Why are ghosts so scary?

Okay, I confess: ghosts are my number one fear, despite never having encountered one. I’m not even sure they exist. Yet every time I read a ghost story, I immediately regret it and have to sleep with the light on. Even stories about benign ghosts scare the crap out of me.

What’s up with that?

They scare the piss out of me too and I don’t even believe in them. With the more physical hobgoblins out there, I figure I have a fighting chance or can at least die trying.

What in the hell are you supposed to do with a ghost? They can just put a mind screw to you and you have no real recourse.

No thanks. I will take the serial-killer/vampire tag-team against me before I deal with a poltergeist.

I’m not really scared of ghosts, but if I were, I’d guess it would be because, as supernatural beings, they’re not subject to the laws of physics, and their behavior would be unpredictable and uncontrollable by anything or anyone. The loss of control and being at the mercy of something like that is pretty scary to some people, I’d think.

Live people are scarier than dead people. Straight up.

Speak for yourself. If I am in a hall and a live person is coming up one end and a dead person is coming the other way, I am going to take my chances with the live person.

Well, who knows WHAT they’re going to do? I mean, they’re dead, and they don’t have the decency to keep from walking around! Scary, for sure.

Here are a bunch more opinions.

You might find Supernatural Horror in Literature (an essay by H. P. Lovecraft) an interesting take on the subject.

It’s because they’re sneaky. I mean, there you are, alone in your house at night, washing dishes or reading or whatever. Inside everything is warm and silent; you hear the soft whoosh of the furnace kicking on, the clickhummmmm of the refrigerator, your own breathing. Outside the streets are empty, the wind blowing through the bare tree branches, the scuttle of a paper bag blowing up the street. You start to feel a little uneasy, standing there at the sink or sitting there in your chair, thinking of that silent empty space all around you, and especially behind you. Sounds begin to be magnified; you’re aware of your own breathing, every creak and pop of the house settling echos, and you jump when the fridge clicks off, then laugh at yourself for being so nervous. You hang up your dishtowel and turn around and come face to face with the blank staring eyes and cadaverous pallor and stringy hair of a white shrouded figure who has been standing behind you for gods only know how long, and you scream and run out the door and jump into your car, not knowing where you’re going but just fleeing, and you lock all the doors and start it up and then you look into your rearview mirror and there it is again!!!

Strange noises and poltergeists I could probably deal with. It’s the thought of a dead person sneaking up behind me that freaks me out. Even zombies have the decency to make some noise; ghosts just float around and pop out and stare at you when you least expect it.

Well, what’s the DANGER from a ghost? They’re dead, they’re insubstantial, they haunt a bit… but what can they really do to you? Nothing!

I ain’t afraid of no ghost!

Evil undead zombie pirates, on the other hand, have material existance and are therefore scary, even if wearing tuxes and smelling of Irish Spring.

I think it is simply because they are dead. People in general are afraid of death and dead things. How many people for example would happily touch a corspse?