Coffee and a ghost, please…

Gotta love the Internet – it’s like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. While trolling for information on a completely different topic the other day, I stumbled over a proposed connection between coffee and the paranormal.

A 2009 study released by Durham University in northern England reported that high caffeine users were three times more likely to experience hallucinations. The focus of the study was on auditory hallucinations – hearing voices – and the study marks a step towards learning if there’s a link between nutrition and some types of mental illness.

However, much more interesting to me was the acknowledgement by the study authors that those who hear voices are not necessarily suffering from any kind of mental illness at all. In fact, they point out that most people will have the experience of hearing a voice without anyone else being around, and 3 % of the population will experience it regularly.

Many of the coffee hounds in the study reported a prior propensity towards a variety of paranormal experiences – among them, seeing or sensing the presence of dead people. Does that mean that ghosts and coffee go together? More importantly, which comes first?

While there appears to be a link between high caffeine consumption (at least 7 cups of coffee a day, or its equivalent in energy drinks, chocolate, etc.) and either hallucinations or supernatural experiences, the meaning of the link is unclear. As with all studies, the results can be interpreted many different ways. The authors acknowledge that people stressed by their experiences may drink more coffee to help deal with them.

I think it worth adding that caffeine can have non-energizing uses as well. For instance, coffee is acknowledged as a useful tool in calming and quieting the unruly brains of adults with Attention Deficit Disorder. In a few people, then, does the caffeine quiet their mind enough to be receptive to paranormal phenom?

At the very least, extreme caffeine may lead to being awake during the night when supernatural manifestations seem most likely to occur. (And I have to ask -- How many cups of coffee do the stars of Ghost Hunters and Most Haunted have to drink in order to spend all night tracking down the paranormal?)

All in all, the jury is probably going to be out for a long time on this subject. Starbucks probably won’t get an order for a triple shot grande with extra white mocha and a poltergeist anytime soon. Which reminds me, a coffee would go down really well right about now.

by Dani Harper

Dani Harper is a newspaper editor turned paranormal writer.
Check out her web site at