I do not consider myself a particularly religious individual, spiritual perhaps, but I left religion in Sunday School back when I wore patent leather mary-janes and my father was still alive…a bit sad, yes…more accurately though, I think that organized religion has left more of a bitter taste on my tongue…sour with absolution un-manifested and too many prayers unanswered. But, I digress…what I really wish to ponder on…is Ghosts. Those apparitions from beyond…entities that admit to promise that religion has given us…the opportunity to commune with an afterlife.
I ask you to set aside heaven and hell for a moment and join me in the ever after, the interland, where ghosts reveal themselves to the living. Perhaps you are a believer, or not…maybe you have even witnessed such ethereal visitors, or not…regardless of personal experience ghosts are a subject that intrigues the tiniest child, unaware of mortality; equally as those, closest to their natural end.
The promise of something else…something more.
I imagine that is the simplest and most encompassing answer, but could this phenomena also activate another desire in us…a deep almost primal need?
Let me explain a bit more…
I love the ghost hunter shows, I means love them. To the point that I irritate and frighten those closest to me. I enjoy the mainstream series, whose “investigators” are stoically scientific and skeptical, almost clinical. I also watch the cute-tool bag, who has a penchant for shreeking during his “encounters” while is bulging biceps flex in his tiny baby-sized Affliction-tee.
Hell, I even watch the version on Animal Planet where they depend on the family dog or cat to lead them to the offending spirit!
I know…I know…but I can’t seem to stop, and after watching a baby-carriage move “all by itself ” on tonight’s bombastic Ghost-Hunters episode I simply had to delve further into this interpsychic phenomenon…what is it with these ghosts?
Let’s break it down…it’s not simply their presence, which always leaves me creeping cautiously to the kitchen for a glass of water after the show…it’s their elusiveness. Not only can we not prove their existence, but we must accept static garble and shadowy figures as evidence. And yet even that paltry proof sends shivers through my body and sets my nerves simply on edge!
I don’t think it’s the promise of the everafter…but the rush of glimpsing the unexplained that fascinates me so. I enjoy the “what if” of things-the-go-bump-in-the-night, tapping directly into children’s fantasies and igniting desires too dark and deadly to consciously admit to…hmmmnnn…put that way, my obsession sounds like a secret that should never be told…a hint at something deliciously sumptuous and yet impishly frightening: my unconscious.
For if we really consider it…isn’t it our very own psyche that haunts and teases us most?
The answer must be yes…and thus, I think our true fascination with ghosts, isn’t what they are but rather what they might mean…to us…that secret place between heaven and hell, that occupies our fantasies and fears: our very own unconscious.
Now let me pause one last time to explain what I mean by unconscious, or subconscious as Freud prefered…
According to Freud, the mind can be divided into two main parts:
- The conscious mind includes everything that we are aware of. This is the aspect of our mental processing that we can think and talk about rationally. A part of this includes our memory, which is not always part of consciousness but can be retrieved easily at any time and brought into our awareness.
- The unconscious mind is a reservoir of feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories that outside of our conscious awareness. Most of the contents of the unconscious are unacceptable or unpleasant, such as feelings of pain, anxiety, or conflict. According to Freud, the unconscious continues to influence our behavior and experience, even though we are unaware of these underlying influences.
Freud visualized this theory as a giant iceberg…the true contents of our minds mostly submerged…untouchable by our conscious mind.
According to Freud only approximately 10% of our mind is conscious…which leaves 90% of our experiences, thoughts, and memories unexplored…unrealized…unexplained…perfect conditions for unconscious ghosts to go haunting, I would say, and with that, I wish you: