“It’s really important everyone in the Paranormal community is aware of these things. We always want to help our clients but there is a very fine line that we must be made aware of and keep in the back of our heads.” Jill Marie Morris
With increasing occurrences of paranormal activity, many investigators are finding themselves having to decipher additional phenomenon relative to claims of demon attacks. From rogue scratches, alarming bruises, and odd bite marks, the physical evidence can be both startling and intriguing. Always wanting to instill a sense of trust with the client, the investigator must perform compassionately, objectively, and as scientifically as possible. This includes completing intake questionnaires with the affected client and any housemates or family members present in the residence. Witness reports specifically pertaining to the “attacks” play a crucial role in assisting the investigator. A thorough review of any pictorial evidence is a must. Single photos are helpful, but a series of photographs depicting the evolution of the injuries in a time-elapsed manner is even better. This will provide a glimpse into the healing of the injury and can provide additional clues.
Common claims of injuries as the result of demon attacks tend to be grouped into the following categories: Scratches and welts, bruises, and bite marks. Scratches and welts tend to be the most frequent of complaints. More times than not, they appear out of the blue and then vanish, almost as quickly as they occurred. Sometimes, they are accompanied by other phenomenon, or symptoms, all of which need be documented as accurately as possible. Claims involving abusive demons have skyrocketed with the increasing number of paranormal shows. What this means is that although there are certainly credible accounts of attacks, there is an equally, if not higher incidence, of hoaxes geared at attracting attention for a number of reasons, with some claimants plastering photographs all over the Internet. Given the ease of use of programs such as Photoshop, it makes a daunting task for investigators to determine what is real and what is not. Given the complexity of the client-investigator trust issue, there needs to remain an empathetic yet objective approach in deciphering these nasty scratches, bumps, and bites.
A client with a completely plausible history and truthful account may still indeed be suffering something more physiological and physical in nature, as opposed to something more sinister. The last thing that needs to be done is to completely freak out a client by telling them they are being attacked by a demon without backing up that claim. Merely looking at a photograph, or two, is not enough to make a determination, regardless of how sincere the claimant may be or how seasoned the investigator is. The following information is a helpful guideline for investigators, and even the clients themselves, to use when faced with sinister scratches and ghostly nibblings. As always, if there is any suspicion of abuse, it is best to have a heart-to-heart with the client and aid them in getting help.
Scratches & Welts
From long, red-grooved scratch lines to splattered raised welts and rashes, demons and their like seem to be leaving their dark marks all over the place. By investigating the physical and emotional symptoms, in conjunction with claims of paranormal activity, it is best that the investigator understand that there are very real conditions that may cause something that looks identical to a scratch, yet is nothing dastardly in nature. A starting point is with the common condition known as hives. The anatomy of a hive is interesting in itself, as the cause and reaction are specific and unique to the individual experiencing the symptom. Hives occur when the capillaries dilate, resulting in the seeping out of fluid, onto an affected area, or tissues, located in the epidermis. Once the body reabsorbs that fluid, the hives disappear. Hives, wheals and welts (all of the same) can be caused by pet dander, mold, dust, pollen, insects, diet, and so forth. In some cases, the individual may need to seek treatment by a physician and take prescribed medications. Symptoms may last from mere minutes to a few hours and are “spongy,” roundish, raised, and most often red in appearance. They may appear in a single location, remaining isolated, or occur over large parts of the body. The associated itch can range from mild to severe, as well as burn or feel hot to the touch.
Another very interesting cousin to hives is known as dermographism, or “Skin Writing.” Dermographism is a type of hive that can also be caused by the very same stimuli that creates a hives reaction. This is a known condition that impacts approximately 5% of the world population and is a condition that all investigators should be made aware of. Very frequently dermographism is caused by stress. The main difference between this condition and hives happens to be the non-circular strike marks, which manifests in a very line-oriented (scratch-like), red, raised fashion and typically vanishes within minutes to hours. These scratches may also itch or burn with intensity. Yes, those claw marks that burn like the fires of Hell may just be dermographism, as caused from stress or allergens. These claw-like markings can occur on any part of the body. This aspect is of particular interest when it comes to the element of stress, as many times clients are anxious or fearful about their situation. Relative to investigators becoming victims of an alleged demon attack, it is important to note that they too, can become irritated, frightened, and anxious while on investigations.
