There are four basic types of Hauntings or Ghost Activity: Intelligent, Residual, Demonic, and Poltergeist
The following is some information on four basic categories, and some information pertaining to each that can be considered “subcategories”
Not all hauntings can be easily categorized and we must be careful not to jump to conclusions in any case. In some cases, what appears to be the work of a human agent may actually be that of the spirits, and vice versa. There are also a multitude of exterior factors that can affect the circumstances. Solar flares, the earth's magnetic fields, storms, etc. all a play an important role when trying to discern the cause of and effect of paranormal or ghostly occurrences.
An intelligent ghost or haunting is the rarest type of haunting. (Residual is far more common.)
In this type of haunting, you are dealing with an "intelligent" presence that can communicate with you, and interact with you in a seemingly "intelligent" way. This ghost is best (and most simply) described as the personality of a person who once lived and who has stayed behind in our world. Intelligent ghosts are not "evil" or "dangerous" as some people would have you believe. "Intelligent" ghosts are simply human personalities, and if the spirit was a kind and caring person in life, the spirit will most likely be the same way in death. Likewise, angry and mean people will usually keep those same negative character traits as spirits.
Most time an intelligent haunting is the spirit of a deceased spirit/ghost who seeks to get the attention of living people. To get attention, the ghost may try turning things on and off, hiding objects, moving things, and other type of annoying or nuisance behavior. The ghost/spirit may be looking for assistance to pass over or for assistance to accomplish a certain task. The spirit may also be seeking company with the residents.
Some paranormal experts believe that this kind of spirit does not know that it is dead and is simply continuing with life as unusual. Others believe the ghost has somehow been trapped between two planes of existence and is unable to move on. Still others believe an intelligent spirit has chosen not to pass on to the “other side” because it has strong emotional ties to this world.
The key factor in an intelligent haunting is that the ghost can interact with you (communication—it responds and notices human beings). If the ghost does not notice you or other human beings, and cannot interact or communicate with you, it's not an intelligent haunting.
This type of phenomena is much more common than people think and I would even go as far as to say that it is the most common type of reported phenomena around. We have to remember not to confuse this type of phenomena with an "Intelligent" haunting because, while it is fascinating and unexplained, it may not be specifically related to ghosts.
The easiest way to explain this haunting is to compare it to an old film loop, meaning that it is a scene or image that is played over and over again through the years. Many of these locations, where these haunting take place, experience an event or a series of events, which imprints itself on the atmosphere of a place.
Scientists believe that energy doesn’t cease to exist, but only changes form. The energy may dissipate from one place to appear or exist in another, and/or in another form. It is an accepted theory within the scientific community that this type of energy can suddenly discharge and play itself at various times. The events are not always visual either. They are often replayed as sounds and noises that have no explanation. The famous "phantom footsteps" reported in many haunted places are a perfect example of this.
Often the sounds and images recorded are related to traumatic events which took place at the location and caused some sort of disturbance, which we might call "psychic impression" to happen there. Trauma and emotions notoriously evoke and create higher than normal energy. This is the reason why so many battlefields have become famous for their hauntings over the years.
In other situations, the images have been created by events or actions that were repeated over and over again and cause an energy or psychic impression. Researchers have suggested that there exist so many haunted staircases because of the number of times people go up and down them and the amount of energy that is expended in doing so.
These locations act as giant storage batteries, saving up the impressions of sights and sounds from the past. Then, as the years go by, these impressions appear or are heard as they are emitted. Sometimes, this type of residual activity can make itself known in similar ways to an "Intelligent" haunting, but the most important signs will be different.
A spirit or an image in this case, will not interact with any of the living occupants of the location. The activity, and the sightings, will be random. There will be no missing items. While doors and windows may open and close by themselves, it will be because of energy expending itself and not because of spirit activity.
Commonly reported in these cases are sounds of footsteps, walking and breathing and odd, usually repetitive sounds. Apparitions are commonly reported but they will not notice the living persons around them and will usually repeat the same actions over and over again.
Poltergeists (noisy ghosts) have commonly been blamed for any violent or destructive activity in a haunting. In the past, researchers believed that all such activity at a haunted location was the work of the spirits or an outside force, but today most investigators don’t think so.
While interactive spirits may be the culprits in some cases, many cases have a force behind them that is much closer to home. In a poltergeist case (and in its counterpart) there can be a variety of phenomena taking place. There are reports of knocking and tapping noises, sounds with no visible cause, disturbance of stationary objects like household items and furniture, doors slamming, lights turning on and off, fires breaking out and much, much more. While in some cases, this activity can be connected to ghosts, in most cases it probably isn’t. It certainly remains paranormal though and because of this, it is also unexplained and very controversial.
The current theory behind this Poltergeist-like phenomenon is that the activity is caused by a person in the household, known as the "human agent". The agent is usually an adolescent or teenage female. It is believed that she unconsciously manipulates physical objects in the house by psych kinesis (PK), the power to move things by energy generated in the brain. This kinetic type of energy remains unexplained, but even some mainstream scientists are starting to explore the idea that it does exist. It is unknown why this energy seems to appear in females around the age of puberty, but documentation of its existence is starting to appear as more and more case studies have become public.
