The fear of ghosts in many human cultures is based on beliefs that some ghosts may be malignant towards people and dangerous (within the range of all possible attitudes, including mischievous, benign, indifferent, etc.).
"...I am perfectly aware that the fear of ghosts is contrary to science, reason and religion. If I were sentenced to spend a night alone in a graveyard, <...> I should already know that twigs would snap and the wind moan and that there would be half-seen movements in the darkness. And yet, after I had been frog-marched into the graveyard, I should feel a thrill of fear every time one of these things happened..."
In many traditional accounts, ghosts are often thought to be deceased people looking for vengeance, or imprisoned on earth for bad things they did during life. The appearance of a ghost has often been regarded as an omen or portent of death. Seeing one's own ghostly double or doppelgänger is a related omen of death.
Anthropologist John Whiting indicates that studies of various cultures show a correlation between the fear of ghosts and low indulgence during infancy and the severity of punishment of children for aggression observed in these cultures, leading to the hypothesis that these cultures have mourning customs designed to protect the living from ancestral ghosts.
Fear of ghosts among various culturesEdit
Wari', an Amazon rainforest tribe, believe that the spirits of dead people may appear as a scaring specters called jima. The jima is said to grab a person with very strong, cold and poisonous hands and try to pull the person's spirit away.
"That a great fear
of ghosts prevails among the Papuans is intelligible. Even
by day they are reluctant to pass a grave, but nothing
would induce them to do so by night. For the dead
are then roaming about in their search for gambier and
Some of the departed, above all the so-called Mambrie or
heroes, inspire them with especial fear. In such cases for
some days after the burial you may hear about sunset a
simultaneous and horrible din in all the houses of all the
villages, a yelling, screaming, beating and throwing of sticks;
happily the uproar does not last long: its intention is to
compel the ghost to take himself off: they have given him
all that befits him, namely, a grave, a funeral banquet, and
funeral ornaments; and now they beseech him not to thrust
himself on their observation any more, not to breathe any
sickness upon the survivors, and not to kill them or "fetch"
them, as the Papuans put it."
Onryō (怨霊) is a Japanese ghost (yurei) who is able to return to the physical world in order to seek vengeance. While male onryō can be found, mainly in kabuki theatre, the majority are women. Powerless in the physical world, they often suffer at the capricious whims of their male lovers. In death they become strong. Goryō are vengeance ghosts from the aristocratic classes, especially those who have been martyred.
Literature and artsEdit
- ↑ Template:Cite web
- ↑ "God and the Philosophers", by Thomas V. Morris (1996) ISBN 0195101197 p. 39
- ↑ Christina Hole (1950) Haunted England: 13-27
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 "Culture and Human Development", selected papers by John Whiting, edited by Eleanor Hollenberg Chasdi (1994) ISBN 0521435153, pp. 181-185, "The fear of ghosts"
- ↑ "Consuming Grief", by Beth A. Conklin ( 2001) ISBN 0292712367, p. 161, "Ghost Fears and Dissociation"
- ↑ "The Belief in Immortality and the Worship of the Dead", by James George Frazer (1913), [ p. 305] in Google Books