Adding into the equation is the fact that hives and even dermographism can be caused by a host of allergens. More times than not, conditions involving pets, mold, and other environmental agents can impact someone who may, or may not, be aware they have an allergy. These conditions are present in just about any given investigation. Most often, hives and dermographism are idiopathic in nature, meaning that they occur randomly. There are also times when a reaction can be classified as immunological, occurring due to changes in the immune system, such as direct contact with an allergen. In this case, the body releases histamine from white blood cells (aka mast\cells). A third response resulting in hives, or dermographism, is classified as non-immunological. This means
there has been exposure to an agent, which is not considered an immunological reaction. Individuals who fit into the latter two categories (post-testing) may benefit with a doctor’s order for antihistamines. The duration of the hives, or dermographism, is an important factor to note. In matters concerning acute hives, or dermographism, the situation surfaces and then resolves on its own, lasting from a few minutes up to a few hours. On the other hand, chronic hives and dermographism may occur at least twice, weekly, and can present for upwards of 6-8 weeks. Chronic hives and dermographism is usually indicative of a more serious allergy, again, requiring a doctor’s attention who in turn can provide testing to make that determination.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect relative to paranormal activity on behalf of the client and the investigator is the “fear factor” and its affect as a stress reaction. It is very common for stress to cause both hives and dermographism. Such reactions can be a mixture of single, or multiple streaks (lines), or hives and wheals. Documented cases relative to “bad stress” pertaining to hives and dermographism have included individuals who have experienced interpersonal conflicts, financial problems, death of a loved one, workrelated issues, fear, anxiety, and panic attacks.
Existing, too, are documented examples resulting from “good stress” presenting in situations involving an engagement, marriage, vacation, and even expectant parents. Oh, the joy! To be so excited and happy and … inflamed. Particularly intriguing is the fact a client may be overly anxious about their situation and may actually be having a stress reaction, much the same as an investigator would, in a given environment. Considering the hype of a paranormal hotspot, it is not unusual for investigators, themselves, to be amped-up for the hunt. Even ego-driven, macho hunters and huntresses are still human and can fall victim to stress and environmental allergens, as much as the clients who are living in an active location. The demon scratches, even if repetitive, may merely be a stress or allergic reaction.
Bruises occur when blood vessels break and the blood from the injury becomes trapped with no place to go. Upon injury, the blood seeps into the soft tissues that lay underneath the skin. During the healing cycle of the injury, the bruise goes through a sequence of color changes. The reason for color changes of the bruise is due to the slow removal of the dead blood particles from the impact of the injury, via the white blood cells. Within the first two days or so, bruises actually appear reddish in color due to the iron that is present in the leaking blood. At this time, there may be inflammation and pain in the region surrounding the injury. From 2–5 days, the bruise will become blue to purple. From approximately days 5–7, it will turn more greenish. This is due to the blood’s biliverdin (green tetrapyrrolic bile pigment). From days 7–10, the bruise will turn yellow, due to the bilirubin content (think of jaundice). During the final stage of the bruise, the appearance is more brownish, where it will slowly fade away during the latter healing phase.
Something to take into consideration relative to bruising is the fact that if an injury occurs and vessels are broken close to the surface of the skin, the colors of the bruising will be more dramatic or intense. Taking careful note of bruises discovered during the course of an investigation will help to identify a timeline, as well as pinpoint additional helpful information. Bruises most certainly will not immediately pronounce as deep black and purple. This would be indicative of something that is approximately 2–5 days old. Timelines must be established to determine what took place at the time of injury, in conjunction with any photographic evidence.
The following statistics relative to bruising may also be useful:
• Women tend to bruise more easily than men.
• Genetics play an important role when it comes to bruising, given inherited medical conditions.
• Certain medications, such as aspirin, Coumadin and Warfarin, may cause bruising.
• The elderly tend to bruise more frequently due to thinning of skin, age-related medical conditions, and medications used to treat such conditions.
