I've never been particularly "gifted" with the ability to sense anything supernatural. I don't know how much I even believe in it, really, but I do have some family members who are far more psychic, and I see no reason to doubt the validity of their experiences, especially since there are at least a couple of things which have happened to me that I can't quite explain.
We move around quite a bit due to my husband being in the military, and most all the houses we have lived in have been very uneventful in regards to anything paranormal. There have been two or three which have raised questions. The coolest, by far, was the incident I related in my "Gift from a Ghost?" story. The easiest to pass off as nothing would be a presence/footsteps, etc which my kids always swore they heard in what was, frankly, a pretty-creaky-to-begin-with barn/garage of a house we lived in a few years previous to that.
In between would be a house we had in Connecticut which, though it was only about 15 years old when we bought it, needed extensive cosmetics due to having had (as I understand it) a somewhat dysfunctional family living there before us. There appeared to have been some anger management issues going on if the several holes in the drywall which looked as though they had been punched through were anything to go by. From what we were told, there was also a teenage girl with some emotional problems, and the parents were going through a divorce. Just not a happy situation all around.
At any rate, we did a whole bunch of work to the interior and if I say so myself, it turned out great.
My younger son was still living at home then, and he never experienced anything odd there. But my daughter, who was in college, came home for occasional weekends and was never entirely comfortable in her bedroom (which had been the one belonging to the teenage girl). On a few occasions she says she felt as though someone sat or lay down on the mattress next to her. Never really anything more than that, but just a feeling that it was lonesome. I would try to tell her that it was probably just part of a dream, or otherwise all in her head, and maybe it was. Imagination can be very powerful, especially if coupled with something which seems to be recurring.
I might not have put that much stock into it except that somewhere along the line, while my daughter was at school, I had a cousin visiting and put her up for a few nights in that same room. It never occurred to me to mention my daughter's feelings about the room as they had honestly not made enough of an impression on me to even think about bringing up. But the next morning my cousin told me that she had been scared to death sleeping there after she felt the unmistakable sensation of someone sitting down on the bed next to her, then curl up at her back, where she said she could actually feel their breath on the back of her neck. She said it didn't feel threatening or anything, but just as though it was looking for company. Nonetheless, she really didn't want to sleep there alone anymore and insisted on being able to have the dog in there with her afterward. The dog was very happy to get to sleep on a bed instead of in her crate, and the rest of the visit was uneventful. My daughter was glad to get the validation of what she had sensed from my cousin, but ended up renting an apartment with some friends shortly after that, and I don't think she ever particularly spent the night in that room again after that. We moved only about 4 or 5 months later in any case.
As far as my own experiences with the house, there was never anything like that, but one instance which I have never found an explanation for.
When I was at home one morning, the phone in the bedroom rang and I walked across the room to answer it. As I neared it, about three feet away, suddenly the receiver lifted an inch or so, jiggled a bit, then fell back down, cutting off the call. It rang again a moment later, and I answered it. It was my husband who, of course, wanted to know what had just happened to cut off the call. He still does not believe that I didn't just fumble the receiver or bump into something, but I was a good arm's length away from the phone, the bed, the nightstand or anything else which might have knocked into the phone, and in any case could never have bumped it hard enough to cause the receiver to jiggle to that extent without feeling it. I SAW it lift, jiggle, and drop without being touched by anyone or anything.
If anyone can think of any way that could happen, I'd like to hear it.
I think you hit the nail on the head concerning dysfunctional family energy leaving an imprint. In fact, there is another story up right now called Frozen Scared you may be interested in. That also seems to deal with emotional energy having imprinted itself.