The Hat Man: A Shared Shadow Phenomenon

Have you seen the “Hat Man?”

Given the widespread nature of this phenomenon, it’s not unlikely that you have.

Perhaps belonging to the often mystifying “Shadow People,” the so-called Hat Man is a phantom who appears for just an instant, a tall shade wearing old-fashioned clothing and a top hat.

Many say they feel no fear when he materializes, but others think he is the devil himself.

Like the Old Hag, the Hat Man appears to be a global phenomenon, an experience shared by thousands of people around the world.

Many don’t even realize just how widespread this phenomenon is until they’re driven to research it themselves.

What they inevitably find are tales of strange sightings, reports of a tall man, six feet or more, wearing his trademark top or bowler hat. He’ll appear when you least expect him — a quick glance while walking down a hallway, or a shocking reflection in a bathroom mirror. Standing motionless, watching you with a devilish grin on his face, and eyes that glow with some dark light.

When you turn around, he’s gone.

Sightings often occur in the bedroom, while an individual is just getting ready to go to sleep, or just after they’ve woken up. But the Hat Man can and will appear anywhere, in broad daylight and in the presence of others.

Is he a demon? A mischevous spirit? We simply do not know.

Shared Suffering

A shadow walks in the distance
Image: David Werbrouck/Unsplash

The Hat Man. The Old Hag.

What are these entities that seem so pervasive throughout the world? Could they be a type of shared psychological phenomenon, something within the human mind that causes us to interpret these strange experiences in a similar way?

I’m reminded of the fMRI images highlighted in the post Brain Scans Reveal What You See (Sort Of), in which scans of the human mind were used to recreate videos that test subjects had seen.

Many of the figures and people in those images seemed to be place-holders, familiar representations of more complex images. Perhaps this is a way for the brain to handle such complicated information, by comparing them to something familiar they’d seen in the past.

For whatever reason, could a man wearing a top hat have some kind of familiar connotation within our paranormal psyches? Could the vision of an ordinary man in old-fashioned clothing be our mind’s way of “coping with” and interpreting something that we would otherwise be unable to perceive?

Or is there something more nefarious at work, here? Is this “Hat Man” an actual spirit, or some other form of supernatural entity, stalking and visiting individuals around the world for reasons unknown?

I’ve personally never been visited by the Hat Man, but whatever he — or it — is, many people have come to face him, and undoubtedly more will follow.

Update: When I wrote this post eight years ago, I mentioned that the term ‘Hat Man’ may have originated on an episode of Coast to Coast AM. In fact, Coast’s page on the author/shadow person expert Heidi Hollis states that she coined the term, along with ‘Shadow People,’ in her two books on the topic. However, some have contested this. The original page I linked to for this claim no longer exists, but an archive may be found here.


Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.