Residual Hauntings: All You Need To Know

Residual hauntings

A residual haunting is unlike a “normal” haunting. There are no ghosts or spirits trying to reach out from beyond the veil.

This type of haunting is often linked to a traumatic event from the past and can offer ghost hunters a fascinating – if somewhat upsetting – glimpse into historic events that occurred at a specific location.

This article will discuss the causes and signs of a residual haunting, before lightly touching on other types of hauntings you might come across while ghost hunting.

Defining Residual Hauntings

In parapsychology, a residual haunting (also called a “psychic impression”) is defined as “A haunting in which a spectre repeats a loop of its past, with no semblance of intelligence or consciousness.

What this implies is that the entities a part of this haunting do not interact with their surroundings. In fact, they seem completely unaware. This type of haunting is one of the most common kinds that ghost hunters experience.

You may have heard ghost stories of faint noises of a party or the sounds of battle. These are examples of residual hauntings, as the strange sounds continue to play out, as if on a loop.

What Causes Residual Hauntings

As mentioned, residual haunting activity is often linked to traumatic events. There are a couple of theories that try to explain the causes behind this type of haunt.

The first is the Stone Tape Theory. This theory states that when emotional events occur, mental impressions are projected during the event. These projections are then “recorded” onto items (like stones) and then “replayed” as hauntings, similar to how a tape recorder replays recordings.

Another theory is that negative energy from these horrific or upsetting events is “blasted” into the environment, including the atmosphere. These events are imprinted on the atmosphere, and the residual energy causes the events to be replayed over and over again.

The energy and impressions can be left behind by humans, animals, or the events themselves.

It should be noted that residual hauntings are not always related to trauma. Sometimes, these hauntings are caused by events in real life that were repeated at the same location. One example is a haunted staircase in an old building. Even though nothing of note may have happened at the staircase, because of people going up and down it for many years, energy has been imprinted there.

Paranormal investigators believe that because of the lack of awareness of spirits in these types of hauntings, the spirits aren’t really there. Instead, it is just an apparition or illusion of the spirit.

Residual haunting locations

Although residual haunting activity occurs almost anywhere, there are certain locations where this type of paranormal activity is much more common.

  • Crime scenes
  • Prisons or jails
  • Cemeteries
  • Hospitals and asylums
  • Historic buildings
  • Battlefields
  • Areas where violence occurred

Interestingly, there also seems to be a connection between residual hauntings and water. Many haunted places are located near some kind of water source, like a river, lake, or castle moat. As we all know, water conducts electricity – so is it possible that it conducts energies too?

Signs Of A Residual Haunting

The following signs are indicators that you’re witnessing a residual haunting:

  • The same apparitions are seen over and over again in the same spot and behaving in the same way, as if a movie is being replayed.
  • There is no interaction between the ghost and the people witnessing the haunting.
  • Unexplained sounds, like knocking, disembodied voices and footsteps are heard.
  • The humidity might suddenly increase. It is said that the increase in humidity is because the water vapour in the air “holds” on to the recording of the event that happened there.

Real-World Examples Of Residual Haunting Activity

  • On the retired RMS Queen Mary, you can still hear splashing in the second-class pool room; however, the pool has stood empty for many years. This could just be a coincidence, but a young girl called Jaqueline Torin is said to have drowned in one of the pools. Perhaps little Jackie lives on?
  • In the basement and ballroom of Winchester Mystery House, a ghostly worker has been seen repeatedly working on a fireplace, and pushing a wheelbarrow full of either ash or coal as he goes about his job.
  • At the Gettysburg Battlefield in the US, witnesses have reported the sounds of battle and the smell of gunpowder on different occasions.
  • At the haunted Stanley Hotel in Colorado (the setting that inspired The Shining), guests have heard parties in the empty ballroom.
  • The Headless Drummer Boy is one of the most famous ghosts at Edinburg Castle, Scotland. This headless boy is often sighted with his drum, accompanied by the clear sounds of drumming. He never interacts with those who see him.
  • Tourists who visit The Colosseum in Italy have reported the noises of swords clashing and a roaring crowd, despite the ancient fighting arena being completely empty.
  • The Green Lady in Chateau de Brissac, France, is considered by many to be an intelligent haunting. However, this terrifying spectre with holes for eyes never interacts with those around her and is always seen in the same locations, which means she could be a residual haunting instead.

Other Types of Hauntings

There are a few different types of hauntings that you might come across when ghost hunting. It is best to be prepared, so let’s briefly discuss each type:

Demonic haunting

Demons are creatures from the paranormal realm that were never human. Demonic hauntings occur when these evil entities haunt a person or location. Demons are incredibly strong, and their aim is to break someone’s free will to possess them.

Intelligent haunting

Intelligent hauntings are what come to mind when you think of a ghost. These spirits or ghosts are aware of their surroundings in the present moment. They can communicate with people and seem to have a sense of intelligence and awareness.

Poltergeist activity

Poltergeist” is a German word for “noisy ghost”. Poltergeist activity can include knocks, bangs, and the movement of objects. If not addressed, it can become more intense, and you might hear voices or see the apparition of the poltergeist.

Most poltergeist cases occur around a female teenager; however, these entities have been known to haunt older and younger people too.

Portal haunting

Portals are doorways to the spirit realm. This haunting takes the form of a cold spot, orbs, or mist. These phenomena could indicate the presence of a portal from which paranormal energy flows.


What increases the chances of a residual haunting occurring?

Paranormal experts have noticed that atmospheric conditions may affect the frequency of these hauntings. During the winter months, there’s more static electricity in the air, and temperatures drop. Ghost hunters have reported more hauntings during these months.

These hauntings are also reported more frequently during the full moon.

Are residual hauntings dangerous?

No, residual hauntings are not dangerous. This type of haunting does not interact with the physical world and is completely unaware of your presence, therefore it can’t harm you in any way. If you are scared, it is best to step away from the haunted activity.

Can ghost-hunting be dangerous?

Ghost hunting can have some potential dangers, especially in abandoned buildings. Be careful of uneven terrain, unstable structures and wild animals. If you’re ghost-hunting in the dark with low lighting, try not to trip up or bump into objects.


Residual hauntings are nothing to fear. They offer us a glimpse into the past, whether it’s a horrific event or a time when emotions were running high.

This type of haunting is like a movie that’s being played on repeat, where the same events happen over and over again. The spirits that are partaking in the haunting – when visible – seem to be completely unaware of any witnesses, which means this is not an “intelligent” haunting.

Residual hauntings are very common, often auditory (hearing laughter or footsteps), and found in historic locations. So, when next you go out ghost hunting and you come across this type of haunting, keep a respectful distance, don’t try to interact, and simply appreciate the events from the past replaying in the present.


Sam Ashford
Sam Ashford - Author

Hey, I'm Sam Ashford! I'm a ghost-hunting expert, writer and founder of SpiritShack. My mission is to help people like yourself learn about spirituality and how to hunt ghosts!