Types of Hauntings

What are the four types of hauntings?

Types of Hauntings.

There are four types of hauntings that Phantom Detectives LLC investigate while on paranormal investigations. These are residual, intelligent, poltergeist, and inhuman. We deal each of these in different ways through our training. Here are the definitions of each and what kind of activity is triggered from them.


This is commonly described as a videotape playing repeatedly and seemingly random times. It is believed that a residual haunting is trapped or imprinted energy on an environment. Generally, this occurred because something traumatic happened at the location. The event may not have resulted in anyone dying, but it could have. The biggest thing to note about a residual haunting is that it does not have intelligence. This means that there is no consciousness there to acknowledge you or anything that is going on. Thus, setting up trigger objects or doing EVP sessions at a location with only residual activity will do no good, as there is nothing there with consciousness to respond.

It is believed this kind of activity has a trigger which causes the “tape” to play and the activity to occur. The trigger may be a time of year, day or time of day, event such as an argument or someone crying, or even something like playing a game of cards. Determining what the trigger is for the residual haunting is key to trying to capture it. There is a theory that certain materials in the bedrock of locations such as quartz or having a running water source near the location such as a river can increase the chances of a residual haunting occurring, but there have been no conclusive studies to support this theory.


This type of haunting is the main type of haunting investigated by paranormal investigators. As the name implies, this type of haunting has intelligence, or consciousness associated with it. For those that believe ghosts are spirits of the dead, this is the consciousness of that deceased individual. Whatever it may be, it can respond to questions, react to trigger objects, and interact in many ways with the investigators. This type of haunting is incredibly fun to investigate because you are only limited by your ingenuity when it comes to thinking of ways to interact with whatever might be there.


Hollywood has told us that poltergeist means “noisy ghost” in German. Hollywood was close, but it means “rumble ghost”, which I guess could be construed to mean the same thing. The thing that Hollywood got completely wrong in the Poltergeist movies is that poltergeist activity is caused by a ghost of some sort, generally an evil or demonic one. Many people currently believe that poltergeist activity is caused by a living human who is referred to as the human agent.

The human agent historically has been a female that was going through puberty, although there have been some cases of male human agents as well as older female human agents. It is believed that the physical changes that the girl’s body is undergoing combined with other emotional, psychological, or physical variables results in the activity manifesting. This activity is believed to be psycho-kinetic or PK in nature. This means that the person can move physical objects with their mind. It is thought that this comes because of a self-preservation reaction by the brain when the subject is not dealing with certain things in a healthy way.

The one thing Hollywood got correct was a lot of the activity that was portrayed. Activity can include large objects being thrown around a room, pennies raining from the ceiling, people being scratched, punched, or pinched. In some poltergeist cases physical or sexual abuse may be at the center of the activity and usually the person responsible for the abuse is the target of any attacks. The person who is the human agent is generally very afraid whenever activity occurs, and they aren’t aware that they are causing it nor do they have any control over it. Determining who the human agent is the key to stopping the activity and this can be done by simply observing who is present when activity occurs and who is not. By process of elimination, you can figure out who the human agent is and once they are made aware that they may be causing this activity to occur, it usually stops.

Poltergeist activity is exceedingly rare and there are only a handful of true poltergeist cases throughout recent history. The chances that you will experience this type of haunting is exceptionally low.


Thanks again to Hollywood, when you hear the term inhuman haunting, we automatically think of a demonic haunting. However, inhuman hauntings refer to any hauntings caused by something that never walked the earth as a human so this would include angelic, animal, and elemental hauntings. Angelic and animal hauntings are self-explanatory, but elemental hauntings are less well known and require some further explanation.

The basic concept of an Elemental refers to the ancient idea of the elements Earth, Water, Wind, Fire, and Aether as the fundamental building blocks of nature. They were prominent in many of the native cultures throughout the world. Elementals are referred to by various names. In the English European tradition these include Fairies, Elves, Devas, Brownies, Leprechauns, Gnomes, Sprites, Pixies, Banshees, Goblins, Dryads, Mermaids, Trolls, Dragons, Griffins, and numerous others. Gnomes are an example of an earth Elemental and Nymphs are an example of a water Elemental.

It is believed that elemental spirits possess supernatural powers and are usually invisible to humans, living among the trees, rivers, plants, bogs, mountains, and minerals. They attach themselves to practically every natural thing. Earthly Elementals are the metaphysical cause of earthquakes, floods, gales, thunderstorms, and wildfires. Animism, which is the oldest known human spiritual practice, is the belief that Elementals inhabit all things. The belief in Elementals predates all the major religions.

Now as was stated in the beginning of this section when most people hear the term inhuman haunting, they think demonic haunting. As such, it is pertinent to include a section about demonic hauntings here as well. First and foremost, demonic hauntings are extremely dangerous and should not be treated lightly. Whether you believe in demons or not, a demonic haunting essentially has all the hallmarks of a poltergeist haunting except for a few exceptions.

The first is that many or all religious items displayed in the home will go missing or be turned around or upside down over a period. The second is the smell of sulfur just before or during when activity is occurring. A third thing that is sometimes noticed during these sorts of hauntings is it seems that one person is affected more than others and behavior changes are noted about that person. However, it is hard to say if this is a psychological result of living in a haunted location or if something outside of that person is affecting them adversely.

Demonic hauntings are serious, however the chances of you seeing a demonic haunting are very unlikely. There are no well documented demonic cases that we have been able to locate. They are not as common as the television shows and movies would have you believe!