This book follows a psychologist's quest to understand one of the most curious experiences known to humankind: the universal, disturbing feeling that someone or something is there when we are alone. What does this feeling mean and where does it come from? When and why do presences emerge? And how can we begin to understand a phenomenon that can be transformative for those who experience it and yet almost impossible to put into words? The answers to these questions lie in this tour-de-force through contemporary psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience and philosophy. Presence follows Ben Alderson-Day's attempts to understand how this experience is possible. The journey takes us to meet explorers, mediums and robots, and step through real, imagined and virtual worlds. Presence is the story of whom we carry with us, at all times, as parts of ourselves.
In 2002, an essay by psychiatrists Dennis Chan and
Martin Rossor appeared in the Lancet medical journal. Its title “—but
who is that on the other side of you?” was a reference to Eliot’s Third Man,
and it called for attention to two conditions affected by felt presence: Parkinson’s
disease and dementiawithLewybodies (DLB).
The two diseases are closely linked, both involving
“Parkinsonian” changes to motor functioning, such as tremors. They also
involve changes to mood, thinking, and behavior