What is Haunting You? 13 Ghosts and Haunting Types, Explained

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By: Alex Postrado

Your Guide to Different Types Of Ghosts And Hauntings

Have you ever seen a ghost?

Some people claim that, at least once in their lives, they have encountered one.

And, while not everybody believes in the paranormal, those who do hold their experiences to be real.

Although, most of the time, the details vary from encounter to encounter.

Some allege that they have seen faint and wispy, humanlike figures. Others say that they have only heard footsteps and similar inexplicable noises. Moreover, there are those who claim to have experienced something less direct 一 yet still, in every way, spooky 一 like the dreaded feeling that someone is constantly watching you.

Whatever the case may be, it is apparent that ghosts are so much more than just one, simple paranormal concept.

As a matter of fact, in ghostlore, it is believed that there are several types of ghosts 一 not just the typical translucent entity we commonly hear about.

The list of ghost and haunting types run long 一 with some phenomena, falling into more than one of the categories at the same time. And who knows, maybe you are already familiar with some of them!

Common Types of Ghosts and Hauntings

Interactive Personality Ghosts

Starting with the most common of all ghost types, the interactive personality ghosts are those that are believed to be the spirits of deceased humans. But, not just any human!

We are talking about people whom you were either familiar with or personally knew when they were still alive 一 could be a friend, a family member, or in some cases, even a historical figure.

With that in mind, they typically appear in the form that the observer most associates with them.

That is why, if, for instance, you see a ghost that falls into this category, chances are, they are wearing the clothes that they used to love. And not just that, you could also expect them to retain their memories, along with their former personality.

But the key thing about interactive personality ghosts could be found in the name itself: interactive.

These ghosts can and would most likely interact with you!

They are self-aware and can walk, talk, touch objects and people, as well as “acknowledge the living.”

Manifestations of them could range from:

  • Merely auditory 一 through whispers and other noises;
  • Visual 一 as mentioned, in the form of their old selves;
  • To olfactory 一 emitting familiar scents that would remind you of “their time in the physical world.”

The reasons why interactive personality ghosts pay visits also vary, but among the most common are:

  • To let the living know something important;
  • To say their last farewells;
  • And to comfort the bereaved in times of need.
a ghost cinematic, beautiful
What haunts you?


Another well-known ghost type is the poltergeist.

Poltergeists are notorious for their ability to manipulate physical objects.

With a name that literally translates to “noisy ghost,” these ghosts can knock things over, send stuff flying, play with the lights, produce eerie sounds, and even physically harm animals and people if and whenever they want to.

So, clearly, having them around can go from harmless to injurious real quick 一 the very reason why horror movies love including them in the plot!

But, while undoubtedly spooky, poltergeists are actually among “the rarest forms of hauntings.” Great news for all scaredy-cats out there!

Ectoplasms and Ecto-Mists

In occultism, the term ectoplasm refers to the strange “usually light-colored, viscous substance” that allegedly exudes from the body of a medium, commonly while they are in trance.

You may have seen, perhaps, the most popular depiction of ectoplasm in the Ghostbusters franchise.

But have you heard of such a thing as an ecto-mist?

Instead of being viscous in form, ecto-mists appear as some sort of a vaporous cloud or a swirling fog that float “several feet off the ground” and can either “move swiftly or simply stay still.”

White, gray, and sometimes black in color 一 ecto-mists are most frequently spotted and photographed in cemeteries, old battlefields, and other historical sites.


What is scarier than seeing a ghost? Perhaps, it is seeing a ghost that looks exactly like you!

That is what the doppelgänger is all about.

The word comes from a German term that means “double goer.” And in ghostlore, it refers to entities that can “mimic the look of someone who is still living.”

One unique thing about this type of ghost is that it can appear in multiple places all at once. And seeing one of those copies typically signals that something bad is about to happen.

Tragedy? Death? No one knows for sure until it eventually goes down.

evil doppelganger

Crisis Apparitions

Not exactly a ghost, but more of a paranormal phenomenon 一 a crisis apparition is when an image of a person undergoing intense physical or emotional distress suddenly appears to any of their loved ones.

