What do all those terms mean?

    In the area below, you will find some words and phrases that are common in the world of paranormal research and investigation.  T.N.P.S. knows that, to the average person, a paranormal investigation can be a new and somewhat confusing experience.  This can be increased when new words and phrases make their way into the conversation.  T.N.P.S. does its best to explain these words and phrases during our meetings with clients but we thought it would be helpful to have the more common terms posted here.


Apparition-any spirit phenomenon that appears and is visible to humans.

Automatic Writing- a process in which a person subconsciously conveys a written message, writing that takes place without conscious thought; this is often associated with physical or trance mediums.

Clairalience- the use of smell to commuicate with a spirit

Clairambience- the use of taste to communicate with a spirit

Clairaudience- the ability to hear sounds or voices that other people cannot in order to communicate with a spirit

Clairvoyance- the ability to see people or objects that other people cannot in order to communicater with a spirit

Crisis Apparition- this is often associated with the death of a loved one; when someone receives a message from a loved one at the time of the loved one's death; communication is often in the form of an apparition but instances of phone calls from loved ones who have passed have also been reported

Ectoplasm- residue left behind by a ghost or other paranormal phenomena; there is no current scientific evidence to support the existence of ectoplasm; During the 19th century, physical mediums would produce ectoplasm as proof of their psychic abilities.  The ectoplasm would ooze from a body orfice, often the mouth.  These demonstrations were usually done in near pitch dark conditions and spectators were not allowed to touch the ectoplasm.  Later on, closer inspections and more accute observations proved that these mediums were not producing ectoplasm but defrauding the people who had paid to see these demonstration.

Demon- a non-human spirit that targets a person in order to torment, harass or possess that person

Discarnate- something not in or of the physical realm

Disembodied Voice- when the voice of a spirit is heard by the ears of humans without amplification or the use of recording devices.

Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)- Naturally occurring electric and magnetic fields around electrical appliances and objects that conduct electricity. At times, EMFs without obvious sources seem connected with paranormal activity. EMFs can have various effects on the human body at elevated levels. One of the most common effects of elevated EMF is the sensation of being watched, or a creepy paranoia-type feeling. Measurement of EMF can often play a role in debunking claims of paranormal activity.

Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP)- a recording of the voice of a spirit captured on electronic equipment. EVPs are not audible to humans when they occur, and can only be heard once the recording is played back.

Exorcism- the removal of spirits or demons from a person or location.

Ghost- the soul or life-force of a person that is seen by others after the death of that person.

Intelligent Haunting- a spirit that can interact with humans, answer questions, and is affected by the actions of humans. These spirits are aware (at least partially) of their surroundings and what is going on around them.

Medium- a person said to be able to communicate with entities from a different plane of existence

Orb- highly debated objects that often appear in photos as bright, circular shapes; some people believe that orbs are the forms that ghosts take when trying to manifest themselves; environmental factors such as pollen, dust and water vapor can create the appearance of orbs

Paranormal- an event that cannot be explained with any normal explanation

Parapsychology- the study of occurences or abilities that cannot be explained with current scientific knowledge

Place Memory- a location where past events have been 'recorded' and are later manifested

Poltergeist- a spiritual force that can produce noisy and often violent activity. This phenomenon cannot be linked to a specific deceased person, and usually starts and stops abruptly. Often this phenomenon is linked to teenagers in the home, but this is not always the case.  Today many researchers believe that this phenomenon is not a spiritual manifestation but the manifestation of telekinetic abilities of an individual.

Possession- the state in which an individual is under the control of a discarnate entity, often associated with demonic forces

Psychic- an individual said to be able to use telepathy in order to communicate with entities from a different plane

Residual Haunting- a psychic imprint from the past in which audio or visual paranormal activity repeats itself at a location. This activity is unaffected by the actions of humans. This type of activity will not interact with investigators, and will occur regardless of whether anyone is there to witness it.

Retrocognition- a shift in time where individuals see or experience things that occurred in the past.

Sixth Sense- an alternate term for ESP or psychic ability

Spirit Guide- a spirit that is said to watch over an individual offering advice, guidance and protection; they may also assist in communicating with other spirits or ghosts

Supernatural- events that cannot be explained with any natural explanation.

Telepathy- the supposed ability for one individual to communicate with another individual using only the mind

Time Slip- an occurence in which the witness(es) are 'transported' through time and witness events from the past; The most famous report of an alleged time slip involved two women visiting Versailles in 1901.  The women said they were transported back to a period before the French Revolution.  They wrote about the event in a book entitled An Adventure.

Urban Legend- a story passed by word of mouth that reputedly happened to or was related by a relative of a friend, or a friend's friend; these stories are often variations on the same theme; stories about a bridge where a group of teens were killed in an auto accident that resulted in the bridge being haunted and stories of mysterious hitchhikers that were killed on certain highways and now haunt them are common themes