Author DARREN W RITSON discusses his new book Contagion, which goes beyond the story of the South Shields Poltergeist case
In 2006 Michael J Hallowell and I investigated a poltergeist case at South Tyneside in the North East of England that rivalled, (and still rivals) any other spontaneous case of this nature. Indeed, Alan Murdie, Chairman of The Ghost Club and the head of the Spontaneous Cases Committee of the Society for Psychical Research in London, said that the South Shields Poltergeist was ‘one of the most significant cases in the last fifty years’.
During the infestation at ‘Lock Street’ and its intense and ongoing investigation, things began to take an unexpected turn at the homes of the principal investigators. A bewildering series of unexplained events occurred which ultimately threw Mike and I into an astounding new investigation of a different kind; we were not only investigating the South Shields poltergeist, but we were now investigating its subsequent contagion.
Contagion is one of the many aspects of the poltergeist phenomenon that is rarely researched; indeed, most paranormal investigators give ‘contagion’ a wide birth altogether and tend to focus on the polt activity that is being experienced at the haunted house or ‘ground zero’ if you will. An early example of contagion that we experienced one day shortly after visiting Lock Street,
literally forced us to sit up and pay close attention to it. On that day in Mike’s home office we had been discussing the Lock Street abode and what may have existed on its location prior to it being built; we were looking into all possibilities at that time for an explanation as to why the house may have been infected; of course this avenue of thought was given much consideration. Now it just so happened that in Mike’s office, upon a bookshelf and neatly tucked away, was a hardback copy of George B. Hodgson’s The Borough of South Shields. This volume – the definitive work on the Borough of South Tyneside’s capital town – weighs almost four pounds. Now, as we both walked out from inside the office there was an almighty bang that emanated from behind us. Mike and I both flinched and ducked simultaneously. When we turned round, The Borough of South Shields was lying in the middle of the office floor.
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This is a good example of what we define as polt-contagion that occurred during the South Shields case. The fact we were discussing historical aspects of an area of South Shields after visiting our ‘ground zero’ was quite unnerving too; we believe it was as though the polt was saying, ‘go on then, you’ll find your answers in here’.
Post South Shields Mike and I began a series of new investigations and began to realise that there is more to the poltergeist phenomenon than meets the eye. As we progressed with our different investigations, we slowly and surely became convinced that we were not investigating a number of different poltergeists, but potentially investigating just one. Intrigued? You can bet your bottom dollar that we certainly were. The parallels between the cases we were investigating at that time, and indeed, with some other notable cases such as the Enfield Poltergeist for example, were astonishingly so similar, it forced us to beg the question ‘could all of these entities be actually one and the same entity at work here?’ I don’t want to give too much away presently as it is all explained in great detail in the book but needless to say when you read it, you’ll understand why we think this way.
Of course there are many more spine-chilling examples of contagion that we experienced that are cited in the new book as well as some interesting theories and ideas behind them; we have also established what we feel to be different levels of contagion and placed them into respective categories in an effort to begin to understand what may be going on. If anything, we hope this may be used as a foundation to kick-start some serious work into the contagion phenomenon. Some new hypothesis regarding the actual nature of the poltergeist have also been put forward by Mike and I in the new book and we look forward to see how these new theories are received by others in the field.
The concept of poltergeist contagion is not a new one, but it seems reasonable to suggest that the mechanism by which such contagion takes place has little or nothing in common with the means by which physical diseases are transmitted from one person to another. Poltergeists are not bacteria or viruses, but it seems that they can still infect those with whom they come into contact. The common denominators in such cases seem to be either close physical proximity to the person who is the focus of the main infestation, or, alternatively, a direct or indirect link with them.
So it seems to Mike and I then, that the poltergeist is able to reach out through a chain of individuals and ‘infect’ whoever it desires. Nobody is immune, nobody is safe, we are all potentially at the mercy of polt-contagion; that is of course, if we choose to enter our own ‘ground zero’ and face the onslaught of its much misunderstood ferocity and wrath.
Order Contagion by Darren W, Ritson and Michael J. Hallowell from Amazon