It’s a good idea to ask the client if they are aware of any familial histories or if they take any type of medication that may contribute to a bruising issue. Keep your records confidential and ensure the client that you will seek permission should you need to bring in a consultant.
There are a number of medical conditions that can contribute to bruising and welts. An abridged version of ailments includes hemophilia, lymphoma, leukemia, vitamin C deficiency, Von Willebrand’s disease, and coagulopathy. Other documented occurrences that have led to bruising are sleep walking and sleep striking. Sleep walkers always run a risk for injury, simply due to roaming about during the course of their slumber. Injuries can occur during a single or multiple episodes, and given many people are not even aware they sleep walk, it is something that needs be considered when odd lumps, bumps, and bruises surface. As for sleep striking, this occurs when an individual themselves, or someone else who is sleeping in the bed, flails about during the night. It is not too uncommon for someone to get “clocked” during the night, without even waking up. Seemingly silly, both sleep walking and sleep striking can be very serious and are the culprit of major trauma injuries, primarily occurring on the upper body, neck, face, and head. Make sure that you get a good assessment of the client’s and family’s sleeping patterns, too. This aspect should not be overlooked. Asking the clients about recurring bruises is extremely important, as it may be indicative of a serious, underlying medical condition. As always, keep your questionnaires confidential and do not break the client’s trust.
Animal teeth are different than human teeth, therefore they leave a completely different type of bite marking. But what about ghosts and demons? A series of photos need to be taken over the duration of several days post-bite to show any patterns and bruising that may evolve. Typically, bruising after a bite begins within three hours of the bite and disappears by 36 hours post-bite. Measurements of the wound, inclusive of depth, is also
important. Pocket rulers may be a good add to the investigator’s goody bag. Who knew that being an investigator could be so cool, and geeky? There are many different types of bites.
Abrasion is the type of bite that is more of a scrape, and mostly superficial. Artifact signals that a piece of the body has been removed during the course of the bite injury.
An Avulsion takes place when a piece of skin is removed during the bite.
A Contusion (bruising) occurs in the area of the bite mark.
An Incision mark signifies a neat or clean wound, and a laceration is indicative of a bleeding tear-type of bite wound. The higher definition of the bite mark indicates pressure was exerted during the bite. Light bites will render moderate pressure application during the bite injury, and noticeable impressions indicate excessive pressure was used during the course of the injury. With excessive violence, or in extreme cases, bite marks will have tears and require attention to prevent infection. Regardless, animals and humans have unique bite patterns, which means that there will not be a “perfect” bite impression or symmetrical pressure within the bite wound. If an investigator sees a fluid, or neat pattern, that is an early indicator that something foul may be occurring on behalf of the client presenting a hoax.
Documented, common household items that can
result in bite mark patterns may include:
• Bent Bottle caps
• Hair Clips and Crimps
• Snack Bag Clips (Chip Clips)
• Alligator Clamps
• Crimping Tools
Some people will go through extraordinary measures to pull off a hoax. This creates a very delicate balancing act between taking a client’s word as to their paranormal plight, and still having the ambition to scientifically and rationally investigate the hives, scratches, bruises, and bites. Exercise caution and tact when you are confronted with a possible scam. Always go into the case with the understanding that you are there to form an educated opinion based upon experience and investigative technique, and that your word is not set in stone, nor meant to bring shame to the client or family. Demons are evil, so if you see trends for alleged bite marks, scratches, and bruises that lack the drawing of blood, or other remarkable damage, well, chances are, if by chance there is a demon, or nasty entity present, it could fall into the category of being quasi-evil — kind of like Dr. Evil’s Mini Me.
In cases where the client may be seemingly suffering serious injuries, and on a repetitive basis, it is always best for the investigator to refer the client to consult with a physician. As investigators, the safety of the client is first and foremost and that means suggesting they take time to get checked by a doctor before continuing with a more in-depth investigation. Once a professional, medical evaluation has been completed and no rational cause can be warranted as to their demon scratches, Beelzebub bruises, or boo bites, then it may be time to bust out the proton pack backpack and, in the words of Dr. Peter Venkman, “Show this prehistoric b*tch how we do things downtown … THROW IT!” —Ghost Busters, 1984.
This post was written by Nadia Vella