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When I count, there are only you and i together

Posted by Baceseras on June 28, 2010 at 11:42

In Reply to: Third man syndrome posted by Smokey Stover on June 27, 2010 at 19:35:

: : 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. "The Third Man Factor" by John Geiger documents scores of examples. More information about the expression here:

: :

: 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:


: 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 .