It seems that when the activity begins to manifest, the girl is usually in the midst of some emotional or sexual turmoil. The presence of the energy is almost always an unconscious one and it is rare when any of the agents actually realize that they are the source of the destruction around them. They do not realize that they are the reason that objects in the home have become displaced and are usually of the impression that a ghost (or some sort of other supernatural entity) is present instead. The bursts of PK come and go and most poltergeist-like cases will peak early and then slowly fade away.
It should be noted that while most cases such as this manifest around young women, it is possible for puberty age boys (and even older adults) to show this same unknowing ability. As with the young women, the vast majority will have no idea that they are causing the activity and will be surprised to find there is even a possibility that strange things are happening because of them.
Demon hauntings usually start in a subtle way. Behaviors are typically the same behaviors displayed by a poltergeist, but more extreme. It's common for one or several entities to exist in one location with a strong evil presence seemingly controlling the others and not allowing them to cross over. It is believed that demons hate humans and think them very lowly and stupid. Demons should never be challenged. Most demonic entities like a challenge and are master of trickery and incredibly conniving; they may have you believing they are good spirits or may appear to have gone away, only to confront you again at the least expected and most vulnerable moment. A demon is considered to be a powerful, supernatural being that is generally malevolent (wishing or appearing to wish evil to others) in character. The word demon comes from the Greek word daimon, which means a divine or semi-divine power that determined a person's fate.
Demons are evil, supernatural beings of intelligence, wit, and immense power. They have the power to invade our homes, attach themselves to objects, and inflict torture both mentally and emotionally by attacking or even possessing the human body. Demons have the ability to morph into any shape they want. They can change from a human form to an inhuman form before your very eyes. They are neither male nor female, but will change to whatever meets their need at the time. Demons are commonly seen as black masses standing in doorways or in the corner of the room.
Shadow People or Shadow Creature Activity
This is a type of haunting activity that has no real explanation. They are different from Ghost/Spirit energy. They are shapeless dark masses mostly seen with the peripheral vision (out of the corner of your eye). They are also known to do things differently from ghosts. They can move between walls, they have no human features, they wear no clothes (the only exception is Hats, Top Hats, Fedora's or a Hood) People who encounter them usually experience a feeling of "Dread" and they are considered to be Non-Human.
Shadow People have no discernible mouth, nose, or facial expressions. Some are seen as child-sized dark humanoids. Some people say that they seem to be made up of dark steam or smoke, mist-like. At times when they move they appear to be moving on an invisible track, from one place to another. They have been seen to "hop" of what appears to be a strange kind of dance. They are also known for staring at the ground.
Two common types of Shadow People are the "Hat Man" or "Hat Woman" which are seen wearing Fedora's, Top Hats or Hood-like coverings but otherwise no other clothing is seen.
The other type is Shadow Animals in forms of cats, dogs, birds or alien forms. Shadow People and Shadow Creatures have often materialized during an Intelligent, Residual, Poltergeist or Demonic Haunting.
Unfinished Business Haunting
This type of haunting occurs when a Person has passed away suddenly by an unexpected life event such as murder or suicide, or tragic accident. The Spirit Energy is reaching out, usually to loved ones, (although strangers have also encountered this phenomenon). The Spirit Energy is trying to make sense out of what has happened or doesn't realize that his human form has passed. In many situations, it is almost like the physical body has expired so suddenly, that the soul didn't have time to prepare, hence is left on this world seeking Help. This type of Spirit needs to complete what it started in this life and will not rest, until satisfaction is met.
This type of haunting can be Very frightening to a homeowner and persons involved. If in life the Spirit Energy was a good person than usually that will be continued in the After Life, if however, the person was not the best of characters the scenario will often apply as well.
A haunting of this kind from a negative Spirit Energy can be nasty. Objects can be thrown, people can be pushed, slapped, scratched, beds can shake and banging on walls. It can force a homeowner to possibly vacate a location.
Clinging Spirits or Attachments
A clinging spirit is an energy that can attach itself to a person or an object, and it will follow them through a lifetime. No matter how many times one moves, this type of Entity will follow. It’s very hard to get rid of and is best resolved with "Boundaries" put into place.
A Jumper Spirit is one that is associated with cemeteries. This type of haunting usually occurs when an Entity, "jumps" from the cemetery to a home that is located near the location and begins to haunt it. This is a rare type of Haunting but does exist.
Portal Hauntings are thought to be doorways to another world or dimension in which entities can travel through at any given time. They are usually limited to a certain location, region or sacred ground. Typically these places (which are usually outdoors) experience a wide variety of activity which could include: moving, glowing lights of various colors, odd looking creatures, strange screams or moaning and unexplained mists or fogs. Portals are also known to be located in homes that have been built on Sacred Ground.
Extremely Rare. This type of haunting is like a "Clone" made of your identical person. The victim actually see's themselves in another location, and many times there is eye-to-eye contact. Other people known to the victim may also see them and feel an "icy-coldness”. The victim of this kind of haunting is in "Danger" of their immediate surroundings. The victim and the victim’s family may also be in grave danger of illness or death.
There are 4 known Basic Types of Hauntings; at any given time during an investigation one of the Sub Category Hauntings can accompany an ongoing Investigation. It could Very Well be a combination of a few variables.