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Haleth's avatar

Do you ever see things in your peripheral vision?

Asked by Haleth (19499points) October 9th, 2010

Sometimes when I’m very tired I see brief flashes of dark, menacing figures out of the corner of my eye, or imagine that they’re right over my shoulder or in the mirror. It’s a creepy feeling, but it also makes me feel a little silly- like being afraid of a monster under my bed as an adult.

Wikipedia has a page about it, and mentions that a mental state between dreaming and wakefulness is one explanation.

“Hypnagogia, also known as “waking-sleep”, a physiological condition in which a person is part-way between sleeping and waking, can also account for such perceptions.[11] During hypnagogia, a person can be conscious and aware of their environment, but also in a dream-like state where they can perceive images from their subconscious. People experiencing waking-sleep commonly report the sensation of lights or shadows moving around them, as well as other visual hallucinations. A feeling of dread is also a sensation that occurs when experiencing hypnagogia. Hypnagogia is sometimes known as ‘the faces in the dark phenomenon’ because those who experience this state commonly report seeing faces while experiencing waking-sleep.[12] Similar hypotheses have been put forward linking this condition to a number of other apparent paranormal experiences, including alien abductions, paranormal nocturnal visitations, and religious experiences such as contact with angels or demons.”

I don’t believe in the paranormal, but I do believe that our brains can deceive us. The logical explanation that it’s some sort of hallucination brought on by tiredness makes sense, but isn’t exactly comforting, because you’re still seeing the things and feeling the dread. On the other hand, there is something undeniably cool about seeing something so out of the ordinary.

Have you ever experienced this, and if so, what’s your take on it?

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19 Answers

lillycoyote's avatar

What is is with fluther and questions about hypnagogic hallucinations? The only times I have had any problems with my peripheral vision was when I first started wearing glasses. It took me while to get used to the temples of the glasses, there in my peripheral vision. That’s about it. The only time that I have ever seen anything remotely resembling “shadow people” is that there have been times, a few times, when I have been driving for a reasonably good distance on long, dark, backroads at night and have occasionally “semi-hallucinated” people standing on the side of the road. A little creepy and weird, somewhat startling, but fortunately a very rare occurrence.

Berserker's avatar

Sometimes it happens to me, but I’m thinking those are tricks of the eyes, especially when you’re very tired, or sleep deprived as I often find myself to be. Seeing shadows by the corner of your eye, flashes, or even auditory hallucinations. (I heard little kids laughing in my PC monitor once; time to get my ass to bed lol.)
I also often get the sense that someone has abruptly walked into the room, and I jump or turn around really fast. It’s embarrassing when people are around.
I don’t know too much about sleep disorders or sleep induced anomalies, but I do know they cause weird shit. It might be a good idea to see a doctor about this, especially in regards to your health.
I wish I could help more than this, but I’d just be guessing at that point, and anyways my teenage hood is riddled with LSD trips so…

My take on it is that it’s awesome and trippy; after it happened and when you think about it. Otherwise it’s like vomiting. It sucks when it’s happening, but it’s kinda cool looking at the mess afterward. I’ve also suffered from nocturnal paralysis for over 15 years, it’s also cool; when it’s over lol.

perspicacious's avatar

People on this site love to talk about this—you can do a search and see a bunch of different threads. I experienced sleep paralysis with hypnagogic hallucinations due to sleep deprivation while working full time and going to law school. Most people do not describe it accurately, including you, which leads me to think they and perhaps you are simply looking for attention.

mammal's avatar

sometimes i catch a glimpse of a child, a small girl, in a red duffle coat and hood, when i turn to look at her face she disappears round a street corner or up an alley way. it’s very unsettling.

lillycoyote's avatar

@mammal Oh my God! You see her?

mammal's avatar

after doing a little acid back in the 90’s i seemed to get these peripheral vision glitches and double takes for a while.

chocolatechip's avatar

Today I was walking down the hallway, and thought I saw a figure walking behind me. When I turned to look back, there was nobody there. Turns out it was just my hair.

augustlan's avatar

I do. Startles the crap out of me, every time. I’ve gotten used to the feeling, though, and sometimes assume it’s a trick of my eyes only to find someone actually standing there (usually my husband or one of the kids). Every time that happens, I nearly have a freakin’ heart attack!

wilma's avatar

Yes often.

