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ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Why are most people afraid of ghosts?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (26784points) September 20th, 2010

Of course this only applies to people who believe in ghosts. Most of the time if you hear a ghost story, or hear someone say they have seen a ghost they are terrified.
I have never heard of any story (aside from urban legends) where someone has actually been injured by or even killed by a ghost. In fact, in most of these stories it is really just that a person sees something that they can’t easily explain, so they assume it is a ghost, and that is the end of that. So then why do people think ghosts are so scary?

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36 Answers

TexasDude's avatar

Fear of the unknown. Also, if ghosts were real and malicious, how would you defend yourself against one? You would be helpless.

Frenchfry's avatar

I have heard poltergiests are not nice. I have watched shows about real life ones on TV that can make ghosts have a bad rap and even chase them out of their homes.

Jeruba's avatar

Because they are dead. People fear the dead and the envy, hunger, and wrath of the dead.

muppetish's avatar

I’m sure there is a ton of literature on the psychology behind fearing ghosts… it might be interesting to look into :) I have a friend who used to be a ghost hunter. And my mum swears she grew up in a haunted house and everyone in her family attests for it. I don’t believe in ghosts, but love a good ghost story.

I think one reason may be the idea that ghosts are often depicted as souls that have not departed earth, which is definitely tied into the unknown as @Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard noted.

ucme's avatar

I ain’t fraid of no ghost!! Actually i’m bloody terrified of the ghoulish little buggers! Don’t know why, just am. Fully paid up member of the wimp club.

DominicX's avatar

I know that if I ever saw a ghost, I would be terrified for a couple of reasons, one because it defies everything I’ve known to be reality and that idea in itself is scary and two because it would cause me to question my own sanity.

It seems like someone who believes in ghosts and investigates them and such would be less scared since they’ve already accepted them as part of reality.

nebule's avatar

I’m afraid of them…if they exist…never seen one… but I always hold that that is because I don’t believe in them. I know this is nonsense though…but I’m sticking with it!

My fear though probably comes from the fact that my family once thought I was possessed by demons and several episodes of trying to cast them out of me ensued. Scared the shit out of me and was fairly traumatic! Incidentally at that time I did have several episodes of sleep paralysis and woke up one night with what I could only describe as a black evil shape sitting on my legs at the bottom of the bed. I kept waking up for days on end at exactly the same time 3:33am in the middle of the night. Spooky. I put this down to some unknown psycho-physical disturbance rather than ghosts…although there is a hint of doubt in my mind… :-/

TheMadShatter's avatar

Agree with @Jeruba; it’s because they are dead, experiencing something that is no longer living scares the shit out of me.

Blackberry's avatar

It is something unexplainable, those who believe in it still do not know what will happen to them. I think those people invest too many ideas from scary movies as well. The reason why I was afraid of ghosts when I believed in them as a kid was because I though the ghost would harm me or scare me like in a movie.

Austinlad's avatar

I’m sure there are reasons, but I can’t help wondering why we keep making up nonsense like ghosts, the devil and anal-probing aliens when they scare us so much.

Blackberry's avatar

Sometimes I get chilled or a feeling of awareness in the dark because I am afraid an attacker in my home or something, something real.

BoBo1946's avatar

only the shadow knows!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

A high school friend’s mother has been followed all her life by The Man in Black. It hasn’t mattered that she’s lived in several places. Everyone in their family has seen him. They have found kitchen knives on a living room chair or other places. My friend once found an axe on the seat of her locked car. A friend of one of the girls spent the night one time and woke up to see a figure sitting on the bed. That’s enough to make me nervous, should I ever run into one.

wundayatta's avatar

We have a fear of the unknown. It’s probably obvious why that is. If it’s unknown, we don’t know if it can hurt us, if it wants to hurt us, nor how it works. We can’t make any predictions about it. Things that go bump in the night are mysterious because we have no idea what causes them.

