The supernatural world has been a source of mystery for millennia, with ghosts, monsters and spirits plaguing well-known stories.
But if you’re really unlucky, you might believe you’ve encountered one of these ghosts in everyday life while being at the center of an unusual situation.
Vivid dreams, hearing strange noises and objects flying across the room are among the numerous experiences that MailOnline readers claim to have experienced.
But what do they all mean?
MailOnline asked two experts to explore what might be behind your encounter with the supernatural world
Michelle Baumeister, 76
‘I never believed in ghosts until I saw one. A little old lady was clinging to the railing of our newborn baby[‘s] [cot] look at him
‘I then began to have premonitions. Example is hearing a crash, but finding no cause for it. Then, hearing an accident in the same area and seeing all the pots that just fell from nowhere [they were] Hanging from the ceiling.
Another example – hearing my baby cry – but he loved his crib. Later his cage collapsed. I wish I had taken that precaution to remove him from the crib earlier.
‘[One time] I dreamed that my mother’s house was on fire. I called him in the middle of the night. He checked everything – he knew what I was feeling – and finally found a hot plug in the red wire of the fireplace.’
Michelle Baumeister, 76: ‘I never believed in ghosts until I saw one’
While many factors may have influenced Michelle’s haunting dreams, Professor Christopher French points to the concept of probability.
The lead paranormal expert at Goldsmiths’ Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit, told MailOnline, ‘The most important thing is the simple fact that most of us don’t really understand how probability works.
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‘Suppose you have a dream that matches an event that subsequently occurs in real life, and the chances of that match being just a coincidence are extremely low – say, just a one in 10,000 chance.
‘You might conclude that your dream gave you a ghostly glimpse into the future. But think about it for a minute.
‘There are about eight billion people in the world. Even if each person remembers only one dream per night, that’s eight billion chances every single night for such a match to occur. It is inevitable that such coincidences will happen – it would be really hard to explain if it never happened.’
Meanwhile, psychologist Dr Louise Goddard-Crawley, client counseling psychologist, told MailOnline that Michelle was instead experiencing the effects of confirmation bias.
Generally, it is the tendency to remember events that confirm personal beliefs and expectations, creating a not so accurate depiction of reality.
He said: ‘We naturally look for meaning and coherence in their experiences. When a future event resembles a dream, individuals may retrospectively construct a narrative that connects the two, ignoring the inconsistency and emphasizing the perceived prophetic nature of the dream.’
June Killington, 65, of London
‘I am now 65 years old and I have spent my life having the most incredible amount of experience with the spirit world. i believe [in this] More than anyone else I’ve ever met or read.
‘But I’m actually quite normal – I’m a mother and a grandmother and my background is Scottish and Irish. I was born in 1957 and things started happening directly in the way of seeing and hearing spirits. My mam sat with me most nights and practiced psychic development as she was a medium herself.
‘I never told anyone at school because I always knew it wasn’t for everyone. I started reading psychics and I have done this for many years and my ex-husband was a deep trance medium. We were together for 20 years and did amazing things together.’
June Killington, 65, from London: ‘I’m 65 now and I’ve spent my life having the most incredible amount of experience with the spirit world’
Despite June’s perceived experience, Professor French believes that mediums are ‘prone to auditory hallucinations’.
While these may materialize as voices, music, animal calls, and telephone ringing are among other hallucinations that can be heard.
While some may find this disturbing, he argues that many see it in a positive light and see the inner voice as a ‘gift’.
He told MailOnline: ‘In other words, they are really hearing voices, even though the voices are a hallucinatory product of their own minds.
‘Psychologists are increasingly aware of the fact that such experiences are far more common in non-clinical populations than was once recognized.’
‘I grew up in a haunted house and had many experiences. No one believed me for a long time. Then things started happening in their case too.
‘[One time] My mom and I were on the first floor getting ready to walk through the front door and my dad used the bathroom on the second floor.
‘My mum and I both heard a crash and then my dad shouting ‘Something’s up!’.
‘I went up the stairs to find a lampshade on the floor at one end of the hallway near the bathroom door. At the complete opposite end of the hallway, about 15 feet away, my father’s office door was open.
‘In that room there was a bookcase about 7 feet tall with a lamp. For that lampshade and only that lampshade to go off the shelf, around the corner, through the open door, down a 15 foot hallway, and force my dad to hit the shins, it’s got to get a lot of velocity.
