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Mar-14-2010 00:11printcomments

The Mysterious Phenomenon of Shadow People

"I've heard of shadow people, and maybe even seen one. Are they a common entity?" ~question via email

Shadow Person
"Shadow Person"

(SALEM, Ore.) - One of the most interesting and intriguing phenomena in the world of paranormal activity is that of the “Shadow People.” Each and every week there seems to be more and more stories and reports involving these mysterious beings, and they certainly have become a hot topic and a subject of growing interest of research by investigators.

Stories about these strange entities and their natures vary from harmless, quiet and shy observers to malevolent and downright nasty creatures of mal-intent.

As with most things in the paranormal field, no one can say with any degree of certainty what these shadow beings are, but we will explore a few of the prevalent theories.

Shadow people have gained their nickname because they are most commonly observed or reported as having a human-like form. Unlike the typical descriptions of ghosts who are usually described as having human form with discernible characteristics such as physical features, clothing and accessories, shadow people are said to be feature-less.

Generally, they are described as appearing to have mass, though their natures seem to vary from simple two-dimensional shadows, to distorted three-dimensional forms.

Their movements are sometimes described as “unnatural” seeming to be very quick and disjointed. Sometimes they are said to move in slow motion, as if they were submerged in liquid, and then to suddenly move rapidly from one place to another within the room.

Again, some accounts differ even more widely and describe a completely black being with red eyes, a cloak, and a hat. This variation has become known as "the hat man".

Many witnesses describe feeling a strong presence or a sense of being watched, many times they will get a glimpse of ‘something dark’ out of the corner of their eye, they turn to look in the direction of the presence only to see it disappear into thin air, or flee right through a wall.

Sometimes they are reported as being childlike and playing games with witnesses. These seem to be curious and are also almost always seen through peripheral vision, when the witness turns to see them, rather than disappear through a wall or into thin air; they usually flee in a particular direction. Once while visiting my house, my sister reported chasing a small child around from room to room.

Many times people interpret the presence of shadow people as being ominous and equate experiences with shadow beings with feelings of dread, ill intent and pure evil. Sometimes these shadow beings seem to be curious about the people who are seeing them.

Theories surrounding the nature and origin of shadow people abound. Some believe that they are inter-dimensional beings which exist in a universe parallel to our own. Others suggest that they are demonic entities, or are observers from another place, some even suggest that they may be thought forms unconsciously created by negative psychic energy and related to a place or event in which extreme emotional or physical stress/trauma has taken place.

It is extremely hard not to notice the subconscious symbolism implied by these manifestations. In Jungian Psychology and Philosophy the shadow is associated with the hidden aspects of the conscious mind; it is an archetype of the secret, repressed area of human nature and behavior, perhaps that is why feelings of fear and malevolence often accompany interaction with these beings.

Possible Scientific Explanations:


Some of the conditions reported in shadow people experiences are similar to occurrences in episodes of sleep paralysis. Often times witnesses to shadow people have reported that the experiences occur just before falling asleep, or just after waking. Many times victims are in bed and report being 'held down' during visitations.

Have you or someone you know witnessed or experienced something unexplainable or paranormal? Do you have a story/experience that you would like to share?
Your story may end up being published and it could lead to an actual paranormal investigation!
Write in about your personal experiences. We are looking for stories about experiences from across the board including Ouija Boards, Haunted Houses, UFO's, Ghosts, Cryptids, Precognition, ESP etc.
Physiologically, this could be the result of a condition called hypnagogic paralysis. The body naturally goes through a state of paralysis during REM sleep in order to keep us from acting out our dreams physically. A temporary and unsettling paralysis can occur when we are suddenly awakened from an REM state into an awake state, but the bodily paralysis is still occurring. This causes the person to be fully aware, but unable to move.

In addition, in this state the person is able to consciously perceive images from their subconscious mind. These hallucinations can be very real and can include some, or all sensory perceptions; the individual can experience taste, smell, auditory, tactile, and/or visual phenomena.

Hypnogogia is sometimes known as 'the faces in the dark phenomenon' because sufferers commonly report seeing faces while experiencing waking-sleep. Similar hypotheses have been put forward linking this condition to a number of other apparent paranormal experiences, including alien abductions.


In most instances, witnesses report seeing shadow people through their peripheral vision. This area of vision is linked to the area of the brain that is hard-wired to find familiar patterns, while providing less detail to the brain than center-forward vision does.

