A shadow person (also known as a shadow figure, shadow being or black mass,) is believed by skeptics to be a type of hallucination where the subject perceives a patch of shadow in their peripheral vision to be a living, humanoid figure. However, paranormal researcher Heidi Hollis has expressed the belief that shadow people are malevolent supernatural entities.
A number of religions, legends, and belief systems describe shadowy spiritual beings or supernatural entities such as shades of the underworld, and various shadowy creatures have long been a staple of folklore and ghost stories.
Several physiological and psychological conditions can account for reported experiences of shadow people. These include sleep paralysis, illusions, or hallucinations brought on by physiological or psychological circumstances, drug use or side effects of medication, and the interaction of external agents on the human body. Another reason that could be behind the illusion is sleep deprivation, which may lead to hallucinations.
Heidi Hollis' appearances on the Coast to Coast AM late night radio radio talk show helped popularize modern beliefs in shadow people. Hollis described them as dark silhouettes with human shapes and profiles that flicker in and out of peripheral vision, and claimed that people had reported the figures attempting to "jump on their chest and choke them". She believes they can be repelled by invoking "the name of Jesus".
Although participants in online discussion forums devoted to paranormal and supernatural topics describe them as menacing, other believers and paranormal authors do not agree that shadow people are either evil, helpful, or neutral, and some even speculate that shadow people may be the extra-dimensional inhabitants of another universe. Some paranormal investigators and authors such as Chad Stambaugh claim to have recorded images of shadow people on video.
In popular culture
- Shadow people, described as "Shadow Men", feature prominently in the 2007 novel John Dies at the End.
- The 2013 movie Shadow People depicts a sleep study conducted during the 1970s in which patients report seeing shadowy intruders before dying in their sleep. The movie follows a radio host and CDC investigator who research the story, and the story is claimed to be "based on true events".
- Extreme Ghost Stories. ITV. 2006. Episodes 1 and 2.
- Ahlquist, Diane (2007). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Life After Death. USA: Penguin Group. p. 122. ISBN 978-1-59257-651-7.
- Shelley Adler (15 January 2011). Sleep Paralysis: Night-mares, Nocebos, and the Mind-Body Connection. Rutgers University Press. pp. 3–. ISBN 978-0-8135-5237-8. Retrieved 10 February 2013. "In the field of sleep research, this experience is termed sleep paralysis: an individual, in the process of falling asleep or awakening, finds himself or herself completely awake, but unable to move or speak…Frequently, he or she sees a shadowy or indistinct shape approaching and becomes increasingly terrified."
- Clare Oakley; Amit Malik (15 November 2011). Rapid Psychiatry. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 6–. ISBN 978-1-118-29418-5. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
- Herbert C. Covey (2007). The Methamphetamine Crisis: Strategies to Save Addicts, Families, And Communities. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 17–. ISBN 978-0-275-99322-1. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- Michael Kinsella (17 May 2011). Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong's Hat. Univ. Press of Mississippi. pp. 117–. ISBN 978-1-60473-983-1. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- "Shadow People & the "Hat Man"". Coast to Coast AM. 2008-03-07. Retrieved 2013-04-25.
- "Shadow Beings". Coast to Coast. 2006-03-27. Retrieved 2013-04-25.
- Greg Jenkins (1 February 2005). Florida's Ghostly Legends and Haunted Folklore: South and central Florida. Pineapple Press Inc. ISBN 978-1-56164-327-1. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
- Luiz, Joseph. "Paranormal investigator holds book signing". February 18, 2013. Hanford Sentinel. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
- Bergin, Nicholas. "'John Dies at the End' has limited showing in Omaha". March 07, 2013. Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
- Liebman, Martin (March 19, 2013). "Believe in the boogeyman? Prepare to die.". Shadow People Blu-ray Review. http://www.blu-ray.com/. Retrieved 7 April 2013.