Humans have a need to anthropomorphize just about everything they don’t understand. Somehow, this puts it in a box, or gives it a label and that reduces our fear of it. So all these unexplained phenomena are put in a conceptual box and given a name. In the case of things that happen at night, many things are called a ghost.

To further anthropomorphize the concept, ghosts are reputed to be formerly alive humans. Thus we can attribute human motives to them. We can say they are acting from some emotion or another. Generally, since we are scared, and often scared for our lives, we attribute an evil personality to the ghost—such as saying it is the ghost of a murderer or something.

It’s not that people are afraid of ghosts; it’s that when people are afraid of something unknown at night, they attribute it to a ghost. We have the causality the wrong way around, as usual. Once we overcome our fears, the ghosts disappear.

partyparty's avatar

I suppose it is the fear of the unknown. I’ve never seen one so don’t really know how I would react. I hope it never happens though !!

JustmeAman's avatar

I think it is the fear of the unknown. I know a lot of people have fear of Bats but I don’t I have raised some and have no unknown questions about them. I think it is that way for most of us. Though there are other fears that are known. I’m afraid of heights and spiders but I will pick up just about any snake. Since I understand ghosts I generally do not fear them.

CMaz's avatar

“Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”:
– Franklin D. Roosevelt

daytonamisticrip's avatar

It’s a natural instinct to fear the unknown, and trust me if you piss of a ghost it will hurt you. Try using a ouija board and find out for yourself.

flutherother's avatar

Strange but you don’t hear much about ghosts and hauntings nowadays. Now everyone has a cameraphone you would think they would be photographed more often. I remember as kids we used to scare each other at night by telling ghost stories. We were frightened of them because they seemed malevolent though they rarely if ever did any actual harm apart from turning hair white.


@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Good answer. Yes, we are afraid of things that we know little about. Like ghosts and foreigners. (Though I must say I thought I knew about those certain 3 and were not afraid of them, yet they still left me very helpless and I couldn’t defend myself against them. (um, as you recall. sigh….)

flutherother's avatar

I suppose our worst nightmare would be if dead terrorists came back as ghosts to haunt us!

