Monday, 19 November 2012

Ghosts talking to each other

White noise"Sitting, reading, quiet, alone, indoors. Suddenly, an odd feeling, like falling, everything goes grey and there are voices talking to each other. The people speaking seem unaware of me. And then they are gone and I am back reading. It is like listening to a snatch of an unknown radio play. Except there is no radio, TV or any other electronic device on at the time. The voices of ghosts, perhaps? A few minutes later I have the same experience except that it is a completely different 'scene' this time, with different voices talking about something completely different. Seconds later it is gone, once again. I can usually remember what is said. It is like a fragment of a story where I don't know the beginning or the end."

This kind of weird experience might be taken for an encounter with ghosts. Or maybe aliens. Possibly even a time slip. It is, in fact, the most detailed description I have yet from an acquaintance of mine who has microsleep with REM (MWR) episodes. Many people have short periods when they fall asleep for a few seconds without even noticing - a microsleep. However, only a tiny number (usually those with certain kind of sleep disorder) go straight into a dream state, which is where the 'voices' come from.

Anyone not aware of MWR might think they are having a brief encounter with ghosts or aliens. Curiously, my acquaintance only has this particular format of MWR when reading at home. MWR episodes in other settings play out differently (sometimes with hypnagogic hallucinations). The fact that it always happens at home might lead someone else with the same experiences to think they were living in a haunted house!

The clues for paranormal investigators to look for here are (a) what the witness was doing when the incident happened and (b) the odd feeling (in this case like falling) at the start of the episode. For (a) we're looking for a situation that might encourage sleep. For instance sitting for a prolonged period, reading, watching TV, riding in a car (or other form of transport), lying down etc. It is possible that a witness may have a sleep disorder without even being aware of it.

What I find particularly interesting here is that the 'witness' above was listening to other people apparently talking to each other. That the voices play out a 'scene' recalls the popular idea that hauntings are produced by a particular (possibly tragic) event in the history of a location. So, anyone hearing such a ghostly 'scene' might easily be convinced that there is a haunting. However, while sounds are the most frequently reported aspects of hauntings, it is unusual to for a witness to hear clear voices saying recognizable words, perhaps reflecting the rarity of MWR. And even with the MWR episodes described here, which have definite natural causes, the same 'scene' is not repeated again and again. Once again we see the wide gulf between the popular idea of ghosts, as protrayed in fiction, and reali life cases.

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