In Reply to: When I count, there are only you and i together posted by Baceseras on June 28, 2010 at 11:42:
: : : Third man syndrome -- Also third man factor. Sensing an unseen presence during times of extreme stress and/or isolation. The expression was used by Ann Bancroft, first woman to cross the ice of the North Pole, on "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me, National Public Radio (NPR) 26 June 2010. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=35 "The Third Man Factor" by John Geiger documents scores of examples. More information about the expression here:
: : : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Man_factor
: : I was caught off guard by the name of the syndrome. I expected something involving a hammered dulcimer, or a Ferris wheel in the Prater.
: : I didn't know of this experience until ESC provided us with it. But it fits what I have been reading lately. Apparently the brain, working below the conscious level, can provide very precise hallucinations, some of which seem tailored to very specific situations.
: : Sharon Begley's article on "The Hidden Brain" seems very relevant, although she does not discuss particular situations in detail. See:
: : http://www.newsweek.com/2010/05/31/the-hidden-brain.html
: : Recently there was a TV program on the "out-of-body experience," which sometimes involves "hallucinations" of seeing the doctors working on your body, and hearing their conversation, or at least scraps of it. I use quotation marks with hallucinations because they sometimes contain verifiable information.
: : SS
: 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 .
: T.S. Eliot, _The Wasteland_, part V, lines 359 ff.
: [Eliot's note:] The following lines were stimulated by the account of one of the Antarctic expeditions (I forget which, but I think one of Shackleton's): it was related that the party of explorers, at the extremity of their strength, had the constant delusion that there was one more member than could actually be counted.
: [Commentator's note:] B.C. Southam has traced the account to chapter 10 of Sir Ernest Shackleton's book South .
Apparently John Geiger's 209 book on "The Third Man Factor" is well-known, although I didn't know of it until ESC's welcome post. Besides the Wikipedia article to which she provides a link, yo might wish to read a review of the book. For one review among many, see:
In the April, 2010, issue of "Scientific American" (on p. 34), Michael Shermer has an essay on "The Sense-Presence Effect," which adds some information and speculation to what Geiger has published. Geiger, for instance, lists various conditions conducive to the third-man effect, such as monotaony, drakness, barren landscaes, solation, cold, injury dehyration, hunger, fatigue and fear. Shermer adds sleep deprivation.
Schermer presents the case for left-hemisphere rationalizations for "right-hemisphere anomalies," and mentions that the conditions listed all add up to loss of control by the cerebral cortex. For Shermer's article, see:
Rhe article may appear on other web-sites.