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


  1. Great post! Interesting theories. Could it be several third people depending on the situation.

  2. You know, some people described him as a real person who spoke, others as a shadowperson, others as an angel figure. It could depend on the person as to how they see it and it could, of course, be several different situations; some mind-induced, some truly paranormal, some a splitting of the mind in those hysterical moments. It's just really cool to think that's there if you need it.

  3. Spoken like a true Virgo! I have felt it, it came as a warning both times!

  4. I have a third man every day. Actually, I have more than a third man every day. Want em? I'm giving them away, anyone want em?

    My third man (men, women) dunno - are actually responsible for my failing health so I'm sure they're not here to do me any favors.

    I'm serious so if some day you hear I died, when I did I yelled, "yipee". Just remember though, I have only the third man to blame.

  5. This is a very fascinating phenomnenon Autumnforest-and it is reported worldwide -I am glad to see you do an article about it-all the best to you my friend-and I will try to get caught up on the article you mentioned and others tonight!!

  6. Eileen;
    I'm sure those are not part of this phenomenon. There's no savior there. They are something altogether different. Have you ever tried a shaman? I think that's the route I'd go.

  7. ps-to Atrueoriginall-I very much hope you are able to get rid of your 'third' that is affecting your health!! unfortunately what you talk about is also in the literature -since the beginning of recorded history I believe-there was one night recently when I first thought i was having a "psychic" attack -as with most stuff that happens with me I am not positive it wasn't my own consciousness producing the incredible anxiousness etc that came over me-it was horrible -and I can't imagine having to deal with it all the time-in regards to physical or mental health-maybe someone will have some helpful advice for you that has had to deal with this in their lives? I hope so!! and I am again sorry you are going through this!!