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The Perfect Storm: Choosing the right investigator for your team

"Here they come...walking down the street....."
"Here they come...walking down the street....."

Choosing the “right” partner can be an asset. Choosing the wrong one is like dunking your head in the proverbial pickle barrel; it might just leave a sour taste in your mouth.

It takes a group of people to make a team: a group of like-minded individuals aiming towards a common purpose. A paranormal investigate team can be a revolving door…whether it is forming a new group from scratch or filling in when other team members depart. Folks in this line of work have a tendency to come and go.

Recruiting new members is akin to a job interview; only in the end, we do it for no salary. And the employees can turn out to be quite different from how they portrayed themselves in the initial go-around.

It is vital to find this “right” person, who will ease into a viable role on an investigative team. It is, after all, a group effort—each piece becomes a part of a greater whole. There are no Lone Rangers on team! Or are there?

A team needs a candidate who will be a good fit. This potential investigator will often deal with adrenaline fueled situations…sit in the dark for long periods of time with others…review hours of accumulated evidence…arrive at conclusions…and hopefully get along with their fellow team members. That is the goal.

In many ways, it’s like a marriage: a fellow comrade in adventure, with mutually shared interests. You will spend large chunks of time with this person. You will give up your weekends to unite and explore together. You will witness the best and worst in each other. In the end…how will this play out? Are they a team player? If not, can they adapt and become one?

Motivation of your team may determine the proper candidate.

Just what kind of paranormal investigations does your team participate in? Are they just monthly field trips (hunts) or investigations of a more significant nature? The field trips would require a less serious candidate who would be involved in the occasional paranormal outing then go his or her separate way until the next one. The more serious investigations—involving inquiring and often nervous-wrecked clients—are another matter. The candidate for this type of team involves serious ramifications for a longer term relationship, because a marriage is all about this long term relationship at the end of the day. Success is based on trust.

These “serious” investigations involve a huge responsibility when a team makes the plunge by stepping through the open doorway of one’s home or business to provide some reasonable explanation for activity that has suddenly enveloped their life like a thick, dark cloud. Liability certainly factors into these excursions. Keep that in mind. The team needs to function as a team…and a smart one at that!

Richard L. Smith of Paranormal Investigations of Texas has outlined many of the situations potentially involved when placing your two feet in a client’s world of paranormal possibilities. To paraphrase his findings:

  • You will be dealing with an emotionally charged situation involving vulnerable or even depressed clients.
  • You may also be dealing with delusional clients who have separated myth from reality. It is always hoped that the initial screening or interview process will weed these out, but they do slip through the cracks. (While it is the responsibility of the lead investigator/investigators to conduct this screening process, the “new” investigator ultimately will play his part: represented by his actions and comments to the clients involved if an investigation does take place)
  • Genuine paranormal activity may be a result of the client’s own actions: paranormal meanderings involving a Ouija Board or séances; crime; drugs or alcohol; abuse or moral issues; sexual perversions. Indiscretions can actually begin the process of paranormal activity!

Sometimes it’s just a matter of counseling that the client needs—not paranormal investigation. These are hard and many times confusing decisions that have to be made.

These are situations that may engulf and sometimes overwhelm a paranormal team. You definitely want the right people with sound minds behind the wheel. The choice of a paranormal investigator that will meld into a good fit for your team is just as important—if not more—as the interview process for the potential client.

All of us have our own personal quirks and eccentricities. We all have our good days and bad. Ultimately our personalities will dictate how we will react around others. We can hide the less than glamorous aspects for a short time, but eventually they come out. There are warning signs we should look for in a potential investigator that may end up becoming a part of your team; and consequently, become a part of your life.

Concerns should be directed towards how they will think and react; how they will emotionally respond in a hectic situation; and how they will relate to others in a team environment.

Some personality traits to look for are:

  • Schizoid or loners: They will not really become a part of the group mentality, shutting themselves down emotionally as a defense mechanism against getting hurt. They will often appear emotionally detached with no real desire to form any connections (at least binding ones) with those around them. It would be rare that this personality type would even desire to place themselves into a group situation in the first place—but hey—these are strange times!
  • Schizotypal: Usually they are harmlessly weird and eccentric, but can possess traits of paranoia and suspicion. Their perception can be exaggerated and somewhat skewed from reality. Hallucinatory experiences can creep into their mindsets, which can be the death rattle for any form of objectivity in a paranormal group. Schizotypal personalities can perpetuate they are being haunted by demon entities or are constantly being touched, scratched, or attacked while on an investigation. This becomes the soul result of any investigation they participate in. Many do become schizophrenics later on in life.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive: It is a control issue with these folks. They are caught up in the detail of organization and perfection. They can be quite critical of any form of leadership that is not living up to their high standards of performance. This can keep a team on their toes and at the same time utterly exhaust them. They are task driven, but would ultimately prefer to do these tasks on their own. These folks as investigators on your team are doable, just needing some special attention and direction.
  • Dependent: They are the ultimate followers, often not thinking on their own or voicing their own opinions. They tend to attach themselves to a dominant personality and take the ride with them. They will echo the dominant lead’s experiences…whether it happened to them or not; “Me too,” they will claim. In time, as a group becomes familiar with the routine, they will tend to disregard the dependent’s input. It can’t be trusted. Not a good fit for a team.
  • Antisocial or sociopaths: Possessing somewhat a predator mentality—aggressive, compulsive liars, and little if no remorse over foul interactions with others. They rely on these interactions to boost their sense of self-worth. They can possess a degree of charisma which makes them hard to spot initially, however, in time it comes out. They have no regard for rules or structure, and this will also apply to your team. You do not want this person in your group!
  • Narcissistic: They are focused upon themselves. It’s all…me, me! They feel superior over others and constantly require special attention. They can be egotistical, arrogant, demeaning, and generally unconcerned with the needs of others on the team. If they do not receive the attention they feel they deserve they will complain. Constant complaining will only cause friction in the group. If a team decides to keep this personality type, harsh parameters will need to be established. And it might work…for a short time. Most likely the narcissistic will eventually move on to greener pastures.
  • Paranoid: This type of person tends to move from group to group, suspicious of others and always feeling people are talking about them behind their back. There is a cloud in their brain that they are being lied to and manipulated. A sense of humor is definitely lacking…even a careless joke has a double meaning—and directed at them! These folks can only in time be a detriment to a group. The best defense is a good offense—pass on them from the get go.
  • Borderline: These folks can have abandonment issues that go far beyond just needing others around them. They literally latch onto people and don’t let go. It becomes a way of life for them, resulting in moodiness and impulsive behavior when they feel they are being slighted. They tend to keep a tight reign on the people surrounding them in life and paranormal situations. It can be quite discomforting in a team environment. Generally, they are hard to deal with in a group situation and require high maintenance.

This is a listing of personality traits to look towards when considering a potential investigative candidate. It’s certainly not exhaustive. All of us can have some of these traits in our own personality. And unless you are Very good at spotting these types in the interview process, it’s very easy for a candidate to mask these conditions…only to reveal at a later time when they are actually a part of the team.

We always want to believe the best about a person. When this individual turns out not to be what they initially represented, then hard decisions have to be made regarding their future with the team. Don’t be afraid to make them. If you allow it to go on, eventually the team will crumble and self destruct.

We can work around arrogance; around confidence issues; around inflated ego. We can even work around the investigator with stars in their eye hoping to become the next paranormal television star and bring them back gently to earth. Some individuals, however, cannot be worked around and need to move on. Be aware and choose wisely.

So many potential investigators; so little time….

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