On Why I Can’t Give Up the Ghost

I am obsessed with paranormal reality television programs.

Some nights, I plug in my earbuds and listen to Amy Allen use her psychic abilities in “Dead Files.”

Amy and her retired-police-detective-partner Steve Dischiavi try to help families afflicted by the dead-but-not-dead-enough. Many times the fact of whether someone died in a house or not is held up as proof that the house may be haunted. (The premise is that if someone dies in a house, they are likely to haunt that house. If Steve finds through his research that someone once died in that house? Well. Haunted by that person. Easy-peasy-pumpkin-squeezy!)

FTR, I don’t actually believe much of anything Allen claims about the dead, but I do find her sketches hilarious. In every show she meets with a sketch artist and describes the dead person/demon/thing she has encountered. Sometimes the artists are B-A-D. For example, one poor family is being stalked by this:

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A Grey Alien in a wig. Or Gollum. Or the love child of Gollum and a Grey Alien wearing a wig. Or Voldemort. Actually, it looks like something I probably doodled in my 8th-grade science notebook.

“Ghost Adventures” on the Travel Channel is slightly better, if only because Zak Bagans.

But the grim reality is that I don’t watch these shows for the ghosts. I watch for two reasons:

1) Eyes Closed: With clinical depression it can become difficult to fall asleep. I listen to shows like Ghost Adventures or Dead Files or Ghost Hunters in order to help drown out black thoughts like you are worthless and you deserve to be dead and nothing you do matters and my own personal favorite, you are too expensive to keep alive.

Why THESE shows? Because every step is narrated. There’s no story to follow, only people describing their journeys through old places. You don’t really have to watch it to follow along, and the lack of a structured narrative means that your brain doesn’t have to work at following a storyline. Sleep comes for the archbishop! Eventually!

2) Eyes Open: As a creeper, I like to see the insides of other people’s houses without them seeing me. As a lover of Old Things, I like to see basements of 19th century hotels. I’ve heard voices and hallucinated before due to meds, no big thing, so EVPs don’t impress me. But seeing the dirt-floor basement of a family’s 18th century¬† farmhouse? That does things for my soul.

It might be a terrible idea to continue watching these programs. Sometimes they’ve led to obsessive thoughts that hey, what if I’m not mentally ill but in fact demon-possessed? Then I go back to the soothing voices of Amy and Steve.

I can get through another night.

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