Skip to main content

Types of Ghosts

L. Sarhan has been a paranormal investigator and researcher for over 25 years.

Learn more about the types of ghosts and how they are classified in the paranormal research field.

Learn more about the types of ghosts and how they are classified in the paranormal research field.

There are various types of ghosts. The classifications of ghosts vary depending upon your source. Many independent paranormal groups have their own classification guidelines and terminology. Some broader classifications of ghosts are widely accepted, whereas narrowing down to the different types of ghosts depends on the person's personal opinion. As far as the basic types of ghosts go, there are generally seven types of ghosts.

Once-Living Ghosts

Ghosts that were once alive on this plane are categorized here. By some groups, they are called "once-sentient ghosts." This could be family and friends that have died or even pets and other animals. Ghosts that display an intelligent haunting are those that belong in this category. A person may not necessarily know the ghost, but obviously they were once alive and are trying to communicate with the living.

Even in this category, there are several types, or classes, of ghosts. In fact, there are seven basic classes of ghosts who were once living. The first class is those who are burdened with sadness and extreme grief. The second class is those who do not want to let go of their life on earth, thus walk in a type of purgatory trying to be a part of what they once had. The third class is those who don't even realize they are dead.

The fourth class is those ghosts who are angry and wish to do harm in most cases. Many times they are angry about their death and refuse to move on. They don't want other people to invade what was once theirs. Some ghosts in this class are also brought on by conducting séance, leaving them stuck to wobble between the two planes.

The fifth class is the friendly visits from family and friends just letting you know that they are okay. Sometime you may come across ghosts who want to be of help to the living. These ghosts fall into this class as well whether you know them or not.

The sixth class is easily confused with a residual haunting. This is because these ghosts seem to replay certain events. However, the difference is that this ghost has intelligence, and, when they aren't re-enacting an event, they possibly try to make their presence known and communicate with the living.


Residual Ghosts

Residual ghosts are simply replaying a time in history over and over again. This could be at certain times of the day, month, or year. Some people refer to them as time slips or echoes, because it is like you are taking a step back in time and viewing an echo of someone's former life. These ghosts have no intelligence. It is like watching a scene in a movie over and over again. These ghosts make no effort to communicate or interact.

Inanimate Ghosts

Inanimate ghosts are objects. Have you ever heard of ghost ships? This is a prime example of an inanimate ghost. Railroad tracks are notorious for accounts of ghost trains. No one knows exactly why this occurs, but from time to time it does. For the most part, many paranormal investigators believe it is simply a part of the residual haunt.

Poltergeist Ghosts

There is much debate on what causes poltergeist ghosts. Is it a manifestation of psychokinesis in a troubled living soul, or is it a malicious spirit trying to terrorize people? Are poltergeists attached to a location or to a particular person? The jury may always be out when it comes to this particular paranormal phenomenon. Is it possible that a poltergeist ghost can be a combination of all cases? Sure.

Scroll to Continue

Regardless of the cause of poltergeist ghosts, the elements of this type of ghost are the same. Typically people will hear unexplained banging, objects being thrown, and even physical attacks such as scratching, biting, and pinching.

There have been many documented cases of poltergeist activity by not only the victims but also witnessed by clergy and other officials. Each case has its own theories on why it occurred and other cases have left officials baffled.


The doppelganger phenomenon is becoming increasingly noted. This is when a ghost or entity takes on your physical appearance and doubles as you. In some cases, doppelgangers will even interact with your friends and family. The whole time they think it is you. In other cases, you may see your own doppelganger.

Superstition surrounds the doppelganger phenomenon. Some believe that this is a sign of your impending death. Others believe it is just a sign that something bad is about to happen that may not necessarily mean death. Some people have seen their doppelganger and have died a few months later, but others haven't died. Regardless, it can be a frightening experience to see your ghostly double.


Angels and Demons

Angels and demons are in a class of their own. They have never lived on this plane of existence but can still manifest, and, in the case of demons, cause problems. There are countless reports of seeing angels manifest. This could be beautiful glowing lights to manifesting to look like a human. The reports of people's guardian angels saving them and then vanishing are numerous.

Demon manifestations are countless as well. Many locations across the world are believed to be plagued with demonic presences. Accounts of a demonic haunting can include but not limited to physical attacks similar to poltergeists, growls, and even influence the living negatively. Some people believe that those exposed to demon infestations run a greater risk of becoming possessed.

Elemental Ghosts

Elemental ghosts are what many people outside the field (and some inside the paranormal field) may consider flights of fancy. Regardless, they are still considered by many to be a type of ghost or spirit. These include fairies, gnomes, trolls, and other creatures typically based in fairy tales.

Many earth-based religions believe that all things in nature have a spirit. This could be the elements of air, water, fire, earth, and stone. This could also be the spirits of trees and other plants. Although not as common, some people have experienced these elemental ghosts.

Regardless of how you classify the types of ghosts, there is one thing most people can agree on. They agree that the terminology depends upon who you talk to. This doesn't mean any one person is right or wrong. This field is dealing with the unknown, and people or paranormal groups classify ghosts depending on their experiences and their theories.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Linda Sarhan

Related Articles