Coloma's avatar

Yep, and it is myself!

I have a big window in my living room and it is very dark out here at night.

At least once a week I startle myself by catching a glimpse of my reflection in the window as I walk by!

Pisses me off every time I jump! lol

ucme's avatar

Especially when I have the dog out on a night. I mean, it’s like I imagine the entire cast of The Hills Have Eyes are on my tail. Every tree rustling in the wind, each elongated shadow a potential menace. I may have to start wearing blinkers. I’m sure the dog’s pissing herself laughing inside :¬)

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Yes, I also see THEM. In fact I see THEM right now as I type!!!!!!!

YellowsubmarineOnfluther's avatar

You brain is like a computer. Memorys can be uploaded from lobes or “bins” in your brain. It is not this simple but most likley your brain recorded a past image and then later replayed that image from the corner of your eye. To which your imagination did the rest, making it seem like you saw something. Its all in your head

Haleth's avatar

@perspicacious ”...most people do not describe it accurately…” Hallucinations are subjective by nature. Does an experience have to be just like yours to be “accurate?” The intent of my question was to get people to talk about their own experiences.

YellowsubmarineOnfluther's avatar

@Haleth Im there with you, sir or maddam, there are many occasions where I thought I had seen a dead relative or a faint image of a person suddenly disapearing into that corner, sometimes our brains even add sound. Faint voices calling out our names, its all in our heads completly normal.

kitszu's avatar

@perspicacious What is sleep paralysis with hypnagogic hullucination as it relates to you?

When I was very young, I used to wake up in the middle of the night, terrified beyond speech. I mean that literally because I would try as hard as I could to scream for my mommy or my daddy and my mouth would be wide open and yet somehow I didn’t seem to be making a sound. I’d be ‘screaming’ for what felt like a very long time, eventually, I must have made a loud enough sound for one of my parents to come.

Coloma's avatar

I am always spooking myself by catching my reflection in the windows of my living room at night. haha
I did it at my daughters apartment the other night too, caught a glimpse of “someone” on the balcony in the sliding door. OH…it’s me!

kitszu's avatar

I woke up one night shortly after we’d moved to our new house, and saw a hanged man dangling in our bedroom doorway. I didn’t see a face, it was just a very still and well defined shadow. I was so disturbed that I was up the rest of the night, freaking out in my living room and trying to write the image out of my head.

When I was much younger I had a friend who committed suicide by hanging himself. He’d moved 2½ hours away or so and even though I knew the family and had spent time visiting with them, I didn’t find out until almost 2 months later.

The whole way that the situation played out was very traumatic for me. Years later, I would have an out of the blue melt down. Always between the time I knew he had died and when I was told. It didn’t immediately occur to me that this was a new manifestation of that trauma. Especially because I was fairly certain that I had finally moved forward with it.

My husband and I had thought the old house was maybe a little haunted (an opinion our little kitty seemed to share, he would just freak out at random ass times, although at this point we’re convinced he’s merely insane or has adhd, lol). Our new house is sparkly and shows not the least sign of being haunted. I added this because to me, it’s clearly a matter of my brain manifesting a reaction to a trauma I never truly delt with and had actually begun to genuinely bury.

Meaning, no more anniversary freak outs to lance the wound and let the poision bleed out.
It would simply fester and become toxic.

I feel, I don’t know, I’m not finding the word I want…I guess ‘residual’ is the closest I can come. I still feel a residual sorrow. For every part of his life that should have existed, all the things in that life I should have been a part of, every part of my life he should have been a part of.

Somehow, what my brain laid out for me that night, also helped me lay my grief to rest. It has allowed me to move forward in truth, I’d been hanging onto guilt and ‘what if’s’ for a very long time.

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