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Why doesn't Bruce Willis's character realize he is dead?

If I remember correctly, the plot takes place several months after he is killed. Shouldn't there have been some clues during that time? They do imply that he thinks his wife isn't speaking to him because she's angry, but is it really possible that she was the only person he expected to interact with?

Additionally, it seems that all the other ghosts in the movie know they're dead. So perhaps another question would be do all ghosts in The Sixth Sense go through a "transition period" where they don't realize they're dead? At what point to they become aware of it?

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I don't think Mr Shyamalan put that much thought into this. He probably rather wanted a stunning twist at the end. Interresting question, though. – Napoleon Wilson Dec 1 '11 at 23:44
up vote 104 down vote accepted

This line from Cole I think summed it up best, "They don't see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don't know they're dead."

And, except for the girl trying to save her sister, I don't know if you could definitively say any of the other ghosts knew they were ghosts. I think the "They only see what they want to see" bit is the key here. In a way the ghosts are making their own reality.

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Thank you! I didn't remember that last sentence in Cole's quote there. I guess I was only thinking of the little girl when I said "the rest of them seem to realize..." – Lauren Dec 2 '11 at 14:34
When I read this question I was like Damn that ruined the movie for me too and when I read your answer I was like Nope wait still one of the greatest suspense/horror/ghost movies ever. – Aerovistae Mar 25 '13 at 6:37
I think this point was also supposed to be hinted at living human beings who just as well tend to only see what they choose to see - while this is not necessarily a totally concious decision. – Raffael Apr 27 '13 at 18:46

I am from Sri Lanka, and the idea that ghosts are unaware of the fact that they are dead is not totally alien here. I'm pretty sure Shyamalan was aware of these types of myths.

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