorded in both types of cases.
After all this information is compiled, I then ask several important questions. First of all is does the family or individual want the entity to leave. This may sound a bit crazy but we've run across cases where the people are more curious than scared and only want our verification that something is there and don't want it removed or stopped. This again gives us a look into the current state of mind of the individual or family.
I also ask whether any member of the family has fooled around with Ouija boards, sťances, automatic writing, or Black magic rituals. If the answer is yes to any of the above then we might have a fight on our hands as the entity involved could be of a negative nature or even Demonic. The use of communication tools like Ouija or sťances is like an open door invitation to anything out there to enter into your home and life. While the initial communication might be peaceful, true and accurate, once invited in, it is difficult to remove. Usually an exorcism is recommended and we do not perform that ritual nor do we become involved in exceptionally dangerous or negative cases. I prefer to pass those cases off to someone with more experience with Demonology or the gift of Discernment.
Another question would be concerning other witnesses to the phenomena. I am trying at this point to rule out hallucinations, drug or alcohol use or dreams. Whether or not other people in the immediate area have seen a same or similar occurrence is absolutely vital! It still could be some form of collective hallucination or mass hypnosis but it much more unlikely.
After the initial telephone interview is concluded, I would then contact other Active members of the Ghost Research Society who have worked very close with me in the past and set up a possible time and a course of action. Never are these members informed of a scenario prior to the arrival on the scene. That way there are no preconceived notions as to what might be going on. They are brought in "ice cold".
Sťances, Ouija boards or other archaic forms of communications would not be used. Psychics are never brought in during initial investigations because, at first, we are simply there as a data-gathering team and to rule out possible natural explanations. If and when a psychic or clairvoyant is employed, a trusted one will be agreed upon by other Active members and the client themselves. This is usually a last-ditch effort for a possible identification of the entity itself.
If, however, the case is more of a poltergeist phenomena where some teenager or adolescent might be causing the activity, a psychometrist or aura-reader might be a better choice as they could pick up feelings from inanimate objects or see the color of a person's aura and try to help the individual through this stressful situation.
Our next step would be to call the client back and inform them of our initial feelings on the case and offer a possible course of action to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. One helpful item we suggest in all cases is for the family to begin to keep a daily diary of events that happen of a paranormal nature. Included in the diary would be the actual event, time and date of event, room it occurred in, witnesses to the event and any other helpful information. After several days, a pattern could be likely to form indicating a repeatable event and something that might be observed by the research team. We also ask that the client draw a map of their home or apartment to be used by future team members investigating the abode for registering anomalous phenomena.
If we had any other further preliminary questions or requests for information, we would ask them at this time and begin our field research. This would be quite exhaustive in tracking down previous occupants to find out if they had any problems in the residence. Many times the phenomena is strictly limited to one family but other times it forces previous owners to move. We would track down any prior tragic deaths or accidents on the property and look through historical records for the first owners and any possible historical events that might have taken place on the property. It has been noted that haunting phenomena can actually lay dormant for many years before it finally surfaces. So what a family might be experiencing in the present might actually date back many, many years ago.
When we have collected enough substantial information concerning the past history of the location, we would then call to make an appointment to go through the house with a professional psychic. Up to this point all our efforts and suggestions would be done without charge to the client. If however, an actual investigation with the use of equipment and/or psychics is indicated then a fee or free-will donation would be discussed prior to our further involvement. The fee or donation would help defray the cost of specialized film, travel expenses, further research fees, psychic's fee, and a finalized written report of the entire case at the conclusion. The free-will donation is, however, just that, "free-will" and not a mandatory part of the investigation. If the client does not wish to offer a donation to defray expenses, then the investigation will still continue.
Once that was all agreed upon, we would gather up the necessary equipment needed which might include: 35MM cameras mounted on tripods and loaded with high-speed black and white infrared and color film, video tape machines and Sony camcorders, tape recorders, thermometers, Cathode ray magnetometers, Negative Ion Detectors, Gauss Meters, Field Strength Meters, Aurora Monitors, Night-vision binoculars, infrared detectors, oscilloscopes, spectrographs our computer-based device G.E.I.S.T. which stands for "Geophysically Equipped Instrument of Scientific Testing, wire-less FM transmitters and much more.
Upon arrival at the location, we would set up our equipment and then check the client's diary to see if anything is significant in the reporting. Then we would walk from room to room with the our hand-held equipment to pick up base readings of the environment. If anything was detected above base readings or any other type of phenomena either sensed, heard, felt or seen, it would be documented on the provided maps and later compared.
