Difference between Ghosts and Demons

By: | Updated: Mar-2, 2018

There is an awful lot of confusion when it comes to the realm of the supernatural. Most of it comes from the fact that real researchers choose to avoid such issues, as believing in these things goes against the way in which they see the world; while the researchers who do study supernatural phenomena are usually not taken seriously. So, without a reliable scientific authority to present relevant findings on the matter, we find ourselves compelled to take to the books – fiction and religious texts – and compare what we find there to popular belief.

Summary Table

Used to be humansAre fallen angels and never lived
People who have died a violent and sudden death, who do not understand what has happened or who do not want to accept it; people who have left unresolved issues and cannot let go of this lifeEntities which embody pure evil
Usually harmlessCan only be harmful
They want to move onThey want to stay and inflict pain and cause suffering
They can be chased awayThey must be exorcised
They can haunt a place, a thing, a personThey possess people and animals


ghost sitting on a bench
A ghost sitting on a bench in front of a tomb

A ghost is believed to be the wandering soul of somebody who has passed away but has not moved on. Although almost every culture has a version of the wandering soul in some form or another, it seems that the creation of ghosts as a notion was born from a genuine fear of some people coming back from the dead, a notion that was placed in the background of local religious beliefs.

Ghosts are said to haunt the place they died in. Most often, in the case of violent and sudden deaths, the soul does not realize its passing. Also, it is said that people who were more strong-willed in life might be unable to accept the passing from the realm of the living to the realm of the dead. They usually wander around confused, looking for a solution to their situation.

People who claim to have seen ghosts have often experienced a wide variety of appearances and sensations. The apparitions can either be seen in full, like normal human beings, or like a transparent entity, a floating mist, a vibe or a light, or they can be sensed as in the case of a smell or a peculiar sound. Things can get moved around, doors can get slammed. They leave the impression of looking for something.

A demon
A demon

A demon is said to be a fallen angel. Also referred to as a devil, this is one of Lucifer’s subjects, the opposite of the angel. Their only purpose in the world is to cause pain and suffering to the living. All demons are said to have come from hell and they have the power of possession over people and animals and they are hard to get rid of. Exorcisms are common practices in many parts of the world as people believe that demons are the source of all evil.

These are entities said to know nothing of mercy, sympathy and kindness and they are associated with everything evil in the world. A violent person lacking in empathy, generosity, understanding and kindness toward other people, is usually called a “demon” for willingly and purposely harming others.

Although they are said to have come directly from the depths of hell, demons could also be the above mentioned individuals who have sold their soul while living or right before death.

Ghosts vs Demons

So what is the difference between ghosts and demons?

  • Both ghosts and demons are elements of the supernatural and represent encounters nobody wishes to have in their lifetime. However, while ghosts used to be humans, demons are the embodiment of pure evil, and this, according to the people who have had such encounters, is much worse.
  • Ghosts are believed to be souls which did not see the light and did not cross over. They are tied to this world by unresolved business or they do not accept the fact that they are dead. In reality, they are stuck and they wish to move on.
  • Demons are sent to earth with the sole purpose of causing pain and suffering. And in order to do so, they attach themselves to a human and make him do despicable things. They can only be cast away through an exorcism.
  • As some field specialists claim, it is better to have a ghost than a demon haunting you. Most ghosts are regarded as harmless, even though they are still a disruptive and scary presence. Each culture has built its narratives around these entities based on its own experiences and local beliefs. Demons are more tied to religion as they represent the opposite of anything Godly and Godlike.
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