(Staff Writer) Picture yourself in this scenario: You’re sitting comfortably on your sofa while you’re browsing the pages of a magazine in your dimly-lit room. Then, all of a sudden, you noticed a movement across the room from the corner of your eye. The figure was dark and shadow-like, but you knew that should not be possible since you’re the only one there. Naturally, you gave it a second and closer look and verified that there was really nothing there. And so, you shrug off the eerie feeling swirling inside your stomach and returned to reading your magazine. But then, a few moments later, there it was again!
by Staff Writer, July 25th, 2017
This time around, you looked up swiftly and saw a fleeting shadow that’s distinctly shaped like a human pass over the far wall. And once again, it disappeared without a trace.
What was that? Was that just some natural shadow from the dim lighting of your room? Or was that just a figment of your imagination? A ghost? Or is it possible that it’s an otherworldly being lurking in the shadows that seems to be a part of a spreading phenomenon of apparitions known as the “shadow people”?
WHAT ARE THE SHADOW PEOPLE?
The shadow people are perceived entities that appear as a patch of shadow shaped as a living, humanoid figure, which are usually interpreted by believers in the paranormal or supernatural as the presence of spirits or some otherworldly entities.
Tales of these human-like shadows come from different parts of the world. Most of these shadow creatures appear through our periphery vision, and people who see them are often unable to describe in detail the features of these mystical entities apart from their human-like forms and the occasional reports of fiery red eyes. Some shadow people materialize wearing the clothing of a Medieval monk while some emerge with a fedora on their heads. There are also reports of bald as well as genderless shadow entities.
Though it was generally believed that people can only see brief glimpses of these bizarre creatures, more and more people are claiming to see them straight on and for longer periods of time. Some of them just trek through the rooms of our homes at night, while others lurk in the doorways just watching us, day after day. However, there are those who give off a very menacing vibe and reeks of malevolent intent that seemingly feed on people’s fear.
The term “shadow people” is a general name for all kinds of strange beings that display certain similar characteristics, though their origins can be varied, and the behavior they exhibit can be very diverse as well. Moreover, the majority of these unusual entities can be classified into five categories: positive shadows, negative shadows, red-eyed shadows, hooded shadows, and the shadow entity known as The Hat Man.
Positive shadows are those that seem to pass by through people’s lives. They appear to walk with purpose through the room, never straying the path they walk on, and never acknowledging the person nearby. They never give off a threatening presence, but it could be very eerie to see them trespassing in your home without regard to those who live there.
Negative shadows are characterized by their tendency just to lurk and watch humans go about their business. However, unlike the positive shadow people, human beings inside a room with a lurking negative shadow tend to be swept over by the feeling of extreme terror when they spot them. A more negative version of these entities are the red-eyed shadows, which are known to stare at humans with their blazing red eyes. Eyewitnesses claim that they feel that this shadowed figure feeds on their fear.
There are also hooded shadows dressed as an ancient monk. Some people claim that this is also a malevolent entity, as eyewitnesses sense a deep rage emanating from this hooded figure. There is also a shadow creature known as the Hat Man. This entity is probably the most curious one of them all. The Hat Man appears to many people in various cultures across the globe, and he is seen dressed in an old-time business suit and wearing a fedora.
EXPLANATIONS BEHIND THE SHADOW PEOPLE
The mysterious sightings of the shadow people have become a hot topic of conversation in the online world for years. Those who have seen these dark figures and believe in them wonder what these creatures really are and where they come from. To come up with suitable answers for these questions, a number of theories have been offered by believers and paranormal experts, and skeptics and mainstream science alike.
Although most reported encounters with the shadow people are very passive, there are some that are not so innocent. Negative shadows, red-eyed shadows and hooded shadows, for example, all give off the uncomfortable sensation of horror and terror when chanced upon by human beings. From a religious standpoint, these creatures are referred to in several scriptures and cultures with different names – demons in the Christian faith, jinn in Islam, sgili in the tradition of American Indians, and more.
There are also those who are of the opinion that the shadow people could be some form of ghosts or some manifestation of a residual memory of an individual whose bit of energy lingered in the mortal world even after that person’s spirit has already crossed over to the other side. There are also proposals that the shadow people are the embodiments of actual people whose physical bodies are elsewhere but are engaged in astral projection.
