Felt presence: the uncanny encounters with the numinous Other

Abstract

Felt presence, a sensation that “someone is there”, is an integral part of our everyday experience. It can manifest itself in a variety of forms ranging from most subtle fleeting impressions to intense hallucinations of demonic assault or visions of the divine. Felt presence phenomenon outside of the context of neurological disorders is largely neglected and not well understood by contemporary science. This paper focuses on the experiential and expressive qualities of the phenomenon and attempts to bring forth the complexity and the richness of possibilities for inter- and intrasubjective awareness represented by these experiences. Are these simply misperceptions and hallucinations heightened and enforced by the mystical or superstitious mind? Or are these entities projections of our own “selves”, elements of self-estrangement? How are such experiences shaping our understanding of ourselves and of others? And finally, what is the interplay between intersubjective, private experiences and private or public spaces of dwelling?

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Acknowledgments

the authors wish to thank Sha Xin Wei, Timoth Sutton, and Philippe Stenstrom for their invaluable help.

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Correspondence to Elizaveta Solomonova.

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Solomonova, E., Frantova, E. & Nielsen, T. Felt presence: the uncanny encounters with the numinous Other. AI & Soc 26, 171–178 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00146-010-0299-x

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Keywords

  • Felt presence
  • Sleep paralysis
  • The other
  • Intersubjectivity
  • Dwelling
  • Religious experiences
  • Self-estrangement