Third Man Factor

myths and memes 2014

I don’t know if this fits into this month’s theme, but I like the idea of the thing so I’ll put it in anyway.

That’s the joy of blogging. You can get away with just sort of doing things.

The Third Man factor is the idea that during certain high stress (think extreme mountain climbing, extreme weather events, or terrorist activities such as 9/11) situations people will report being guided to safety or otherwise protected by an entity or spirit that only they can see or hear. The individual sometimes knows the gender of the being, and sometimes even can identify the person they’re with. Even if the person seems to be aware that the individual they are interacting with is imaginary-that imaginary being seems to have been capable of helping the individual avoid danger or find their way back to base camp.

This is an actual, recorded phenomena. Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton reported the factor, which places the factor at least as far back as the turn of the 20th century-and there seems to be no reason to assume that this is a modern effect. While it is most likely to be some form of psychological effect, it has inspired both works of fiction and modern metaphysical thought to wonder if people are interacting with ghosts, guardian angels, or other incorporeal but relatively sentient beings.

While Shackleton was one of the first to report the phenomena in relation to his extreme explorations, there have been modern reports of Third Man factor. The final survivor of the Twin Tower attacks on 9/11 claimed that he had an encounter with something that fits the factor. Ron DiFrancesco claims that something lead him by hand out of the burning building from the 84th floor-except that he was in fact alone the entire time. In many cases, the factor doesn’t prove physical aid so much as a feeling of comfort, support, or simple companionship-athletes who have reported the factor have claimed to attempt to feed their ‘companion’ only to discover that they are alone.

Interestingly, it’s not always a  ‘third man’-on some occasions it’s ‘third men‘. Charles Lindbergh reported the presence of multiple beings on the Spirit of St. Louis in 1927.

Third Man factor

Guardian Angels or the ‘Third Man factor’?

Third man theory of otherwordly encounters


One comment

  1. I once had an experience (being “pushed” out of the way shortly before a large heavy thing fell that I wasn’t expecting to fall) that I can only explain as “guardian angel.”

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