This can lead to a condition known as pareidolia, in which the brain incorrectly interprets random patterns of light/shadow or texture as being familiar patterns such as faces and human/animal forms such as seeing familiar forms in clouds. This pheonomenon is known as ‘matrixing’ by many paranormal investigators.

Electromagnetic Fields

Recently, it has been found that electro-magnetic fields can interfere with the functions of the temporal lobe; creating altered states of perception in which auditory and visual hallucinations can occur.

In recent studies researches have been able to recreate many of the experiences reported during paranormal encounters or hauntings under controlled conditions. Researchers have also documented correlations between naturally-occurring magnetic fields and areas where paranormal events have been reported.

As I said in the opening of this article, there is no way to definitively explain any reported occurrences in the paranormal field -- yet. However, if we are ever to get to the root of these matters, and be able to one day discover what the nature of these experiences are, it is important for us to keep records of personal experiences and for those who are experiencing these things to come forward, so that we can have these stories to contrast against findings in the field.

As for the shadow people, maybe they are a figment of our imaginations, maybe they are something more... maybe they are the Gatekeepers, at The Crossroads.

Bernard Powell is a local author and independent publisher; a devout student of religion, mysticism and the language of occult symbolism. He has had a life-long interest in all branches of the paranormal; and is also the founding member of a Salem-based paranormal research society called OPHIR (Occult & Paranormal House of Investigational Research).

You can visit their site at or you can contact him directly at:

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OASIS Founder March 17, 2015 1:34 pm (Pacific time)

This is something that I have extensively studied, and looked into on various parallels across the world. The black fedora shadow figure is not something that is specific to one country nor is it based on any specific folklore or urban legend. In fact, many people (especially children) have seen these beings while they were young - and even continue to see them later in life. Most people that experience this "phenomenon" and I use that term very loosely, do not come forward with their experiences in fear of personal safety and social standing. Every 1 person that comes forward, accounts for about 1 in 1000 or so unspoken experiences. There is a very dark and sinister story behind these beings, and the only reason they appear with human characteristics is so we can associate them to a being that belongs amongst the populous. They have been seen in every culture, at every stage of human advancement. They have been recorded ever since writings and records have been kept - therefore it is also safe to say that they predate those records. Their forms have changed, but not their actions or intentions. The same fedora hat being, and the "men in black (MiB)" are one in the same. There is no difference between the two other than how and when they present themselves. Both seeking suppression of the truth , through fear and oppression to those that they visit. They are searching, for evidence that the time is at hand, and they are searching for a higher knowledge than they themselves possess. This is also why there is no records which can be found of these individuals. The real "boogyman" was first conceived from this same experience - which later was adopted into many various forms and creatures in hollywood. They have no good intent, and are self seeking. Do not kid yourselves into believing they are good in any way.

Georgiy October 15, 2012 12:55 pm (Pacific time)

Hey metoo incase your curious to know as to who the hat guy is, it is an inorganic being that has been manifested through our own mind. The hat man always wears an 1800 fedora hat..They did not have those before the 1800's so people before then would not have been able to experience them. We created them.

George October 15, 2012 12:50 pm (Pacific time)

James you are an absolute moron. Get some help buddy. You are not cute nor funny.

Jack February 28, 2012 1:05 am (Pacific time)

I remember when I was six and in morning kindergarden in about 1979, my mom would make me lunch when we got home and eventually fall asleep on the soffa. While she was sleeping, I used to chase around a man in a top hat wearing a black suit. He would peek around corners at me with a strange but funny smile. I would run to where he was and he would be gone, but pop up around a different corner. I am not sure how long this went on or when it stpped. I alway thought it was my imagination until I heard a similar story on the radio shaw coast to Coast AM with Goerge Noory. After that my interest was peeked and decided to do more research. I found alot of stories where poeple were terrified by this man in a top hat and black suit, but I was not. In fact, I remember welcoming the chance to play again.

metoo December 14, 2010 12:42 am (Pacific time)

I've been telling this story for around 12 years. I've had a lot of various unexplainable things happen to me but this is my only ghost story although now that I realize other people have seen it too I don't know what to call it.

