What haunted houses tell us about our­selves and our past

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - ENTERTAINMENT -

NEW YORK » Haunted houses tell us a lot of sto­ries. But those sto­ries are not just about ghosts.

Colin Dickey, the au­thor of “Ghost­land,” went around the coun­try vis­it­ing haunted houses. He says ghost sto­ries are of­ten ways of help­ing us confront some­thing dis­turb­ing from the past.

For ex­am­ple, it’s not hard to imag­ine a his­tory of atroc­i­ties and vi­o­lence in an aban­doned prison, some of which have turned into haunted at­trac­tions like East­ern State Pen­i­ten­tiary in Philadelphia.

Other times ghost sto­ries may re­volve around a tragic story like the death of a child or un­re­quited love. Dickey says we tell ghost sto­ries to “talk about things we might not oth­er­wise talk about.”

Ghost tours can also help his­toric sites raise money for preser­va­tion by bringing in tourist dol­lars.

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