No, it’s not some enigmatic superhero or a figure from a science fiction film. In fact, Third Man Syndrome, often referred to as Third Man Factor, is an amazing phenomena that happens in life-or-death circumstances.
Think about being lost or stranded in a perilous scenario with no way out.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, you sense a presence alongside you as terror and hopelessness overwhelm you.
You turn to look, and there, standing by your side, is an unexplainable figure – the ‘Third Man’.
This enigmatic entity offers you comfort, guidance, and a renewed sense of hope, helping you navigate through the seemingly impossible situation.
Reddit users have debated this “presence” and shared their own unique encounters with it.
One responds, “My father experienced something similar. He broke his leg and his back in several places when he went down a sea cliff into some boulders in Alaska.
“He lay there alone for hours calling for help with no luck. Then, he said a little girl came down the cliff and kept him company.
“He said she told him stories and sang to him, pet his head, and even put her coat over him to help keep him warm.
But there was no small girl there when someone ultimately passed by the bay and saw him.
“It was close to a very small, isolated village in Alaska, and nobody there knew of any young girl that even remotely fit her description.
Another writes: “I was in a really terrible car accident a few years ago and I was stuck in the car – they had to cut me out.
“During it, I came to and there was a woman who had climbed into the rear seat behind me and was holding my shoulders telling me I was going to be okay and that help was coming.
“I thought she stayed with me until I blacked out and woke up to a fireman cutting the door off and pulling me out.
“The firemen, paramedics, and my mother who had gotten there quickly all said there was no woman at all, that traffic had gone around and no one had stopped because the fire department was only a few blocks down the road.
“I can still hear her voice, I know she was touching me, but no one saw her. It freaks me out still.”
Upon reading about these experiences, many people were creeped out by the apparent phenomenon.
One person commented: “This sh** is so weird. And I don’t normally believe in this kinda stuff.”
So who is this mystery man?
Third Man Syndrome was coined by the explorer Ernest Shackleton, who experienced the phenomenon during his ill-fated Endurance expedition to Antarctica in 1914.
Shackleton and his crew found themselves stranded on the ice for months, battling extreme cold, hunger and isolation.
Shackleton claimed to have felt a ‘Third Man’ accompany them throughout the harrowing adventure, encouraging and supporting them in their most harrowing moments.
Since then, this syndrome has been seen in a variety of extreme situations, including climbing expeditions, at-sea survival, and even in conflict areas.
The first person to set foot on the moon, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, claims to have suffered from Third Man Syndrome while on his historic space expedition.
Armstrong claims that as he took his first steps on the moon’s surface, he heard a voice encouraging and directing him.
It is thought to be a result of the brain’s reaction to intense stress and solitude, according to psychologists and neuroscientists.
The mind seeks consolation and comfort in these high-stakes circumstances, creating an imaginary friend as a coping mechanism.
It’s a survival instinct that gives people the fortitude and friendship they need to face the terrible.
The fact that the Third Man Syndrome affects groups as well as individuals makes it even more intriguing.
In rare instances, several individuals in a group claim to have experienced the Third Man at the same time.
So, why does the Third Man Syndrome continue to captivate our imagination?
Perhaps it’s because it taps into our innate desire for companionship and support during challenging times.