‘Of course my father had to try and figure out how it could happen and we did our best to come up with a lot of effort, but the energy required to make the lampshade go that far was never understood.
‘Electronics will turn themselves on and off throughout the year. Lightbulbs would never last long in any light and I was often in the dark. To be perfectly honest I still have recurring nightmares of being in a room with a lightbulb that doesn’t work.’
Anonymous: ‘I grew up in a haunted house and had many experiences. No one believed me for a long time.’
Professor French struggled to come up with an explanation for this, but said: ‘Just because someone can’t think of a non-paranormal explanation for the mysterious movement of objects or strange noises or malfunctions in electrical equipment doesn’t mean there isn’t one. .’
He pointed to one of his ‘favourite examples’ of this, the story of 72-year-old Stephen Maciers who found the ‘ghost’ cleaning his garden shed was actually a rat.
For weeks, the retired electrician marveled after neatly filing away large screws, plastic leads, nuts and bolts every evening.
On one occasion, he deliberately scattered items around his shed, only to find them rearranged the next morning.
Nighttime camera footage eventually revealed a rat doing all the work — sometimes trying to lift objects twice its size.
Mr Maciers and his neighbor filmed the mouse cleaning metal objects from around midnight until 2.30am – an activity it had been doing every night for around a month.
Meanwhile, Dr Goddard-Crawley points to other environmental factors such as wind currents and drafts that can often cause objects to fall.
He told MailOnline: ‘Human perception is not always perfect and we can misinterpret or misunderstand events.
‘Objects appearing to fly across the room may be the result of trajectory misperception or other contributing factors such as drafts, vibrations, or not sensing the movement of nearby objects.
‘Physiological phenomena can be influenced by environmental factors. For example, strong air currents, such as drafts or air conditioning, can move lightweight objects. Vibration from nearby machinery or vehicles may cause objects to move or fall.’
Becky-Anne Galentine, 31, Connecticut
‘I was sleeping and the door opened.
‘There was a full picture – I could almost see the light in their eyes. I tried to wake up my partner but I had sleep paralysis and I was thinking, ‘I’m going to die like this.’
‘And then I smelled this horrible smell like mothballs – the worst smell I’ve ever smelled. And then it went out my door and into my roommate’s room. So I was like, ‘Okay, my roommate came into my room.’
‘The next day I get a call and my roommate is trying to find out what happened. What was in the room, touched my roommate’s feet and then went down the stairs but did not leave the room.
‘He also smelled mothballs. I probably would have written it off if I hadn’t experienced it with someone else.’
Becky-Ann Galentine, 31, of Connecticut: ‘I was sleeping and the door was open’
What causes sleep paralysis?
Sleep paralysis occurs when you can’t move your muscles while waking up or falling asleep. Because you are in sleep mode but your brain is active.
It is not clear why sleep paralysis occurs, but it has been linked to:
Insomnia Disturbed sleep patterns – for example, shift work or jet lag – a long-term condition that causes a person to fall asleep suddenly – post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) generalized anxiety disorder a family history of panic disorder and sleep paralysis
Sleep paralysis is a terrifying phenomenon that is often cited as an explanation for paranormal sightings.
Although doctors aren’t sure exactly how this happens, it’s generally thought to happen when a person hits a stage of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep—the time when you’re most likely to have vivid dreams.
People suffering from sleep paralysis will often feel awake but may experience a feeling of being pushed down or see hallucinations in their room.
Both Dr. Goddard-Crawley and Professor French believe that the hallucinations that occur during these events are the product of our own imaginations.
Professor French said: ‘During an episode of sleep paralysis, you may experience a strange mixture of normal waking consciousness and dream imagery.
‘The results can be absolutely terrifying. The imagery experienced during such an episode is no less meaningful than that experienced during ordinary dreaming.’
Dr Goddard-Crawley added: ‘From a scientific perspective, these hallucinations in sleep paralysis are manifestations of our internal mental processes rather than meaningful messages from external sources.
‘Some people may see threatening figures or monsters, while others may experience more neutral or even positive hallucinations. The specific form these hallucinations take can be influenced by cultural imagery, personal beliefs and individual psychological factors.’