What can science tell us concerning the experience of an unexplainable presence?

What can science tell us concerning the experience of an unexplainable presence?
23 March 2024 J.W.H

If you've ever had an odd feeling that there was someone within the room and also you were sure you were alone, chances are you’ll not need to admit it. Perhaps it was a profound experience that you just are completely satisfied to share with others. Or, more likely, it was something in between.

If you don't have an evidence to assist you process the experience, most individuals can have difficulty understanding what happened to them. But now research shows that this ethereal experience is something we are able to understand using scientific models of the mind, body, and the connection between them.

One of the biggest studies on this topic was carried out in 1894. The Society for Psychical Research (SPR) published theirs List of hallucinations, a survey of over 17,000 people within the UK, US and Europe. The purpose of the survey was to know how often it happens that folks experience seemingly inconceivable visits that predict death. SPR found that such experiences were too often accidental (one in 43 people surveyed).

In 1886, the SWP (whose patrons included former British Prime Minister William Gladstone and the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson) published Phantasms of the living. This collection included 701 cases of telepathy, premonitions and other unusual phenomena. For example, the Reverend P. H. Newnham of Devonport, Plymouth, told the story of his visit to New Zealand where a presence through the night warned him to not take a ship ride at dawn the following morning. He later learned that every one participants on the trip drowned.

At the time, phantasms were criticized for being unscientific. The census was received with less skepticism, but was still fraught with response bias (who would trouble to reply to such a survey except those that had something to say). But such experiences live to tell the tale in homes all around the world, and modern science offers ideas for understanding them.

Not so sweet dreams

Many of the accounts collected by SPR sound like hypnagogia: hallucinatory experiences that occur on the verge of sleep. It has it was suggested several religious experiences recorded within the nineteenth century have a basis in hypnagogia. Presence has a very strong reference to the sleep paralysis that folks experience about 7% of adults at the very least once in your life. In sleep paralysis, our muscles remain frozen as a result of a post-REM hangover, but our mind is lively and awake. Studies they suggested over 50% of individuals with sleep paralysis report encountering a presence.

When we feel an incredible presence, it could just be us.

While the Victorian presence documented by the SPR was often benign or comforting, modern examples of sleep paralysis-induced presence are likely to exude hostility. Societies around the globe have their very own stories of nocturnal presences – starting with the Portuguese “little friar with the pierced hand” (Fradinho da Mao Furada), who could penetrate people's dreams, to Night War the Yoruba people in Nigeria, which was believed to be the results of sacrificial spells.

But why would an experience like paralysis create a way of presence? Some researchers have focused on the particular features of waking up in such an unusual situation. Most people find sleep paralysis terrifying, even in the event that they aren’t hallucinating. In 2007, sleep researchers J. Allen Cheyne and Todd Girard he argued that if we get up paralyzed and defenseless, our instincts will make us feel threatened and our mind will fill the gap. If we’re prey, there have to be a predator.

Another approach is to have a look at the similarities between sleep paralysis visits and other forms of felt presence. Research conducted during the last 25 years has shown that the presence will not be only a everlasting a part of the hypnagogic landscape, but in addition reported Parkinson's disease, psychosis, near-death experiences and bereavement. This suggests that that is unlikely to be a sleep-specific phenomenon.

Mind-body connection

We know from neurological case studies AND brain stimulation experiments that presence may be evoked by bodily stimuli. For example, in 2006, neuroscientist Shahar Arza and colleagues successfully created a “shadow figure” experienced by a lady whose brain was electrically stimulated on the left temporo-parietal junction (TPJ). The figure looked as if it would reflect the position of the lady's body – and TPJ combines details about our senses and the body.

A series of experiments conducted in 2014 also found that disrupting people's sensory expectations appears to have an impact create a sense of presence in some healthy people. The procedure utilized by the researchers involves tricking you into feeling as for those who are touching your personal back by synchronizing your movements with a robot directly behind you. Our brains make sense of the timing by inferring that we’re producing the feeling. Then, when synchronization is disrupted – as a result of the robot's touch being barely out of sync – people can suddenly feel the presence of one other person: a ghost within the machine. Changing sensory expectations a few situation causes something like hallucinations.

This logic can be applied to situations like sleep paralysis. All our usual details about our bodies and senses is disrupted on this context, so perhaps it will not be surprising that we may feel that there’s something “different” there with us. We may feel prefer it's just one other presence, however it's actually us.

In mine own research in 2022, I attempted to trace similarities in presence from clinical relationships, spiritual practices, and endurance sports (that are well-known for causing numerous hallucinatory phenomena, including presence). In all these situations, many features of the sense of presence were very similar: for instance, the topic felt that the presence was directly behind him. All three groups described presences related to sleep, but in addition presences resulting from emotional aspects corresponding to grief and mourning.

Despite its centuries-old roots, the science of felt presence has only just begun. Ultimately, scientific research may give us one overarching explanation, or we may have several theories to clarify all these examples of presence. However, the encounters of individuals described in “Ghosts of the Living” aren’t ghosts of a bygone era. If you haven't had this disturbing experience yet, you almost certainly know someone who has.

Image Source: Pixabay.com

  • J.W.H

    About John:

    John Williams is a Reincarnationist paranormal Intuitive freelance writer...he is living proof of reincarnation existence, through his personal exploration, he has confirmed its authenticity through visits to the very lands where these events transpired.

    Through guided meditation/s using hemi-sync technology he has managed to recollect 3 previous lives to his own, that go back to the Mid to Late 19th century.

    JWH - "You are the GODS! - Inclusion of the Eternal Light of Love and you shall never die”.

    “Death is Just the Beginning of Life”