Differences Between Ghost Groups & Paranormal Investigators
Let me begin this by first giving you my definition of a ghost group versus paranormal investigators. A ghost group is where a club is formed and their main purpose is to go to haunted locations, take pictures and attempt to capture the ever elusive EVP. These groups meet regularly and compare photos, EVP’s and any experiences they had during their outing. Ghost groups are a fun and relatively harmless way to explore the paranormal world around us.
When I look at Paranormal Investigators, I refer to those who try to help people who are dealing with what appears to be paranormal problems. Doing case work is very different from fun, paranormal outings. If you were to use a scale of 1 to 10, assuming ghost groups started at 4, case work is a 10. In other words there is a tremendous difference between the two areas. In some cases, the difference is insurmountable. Members of ghost groups do not always make for good case workers. It takes a lot of time, study and experience to be a case worker. Even with those who have what it takes to be a good investigator, the transition is not always an easy one.
Not everyone is cut out to be a case worker. This is not a negative reflection on a person. Some people are not cut out to be fireman either. It is as simple as this, some can and some cannot. Why is this so? A case worker assumes an awesome responsibility when he/she agrees to take on a case. They are making a commitment to help a family and they have to be willing to fulfill that commitment. That can take a lot of time. There is also the fear factor. In case work, you may find yourself in a situation where you are alone and activity is flaring up. You cannot run out of a room terrified because you are essentially telling the family that you are too frightened to stay in a room they have to use. In addition, you have to know what you are talking about. There are many in this field that are quick to pronounce a haunting demonic. You cannot tell that to a family unless you are positively sure that is the case and you have a plan in place to deal with it.
There are different philosophies between the two areas and there are different responsibilities. They are far apart on the scale. I am not trying to say that ghost groups cannot become an investigative organization; I am simply pointing out that the two areas are light years apart and if you are looking to forming an investigative group, the transition is difficult. That does not make one better than the other. It is just comparing apples to oranges. Having said all that, let us take a look at some of the major differences between the two areas.
GG- The main objective is to capture evidence of ghosts and trade photos and stories with the group. The idea is to have fun exploring the paranormal.
PI- The main objective is to help a family that may be experiencing paranormal phenomena in their home. While most paranormal investigators love what they do, the job is often anything but fun.
GG- There is little if any danger in ghost hunting shoots unless you stumble across something negative. Your senses should warn you to leave that area and you need to pay attention to that.
PI- When you do case work, there are some dangers inherent with the job. You will often anger the spirits in the house and if there is something powerful and negative, you are putting yourself dead center in its cross hairs.
GG- In ghost groups, they are loosely structured. There is usually no chain of command and there may not be team leaders.
PI- There has to be a team leader who is the supervisor of the group and directs all investigators. There must also be a second in command who can take over as team leader. These two must be respected, trusted and be able to handle serious problems or situations when they arise. If you can, there should be a liaison to work between the group and the family. Aside from that, stay away from titles. They only lead to dissention.
GG- There is a general consensus on where the group is going. Some may choose not to go while others do. One should always follow their instincts.
PI- Cases generally come to you and the team leader does the research to determine if an investigation is warranted and feasible. Not all investigators are suited for every case. Again, instincts must be followed. Depending on the size of the organization, it may be determined that only a few members are needed and the team leader must choose who goes. Although this can lead to hurt feelings, it is a reality that cannot be ignored. You cannot put five investigators in a one bedroom garden apartment.
GG- Anyone can decide at the last minute not to go on a shoot.
PI- There is a commitment to the family. If a case is long running, you have to be willing to put the time in.
GG- Egos can easily enter the picture. There is a sort of friendly (most of the time) competition between members regarding phenomenon captured.
PI- Check you egos at the door. It is all about helping a family in need. This is a humbling profession.
GG- There is a lot of freelancing within the group. People head off to where they want.
PI- Cases are structured and people are assigned to areas. Rotation of areas is possible but only the leader should freelance. You cannot have investigators complaining about where they are stationed. At the same time, the team leader must be fair when scheduling assignments.
GG- If you are on a shoot and you get frightened, you can always choose to leave.
PI- If you get frightened, you must do your best not to show it. You cannot get up in the middle of an investigation and leave. Some members may choose not to go back but you cannot frighten a family that is already terrified by bolting. Whether you are a professional or not (and you should be if you are doing case work) the family sees you as the professional and believe me, they are watching for your reaction all of the time.
GG- You can bicker all you want and all you are doing is taking the fun out of it.
PI- There is no room for bickering in the house. You are there to do a job and the family cannot see dissention amongst the ranks. Save it for when you are away from the house.
GG- You can get away with talking about each other. It is divisive but it is your choice.
PI- You cannot talk about other members of the group where the family can overhear you. It will ruin your organization’s credibility in a heartbeat.
GG- Again, you can freelance.
PI- You have to watch each others backs.
GG: You can be inexperienced and make mistakes and get away with them.
PI- Inexperience can result in nasty consequences. In my career, I have often been called into a house where one or more groups had been there. Between their lack of knowledge and inexperience, they have terrorized families. They may have thrown the “D” word around or they may have over-reacted to something that occurred. The damage they did took weeks of hard work and suffering on the part of the family. If you do not know what you are doing, stay away from case work until you can learn.
These are some of the differences between the two groups. In case work, you have to form a team and that cannot be stressed enough. You must work together as a unit because the work is dangerous. You also have to know your limitations. If you come across a case you cannot handle, you have to accept that and look for help. It is easy to bite off more than you can chew. A case that seems benign can turn into hell fire in a short span of time. That is why experience is so important. You have to get a feel for what you are getting into. With hard work and good planning, you can go from a ghost group to a case worker.
© 2007 T. Cooney