We use a 3-step approach to our investigations. Step 1 is when the team members arrive unaware of the phenomena and conduct a sweep using hand-held devices, marking on their maps what they pick up. Step 2, we then sit down with the team members and the client and, then, and only then, do the team members find out what has been reported and experienced by the client. At that time we can compare what has been picked up by the team members as opposed to the areas where the phenomena has been reported by the client. Step 3, we would then conduct another sweep, focusing into those areas where "hits" were achieved by both the team members and the clients and other sites also indicated by the client.
For the most part, no physical phenomena in the way of teleportation, movement of objects, etc. is usually seen when we are in a location and I believe it's due to the fact that the entity involved knows that we are there to help it and it no longer needs to draw anyone's attention anymore. The phenomena that witnesses often report are directed to get the attention of occupants of the building. Once that attention is achieved, the entities know that help isn't far away as a call usually goes out within a few days to a professional such as myself.
Two cameras are pointed at a certain area and simultaneous pictures are taken using steady tripods and cable releases. Later these pictures can be compared and subjected to further computer enhancement through the use of scanning devices and software.
An entire session can last a few hours or even any overnight stakeout. Some cases require more then one visit to a location before the phenomena can be completely understood. Some ghosts can become so emotionally attached to a location or person that they simply refuse to leave an area for quite a long time. We, ourselves, are not "ghostbusters" but investigators and we do not claim to be able to rid a house of a ghost. We prefer to stay on the scientific end of the spectrum, recording and analyzing the data that is collected. If the client wishes to have the phenomena stopped, then a psychic may be contacted and allowed to join with the team. The psychic is also told nothing of the case prior to their arrival.
After the film is returned, I will compare the two sets of photographs with one another. The high-speed infrared film will detect a small portion of invisible light in the infrared spectrum between 700 to 900 nanometers but it is possible to go as high as 1200 nanometers for some IR sensing devices. (A nanometer is one billionth of a meter.) The film will also pick up a wide area of the visible and ultraviolet spectrum so special filters are needed to block off those particular regions. The control film is usually an ordinary 400 ASA color or black and white film which is only sensitive to the visible and UV spectrums.
Since both cameras were pointed and shutters released at the same time for the same amount of time, there should be no difference in what they pick up unless there is some form of invisible phenomena at the location. If that is the case, only the IR film will detect the invisible while the control film should show nothing out of the ordinary. If both films report the same object then it was a visible image but in only the IR film picks it up, then it would indicate that some invisible heat or light source was then when the photographs were taken and that could conceivably indicate the presence of a spirit.
Other items would also be examined such as any video or audio tape recorded at the time to see if anything out of the ordinary was captured. This would be the proof that we would be looking for to validate the client's reports. If nothing shows up on film, audio or video, it doesn't mean that nothing was there or that the people was conjuring up stories, it could simply be the fact that the entity(s) involved weren't strong enough to manifest on film or perhaps the conditions weren't proper. The conditions could include the temperature, humidity and barometric pressure at the location at the time. These would have been recorded from time to time while there.
The images could also be further enhanced through the use of a computer with a scanner and proper software equipment that we would employ. This would yield much better resolution of the image and it would be possible to adjust certain elements of the picture such as brightness, contrast, grey scales, and even inverting, rotating or cropping the area. This enhanced image could then be printed out using a printer. Other analysis could include the audio and video tape, any digital images or "hits" on the equipment or anything registered on G.E.I.S.T.
Within about a week to ten days we would call our client back to find out if there has been any further activity in the house and if so to what extent. Follow-up visits could be planned to see if the entities are still there or if new ones have decided to make their appearances known. If the latter is the case, we would then be able to go through the same procedure again with hopefully similar successful results.
We absolutely guarantee the anonymity and confidentiality of all our clients. Will we on occasion invite newspaper or media personnel along with us on investigations but only with the advanced permission of the clients. The only people allowed to release information on any case to the general public or media would be the clients themselves. We have great respect for what these people have been going through and the possible ridicule they might encounter from friends and neighbors if this information was released.
If you yourself have a problem with a pesky spirit or know of anyone who has, please have them get in contact with Dale Kaczmarek, c/o The Ghost Research Society, PO Box 205, Oak Lawn, Illinois, 60454-0205 or call (708)425-5163.
If you would like to see the Ghost Research Society at work, click on this link "Real Ghosthunters" for information about purchasing the show "Real Ghosthunters" featured on the Discovery Channel in 1999.
Ghost Research Society (www.ghostresearch.org)
© 2002 Dale Kaczmarek. All rights reserved.
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