I was getting into bed. My boyfriend was already asleep. As I pulled the covers up I saw the silhouette of man wearing a hat standing at the foot of the bed watching me. I could FEEL him watching me. He was clearly outlined in the archway going from our room into the kitchen and clearly wearing a frikkin Hat of all things!! I was on my side and I kicked my Bf who was behind me to wake him up "Paddy! Paddy a ghost!" but he just mumbled and didn't wake up. I looked at it for awhile but there was no malice only curiosity so I eventually thought "**** it" and went to sleep. The next morning I asked everyone in the house if anything strange had happened to them the night before. They said "Like what?" and I said "If you have to ask..." When M came home from work I asked him the same thing and he immediately said "YES! There was man watching me at the foot of my bed last night!" I asked if he was wearing a hat "YES! He was wearing a hat!" It's the hat that's always bugged me over the years. He wasn't afraid of it either. We were all getting ready for a good haunting but nobody ever saw anything after that.

I only found out other people have seen the hat guy last night and that scared me more than he did. Apparently hat guy makes so many appearances that someone has written a book about it. There's even a wiki**and^#pedia article about it! When I saw "30's style fedora hat" tears started streaming down my face and didn't stop. I couldn't believe it. I knew he was real because my roommate saw it too but who could have guessed HOW real?!?!? I am flabbergasted. People can contact me if they want to. I'm happy to talk about my weird experiences or hear about other peoples'

Josh Akers October 31, 2010 8:19 pm (Pacific time)

According to Buddhism there are many classes of 'ghosts' and 'spirits'. It is actually one of the six realms of existence one may take rebirth in. All ghosts, according to Buddhism, are suffering beings who (as is commonly known in pop culture) have not been able to let themselves go into another existence, they resist due to attachments and traumatic deaths and things. I will email you a blog article on ghosts from my Guru which you may find interesting.

amber August 1, 2010 12:01 am (Pacific time)

there is this shadow figure that looks like it is wearing a black cloak.after 10 minutes of being in my dark room a shadow figure comes and i look at it and it does the same to would move around my bed. but when u guys say they cant harm you...i dont quite believe it because the shadow figure can move stuff off my dresser and touch my shoulder.when it touched my shoulder the cloak felt like silk and the hands felt soft but rough like a mans. but its creepy cause it watches me sleep

sal July 28, 2010 7:14 am (Pacific time)

seen one attending two horses with a cowboyhat waving at me while trucking on the highway in colorado just north of denver. i prayed for the being.btw not scared because i believe in jesus and the holy cross

James July 12, 2010 11:57 am (Pacific time)

Mine came on seperate occassions, the 1st, stone-cold sober, there were about a dozen in my backyard near dusk, and I found out that a woman had been killed in our house by an explosion, and my dad had bought the house after they had torn it down and re-built it, which caused me to believe it could be ghosts, the 2nd time, it was during and after a 4-day meth binge, and they all started coming out, day-night, everywhere I went, the next day I was in the hospital and nearly died from hyperthermia, so I am lead to believe they are gate keepers, or are in someway connected to the after life.

sherri June 15, 2010 12:36 pm (Pacific time)

i saw one and do not drink or do drugs. it did not dissapear right away it stared at me and i at it for what seemed like an eternity. i was wide awake and had red eyes too!!

roseborn March 23, 2010 2:43 pm (Pacific time)

they re already bugle.And they are playing game with u. if u re believe in God u don't need to afraid of them.they can't harm on u.

Kmuzu March 18, 2010 1:00 am (Pacific time)

Eye spots - ever since I was diagnosed with MS, I've seen shadow people. My thinking is that this is a kind of misfiring in the optical nerve.

Jacques March 16, 2010 1:56 pm (Pacific time)

The problem is that almost nobody currently is believing in the devil. All these manifestations are originating from the devil who is the number one liar and deceiver of the mankind since mankind exists. I know a very good mean to test these phenomenons since I could confirm its efficiency on them: You only have to ask some blessed water from a holy priest and sprinkle it generously in every room of the concerned house. Soon all the paranormal "beings" will vanish. I personnally witnessed this in my sister's home. In addition, some prayers recited by holy and pious people may help. I was told of a haunted house that nobody wanted to purchase that was dumped of any evil spirit in that way by the new owner who purchased it at a very low price. His "investment" was only a bucket of holy water. It's worth trying it.

Mike March 16, 2010 9:32 am (Pacific time)

For the last few months I've been noticing a presence watching me from time to time. When I turn to look a shadow quickly moves out of view. I told my wife about these visions but have kept it quiet from anyone else since I've never heard of this phenomenon, until reading your article today.

douglas benson March 14, 2010 8:15 am (Pacific time)

Nonsense ,these folks need to put down the meth pipe or seek mental help.

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