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- Paranormal Beliefs & Experiences
Mystery of the "Shadow People"
What Are They?
“What are they?” Some believe shadow people are compassionate guardians while others think they are evil beings. So far, no one has produced any conclusive evidence of what they are. Speculation abounds, but several theories have been put forth. People have called them “shadow people” since most sightings report them as having a human like form.
Overactive imaginations may account for some reports, but you can’t account for the number of similar details as mere coincidence.
Some believe shadow people are merely one form of ghost who has passed on. Others believe they are evil beings meaning to cause harm. Still others believe they are inter-dimensional beings slipping into our world on occasion. Could they be time travelers? And then, there is the inevitable space alien theory.
Shadow people are often mistaken to be ghosts, but they are totally different. Ghosts are said to be spirits of deceased human beings that take on human manifestations and attributes.
However, they differ from the common ghost description having discernable physical characteristics including clothing. Shadow people are also described as being featureless. Their movements have been generally reported to be quick and disjointed but have been seen to move in slow motion. Accounts sometimes portray a totally black being with red eyes, a cloak, and hat.
Research reveals the movement of shadow people to be quick and jerky, sometimes with stops, starts, not like floating motions associated with ghost sighting. Unlike ghost sightings, encounters with shadow people are almost always frightening.
Witnesses claiming to have had encounters with these mysterious occurrences express feeling an ominous presence or a sense of being watched. When they turn to look it disappears into thin air, or escapes through a wall. Reports say they don’t appear to reflect light and are essentially a silhouette in black.
Their personalities are sometimes said to be curious and childlike, and seem to play cat and mouse games with observers. Other times people sense their presence as being pure evil.
The nature and origin of shadow people at present are unknown. Some believe they are inter-dimensional beings existing in a parallel dimension. Others hypothesize they are demonic entities. It has even been suggested they may be thought forms created by negative psychic energy related to a place where extreme, emotional incidents have taken place.
Some conditions reported are similar to occurrences in episodes of sleep paralysis. Witnesses to shadow people appearances report experiences occur just before falling asleep, or after waking. Reports of being held down in bed are not uncommon.
However, this could be a condition called hypnagogic paralysis. This is a condition where a state of paralysis occurs during REM sleep in order to keep a person from acting out their dreams physically.
A temporary paralysis can occur when suddenly awakened from an REM state. At this point a person can be fully aware, but unable to move. While in this state a person can subconsciously have vivid hallucinations including sensory perceptions such as taste, smell, auditory, physical and visual phenomena.
Observers frequently report glimpsing shadow people through their peripheral vision. Peripheral vision is linked to the area of the brain that distinguishes familiar patterns.
And in a condition known as pareidolia, the brain can also falsely interpret random patterns of light, shadow or texture as familiar patterns such as faces or bodies. It has also been found electro-magnetic fields can sometimes affect functions of the temporal lobe creating altered states of perception.
Fortunately, shadow people don’t seem to be dangerous, although they project an overwhelming sense of fear and dread. Whatever they are there have been countless reports by people around the world.