This is a phenomenon in which people literally receive phone calls from the dead. The deceased caller usually had a close relationship with the recipient.
In such calls, the telephone usually rings normally, but may sound flat and abnormal. Usually the connection is bad and the voice of the deceased fades. The voice is recognizable, however, and usually speaks familiar or pet names and words. The phone call is terminated abruptly, either by the caller or by the line going dead. If the voice is too faint, the recipient may hang up in frustration.
If the recipient knows the caller is deceased, he or she may enter a state of shock and hang up immediately. If the recipient does not know that the caller is dead, he or she may talk as long as thirty minutes. Usually such calls occur within twenty-for hours after the caller's death, although, some calls have been reported as long as two years from the time of death.
Generally the purpose of such mysterious calls seems to be to leave a farewell message, or a warning of an impending danger, or information needed by the living. Actress Ida Lupino received a phone call from her father six months after his death; he told her the whereabouts of some papers to settle his estate.
Such phone calls have gone in the opposite direction too. The caller carries on a normal conversation with the recipient only to later discover the recipient was already deceased at the time when the call occurred.
Although there is no satisfactory explanation for the strange calls from the dead, there have been several theories put forth. One holds that the dead do place the calls through supernatural manipulation of the telephone mechanisms and circuitry. Another holds that they are hallucinations caused in part by Psychokinesis (PK) accomplished subconsciously by the recipient. Other theories suggest that the calls are pure fantasy, or tricks played on the living by low-level spirits.
Most modern parapsychologists do not take such calls seriously. In the early twentieth century, investigators modified the telegraph and wireless with the hopes of communicating with the dead. Thomas Edison, whose parents were Spiritualists, worked on but never completed a telephone that he hoped would connect the living with the dead. During the 1940s the "psychic telephone" experiments were conduct in England and America in attempts to reach the dead. Again, interest arose in the 1960s when Konstantin Raudive announced that he had captured voices of the dead in electromagnetic tape.