CFi's avatar

I’ve always felt that I was going to die from fright, I was gonna see a ghost and it will have scared me to death, I have a heart attack or something.
Growing up I heard stories from adults and even my siblings. They weren’t like tales they were experiences and I’ve since been scared of experiencing such things. There have been times when things have happened and I’m not sure what or how they happened.
-For instance, the night or the next I don’t remember exactly after a co-worker passed away I was in my bed half asleep when I suddenly felt a strong force grab my shoulders almost like a bear hug kinda and give me a hard shake. It was slow and I remember not being able to move, I felt paralyzed from the waste up, I couldn’t even scream. Once it had passed which seemed like minutes I was in shock like “what just happened” and I woke my husband and he calmed me and I went to sleep. I wasn’t sure what to think of that right away but when I thought back to how it felt, it was almost as if I could feel it was him, this man was 70+ when he passed and he had more energy then some of my younger employees. He was as tough as nails, Southern man’s man, very rugged. He’d give you a pat on the back that made your shoulder pop out, that’s how strong on and sweet he was. So when I felt that shake I could almost feel him saying “See ya Later tooter”.
-Growing up we had this wooden wine rack and it was in our living room, every so often we’d hear a like a strong knock. This started after one of my mom’s patients passed away. This lady considered my mom like the daughter she never had and my mom loved her as well. My mom always felt that Ms. Phyliss was watching over her, my mom had many experiences where she has felt her presence and she feels she has saved her from certain things too. Ms.Phyliss was another tough lady and tall and strong but very loving. We always felt she was the one knocking and letting us know she had her eye on us, the knock just felt like her and it was always that wine rack. When I moved out the knocking stopped and I didn’t hear a single knock until…
-My Grandmother passed away 2 years ago and I was sad and upset, but more so for my mom who had been with her in the hospital nursing her back to health and out of her death bed, only to come back home and have her mother pass away a few days later. I was really sad for my mom, so that night I began to pray to Ms Phyliss to take care of my grandmother and to hold her and hug her and welcome her and watch out for her I guess ( I know it’s kinda silly), I laid down in bed and as I closed my eyes I heard a loud strong stern knock on my dresser mirror (this used to be my mother’s by the way). Just that one knock and I felt a little scared but comforted at the same time. A couple times afterward I heard light soft taps on things, nothing like any of the other knocks I had become accustomed too, so I started to feel that was my Grandmother.
-My final and most recent experience was my husband’s grandfather passing away. We were all present in the hospital the day he died, I was with my sister-in-law’s when we heard Code Blue over the hospital PA system and we knew it was him, he had requested that there be no life saving procedures so we knew he was gone. I still get the chills. That night we went home and as I was beginning to fall asleep I heard a strong quick knock on the my corner of the window behind our bed, and I just knew it was him. I had heard the same knock in the same place the night before and it continued like maybe every few nights for about 2 weeks.
New house now, no knocks…yet. Those are the most recent experiences I have had and I don’t end up sleeping well for the ensuing weeks, and I also end up sleeping with a night light.
– There have been other things that have scared the sh!t out of me as well. After my husbands grandfather passed away my sister in law shared with me something I wish I had never heard of before. Her and my mother in law had said that a few days before grandpa had passed my sister in law had heard “Death’s Knock”, which is a loud bang. She described it almost like someone trying to open the door with and axe or a bat. My sister in law is 31 and a nurse, for the week after that she slept on her parents bedroom floor.
I’d never heard of “Death’s Knock” or Death’s notification that someone is going to die until then. Since hearing of such a thing I have heard it once, 2 days later my mom’s Uncle who was more like her father passed away. It was loud it was strong and I was paralyzed for a few minutes when I heard it. I fear that sound because I know what follows it, and I truly wish that I had never heard of such a thing. Sorry if I am passing along this “curse”
Those have been only a few experiences in my life, and short from writing a book I won’t share anymore on here. But just these 4 keep me scared of the dark and hiding my feet under the covers the second I get into bed. I just fear seeing something or being spoken too or harmed. If they have already shaken me an knocked on my furniture who’s to say they can’t slap me or hit me. That is why I am a chicken :)

CMaz's avatar

“But just these 4 keep me scared of the dark and hiding my feet under the covers the second I get into bed. ”

That being the beauty of scary STORIES.

CFi's avatar

But these aren’t stories these are my real life experiences.

CMaz's avatar


Based on what you have experienced and your understanding of how it all appeared to have happened. ;-)

JustmeAman's avatar

If you have experienced them and understand who and what they are then no you do not fear them. Most things are that way.

CFi's avatar

I know what they are but I don’t know why and for what reason. I also don’t know when,all of this is frightening.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Wow, this is an old one to be revived. :)

CMaz's avatar

“I know what they are”
You think you do. An assumption base on convent conjecture.
Then you engineer a why and a how from that.

JustmeAman's avatar

There are several types of beings in that realm and some need to be highly respected. In other words don’t get involved with them and allow them into your lifes. Others have lived on this Earth and are in the spirit world for now. And there are some that have not yet received a mortal body but are here as well.

flutherother's avatar

This thread died about a month ago and now, with Halloween approaching it has come back to life. Scary!

CFi's avatar

@ChazMaz – I have no way to explain something to you, so I’ll be satisfied with whatever conjecture I can come up for myself to try and get some sleep :)

@flutherother – Bwwaah ha ha…. hehehe

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@ChazMaz Don’t antagonize. :P

CMaz's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie – I am sorry honey. ;-)

And, I was not. ;-)

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

:) You’re a peach.

neha's avatar

i have no idea whether ghost really exist or is it that its an illusion.whenever i am alone at home i feel that someone else is also there with me.whenever i walk i feel someone’s following me and will attack me any moment.i dont get scared of anything else rather than a ghost.

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