Another paranormal explanation for these dark entities is that they are interdimensional beings. Some support this theory strongly because theoretical physicists believe the laws of physics allow for other dimensions to exist and for beings to crossover. In the same vein of this theory, there also those who suspect extraterrestrials or aliens to be the shadow people and that go about their daily agenda on our planet disguised in the shadows.
Mainstream science and skeptics reject these paranormal or a supernatural theories because they currently cannot detect or test such phenomena. Maybe the answer lies beyond science.
The simplest and most likely explanation for the mysterious phenomenon of the shadow people – and is usually the one brought up by those who have never seen these creatures for themselves – is that it is caused by nothing more than human beings’ active imagination. Some people who have encountered a shadow person easily account the experience as nothing more than their minds playing tricks on them, and could simply be an illusion that was never really there. No doubt that many of these claimed encounters can be explained by people’s imaginations running wild since the human eye and the mind is easily fooled. But can they account for all cases of this phenomenon?
Most reported encounters with these shadow people can be explained by modern science, particularly by the workings of the human brain. Some of the details shared by people when they encountered a shadow entity are analogous to those that occur in cases of sleep paralysis. Many eyewitnesses claim that their experiences involving the shadow people occur just when they are about to fall asleep or right after they wake up. Many of them are also in bed during these encounters, and they report sensations of being held down, a tightness gripping their chest as if there was a person lying on top of them, and the inability to breathe. These unpleasant feeling only subside once the shadow is gone.
Physiologically, these sensations could be explained by conditions known as hypnagogic and/or hypnopompic paralysis. The hypnagogic and hypnopompic states are states of consciousness that occur between the “normal awake” state of consciousness and sleep. Hypnagogic state occurs just before a person falls asleep, while hypnopompic state occurs just before waking up.
It is the natural process of the human body to go through a natural state of paralysis once a person enters the REM stage of sleep, as this serves as a deterrent from us possibly physically acting out our dreams in the real world. Temporary and unpleasant sleep paralysis can happen when this mechanism sets in sooner than usual – before the individual is fully asleep – or persists longer than usual – after the person has seemingly fully awoken. This causes a person to be completely aware of his surroundings, and yet is still unable to flex a single inch of his body.
In this state, an individual is also able to perceive the images formed in their subconscious mind consciously even when they are supposedly still or already awake. These hallucinations may seem like they are real since they can be detected by some, if not all, of a person’s sensory perceptions. People can even experience auditory, smell, tactile, taste, and even visual phenomena while in the state of hypnagogia or hynopompia. Sufferers of this neurological phenomenon have also reported seeing faces while experiencing these states.
But what if a person saw a shadow creature while he or she is neither about to sleep nor had just awakened from sleep? In many cases, people who claim to have encountered the shadow people report that they saw these enigmatic entities through the corner of their eye or what is known as their peripheral vision. This area of human vision has been determined to be connected with the area of the brain whose main function is to detect and identify familiar patterns. However, this area also provides fewer and more crude or inaccurate details to the brain than people’s forward or central vision does. While this mechanism is very helpful to our day-to-day functions, there are also instances that it could result in a psychological phenomenon referred to as pareidolia.
Pareidolia is a type of illusion or misperception in which the brain inaccurately makes something out of patterns of shadow and light when in reality, these patterns are completely random and only contain a few features that make them look like they are figures or faces of animals or humans. Aside from explaining the detection of the shadow people, this phenomenon also provides a psychological explanation for many other paranormal apparitions and visions like UFO or Bigfoot sightings. It also explains why some people see the face of Jesus in a toast or a face in a photograph of the Cydonia region of Mars.
There is no way to prove or disprove any of the more mysterious and paranormal explanations for seeing the shadow people, especially since science, the way it is at the moment, finds it virtually impossible to collect measurable data and tangible proof to study such phenomena in any empirically-sound and methodical way. Whether believer or skeptic, people can document as many anecdotal accounts and personal experiences of these mysterious entities and try to piece them together in the most objective and open-minded way until the time comes that science discovers or develops the tool we need to finally confirm or reject the existence of the shadow people.
What can be said for sure is this: While encountering a shadow entity can be weird and scary for some people, it is also a fascinating and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that allows people to witness the true power of the human brain and the extent of what it can do.
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