Some explain this as an individual’s way of sending a “psychic S.O.S.” or letting their families and friends know about the crisis they are facing 一 be it severe injury, disease, mental torment, or approaching death.

Fortunately, most crisis apparitions are believed to manifest while the person is still alive.

Regrettably, there are still cases where help of any kind is too late.


The most photographed of all ghost-related anomalies 一 orbs appear in the form of mostly translucent balls of white or blue light that hover above the ground.

They are said to be the traveling spirits of departed humans or animals.

It is thanks to their spherical shapes that they can move around easily to quickly get to where they are going.

Although frequently observed, many argue that a large number of orb sightings actually have completely natural explanations 一 suggesting things like dust, insects, pollen, or reflection, among other things, as the key culprit.

Still, others believe that orbs are real ghosts and that they are the first state that a ghost has to go through before they evolve into a “full-bodied apparition.”


Similar to crisis apparitions, residual hauntings are technically not ghosts. Rather, they are replays of an event that transpired in the past.

The theory is that, when something highly traumatic happens, the site where it took place sometimes “absorbs these events.”

And when a person enters that area 一 either at the same time of the day when it happened or on the same day of the year 一 a paranormal playback could manifest, often to the person’s shock.

household spirits

Funnel Ghosts

Ghosts that “take on the shape of a swirling funnel” or a vortex are fittingly called funnel ghosts.

Often appearing in old houses and buildings, this type of ghost is believed by paranormal experts to be the spirit of a departed person returning to visit their former residence or the people that are currently occupying it.

Funnel ghosts can also materialize as a spiral of light. And this is sometimes captured in photographs and videos of supposed funnel ghost hauntings.


There are two types of vessels.

The first is composed of commonly old vehicles that are believed to be haunted 一 primarily due to the residual energy that the vehicles have accumulated after years of having people move in, out of, and around them.

While the second is all about ghost vessels or ghost vehicles. These are apparitions of vehicles that do not actually exist in the physical world.

Ranging from ghost cars to ghost ships, these vessels are oftentimes linked to death 一 with the best-known example of it, being the so-called Lincoln’s Ghost Train, purportedly spotted by some to still be making its occasional night travels more than a century after Abraham Lincoln’s death.

Deathbed Visions

In the final minutes before a person’s death, there is a belief that the dying would be visited by the ghost of a departed family member or friend.

This type of ghost falls under the deathbed vision category.

And their goal is pretty straightforward: to comfort the soul of the dying as they come to “take them home.”

Of course, by “home,” I mean the afterlife.

Animal Ghosts

Exactly what it sounds like, animal ghosts are the “spirits of animals that have recently passed.”

They could be any animal, but among the most sighted were dogs, cats, horses, and birds.

And although they are typically friendly, some animal ghosts could be pesky 一 especially, with their described ability to interact with physical objects, commonly those they were associated with when they were still alive.

Shadow People

Not everyone considers shadow people to be ghosts. However, there is a reason why they got their spot on this list.

It is the way that they haunt.

They do not necessarily engage with the living. But, much like most ghosts, shadow people signal their arrival with an unmistakable feeling of dread 一 as if to say that you are being watched.

And you can try to look around in hopes of finding them, but the thing about shadow people is that you would likely only spot them out of the corner of your eye.

A silhouette of what seems to be a person 一 distinctly, with no discernible mouth, nose, or other facial features.

Spirit Attachments

Finally, spirit attachments are comprised of ghostly entities that “can attach themselves to a living human.”

Take note: attach 一 not possess.

There is a difference between those two 一 mainly, that ghosts which possess actually enter their victim’s body and take charge of their physical capabilities.

On the other hand, spirit attachments only tag along with the living, for reasons that often include either the ghost’s desire to “re-live the physical experience of life,” or their confusion or obliviousness to their own passing.

Ghost or Something Else

As you can see, there are many classifications of ghosts or hauntings that could terrify the pants off even the most hardened skeptic. However, the vast majority of scientists will conclude that there are perfectly reasonable explanations for the phenomenon.

The fun of ghost hunting is keeping an open mind and knowing what to look for. Have fun exploring the past and the echoes of those that have left us.

But keep a close eye on the edges of reality and what could be lurking in the dark.


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