The Poltergeist Special Edition, Kindle Edition
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Roll believes that poltergeist activity stems from the psychic manifestations of a single person's mind, as opposed to some sort of invisible entity being the cause. This is an interesting theory, but if the book suffers, it's from lack of evidence. The case studies are just too small and individual to begin applying widespread hypotheses to them.
Again, it's a very interesting viewpoint to take when writing about this kind of stuff, and the scientific tone with which he approaches it is refreshing. But whoever wrote about reading it in Maine on a stormy night may have it confused with a Stephen King novel!
Following an introductory chapter that recounts the background leading up to the development of serious parapsychological research on the poltergeist and Dr. Roll's personal role in it, each chapter of the book gives a detailed and interesting account of several well-documented cases of reported poltergeist phenomena (including 2 chapters that summarize historical poltergeist cases and cases reported in Europe, respectively), 7 of which were personally investigated by Dr. Roll and other researchers in the field. Among them, the first case ever investigated by Dr. Roll (along with Dr. J. G. Pratt) involving a "house of flying objects" in Seaford, Long Island; a case in Indianapolis that seemingly involves a "biting" poltergeist, a case of strange lights and flashes in Clayton, North Carolina; and an attempted semi-controlled experiment during a poltergeist case occurring in a Miami souvenir warehouse, in which objects seem to mysteriously fly off shelves and sometimes break without any apparent force acting upon them.
The last 4 chapters of the book attempt to weigh and interpret the evidence from each case in order to begin to develop a theory of the poltergeist. Based on the observation that the disturbances in each case seem to occur and center around a certain individual, Dr. Roll considers the possibility that the unusual events in each case are not due to "noisy spirits" (as the term "poltergeist" literally implies), but rather to notable instances of ostensible mind-matter interaction (called recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis, or "mind over matter" on a frequent and large scale) that may originate from the mind of that central individual, called the "agent." Dr. Roll's theory is further supported by the observation that the agents in each of the cases are often experiencing repressed psychological tension or emotional problems in their lives, and that these anomalous displays of "mind over matter" may perhaps represent a kind of "body expression" of their distress. Once the agents receive counseling, the poltergeist occurrences often suddenly disappear along with their problems. This seems to provide an interesting hint at the psychological basis for these anomalous occurrences. Also presented in these chapters are Dr. Roll's classic "psi field" theory under which different forms of psychic phenomena may be understood, with some analogy to known physical forces, and a distinction between poltergeist and haunting phenomena.
This is book has great scientific value for its detailed descriptions and diagrams of the poltergeist cases, but also has great learning value for the general public in that it outlines the straight facts and gives unique examples of one of the most mysterious phenomena of the human mind. Unlike most academic books, the text is not dry and actually reads in a very engaging and easy manner, keeping the reader interested throughout.
This book, coming from one of the country's leading experts on poltergeist and haunt phenomena, is an excellent resource for students and researchers of parapsychology wanting to learn about the possibility of strong psychic phenomena. For the general reader, it is a great book for those curious about what poltergeists are and what they are aren't, aside from the misleading depictions in TV and movies. Over the past 30 years, experiments using random number generators seem to suggest that "mind over matter" may exist on a very small and subtle scale. "The Poltergeist" seems to attest to that possibility on a rare but very large scale. If you've ever had questions about poltergeists, I highly recommend reading "The Poltergeist."