In the breaks effect
Back in the old days, broadly prior to 2000, ghost vigils were a bit different to what we see today. There would be sessions where people would sit in groups in set locations in a haunted place in silence waiting to see if anything happened. They would make notes of anything they saw or heard without discussing it with others. If someone accidently made a noise they would note it down so that it could be discounted if others heard it. At the end of each session everyone would generally assemble at a certain location for a break. Then the groups would all rotate to new locations for the next session and so on.
The idea was to try to experience any unusual goings-on that had been reported at that location. In those days participants would often know nothing of what had been reported at a haunted location. So if they reported things that were similar to what previous witnesses had experienced it would obviously be of great interest.
Typically, little or nothing would be reported during such vigils. This wasn’t surprising. If previous witnesses had reported haunting activity it might only be a few times a year or less. So the odds of turning up on just the right night were clearly low. But there was an intriguing aspect to these ‘classic’ vigils. Unusual things would often be reported during the break periods, particularly by individuals on their own walking from one part of the building to another. The incidents did not form part of the official report because they did not happen during the official sessions when everything was controlled. Because of this there is no proper study, that I am aware of, of this effect. I never saw or heard anything myself. However, I do remember getting a feeling on occasion that someone was present when I was on my own at the end of vigils.
So what are we to make of this ‘in the breaks effect’? Some people have interpreted it as the paranormal being ‘shy’. The closer you look for it, the less you are likely to see it. Another possibility is that, if the haunting has natural causes, then by closely observing we work out the mundane explanations as things are recorded. Ghost vigils are, of course, completely different nowadays. But it would be interesting to know if strange things are often noted while setting up or packing away.
Author :© Maurice Townsend 2023
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