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Inappropriate perception of objects as massive

  1. Jan 23, 2015 #1
    Sometimes when I'm lying on my back, trying to fall asleep, I create an image of something very small like a floating dust particle, marble, pinpoint, or a tiny steel ball. My brain automatically imagines an extreme weight or massive density of the tiny items. Then suddenly, a very odd feeling overcomes my entire body as if one of these small items weighs 100's of tons and my entire body "experiences the weight" or "becomes the weight". Imagine a marble or tiny pellet that weighs as much as a Navy ship. It doesn't make sense.

    Similarly, It's like imagining and realizing the weight and density of an entire mountain shrunken in the palm of your hand. The result makes me feel physically sick and I have to sit up on my bed or go walk to the bathroom to shake off the sick feeling. I like to call it the "neutron star sensation" (not "dark matter") since it's the only thing I could think of that has such striking density.

    This all started when I was 9 years old when I was diagnosed with mono. The sensations were very strong and happened almost every night for 3 months.The "neutron star sensation" brought on some fear because it was as if I could "activate" the feeling just by thinking about a single small particle. Then somehow my brain makes it weigh 100 million tons. Yes it sounds crazy but it's hard to try to "not think" about something, especially while lying still in bed trying to go to sleep. So it took a while to avoid activating the sensation but eventually I was able to blot it out of my thoughts.

    Every couple of years, I'll hesitantly make the attempt to see if I could still "activate" the experience and once it starts, I immediately get up and try to walk it off and release it. Here I am, age 30. I can still experience this phenomena If I willingly do so. It's not a problem. I just have to be careful. When I was young, it happened so easily but now, it thankfully takes a concerted effort. I am very curious as to what in the world this could be. There is nothing like it. It typically happened when I layed on my back. So sleeping on the side helped a lot in avoiding it.

    I was searching around online for some concrete answers to this phenomenon and found an entire thread on these physics forums at this link: https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/strange-sensation-starting-to-fall-asleep.159608/ They relate it to microsomatognosia and macrosomatognosia. I don't think that is what it is.

    I am afraid that after people read this they may experience it too when they go to sleep. Please don't get caught up in it if you do. It is interesting at 1st but can become very unsettling, very quickly, and hard to break out of once it happens.

    I hope that the many others who have had this or similar experiences will be able to share some info as it is hard to get any good info on it online. I would like to know more about this phenomenon.

    Thanks ahead of time for any feedback. Sorry for such an extremely long post!
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 23, 2015 #2


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    "Dark Matter" has a very specific meaning in physics and does not exhibit the characteristics you describe and should not be used in the context you are using it when you are discussing it with physicists. "Neutron star matter" would fit the bill, sort of. I realize that you are not concerned with the terminology of the phenomenon you experience but rather with the phenomenon itself, but you need to realize that you are on a science forum where terms do have fairly precise meanings.

    Also, please keep in mind that the previous thread was closed with an injunction that if the topic was reopened, it could only be to describe the SCIENCE of the phenomenon, not your personal feelings/experiences or those of others.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2015
  4. Jan 23, 2015 #3
    Hmm. I understand. Thanks for clarifying the translation from dark matter to neutron star matter. That's what I meant to say. The only way I could think of getting to the science behind this was starting with describing the personal experience. It is difficult to describe and hard to understand, so I have no idea behind the science of it..yet.
  5. Jan 23, 2015 #4


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    I changed your thread title to be more descriptive, I'm unaware of any specific condition in which objects are perceived to be much more massive than they are but it does sound similar to macrosomatognosia. I'll leave this thread open in case anyone does know if this is a recognised condition with a specific name but all members should note that anecdotes, posts about personal feelings/experiences and anything else that doesn't discuss specific medical conditions will be deleted.
  6. Jan 23, 2015 #5
    Digging deeper into Microsomatoagnosia., I see there is a classification called "Whole body schema illusion" or simply Whole Body Microsomatoagnosia which is said to be rare. This may be the answer. Will look further into this to try to find examples of symptoms to see if there is a connection.
  7. Jan 26, 2015 #6
    From your description, the illusion you experience is the feeling you are very much more dense than you normally are. That's not the same as feeling smaller or larger. Regardless, it's well known that mono triggers a wide variety of strange sensory illusions, and, since this sensation started during a case of mono, I think your best bet for finding reports of similar experiences would be to look into literature about that specific disease. It's possible you may find descriptions of what you experienced being shoe-horned into the categories of micro- or macro- somatoagnosia or otherwise conveniently labeled.
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