I Heard My Father's 'Ghost' Yesterday.

I was lying in bed yesterday. And since I had nothing to do that day, I didn’t realize how late it was getting. Then I heard coming from my father’s old bedroom a voice saying “Jamie?” (my family calls me “Jamie”). At first, I didn’t even realize who it was. And as I said, it sounded like it was coming from the other room.

Little background. My beloved father died about a year ago. And I was hearing his voice every now and then. In life, he was typically more of an early bird than me. So it was not uncommon for me to hear him calling me from the other room. Interestingly enough, I do not believe in an afterlife or “real” ghosts. But I have heard of ghost phenomenon. And I do think some the stories are amazing and even striking.

Actually, I was talking with one of my doctors about this not too long ago. And he said it is not uncommon to hear or see a departed love one. It is just a normal part of the grieving process. It is only a concern if you become frightened by it, or if it persists. But as I said, it sounded like it was coming from the other room. How could a temporary illusion?/hallucination? sound like it was coming from the other room? And plus, to reiterate, I didn’t even realize how late it was. Could my subconscious mind know this, even if I didn’t?

Anyways, this threat is also dedicated to the phenomenon of so-called ghosts. Please feel free to add any input (as I said, I don’t even believe in ghosts, real ones at least).


I would just briefly add, there is a reason why I put this in GD instead of MPSIMS. I want to start a serious debate about my experience, and ghost phenomenon in general. If you don’t have a serious debate to add, consider not even posting:).

I’m sorry for your loss. As far the debate topic goes, I don’t think the fact that the voice seemed to be coming from another room indicates anything- why wouldn’t you be able to hallucinate something like that?

If it was a hallucination, there’s really no limitation on how it could be perceived, as it’s only got to press the right combination of buttons in your brain.

(Without any disrespect intended) the above is analogous to asking “How can a hallucinatory elephant be pink?”. Hallucinatory phenomena can be anything.

Our minds get stuck into a pattern, and will construct information based on only a limited amount of input. You most likely heard some sound from the other room, and it sounded enough like your dad calling you that your brain constructed it, not quite used to the fact that your dad couldn’t have been calling you.

It happens all the time, but it’s worse during the grieving process because you are spending more time thinking about that person, so your mind is more likely to jump to conclusions that involve him.

In fact, I hesitate to call such phenomena “hallucinations.”

Just because you don’t believe they exists doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Their existence is quite independent on your beliefs on it.

But there is a pattern your mind remembers of him. Your mind knows exactly how to recreate it as it has experienced it before. Perhaps something is activating that memory, the question is why, what is brought to mind about that voice. Not so much of memories of your pop but what about that type of calling, what does that mean to you when he called you like that.

That’s true, although some kinds of hallucination are vastly more probable than others. The brain seems pretty capable of constructing something like a voice from another room; but if Jim B. had interacted with his father, fully-formed and standing right in front of him for an extended period, it would be considerably more baffling.

Anyway, I don’t believe in ghosts or spirits either. Nevertheless I’ve glimpsed a few weird things, once a face in the window, another time a man leaning up against a car, both experiences fleeting. These carried no emotional attachment so their impact was minimal — but my otherwise reasonable mother had the experience of my deceased father approaching and comforting her while she cried — and there’s simply no convincing her it wasn’t real. (Not that one should try very hard with that sort of thing.)

What’s all this mean in the final accounting? Dunno. I don’t think I would react to hearing my father’s voice by doubting my thoroughly nonspiritual convictions, but how could I tell without going through it?

Auditory hallucinations are commonly associated with being on the verge of sleep

I used to get auditory hallucinations in college a small handful of times, usually after a very stressful period stayed up studying late or finishing a paper before the morning deadline. I would hit the sack overtired, and before I drifted into sleep, I’d be able to conjure up auditory hallucinations. It was one of the the coolest things I have ever experienced. It was not like imagining a song in your head. It was like having headphones on and truly and really hearing the music. An incredible sensation. At the time, I was much more active musically than I am now, so a song fragment I was working on would start playing in my head, completely orchestrated, and finish itself! A bizarre sensation to say the least. It was like listening to the radio play your song and being excited to hear how it evolves and resolves.

Unfortunately, being on the very edge of sleep, it was difficult to keep this state for more than five minutes or so before either drifting off into sleep, or excitedly waking to try to remember as much of what your subconscious composed as your could. I wish I were able to control these auditory hallucinations and have them happen at will.

And just because lots of people believe in something doesn’t mean it exists; existence is quite independent of your beliefs.

I experience frequent hypnagogic hallucinations, although mine are visual rather than auditory. I have seen a large vase of flowers by my bedside, a video camera mounted in the corner of my ceiling, and actual “ghosts”, most memorably a little girl in a white nightgown who was glowing with an eerie light. They are fascinating, but evidence of the wonders of the human brain rather than anything paranormal.

In Judaism we say that the deceased still “live on in the hearts of those who cherish their memory.” Your father is living on, if only through the memory of him that remains with you.

This is true. I too have heard voices just as I fall asleep, but they’re usually incoherent and since I know exactly what’s going on I hardly even make a note of it. (I also “trip” pretty frequently, jolting me awake, which is terribly annoying.)

There are plenty of people reporting these types of experiences. So they clearly are a real phenomenon and deserve to be taken seriously as such. Unfortunately, they are experiental and subjective, not verifiable by anyone outside of the experience. We have not been able to measure and collect independent physical data of these experiences, at least not any outside of the physical brain states. This means that one could argue they are simply tricks of the mind, and while that explanation appeals to many, is still not confirmation that these experiences are anything other than what they are reported to be, namely an experience of a deceased relative or friend appearing and talking to us.

It’s not in dispute that a lot of people think this is what’s happening to them. That doesn’t make ghosts a credible explanation.

Bingo. I often hear my mother calling to me to wake up in the morning. She’s not dead.

That woud be true if you believe subjective experiences are strictly and in all cases of a type less real than objectively verifiable phenomenon. This is a subjective experience, it is what it is experienced to be, that is until we find a way to measure the physical aspects of the phenomenon (assuming that is possible).

What? Either it’s ghosts or it isn’t.

I think this is the core of it. Our brains smooth out information gaps by filling in what they’re used to. We don’t see the blind spot caused by the optic nerves divng through our retinas. We don’t see the world moving when we move our eyes.

I once saw, out of the corner of my eye, a small neon sign that wasn’t there in a window. I was driving my parents around town, looking for an insurance office. They had the address, but couldn’t see the number anywhere. I said, no problem, we just passed it, I saw the sign.

They hadn’t seen any sign. Are you sure? I’m sure I saw the sign. And what will we lose circling the block? By the numbers, we’re obviously close.

The office was there. The sign wasn’t. When I mentioned it to the agent, he said there used to be one, but it was out for repair. I had never been aware of seeing the sign, but had driven down that street many times. Apparently that was enough to be subconsciously aware of it and for my mind to fill it in. I don’t think that the sign was dead and I was seeing its ghost.

Ok, and for you it is definitely “not ghosts” i.e. not real in anyway and for me it is possibly something real.

Why should that be the case? No one doubts that people have the subjective experience of seeing and hearing things that couldn’t physically be there, interacting with deceased loved ones, or hovering over their operating table before traversing a tunnel of light. (Or whatever.) These experiences are undoubtedly “real” in some sense. But by what principle of scientific enquiry should be assume one possible explanation (that they are what they appear to be) when other explanations perform just as well but much more closely match up with our background knowledge?