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Third Man Factor

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Third Man Factor

Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Sat Oct 03, 2009 1:26 am

Has anyone here ever experienced the so-called Third Man Factor?

The Third Man Factor: How those in dire peril have felt a sudden presence at their side, inspiring them to survive. Religious people obviously attribute the Third Man Factor to the presence of God. Others attribute the Third Man Factor to a trick of the subconscious.

John Geiger writes in his book The Third Man Factor:

In situations where success appears to be impossible, or death imminent -- something happens. There, amid the anxiety, fear, blood, sadness, exhaustion, torment, isolation, and fatigue, is an outstretched hand -- another existence, proffering a "transfusion of energy, encouragement and instinctual wisdom from a seemngly external source." A presence appears, a Third Man, who, in the words of the legendary Italian climber Reinhold Messner, "leads you out of the impossible."

Have you ever experienced this phenomenon?

http://www.thirdmanfactor.com

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204884404574361631588827614.html

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112746464

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1197394/The-Third-Man-Factor-How-dire-peril-felt-sudden-presence-inspiring-survive.html
Last edited by Sierra Ledge Rat on Sat Oct 03, 2009 1:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby ExcitableBoy » Sat Oct 03, 2009 1:38 am

Short answer: yes.
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Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Sat Oct 03, 2009 1:39 am

ExcitibleBoy wrote:Short answer: yes.


No short answers allowed.
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Postby Baarb » Sat Oct 03, 2009 5:38 am

Can't say I have though I'll be interested to follow this thread as it develops. Why is it called the 'Third Man' strategy when it's more the case that there are two of you?
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Postby Damien Gildea » Sat Oct 03, 2009 7:46 am

Yes. I mentioned it here: http://www.alpinist.com/doc/web07-08w/n ... pperly-gps

I think it's important to note just how unconsciously absolute the feeling is. You don't even question it, you just accept it and hardly even think about it. It's that real.

During the last hours of the Epperly climb noted above, I also had hallucinations that I was being watched by a three-person judging panel sitting over at a desk far to my left. One of them was an older woman, who would whisper inaudible comments to her colleagues ...

:shock:
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Postby Damien Gildea » Sat Oct 03, 2009 7:49 am

edit: duplicate removed
Last edited by Damien Gildea on Sat Oct 03, 2009 8:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Sat Oct 03, 2009 8:16 am

Baarb wrote:Can't say I have though I'll be interested to follow this thread as it develops. Why is it called the 'Third Man' strategy when it's more the case that there are two of you?


I have seen some references to religious material in which two people held a common feeling that there was an unseen "third man" present. So it has taken on the label as the "Third Man" factor. But it can be the "second man," or the "third man," or the "fourth man," etc.

It is common for soloists to feel the presence of a "second man," or a group of 4-5 to feel the presence of yet another "unseen" person in their midst. Whatever the number, the phenomenon is the same.

Okay, here's my Third Man experience:

http://www.summitpost.org/trip-report/435884/The-Search-A-Winter-Solo-of-the-Leaning-Tower.html
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Postby Baarb » Sat Oct 03, 2009 9:34 am

I wonder if the the film 'The Third Man' draws from this notion (given that the plot was based on a mysterious other figure lurking in the shadows). Given that the film was made in 1949 it would indicate a history to these kind of occurrences.
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Postby Damien Gildea » Sat Oct 03, 2009 10:42 am

On more than one occasion such experiences have been mentioned with the TS Eliot poem "The Waste Land" (1922):

Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Waste_Land

and was the inspiration for the title of Mike Stroud's book 'Shadows on the Wasteland', about an Antarctic crossing:
http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Wasteland ... 0879516364

D
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Postby MoapaPk » Sat Oct 03, 2009 10:52 am

I was leading a hypothermic, exhausted friend back to camp, and he began talking to a nonexistent 3rd person. Somehow I don't think that's what you are talking about.
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Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Sat Oct 03, 2009 12:37 pm

MoapaPk wrote:I was leading a hypothermic, exhausted friend back to camp, and he began talking to a nonexistent 3rd person. Somehow I don't think that's what you are talking about.


Yes, that's exactly the kind of stuff we're talking about. Pushed to the edge, a "third man" appeared to nudge him forward. I would talk to your friend some more and find out what he experienced.

Baarb wrote:I wonder if the the film 'The Third Man' draws from this notion (given that the plot was based on a mysterious other figure lurking in the shadows). Given that the film was made in 1949 it would indicate a history to these kind of occurrences.


John Geiger notes in his book that the experience of the "third man" is a timeless human experience.

We know and understand so little of the vast powers of the human mind...
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Postby kamil » Sat Oct 03, 2009 1:51 pm

Yeah, I reckon I had it once, just a month ago. Very vague, by no means a feeling of the presence of a distinct person. On the last pitches of a climb, and then during an unplanned bivy on the ledges below the summit. Had a weird subconscious feeling that we're in the party of 3 and not 2. Didn't feel it as neither 'helpful' nor 'scary' of any sort, just completely neutral, my subconscience accepted it as it was. The climb was overall dangerous (very loose rock, unknown territory - first ascent of a peak) but except some isolated moments there was no imminent danger at the times I had this feeling. I think I was more mentally tired rather than physically exhausted. The feeling was so 'natural' that I haven't even mentioned it to my partner neither then nor afterwards, I think I will tell him now when I read this thread.
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Postby MoapaPk » Sat Oct 03, 2009 4:14 pm

Sierra Ledge Rat wrote:
MoapaPk wrote:I was leading a hypothermic, exhausted friend back to camp, and he began talking to a nonexistent 3rd person. Somehow I don't think that's what you are talking about.


Yes, that's exactly the kind of stuff we're talking about. Pushed to the edge, a "third man" appeared to nudge him forward. I would talk to your friend some more and find out what he experienced.


Well, it was 38.5 years ago, and I don't even know where the fellow is now.

At the time, we were told that hallucinations were a common sign of hypothermia; all in the interpretation, I guess.
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Postby Ski Mountaineer » Sat Oct 03, 2009 5:25 pm

It is interesting you mention this.

We recently climbed a technical 6000m peak in the Tajik Pamirs as a team of three. One of use got sick. My partner and I draged the sick and weak third person down through difficult terrain, fixing ropes for him, over 24 hrs on the go with the sick totally loosing it and the two of us going to our limits too to get us all out.
The next day I said to my buddy "you know, yesterday night it feel like we were four, not three. Feels like somebody else was there". He said then that this was very strange, since he felt the same way, that we were four, not three.

Never had that feeling before, but we both clearly had it that day&night.
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Postby kamil » Sat Oct 03, 2009 7:27 pm

Know this song? :)
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