Monday, 17 March 2014

Not seeing a ghost but still feeling it!

ShadowIt was just another experiment with my pet ghost - the 'door ghost' (see here for background). I saw the shadowy figure behind me, as usual, and wanted to see if I could 'move' it. The figure is a misperception of my own hand reflected in peripheral vision. I've previously moved my hand and the figure has always vanished instantly. This time I moved my hand very slowly, hoping this would maintain the misperception and animate the normally static shadow figure. What happened next was deeply weird and astonished me!

The shadow figure vanished from sight, which was disappointing. BUT I had the strong impression of its continuing presence unmoved, in exactly the same position! In other words, I had a sense of a presence, far stronger than any I've ever experienced before. I then moved my hand again, this time quickly. The sense of presence vanished instantly!

So, what is happening here? The weirdest part is that I could not see my hand, or the ghost, when I felt the strong sense of presence. But, given its position, I should have been able to see my hand, albeit very poorly. Clearly my brain was playing games with me. It appears my brain substituted an object it could not see properly with background! At the same time I was being strongly alerted to the fact that 'something' was there (by a sense of presence) even though I couldn't see it! I wonder if this could be another important cause of the sense of presence often reported in haunting cases.

I have already had evidence that a sense of presence can be related to a misperception (see here). In previous cases the sense of presence was generated by unexplained sounds. This audio link was, perhaps, not unexpected. You hear an unexplained sound reminiscent of a human moving around, but can see no one, so you feel the 'presence' of an invisible ghost. The current incident is much more of a surprise. It had never occurred to me before that a really poorly seen object might simply be substituted with 'background' - in other words, filtered out of the visual field completely. Nor that the consequences of that might be a strong feeling of something being there that you can't see!

I will, obviously, have to do some more experiments with this but it could be a bizarre new variation on misperception that might explain some cases of sense of presence. Interestingly, if a sense of presence is produced in this way, it ought to re-occur in the same place.

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