Possessed by a Spirit of a Dead Person?

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Swedish
Age: 20
Occupation: Student
Residence: Stockholm
Date of Performance/Collection: 2013
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Swedish

Background 

The interviewer and the informant, LT, are the same age and have been best friends for the past ten years. 

Context

Several years ago, when she was on holiday with a couple friends, one of them started acting as if she was possessed by something out of this world. 

Transcript 

“Me and my friends were in Finland for a week in September 2013. It was about 10 o’clock at night, we had just come back to our hotel room from eating out and we were sitting on the floor chatting.”

“How many of you were there?” 

“It was me and six friends. We were arguing about where everyone was sleeping and who was sharing rooms. We wanted to go outside to the hotel’s roof but there was a storm. The rain was pouring down and we heard thunder. Um, and then this one girl, she’s generally very bubbly and talkative, she completely zoned out. Her grandmother had died a couple months later and we got worried her mood changed because she was thinking about that. My friends and I tried to talk to her but, um, she wouldn’t listen at all. The room we were sitting in was pretty small. Two twin beds and a desk, you know. We were on the 9th floor and one of the windows was open. I remember asking if someone could close it because it was raining so much outside and the thunder and lightning scared me. Everyone was focused on the girl that was zoned out and no one seemed to have heard me. Suddenly, the girl stood up and slowly walked to the window. We were all trying to ask her what she is doing but she wouldn’t answer us. I assumed she was just going to close the window, until she climbed up and placed herself right in front of the open window. I… I have never been so scared in my life, I think. I thought she would jump. She had this empty look in her eyes and all of a sudden she screamed, ‘I am going to jump’. Some other girls started crying and begged her to stop, but the girl in the window wouldn’t move.” 

“What happened next?”

“She reached for the handle on the window and closed it. The noise from the storm outside almost disappeared and the room was so so quiet. I remember being so scared because somehow, the girl looked very different. Almost demonic. She looked numb. We were all quiet and didn’t know what to do or say, until we heard this beeping sound. I have no idea how, but someone’s curling iron had turned on and signaled that it was ready to be used. Scary thing is, um, no one had remembered plugging it in… One girl turned it off and suddenly it was like everything was back to normal. The girl that had stood in the window started looking more like herself and acted as if nothing had happened. She started making jokes and chatted like her normal self.” 

Thoughts

This was a very captivating story and it was not my first time hearing about this. This story has been told many times since it happened, provided that this personal experience is sort of translated into a traditional structure, I would classify this as a memorate. 

I agree with LT that it does sound like the girl was almost possessed by some sort of spirit and or ghost, especially given that her personality and behavior changed so much within such a short amount of time. However, I do believe that this incident can be explained in a logical way. First of all, the thunder and lightning would explain why the curling iron got turned on. Secondly, the fact that the girl’s grandmother had passed away could potentially explain why she started acting weird. As discussed in class, death is, in most traditions, one crucial part of one’s identity (among birth and marriage). Sometimes deaths affect you in ways that do not make sense.