Humor Paranormal & Ghosts 7 Signs of Poltergeist Activity How to Determine If There Is a Poltergeist in Your Home Share PINTEREST Email Print Aurora/Getty Images Paranormal & Ghosts Ghosts Mysteries By Stephen Wagner Updated on 09/19/18 Determining the difference between poltergeist activity and ghosts or haunting activity can be difficult. While ghost and haunting activity is the result of spirit energy, poltergeist activity—also known as "recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis" or RSPK—is the result of psychic energy generated (usually unconsciously) by a person, referred to as an agent. But how do you know there might be poltergeist activity in your home? Most often, you'll know if you have it because it is out of the ordinary and pretty obvious: sounds, movements, and odors of unknown origin. Below are seven of the most common types of poltergeist activity. Let's be clear, however: Because you experience—or think you experience—one or more of the activities listed below does not mean that there definitely is poltergeist activity. There could be more mundane, every day causes for the activity. For example, smells of unknown origin could be wafting in from an open window; lightings flickering on and off could be faulty wiring. You should always seek logical explanations before jumping to the conclusion that it is poltergeist activity. True poltergeist activity, although it is a well-documented phenomenon with many real cases, is relatively rare. A professional investigator might be able to help you to determine the cause of what you are experiencing. 7 Signs of Poltergeist Activity 1 - Disappearing Objects You put your set of keys or your cell phone down in the place you always put it. You turn around a minute later and it's gone. You and your family search high and low for it, but it cannot be found. Later—sometimes days later or longer—the object mysteriously reappears in the very place you always put it. Or, more bizarrely, you later find it in a ridiculous place, like high on a bookshelf, in a shoebox in the closet or some other spot where you'd never put it in a million years. This is known as the Disappearing Object Phenomenon. 2 - Objects Levitating or Thrown You're sitting there watching TV, totally engrossed in a dramatic movie, when suddenly the bowl of popcorn you've been munching from rises from the coffee table, floats through the air a few feet, then drops to the floor. Or... you're having a loud argument with your teenage daughter, and as she storms out of the room, books and knick-knacks come hurtling off of the bookcase, as if reacting to the young girl's anger. The movement of physical objects like this can be quite dramatic and can be as slight as a box of Tic Tacs sliding a few inches across a tabletop or as amazing as a heavy refrigerator levitating off the kitchen floor. 3 - Scents and Odors No one in your house smokes, yet on occasion, the distinct smell of cigarette or cigar smoke can be detected in the bathroom. Or as you're dressing for bed, suddenly the overpowering scent of lilacs fills the room. As stated above, all kinds of smells can enter your house from the outside, even from a passing car, so such scents might not necessarily mean poltergeist. Such scents and odors can also be a sign of ghost activity as they might be associated with a spirit or with a residual haunting. 4 - Electrical Interference Johnny is having a tough time in school, and sometimes when he enters the living room with that scowl on his face, the overhead light and lamps flicker. Or it's 3 o'clock in the morning and you're shocked out of sleep by the stereo in the den turning on full blast and it doesn't have a remote control that could have set it off accidentally, either from inside or outside the house. 5 - Power From Nowhere That antique clock on the fireplace mantle hasn't worked in years, but it's a family heirloom and you like how it looks there, so you've kept it. Quite suddenly, it begins to chime and the second-hand resumes moving, even though the clock hasn't been wound in ten years. Maybe it's 9:15 p.m. and the little kids are sound asleep in bed when suddenly Billy's little choo-choo train begins to chug across the living room floor. You think that's odd, but you switch it off and put it back down. A few minutes later, the little train starts up again. Thinking there's something wrong with the switch, you open the battery compartment to remove the batteries... but there are no batteries in it! 6 - Knocks, Rappings, Footsteps, and Other Noises You're in your office trying to balance the checkbook, but you find it hard to concentrate when your husband is in the other room banging on the wall for some reason. You go to investigate, but then remember your husband is out bowling—he isn't even home. No one else is. So where's that knocking coming from? Or the family is at the kitchen table deep into a heated game of Monopoly. Suddenly, all the chatter stops when everyone's attention is drawn to the sound of footsteps coming up the basement stairs. Dad checks it out, but of course, there is no one there. 7 - Physical Attacks Twelve-year-old Alyssa can't stand how her parents are always fighting. The constant yelling and screaming are driving her crazy. She sits on the floor in the corner of her room, crying with her face in her hands. She winces from a sudden pain in her back. When she checks it in a mirror, she finds fresh scratches. Or the poltergeist activity—from unexplained bangs to flying coffee pots—has been escalating at the Ferman household, and young Becky seems to be the center of it all. It got at its worst when visiting Uncle Donald received sharp slaps across the face, seemingly from an unseen hand. Physical attacks such as these have been documented in such cases as The Bell Witch and the Amherst poltergeist, but they are exceedingly rare and occur only in the most severe cases. How Do You Recognize a Poltergeist? An experienced paranormal investigator or parapsychologist might be able to help you determine if what is taking place in your home is poltergeist activity or a haunting—which can sometimes exhibit similar effects—or whether there is a logical, non-paranormal explanation. In the case of a poltergeist, the investigator will look for other factors. Since poltergeist activity is a psychic effect rather than a spirit-based one, the investigator should try to determine who the agent is—the person who is generating the telekinetic activity. Various kinds of stresses can be the cause of this activity, including emotional, physical, psychological, and even hormonal stresses, and so the investigator should try to examine the personal and family dynamics and very well might need to seek the help of therapists or counselors. However, most cases of poltergeist activity or short-lived, lasting only days or a few weeks. It is rare indeed that they stretch out for months or more. Most of the time they just fade away on their own.