A shadow person (also known as a shadow figure, shadow being or black mass) is the perception of a patch of shadow as a living, humanoid figure, particularly as interpreted by believers in the paranormal or supernatural as the presence of a spirit or other entity. Many methamphetamine addicts report hallucinations of “shadow people”, as a result of sleep deprivation.
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 shadowy shapes seeming alive. A sleep paralysis sufferer may perceive a “shadowy or indistinct shape” approaching them when they lay awake paralyzed, and become increasingly alarmed. A person experiencing heightened emotion, such as while walking alone on a dark night, may incorrectly perceive a patch of shadow as an attacker.
Many methamphetamine addicts report the appearance of “shadow people” after prolonged periods of sleep deprivation. Psychiatrist Jack Potts suggests that methamphetamine usage adds a “conspiratorial component” to the sleep deprivation hallucinations. One interviewed subject said that “You don’t see shadow dogs or shadow birds or shadow cars. You see shadow people. Standing in doorways, walking behind you, coming at you on the sidewalk.” These hallucinations have been directly compared to the paranormal entities described in folklore.
Although participants in online discussion forums devoted to paranormal and supernatural topics describe them as menacing, other believers and paranormal authors do not agree whether shadow people are either evil, helpful, or neutral, and some even speculate that shadow people may be the extra-dimensional inhabitants of another universe.
In folklore and mythology, a ghost (sometimes known as a spectre British English, specter American English, phantom, apparition, spirit, spook, or haunt) is the soul or spirit of a dead person or animal that can appear to the living. Descriptions of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to realistic, lifelike visions. The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person is known as necromancy, or in spiritism as a séance.
The belief in manifestations of the spirits of the dead is widespread, dating back to animism or ancestor worship in pre-literate cultures. Certain religious practices—funeral rites, exorcisms, and some practices of spiritualism and ritual magic—are specifically designed to rest the spirits of the dead. Ghosts are generally described as solitary, human-like essences that haunt particular locations, objects, or people they were associated with in life, though stories of ghostly armies and the ghosts of animals have also been recounted.