‘Ghosts’ Most Likely to Be Males Who’ve Died Violently

‘Ghosts’ Most Likely to Be Males Who’ve Died Violently


Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson, a psychologist at the University of Iceland,  has a new study on the reported cases of those who have had an encounter with  the undead. Out of 337 cases observed and investigated, the study finds that most of the ghostly apparitions are from males who had died in a violent manner.

Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson investigated the cases in the 1980s by conducting interviews with the people who reported the encounters, as well as any other witnesses. He also checked official records to verify the details of death for the apparitions. The cases he studied were all from Iceland, but he cites other research in his study that shows encounters with the dead are reported by as many as 25 percent of Western Europeans and 30 percent of Americans.

Dr. Haraldsson wrote: “Unexpectedly, the apparitions were predominantly male (67 percent). This surprising dominance of males is remarkably uniform in the experiences of both male and female experiencers. It confirms the results of our previous representative survey in which 77 percent of both sexes reported encounters with males.”

Other researchers have encountered similar findings. The late Dr. Ian Stevenson, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, analyzed 314 apparitional cases recorded in the 1886 book, “Phantasms of the Living,” coauthored by Edmund Gurney, Frederic Myers, and Frank Podmore. Dr. Stevenson found the mode of death was violent in 28 percent of cases in which the cause of death was known.

Reading through the study you can appreciate the tedious work that was put into the collective research by the University of Iceland. Extensive records searches, interviews, and tracking was done to complete the decades-long study. The results? An interesting collection of ghost stories. Read some below:

Jacob was a patient in a sanatorium where I worked. He was sometimes depressed, and I tried to brighten his stay with a bit of humour. One day I had talked to Jacob that he should visit us because he came from the same county as my husband and they would enjoy talking about the people from there. He says yes to that, is glad, and I say to him: “You promise to come tomorrow.” “Yes, yes, I promise,” he says. During the night, I wake up, and all strength is like taken away from me. I am unable to move. Suddenly I see the bedroom door opened and on the threshold stands Jacob, with his face all covered with blood. I look at this for a good while unable to speak or move. Then he disappears and I felt as if he closed the door behind him. I became my normal self, call my husband and tell him about the incident: “I can swear that something has happened at the sanatorium.” I telephone in the morning and ask about if everything is not alright with Jacob. “No,” said the nurse, “he committed suicide this night.” (5076)

My wife and I had living with us a little girl about two and a half years old whom we fostered. One night I wake up and feel as though a woman were standing beside the bed. She says to me, “My name is Margret.” Then she vanishes out the door. I look at the clock and see that it is exactly three thirty. The day after or the same day I learn that the girl’s grandmother had died at that same minute, from a heart attack at Hvammstangi (a town in another part of the country). Her name was Margret. I knew nothing about her health, am not even sure I remembered her name. I had never seen her when she was living. (2180)

I was around twenty. My father and I sat in the kitchen around noon. Then I see clearly a woman coming towards us. I was not going to mention it but notice that my father also sees this. I asked him what he was looking at and he replied, “Surely the same as you.” Then he said he knew this woman. She had died a while back. Three or four hours later there was a phone call for my father who was a clergyman. The husband of the deceased woman we saw had died. We had seen the woman around the time her husband had died. (5102)

Read the full study (PDF) here.