Thursday, November 5, 2009
Third Man Syndrome
Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
—But who is that on the other side of you?
T.S. Eliot “The Waste Land”
The John Geiger book “The Third Man Factor” recounts stories of people with this interesting experience: The Third Man Syndrome. This is a term used for people who in very dire moments of their life feel a presence helping them, comforting them, giving them courage. Some people liken it to a visit from a dead relative, a guardian angel, or some inner wellspring of parenting from within (aka, the voice of sanity). It’s been reported by a variety of people from firefighters to extreme sportsmen to arctic explorers. This entity actually appears to people visually as well as with auditory so that the effect is that an actual person is there.
There are many factors that can produce this sensation. We have within our brains a part that when stimulated makes us feel as if someone is over our shoulder. Admittedly, before my son had a meningitis-induced seizure, he was backed up against the wall, feeling as if someone was over his shoulder but he felt an evil intent. When that part of his brain was being stimulated by the illness, the sense of someone being there was not a savior feeling but a threat. This makes me wonder about the concept that the third man is purely brain-induced. The feeling of being watched is often associated with high EMF levels, providing evidence that our brain has that capability of having another with us, but once again that is not a pleasant entity (as anyone in a high EMF basement will tell you). Could it be the brain produces this “savior” in times of need, a splitting of the mind when we don’t feel we can handle something and we need to hand it to a protector? Perhaps a sort of mini-version of split personalities where each personality handles a different component of the psyche? Or could it be that we’re visited by a being from another dimension or the traditional heaven?
What third man is may truly come down to your own explanatory style. If you’re of a religious nature, you’ll believe that God has visited an angel upon you. If you are of an atheist style, you will likely attribute it to the hemispheres of your brain creating a sensation of someone outside of you, a malfunction under high levels of stress hormones. If you’re agnostic, it’s likely you’ll believe that something born from the evolutionary process in your body has produced a sensation that helps you when you need it, a kind of inner parent necessary if one became split from their tribe.
It really doesn’t matter why this mechanism is there or even what we can attribute it to, but most importantly is that there is something there for us when we are in our most desperate moments and a cheerleader, whether spiritual or internal, can give a person the endorphins or sense of clear thinking necessary to save his own life.
I won’t ask the source, I’ll only ask that it’s there if I ever need it.
at 5:53 AM