- Format: Hardcover
- ISBN: 978-1-5261-7350-8
- Pages: 304
- Price: £19.99
- Published Date: March 2023
In this enthralling book, Ben Alderson-Day explores one of the most curious experiences known to humankind: the universal, disturbing sense that someone or something is there when we are alone - the feeling of an unseen presence.
When and why do presences emerge? What does this feeling mean and where does it come from? And how can we even begin to understand a phenomenon that can be transformative for those who experience it and yet so hard to put into words? The answers to these questions lie in this fascinating exploration through cutting-edge research in contemporary psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience and philosophy.
Taking the reader on a riveting and emotional journey, Presence offers remarkable insights into the experience of felt presence and how it relates to a range of medical conditions, including sleep paralysis, dementia and Parkinson's. This compelling story will stoke the fascination of sceptics and ardent believers alike who are drawn to the mystery of the unseen.
Winner of the British Psychological Society 2023 Book Award for Popular Science
'Alderson-Day offers a thrilling and erudite survey of the experience of "felt presence" - where one has the strong feeling that someone, or something, is there, but without any input from our traditional senses. The book brings together rich testimonies of this core human experience, with the insights of myth, history, philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry. Reading it leaves one with an enriched appreciation of what we are and how much more we have yet to understand about ourselves.'
Matthew Broome, Professor of Psychiatry and Youth Mental Health and Director of the Institute for Mental Health, University of Birmingham
'The sense that you are not alone - that someone or something is "there" - is a fascinating topic and this marvellous book draws across many different kinds of experiences to give a coherent account of the kinds of processes that underlie this feeling.'
Sophie Scott, Director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London
'Presence is a fascinating read. The writing is lively and the stories are compelling. Thanks to Alderson-Day, the mysterious world of visions, voices and ghostly presences is just that bit more understandable.'
Jason Arunn Murugesu, New Scientist
'Those interested in developing a richer understanding of the phenomenon will appreciate Alderson-Day's in-depth exploration of the topic and detailed endnotes.'
'Alderson-Day's wonderful book truly represents such an intellectual experience and is a rare achievement as well as being a delight to read.'
Alastair Morgan, The Polyphony
Preface: what is there?
Part I: Phantom others
1 A thickness in the air
2 'Things which can never be sooken of'
3 The double
5 The presence robot
6 'I'll set the table for three people when it's just me and my wife'
Part II: Fellow travelers
7 The walnut of reality
8 The marathon monk of Billingham
9 Seeing darkness
11 In two minds
12 You never asked
Ben Alderson-Day is an Associate Professor in Psychology and a Fellow of the Institute for Medical Humanities at Durham University. A specialist in atypical cognition and mental health, his work spans cognitive neuroscience, psychiatry, philosophy, and child development.