Articles & Reports
Encounters with Shadow People A brief analysis by Attila Kaldy
While the subject of ‘shadow people’ visitations is not a recently emerged element in our current culture we can say with confidence, that the stories of individual experiences have been broadcast more widely due to our advancement in information technology.
Theories behind these visitations vary from the most exotic in nature to clinical explanations.
For over a decade I have interviewed countless subjects claiming to have experienced the presence of shadow people. On occasions these experiences have been accompanied by other elements such as sensations of an unsavory presence and audible phenomenon from an unidentified source. These additions are generally contributed by a state of hypervigilance as a result of anxiety (ambiguous stimulus). The interpretations of these encounters are mostly unpleasant, and it is not uncommon for the subject to be left dealing with emotional traumas.
In view of these claims, it is worth elaborating on some of the more frequent experiences.
In a number of interviews, the witness describes first sight as either a dark apparition developing in their peripheral vision or an anthropomorphic figure (at times hooded) or a black outline becoming visible after the witness abruptly emerges from sleep. These dark figures are generally illustrated as large and upright, at times extending beyond the ceiling. Furthermore, the apparitions will stand in front or beside the bed where the witness lays and in some instances convey philosophical messages. Although terrified, the witness generally falls back to sleep immediately after contact. There has been one occasion where the witness claimed that he pursued such an apparition armed with a weapon as ‘it’ passed through walls.
The reports of shadow beings are by no means meager in numbers. So it begs the question: are these shadow people nothing more than a product of a plethora of neurological processes or is there indeed a supernatural element to their existence?
These reports have a number of aspects that share certain similarities, but one in particular is worth paying close attention to. Most reports state that these beings appear when the subject awakens in the middle of the night.
Emerging from deep sleep, especially disruption from REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement, which accounts for approximately 20% of our sleep process and is where most dreaming takes place. Symptoms include irregular breathing, increasing blood pressure, loss of muscle tone and high levels of brain activity) the subject may not be able to distinguish between a dream and the proper surrounding environment (Hypnopompic State). Therefore the two states of being, dream and reality merge into a singular experience as visual and auditory phenomena. Depending on the state of consciousness at the time, it is not uncommon for the subject to fall back to sleep.
More vivid experiences can be a result of REM Behavior Disorder, which allows the subject to act out a dream.
Other forms of sleeping disorders can also contribute to hallucinations. In severe cases, erratic breathing patterns that starve the brain of oxygen may lead to Hypoxia (or sleep apnea) and thus the subject may experience extremely vivid events. The confusion of reality takes place.
On the other end of the spectrum is a condition between being awake and falling asleep (hypnogogia). It is in this state where dreaming can fuse with the conscious mind creating false interpretations of reality.
Furthermore, a subject who is lucid dreaming could simply fall into a hypnogogic state of consciousness. The subject may well be aware that he/she is dreaming and believe that he/she has control of the characters and structure of the dream, but that is not always the case.
A more delicate condition that invites misleading information processes of the brain is Schizophrenia. It is not a condition of dual personalities, but rather an illness that disrupts normal brain function. These range from disordered thinking, delusional behavior, paranoia, sudden and at times abrupt emotional variations and hallucinations. Severe stress and the use of psychotropic compounds are only a few examples that initially trigger the first episodes of Schizophrenia.
During my investigations, some of the most common cases (anecdotal) of shadow people visitations, and at times claims of ‘evil presence’ came from dysfunctional environments, including subjects suffering from depression.
An article in the official journal of the Society of Biological Psychiatry states that an investigation in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PSD) claimed that subjects with PSD exhibited a greater degree of depression, anxiety and agitation than those subjects without PSD on symptom rating scales. The group suffering from PSD manifested increased hallucinations and delusional thoughts.
Independently it has also been established that those suffering from depression can be influenced by suggestions that can manifest visions of an unsavory nature. In many cases faceless, dark, human forms project our worst fears. However, it appears that once the subject adopts a positive train of thought and engages practices that reflect the newly assumed mindset, the appearance of these threatening figures no longer exists. This in particular strongly underlines the fact that ‘shadow people’ visitations are a manifestation of a very powerful biological processor – the human brain.
An experiment known as ‘Fritzing’ is another example of sensory manipulation. Professor M. Persinger of Laurentian University in Canada designed an apparatus known as the ‘God Helmet’. When placed on the head, the device would generate a weak magnetic field, which would stimulate a certain part of the cerebral region that controls self-awareness. During the experiment the test subject would claim that they would sense an invisible presence in the room, similar to those subjects who were exposed to Transcranial Magnetic Stimulations. Persinger then went on with his controversial claim that ‘Fritzing’ proved that cerebral stimulation is the ultimate answer to all paranormal experiences. Although Persinger’s final conclusion is a little hard to digest, his initial analysis has strong credence.
A team of researchers from the University Hospital at Geneva, Switzerland evaluated a young woman for treatment of epilepsy. They found that when her left temporoparietal junction (where the temporal and parietal lobes meet, that creates the concept of ‘self’ and distinguishes the difference between ‘self’ and ‘other’) was electrically stimulated, it triggered visions of shadow people around her, including the sensation of presence.
A similar experience was noted in an enquiry at Camden in 2008. A brief report can be read at Case Example One.
The basis of the investigation was to identify the cause of a possible hallucinative effect. The source, being a meter box directly behind the client’s bed, was exposing the client to high levels of EMR (Electro Magnetic Radiation). When the bed was rearranged the illusive shadow people visitations seized.
Exposure to high levels of EMR caused by faulty appliances, wiring etc can impact on our physical and mental health. In addition sub-audio frequencies known as infrasonic sound can also induce side effects of an illusionary nature (see article The Blue Mountains UFO Enigma).
A common misidentification is one created by optical anomalies such as floaters. These dead cells appear as threads, spots or fragments of cobwebs can lead one to experience an Entoptic Phenomena (visual effect). An example can be the appearance of a dark figure in our peripheral vision.
From the above examples, namely a few of a large collection of simple facts, the supernatural theory of shadow people does not provide strong Prima Facie. Although the above may appear to dismiss the supernatural aspect of shadow people, that is not entirely the case. What that aspect lacks is solid, indisputable evidence that can stand up against scrutiny. Until then our current understanding of the laws of nature will prevail.
It is without doubt that in many cases the experience appears to be very real, surging real emotions from within the witness. We must remember, especially as researchers, not to deviate from a critical point of view.
British Journal of Psychiatry
Journal of the Society of Biological Psychiatry
Clinical Neuroimaging in Epileptic patients with Autoscopic Hallucinations and Out-of-Body Experiences – Prof Olaf Blanke
Psychology: A Journal – Dennis Coon
Abnormal Psychology - By David H. Barlow, Vincent Mark DurandAustralia