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>Plagued by Poltergeists<

As any policeman knows, most crimes take place wihtin the home, inflicted on one member of a family by another. The stress of being compelled to share a house with one's 'nearest and dearest' - but with whom the only thing you have in common is the tie of family blood - has certainly sometimes ended in murder. Yet there may be other sinister reactions to family tensions - the devastation that occurs when a poltergeist takes up residence, for instance.
Poltergeists differ from ghosts in that they are usually mysterious forces that seem specifically to delight in terroizing people by hurling objects at them, causing mysterious fires, filling the house with the stench of death, or writing rude graffiti on walls. Poltergeists are invisible vandals and much harder to cope with than the sort you can report to the police, although one family did try to do just that when their furniture moved by itself.
Now regarded as a classic case of destructive haunting, the Enfield poltergeist first made its presence felt in August 1977. A mother was at home with her daughters Janet, aged 11, and Margaret, 13, when a chest-of-drawers suddenly swung away from the wall and a chair moved across the room. Terrified, they brought in a neighbour who called the police. The constable who arrived was later to confirm that something very strange was certainly going on in that otherwise very ordinary London council house.

ACTS OF DESTRUCTION
Over the next 14 months - making this the longest poltergeist attack on record - the family witnessed an enormous range of paranormal phenomena. Fortunately for them, they did not suffer alone, for the case was exhaustively investigated by two leading members of the Society for Psychical Research - author Guy Lyon Playfair, and London businessman Maurice Grosse.
Among the bizarre events recorded was the ripping out of a fireplace by an invisible agency; a certain that twisted by itself; the hurling of objects - such as the toy brick that hit a photographer in the face when there was no one else in the room - and the teleportation of a book, which went through the wall and ended up next door.
A regular feature of the poltergeist attacks occured when Janet was pulled out of the bed by an invisible force and hurled across the bedroom. Sometimes she ended up asleep on the top of the big radio in the far corner, while her sister lay in bed, quivering with fear.

Janet also seemed to be 'prossessed' by a rough, deep male voice, which uttered obscenities. This voice was the last straw for sceptics. The girls were accused of fraud, and Playfair and Grosse were mocked for being easily duped. Yet Guy Playfair had investigated poltergeist activity on many occasions, and both men were there when the Enfield poltergeist was in action, while the sceptics were not.
The whole business stopped quiet suddenly, just over a year after it started.

INTERFERENCE
Electrical equipment is often the first to show signs of a poltergeist attack, with television interference top of the list. Sometimes it is merely a series of light bulbs that 'blow' during a family row, or water that mysteriously floods the kitchen, as if to dampen down the atmosphere.
Objects seem to 'jump' and loud raps, apparently coming from inside the fabric of the furniture, are heard.

HARMLESS SPIRITS
It is all very disturbing and frightening. But the interesting thing is that, with very few exceptions, the poltergeists do no actual harm to people. Objects may be hurled, but only cause a slight bruise. Fires may be started up, but they usually put themselves out as if the poltergeist loses its nerve.
Yet all this bizarre activity does seem to serve a purpose in some respects. For one thing, it is very difficult to carry on a row when pots and pans are hurling themselves past your ear. So do poltergeists cause the type of scene most people would not dare to provoke? Could it be that they sometimes behave like vandals in order to help frustrated individuals get something out of their system?


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