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?
This is a poem written by T.S Eliot; the poem is called The Wasteland. It is based on the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton, who claimed that he had experienced ‘Third Man Syndrome’ during the final leg of his journey in the mountains of South Georgia.
Third Man Syndrome is when an individual feels and unseen presence with them, whom provides comfort and/or support during traumatic or dangerous times.
Shackleton wrote in his book South:
During that long and racking march of thirty-six hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers of South Georgia, it seemed to me often that we were four, not three.
The publication of this admission resulted in survivors of other extreme hardship to come forward and share similar experiences.
Some examples of similar stories include Frank Smythe, one of the first climbers of Mt. Everest, who claimed to feel a presence with him after the last of his companions had turned back; the presence felt so real that he even broke off some mint cake and tried to give it to them before realising that they weren’t there.
Another example is that of Peter Hillary, who was on an expedition to the South Pole in 1998 when he claimed that he was accompanied by his mother, who had died in a car crash 20 years prior.
It was found that the group in which it was most likely to occur in was climbers, with sailors and shipwreck survivors second, followed by polar explorers.
This presence is often described as a guardian angel or an imaginary friend of sorts.
It is reasonable to think that the presence may be a defence mechanism however, such feelings are reported in much less dramatic scenarios.
For example, the feeling of an unknown presence is common in both sleep paralysis and even Parkinson’s disease.
What is interesting is that individuals who have experienced brain injuries and experience third man syndrome seem to all have damaged their temporoprietal junction (TPJ).
The TPJ has been found to play an important role in how we see our self image. So could third man syndrome be a projection of ones self as a defence mechanism.
I would love to hear your thoughts of what third man syndrome really is so be sure to leave me a comment down below!
If you want to hear more about Third Man Syndrome then definitely check out Paranormal Kativity’s video:
And that’s all I have for you today…
Until next time,