Spirits, Ghosts, and Mediumship:

Navigating the Spiritual in Research


  • Jessica Katherine Fink




Encounters with spirits are inherently numinous since they fill us with awe and a sense of connecting with something greater or other. The term spirits can refer to a wide variety of typically unseen beings including deities, spirit animals, nature spirits, and deceased persons. Jung thought that spirits were autonomous complexes separate from the ego, writing “Spirits, therefore, viewed from the psychological angle, are unconscious autonomous complexes which appear as projections because they have no direct association with the ego” (Jung, 1969, p. 309). The idea of spirits appearing as projections is often problematic for many spiritual practitioners because it can lead one to assume that spirits are imagined and therefore not real. For these spiritual practitioners spirits are very real and exist in the world alongside people.