AFP, via News.com.au, Jan. 14, 2005
Jack Barton in Patong, Thailand
A new terror is washing over southern Thailand in the wake of the tsunami: ghosts.
Locals say spirits are terrifying them; health experts say the phenomenon is an outpouring of delayed mass trauma.
Volunteer body searchers at the resorts of Phi Phi Island and Khao Lak have been reported as claiming they have heard laughing and singing on a devastated beach only to find darkness and empty sand.
Taxi drivers at Patong on Phuket island swear they picked up a foreign man and his Thai girlfriend going to the airport with all their baggage, only to then look in the rear-view mirror and find an empty seat.
Guards at a beachfront plaza in Patong said one of their men had quit after hearing a foreign woman cry "help me" all night long and similar stories abound of a foreign ghost walking along the shoreline at night calling for her child.
Most Thais are deeply superstitious; many believe ghosts reside in most large trees.
Most families make daily offerings at traditional "spirit houses" outside their homes to calm paranormal entities.
Mental health experts warn tsunami survivors have picked up on this cultural factor as a way of expressing mass trauma after living through the deadly waves and witnessing horrific scenes.
"This is a type of mass hallucination that is a cue to the trauma being suffered by people who are missing so many dead people, and seeing so many dead people, and only talking about dead people," Thai psychologist and media commentator Wallop Piyamanotham said.
[TBC: While there are undoubtedly many rationally explained symptoms of extreme emotional trauma, attempts to psychologize all spiritual beliefs (including any genuine demonic manifestations deceptively appearing as "ghosts"), is foolishness. One would expect, in a culture already steeped in spiritism and occultism, that demons could easily capitalize on this opportunity to create further fear and bondage.
While there are many valid Christian and secular sources of aid to this disaster-stricken region, there are also those who are defrauding the church and the public. We can recommend the following organization to those seeking to help through a Christian ministry in a tangible way:]
Gospel for Asia Relief Fund
1800 Golden Trail Ct
Carrollton TX 75010-9954