The Third Man Factor: Surviving the Impossible

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This is not unexpected. Antarctic winters are spent in conditions of being alone together, that is, in a small group in acute social isolation. There is a quantifi- able drop in mood and morale after the midway point of a prolonged stay in isolated places, such as high arctic weather stations and Antarctic scientific stations. This low ebb occurs during the third quarter of a stay, regardless of whether the stay is five months, a year, or some other period. In May , a young psychologist, Jane Mocellin, inter- viewed men living at the Argentine Antarctic base of Esperanza, as part of a study of human responses to living in polar and other extreme environments.

Her research took an unusual turn when, through informal talks, she learned that some of the men had encountered a presence at the base, a fact subsequendy confirmed by the resident medical officer. These incidents had occurred over the four months immediately preceding her interviews. One after another, the men revealed how they had become convinced of the presence of an unseen being at the base. This always occurred in the building that housed the power plant, which they staffed on a rotating basis for twenty-four-hour shifts.

The building was the. The encounters usually occurred at night. Another, a twenty-seven-year-old mechan- ical technician, felt certain that he was being watched through a window. When I stood up myself to go there the image moved and disappeared out of my visual field. Later, in collaboration with Peter Suedfeld, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, she produced a landmark study of the Third Man phenomenon in the academic journal Environment and Behavior. In fact, what happened at the Antarctic stations is not all that unusual.

The sense of a presence is far more commonly encountered. Reed noted that the occurrence is most common in unusual surroundings. Yet it can also happen in everyday situations where there is an absence of meaningful stimuli. When walking alone at night, people often develop a feeling that someone might be following them, They try to reassure themselves, and resist the idea, concluding that their imagination has gotten the better of them, but the sense is vivid enough that they almost invariably look around anyway, just to make sure.

Then it seemed to her that somebody was really walking behind her. Thus a mental state produced by such surroundings will infuse natural phenomena, such as a draft, mist, cloud, shadows, or an echo with meaning.

It happens even where faint stimuli have been removed. Scientists have suspended subjects in a tank of body-temperature water and removed all sensory stimulation.

The Third Man Factor by John Geiger, Vincent Lam | Waterstones

After a relatively short. With the screen of consciousness not filled with sensory images from the environment, the individual himself begins to fill the screen projectively with his own inner uncorrected fantasies. They often request that a light remain on or a door be left ajar. The consequences of not doing so can be startling, as one girl recalled:.

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To get to her room, she had to go through a dark corridor. Adults retain some of this behavior in certain situations, such as when a spouse goes on a business trip.

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Suddenly dogs that are normally banished to the mudroom are welcomed into the master bedroom. People who are alone at night seek to occupy the silence by humming, whistling, talking aloud, watching television, or playing music. It is simply a subtle, sometimes vaguely disqui- eting, awareness of someone nearby. What exactly, Sir Edward Shackleton and his men encountered on their harrowing crossing of the south polar island of South Georgia is a question that has confounded historians and inspired Sunday sermons ever since.

The Third Man Factor: Surviving the Impossible

The apparition impressed Shackleton as being not of this world, a manifestation of some greater power. In August , only days before the First World War unleashed its fury on Europe, Shackleton had set sail to claim for Britain a polar prize by crossing the Antarctic continent on. He was the right man for the job. A self-made explorer, Shackleton was possessed of resilience, will, and good humor. After being carried in the ice for nearly ten months, the ship was abandoned on October 27 , I ordered all hands out on the floe.

The twenty-eight men stood a hundred yards off provisions and supplies piled around them, the ice cracking beneath their feet. They were a thousand miles and a vast ocean from the nearest human settlement. On April 9, , fifteen months after the ship first became trapped, the men made an escape from the ice, launching the small boats on the open sea.

They were already greatly reduced in health and spirit. Huddled in the boats, they were now tormented by the surging seas. Salt from the sea spray reddened their eyes, bloodied their lips, and gave their faces the pallor of death. Some were suffering from dysentery from eating uncooked dog pemmican.

The Third Man Factor: Surviving the Impossible by John Geiger

At night, temperatures dipped well below freezing. They faced constant rain and snow squalls. Having spent three nights in the boats, Shackleton doubted all the men would survive a fourth. Then they saw the rugged cliffs of Elephant Island, a desolate outcrop off the Antarctic Peninsula, and landed, staggering to shore like a band of drunkards. However, their faces were sullen and haunted. He announced his decision on April That conclusion was forced upon me. The hazards. The six men endured gales, snow squalls, and heavy seas for seventeen days.

Their existence was miserable. Most were seasick, soaked, and chilled to the marrow. To cap it all, one keg of drinking water was lost, and the absence of adequate fluid left them severely dehydrated. As their journey continued, they each were reduced to a small amount of brackish water per day. Lack of water is always the most severe privation that men can be condemned to endure.

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Seller Inventory B. More information about this seller Contact this seller. Book Description Hachette Book Group. Brand New. Seller Inventory Language: English. Brand new Book. There is a name for this phenomenon: it's called the Third Man Factor. Fascinating for any reader, The Third Man Factor at last explains this secret to survival, a Third Man who,in the words of famed climber Reinhold Messner, leads you out of the impossible.


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