Friday, 21 March 2014

Ghost on a train!

Crows in a treeI recently mentioned a bizarre train journey taken by my acquaintance (MA) who has MWR (microsleep with REM). Well, MA had another train journey recently and saw a ghost on a train!

MA was seated in a group of four seats with none of the others occupied. That is, until MA noticed someone suddenly sitting directly opposite. Oddly, MA didn't think this strange, at first. The stranger was a portly middle-aged man with a ruddy round face and dark hair. He wore a black leather jacket and was staring intently at MA with a peculiar, unsettling grin.

Then, suddenly, the stranger was no longer there. All that was visible was an empty seat! So, a ghost, then! MA had the odd feeling that usually accompanied the end of a MWR experience. It thus became obvious that it had been a MWR episode. However, it was the most striking example MA has ever experienced. The perfect mixing of real scenery with an apparition was clearly hynagogic.

Usually, MA's experiences don't feel so profoundly real. MA was able to remember many more specific details of the figure than is usual for MWR, though not the lower part of the figure. It was definitely present, MA simply didn't look down because of the stranger's captivating grin. It felt as though the stranger wished to communicate in some way but said nothing. The fact that MA found the stranger's abrupt disappearance so shocking shows just how real the experience felt at the time.

Of course, there is the possibility that the stranger was not a hypnagogic hallucination but a real person whose arrival and departure coincided with MA having two microsleep episodes. However MA, who is used to MWR, thinks the whole episode, which took just seconds, was just one episode. There is an odd feeling that accompanies exiting an MWR episode and MA only noted one of these, when the stranger vanished. So the dramatic apparition was almost certainly caused by one MWR episode.

It was interesting that the ghost was staring at MA. As noted recently, ghosts are often reported to stare at witnesses. A lot of these reports concern witnesses in bed, suggesting that many are hypnagogic. MWR experiences seem to vary between obvious dreams, set in an entirely different situation to where the witness is, to obvious hypnagogia, like this incident. I'm not sure why hypnagogic imagery might feature staring so much. One might speculate that staring ghosts might, for whatever reason, be fairly common in cases caused by hypnagogia or misperception.

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