A shadow person, also known as a shadow figure, shadow being or black mass, is an alleged paranormal entity. Paranormal researcher Heidi Hollis has expressed the belief that shadow people are malevolent supernatural entities.
A number of religions, legends, and belief systems describe shadowy spiritual beings or supernatural entities such as shades of the underworld, and various shadowy creatures have long been a staple of folklore and ghost stories.
Several physiological and psychological conditions can account for reported experiences of shadow people. These include sleep paralysis, illusions, or hallucinations brought on by physiological or psychological circumstances, drug use or side effects of medication, and the interaction of external agents on the human body. Another reason that could be behind the illusion is sleep deprivation, which may lead to hallucinations.
An artist's impression of a shadow person.
Heidi Hollis' appearances on the Coast to Coast AM late night radio radio talk show helped popularize modern beliefs in shadow people. Hollis described them as dark silhouettes with human shapes and profiles that flicker in and out of peripheral vision, and claimed that people had reported the figures attempting to "jump on their chest and choke them". She believes they can be repelled by using "the name of Jesus".
Although participants in online discussion forums devoted to paranormal and supernatural topics describe them as menacing, among other believers and paranormal authors, there is no consensus that shadow people are either evil, helpful, or neutral, and some even speculate that shadow people may be the extra-dimensional inhabitants of another universe. Some paranormal investigators and authors such as Chad Stambaugh claim to have recorded images of shadow people on video.
Shadow people feature in two episodes of ITV paranormal documentary series Extreme Ghost Stories, where they are described as "black masses".
The 2013 movie Shadow People depicts a sleep study conducted during the 1970s in which patients report seeing shadowy intruders before dying in their sleep. The movie follows a radio host and CDC investigator who research the story, and the story is claimed to be "based on true events".
^Shelley Adler (15 January 2011). Sleep Paralysis: Night-mares, Nocebos, and the Mind-Body Connection. Rutgers University Press. pp. 3–. ISBN978-0-8135-5237-8. Retrieved 10 February 2013. "In the field of sleep research, this experience is termed sleep paralysis: an individual, in the process of falling asleep or awakening, finds himself or herself completely awake, but unable to move or speak…Frequently, he or she sees a shadowy or indistinct shape approaching and becomes increasingly terrified."