Researching paranormal phenomena at PSU

New student group investigates paranormal with science, holistic and spiritual approach

For the paranormal researcher, science is vital to understanding paranormal events, but it still has its limits. Explaining the unexplainable means looking at all the factors and knowing that not everything can be explained. The researcher’s goal is not to invalidate the paranormal experience, but to help people understand the experience.

New student group investigates paranormal with science, holistic and spiritual approach

For the paranormal researcher, science is vital to understanding paranormal events, but it still has its limits. Explaining the unexplainable means looking at all the factors and knowing that not everything can be explained. The researcher’s goal is not to invalidate the paranormal experience, but to help people understand the experience.

The Portland State Paranormal Research Society hopes to do just that. During spring term, this new student organization will offer assistance with paranormal phenomena. According to founder Zak Victorella, the organization’s objectives are focused on helping people understand the paranormal. The goal of the society is to both document paranormal occurrences and provide closure for clients.

“We want to achieve a reputation of being able to help people who are troubled by the paranormal,” Victorella said. The society hopes to bring “awareness that there is something more out there than just what is seen, and that a group of students who are like-minded and focused can do great things,” he said.

Robyn Daniel, officer in the society, wrote in an email interview that “we hope to be able to debunk the opinion that people interested in ‘ghost hunting’ are merely just running around with cameras trying to scare ourselves. We take this interest very seriously, and we want to be able to help add further credence to the already-existing world of paranormal research.”

While other local organizations attempt to debunk paranormal events, few focus on helping clients. This is the missing link, Victorella said.

Tom Bridgetown from Bridgetown Paranormal agrees with Victorella. He wrote in an email interview that “many times just being able to point things out is enough to allow people to feel at ease and realize that there are usually very normal explanations for things,” Bridgetown said. “Helping people in this way is very valuable to all of us who consider ourselves to be part of a paranormal society,” he added.

The society takes multiple factors into consideration during an investigation: location, client, science and history. Each factor plays an important role throughout the investigation.

Investigators will conduct thorough research on the location, including finding the history of past owners or deaths. In order to do this, they spend hours in libraries or town halls and consulting with historians. “We try very hard to find out everything about a location before ever stepping foot on it,” Victorella said.

Various types of equipment are used to detect paranormal activity, including electromagnetic-field detectors, digital voice recorders, night-vision video cameras and infra-red illuminators. Additionally, investigators will try to identify any faulty electrical systems at the location under review. But science and technical equipment can only go so far. This is where, from the organization’s viewpoint, a spiritual and holistic approach helps determine the best course of action for an investigation.

The organization emphasizes that they will not just confirm whether spirits or entities reside at locations; they provide solutions, offering house cleansings and blessings. “We will get the spirit to leave if the situation warrants it,” Victorella said. “Not all spirits are bad. Sometimes they are just lost souls who have not crossed over to the other side.”

All services offered by the research society will be free of charge, a practice regarded by many within the paranormal research community as more ethical. According to Bridgetown, charging fees obligates investigators to satisfy a client’s expectation, which may lead to deceptive documentation. Bridgetown said there is also an “issue of taking advantage of people’s fear or ignorance: ‘For a small fee, I’ll tell you if your house is haunted or not…for another small fee, I’ll expel that ghost!’ These people are nothing more than snake-oil salesmen and cons out to make a quick buck.”

For membership, no prior experience is required—only a love for and belief in the paranormal world are essential qualities, Victorella explained. Members are also expected to maintain good academic standing and contribute a weekly time commitment. Currently, the society has several positions available: investigator, researcher, tech specialist and occult specialist. However, students may apply for general membership, which would still allow involvement with aspects of a case. Also, active members who graduate may be given alumni status, which allows for continued involvement in the organization.

The organization emphasizes that they are not a group of thrill seekers. “At the end of the day it is all about helping our clients,” Victorella said.

There will always be skeptics, but with an increase in televisions shows like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures, Daniel thinks that these shows have opened the door for paranormal researchers and help introduce viewers to the world of paranormal research.

Currently, PSPRS is current undergoing the final stages of paperwork to become an official student organization. Their contact information will soon be listed in PSU’s organization rostrum and local paranormal society directories. In the meantime, students with questions or are interested in applying for membership may contact [email protected] yahoo.com