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Heightened Sensory Perception: Interview with Laura Johnson


paranormalLaura Johnson is an organizer and team leader for Bay Area Ghost Hunters, and has had extremely heightened senses since childhood. In our first interview with her, we discussed ghost investigations. In this post, the second in a series of two, we discuss her experiences with heightened sensory perception.

PYN: Tell me about yourself. I’ve heard you have unusually strong sensory perceptions.

Laura: I have slight hearing loss in both ears. So my regular senses are not spectacular. But I had a hearing test last October and the doctor said, “You have hearing loss in both ears.” He showed me the chart, and said, “But the interesting part is, you’re hearing things above the normal at the other end of the frequencies.” I’m hearing what dogs hear.

It’s the same thing with sight. I’m nearsighted, and yet I see things other people don’t see. I have no control over it, but I’ve just seen stuff that is clearly not there to anyone else.

When my aunt was dying from cancer in 2007, she was at home, but unresponsive. So we took turns sitting with her. Her side of the family is all native American, and she lived on a reservation. I was upstairs, alone with my aunt holding her hand at the side of her bed. I was just looking at my hands and telling her it was okay if she wanted to go, because we didn’t want her to suffer. And I heard a noise and looked up. The lamp was on low. A circle of children stood around her bed holding hands. They looked solid. Not shadows. Not outlines. I was thinking, who are these people? The oldest was around nine, had long blond hair, and wore a pink dress.

I just stared at them. And then I heard a noise in the hall, and turned to see my cousin come in.  When I looked back, they were gone. My cousin asked what was wrong and I said, “nothing,” and went back downstairs. I guess I had this look on my face, because my mom asked what was wrong. So I asked if any kids in our family had passed away. They said, “No. Why?”

I said, “Well, I just saw these children standing around her bed holding hands.” And the Native Americans in the room went crazy. They were saying, “It’s the wanagi!” I had no idea what they were talking about. They told me that the wanagi are spirits (usually children) sent to take the spirit of the person dying when it’s time to go. [Tweet this!]

In my aunt’s case, she died about 5 hours later. At the funeral reception I saw a few other things that weren’t really there. I saw an eagle flying inside the room and disembodied moccasins dancing to the traditional music playing.

This tribe calls me a shadow walker, which is a window or doorway between the living and the dead. [Tweet this!] It’s easier for me to see and hear the dead, and for them to communicate with me more than others.

Anywhere I’ve investigated, whether it’s historical or residential, the spirits seem to know me. They all say my name, even if it’s someplace I’ve never been before. But I think the most unnerving thing that happened was three weeks ago, at a residential investigation. We were doing an EVP session using an SB-7 box, a spirit box that runs radio frequencies. What we normally do is scan it on FM and we can scan it backwards so you’re not as likely to have random words coming through from a radio station. We’d ask questions and were getting answers but the answers were coming through the device in my voice.  I finally asked, “Are you mimicking me?” It was just weird hearing your own voice responding through a piece of equipment when you know it’s not you.


Photo Credit: Eric Vondy via Compfight cc

PYN: Have you always been able to see and hear things?

I had a lot of experiences when I was younger and I’d tell older people and they’d tell me there’s nobody there. I always had experiences I could not explain, but it wasn’t until I was older that I started questioning some of this stuff. But I didn’t really understand what was going on until that night my aunt passed away.

PYN: Was this the first time what you were seeing was validated?

Yes. My aunt died in September, 2007. That was sort of the start of where I am now. And the TV show Ghost Hunters, that came out in 2004, has made things easier, too. It started making it less weird for people to see things or talk about it.

PYN: What do you think ghosts are?

It depends. There is a residual haunting – which is something just done over and over so many times or been in the same place over and over it’s like a recording burnt into the atmosphere. [Tweet this!] Then you have the ones that are intelligent, where you’re asking questions and they’re answering you.

What’s nice for me is because spirits are on a different frequency from us, our equipment can sometimes pick them up. It’s validated me so many times. For example, I will hear something and say, “did you hear that?” And no one else has, but the equipment will pick it up. That helps me so people don’t think I’m making it up or am insane.

PYN: Why do ghosts hang around?

I’m Catholic, the kind who goes to church every Sunday, and this is totally against what my religion believes, because we shouldn’t be lingering. But I have too much evidence to prove otherwise. I’m not saying I don’t believe in heaven, because I do. Maybe it’s just someplace you live and you can travel elsewhere. And at a lot of these places we investigate, we ask if there’s a portal there, and the spirits say there is. Spirits seem to visit using portals, so they’re not necessarily attached to a place.

But I also believe there are people who die tragically or with unfinished business that are staying behind to either finish that busines, or get a message to someone, or they just don’t realize or acknowledge the fact that they’re dead. A lot of the spirits we’ve communicated with died tragically.

We’ll ask spirits if they’re here because they want to be. Sometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes they’re happy. And sometimes we ask if they’re being held here against their will and sometimes the answer is, yes. We did a residential investigation in Campbell not long ago and I had a couple of voices on my recorder – one was a child’s voice. I asked if it was trapped here, or here against its will? And the answer was: yes.

A woman in our group who is a psychic medium, and she will clear places. She, without me even saying anything, had told me ahead of time to check the room behind the children’s play area and the attic. (I’d never been to the house before and neither had the medium, she just had the address.) Afterward, when I filled her in on the investigation, she said, “I already know. There are two children spirits being held there by a male spirit and I got them out and then he had no reason to stay and he left on his own.” When children are involved, she didn’t wait. She just did it.



      • In one of my investigations there was an American Indian spirit residing in the hall closet. The people in the house said they did not care if he stayed in there as long as he would stop making their jackets and coats reek of tobacco smoke.
        No one in the house smoked.
        It was a hard negotiation but he finally agreed, and the smell stopped.

        I have contemplated the “why” and “how” spirits do this for years! At best it is supposition on my part but I think that smells are like moving objects for the spirits; it is a learned technique, a manipulation of matter.

  1. I’m curious about other senses in paranormal investigations. Has anyone described a sense of smell in this context? I know that aromas carry intense emotions, or the memories of emotions, so… I’m wondering about this in a paranormal/supernatural context.

    • Laura Johnson says

      Hi Candy, I have extra heightened smell also. I have had a spirit follow me around smoking a pipe and a woman following me also that was big into baking pies. The spirits would direct the smells right into my face. People around me couldn’t smell the things at first until I actually had them stand right where I had been standing. Then it was right there for them too. At my work I occasionally smell horses and stable smells. I work on the 4th floor of a building that used to be the site of the Bay Meadows race track stables. I hope this answers some of your question.

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