Stranger Possession

jny published on
3 min, 517 words

Categories: Mental Health

A while ago I wrote a post about what I call (‘the Stranger’)[/blog/2015/10/stranger-danger]. This constant nagging of “What would someone think if a random stranger walked in right now?”. That there’s this indefinable hypothetical person who is always ready to judge, who’s just off-stage ready to pounce.

Recently I’ve noticed that I think it extends far beyond that. I realized that, when I’m in a situation where I feel fear of what someone may think of me, it feels the same for every person (with a few exceptions). The feeling that I’m going to be judged as unpunctual from my dad feels the same as the feeling of being judged as unpunctual by a doctor’s secretary. I don’t feel “Oh no Lucy will think X of me”, it’s just “someone will feel X of me”.

What I think I’ve realized is that it feels the same because it is the same. It feels like all people are the same person. Like every person who can potentially judge me (i.e. everyone) is part of a hive mind. Like Agent Smith in The Matrix. Like I’m in a video game and everyone is an NPC, and it’s really the Game that I’m interacting with, who is judging me. Or like they’re all being possessed by the same entity.

If you combine the ideas of “hive mind” and “possession”, you get something like the monster in one of my favorite horror movies Slither. It’s a singular conscious entity (as opposed to collective consciousness like the Borg) who takes control over people’s bodies and then can move and talk through them. The result is an army of people who are controlled by one being.

That one being, for me, is the Stranger. That instead of being a person, the human in the room with me becomes “the Other”. Like a demonic possession in the movies, they’re interacting with me entirely to mess with me, instead of it just being our experiences intersecting briefly. They don’t have their own emotions or interests. They’re watching every move I make for mistakes because I am their sole concern. Their every thought is judging me because that’s why they’re here.


This may sound out there and filled with media references, but to me, it is really an eye opener. It makes my social anxiety feel more proportionate, in a way, to such a menacing threat, rather than just random people. And, in the moment when I am experiencing a wave of fear or anxiety, if I can stop and remind myself that the Stranger doesn’t possess this individual, I remember then that they are an individual. That they have their own concerns and fears that they could be experiencing at this second. That later on they’re going to go home and try to decide what to eat for dinner. It makes them human which in turn helps me be human. And I can have more hope in a situation if instead of an unrelenting, impersonal critic I’m dealing with someone who ultimately “just wants to be loved”.