Have you ever lost something that you had just a moment before and could not find no matter where you looked? Have you ever had a lost object turn up in a place where it had no business being? Indeed, have you ever had something just suddenly show up that you do not remember having or buying? Most of us have had this happen to us on numerous occasions, and although we typically write it off as just absent mindedness or an odd “huh” moment at best, not thinking much of it, is there perhaps something far stranger going on behind these annoying occurrences? There is an actual name for this type of phenomena, and it is called simply the “Disappearing Object Phenomenon,” or DOP, which entails objects spontaneously vanishing, teleporting, or appearing out of nowhere. As we will see, perhaps those misplaced car keys that were just there a second ago have a stranger story to tell than you may have suspected.
The list of cases involving mysteriously disappearing or teleporting objects is vast, and there are whole forums dedicated to this sort of oddity. People report putting down an item and then having it suddenly not be there anymore, gone no matter how hard they look for it, only for it to reappear in the same place they remember leaving it or in a completely different location altogether, sometimes never reappearing at all. One such case goes like this:
One afternoon I was copying programs using my old Commodore 64 computer in a room designated as the “computer room.” The copy program had just instructed me to swap disks, and I remember taking the “original” disk out of the drive and laying it on the desk next to the keyboard. At that time, my mother called me out of the room and I went to see what she needed. Upon my return a few minutes later, I noticed that it was time for another disk swap.
The disk was not where I had left it. I looked everywhere. I took all of the disks out of the disk file, looked under the desk — everywhere — and couldn’t find it. I left the room, and came back, determined to retrace my steps. When I came back, the same result — nothing. I left again, saying to myself that “enough was enough.” When I came back, my first impulse was to check the disk file again. I flipped down the first disk in the file — and there it was — backwards. At that instant, I felt an incredible feeling of dread and could swear that I heard a faint, but amused laugh.
There is definitely a somewhat paranormal vibe to this one, with the peculiar detail of the “amused laugh” at the end. Plenty of other cases are out there as well, including the following:
Two nights ago my husband put his wedding ring on his nightstand before going to sleep. The next morning, the ring is missing. I helped him search the entire area without luck. I figured he misplaced it elsewhere. I left for an evening shift at the hospital figuring it would show up eventually. Two hours later I get a message from my freaked out husband who walked into the bedroom to find the ring sitting in the middle of the nightstand, as if it had been there the whole time! We can’t explain it. We had no visitors, we have no pets, he didn’t leave during the period between my leaving and his finding it. He thinks it fell through a tiny wormhole/time warp. I’m looking for a more rational explanation but I’m coming up empty.
Or how about a kitchen knife that just seems to have phased out into the ether? Have you ever had a kitchen appliance or tool just up and phase out of reality?
In my case, it happened when the kitchen knife disappeared while I was preparing lunch. I’ve searched everywhere, all the logical places. Trash cans, kitchen drawers, behind things, also unlike places like under furniture, outside the house and places no one would have remembered. The fact is, even though I thought of and search everywhere, the knife was nowhere to be found. A few days after the event, I still couldn’t wrap my brain around the strange disappearing knife act. There seems to be no “logical” explanation as to what have had happened.
The woman in question had had no guests and had not left the room at the time. She simply turned away for a moment and the knife was simply gone without a trace. The woman meticulously searched her house for six days for the knife and was never able to find it, as if it had simply melted away from our reality. A ring or knife might be a small item that could be easily misplaced, but what about a whole dress? Another account is as follows:
It was the night of my freshman homecoming. I had brought three dresses a few days or so before and was planning on wearing the simple black and white one. Nothing fancy. I went to my closet an hour or so before the dance to get ready… and the dress wasn’t in my closet. Nowhere in my closet, not even with the other two dresses. My mom and I searched everywhere but still couldn’t find it.
My mom finally said I had to wear one of the others… and so I chose one of the white ones. A day or so after the dance, I went to my closet to find a shirt… and the black and white dress I was going to wear to the dance was the first piece of clothing on the rack. Go figure.
These sorts of cases involve a wide range of effects, covering not only objects disappearing and reappearing, but also of them showing up in far flung locations, or even objects that the owner adamantly claims they do not own spontaneously blinking into existence. These kinds of experiences led the researcher Hereward Carrington to look further into experiences of mysteriously displaced objects, and he believed that the phenomenon went beyond simple absentmindedness. Among the many cases he was able to compile was one in which a woman known only as “Ms. K” had the habit of always leaving her keys on a table as soon as she entered her apartment. One day, she did this as usual, but when she went back to retrieve the keys she found them to be gone, and she could not find them no matter where she looked, leading her to have to have all of her keys remade. Several days later she found herself needing a new cork for a medicine bottle. These corks were kept in a tin box that she almost never opened and hadn’t had a need to open for a long time, yet when she went to retrieve the new cork she found her missing keys nestled within the tin.
Another case involves a Los Angeles artist named Raymond Bayless, who claimed that he had been holding a brush while speaking to a student in 1957, in a room that had nothing in it save a stool and an easel, on a sunny day and with no carpet on the floor. At some point, both Raymond and his student heard the brush fall to the floor, as if dropped, yet the brush was not there when they went to retrieve it, nor was it anywhere to be found in the vicinity. Considering there was nowhere where it could have possibly gone and the room was bright, it was as if it had dropped completely off the face of the earth.
In later years, a researcher of anomalous events named D. Scott Rogo took an interest in the phenomenon of disappearing objects and endeavored to become the first one to comprehensively collect cases of what he called “spontaneous dematerialization.” Rogo would go on to collect a vast array of reports on the phenomenon and publish several articles on the matter in Fate Magazine.
There are a wide range of theories on just what is going on with the Disappearing Object Phenomenon, ranging from the rational to the more, shall we say, fringe. Perhaps the most sensible and mundane explanation is simple absent mindedness or forgetfulness. Many of us have a lot on our mind, and especially when engaging in routine, mundane activities our bodies can sort of be on autopilot, without us really being fully aware of or completely focused on what we are doing. In this sort of tranced state, we might put something down somewhere without realizing it and then when we snap back into focus and remember, say, our car keys, we might remember holding them a minute before but not the point when we put them down in our daze. We also might be distracted by some event such as a phone call, and put down an object without thinking, only to return from the call and remember having the object, which is now nowhere to be found. This can be particularly baffling if it is something you usually always put in the same place, or something you do not typically let far out of your sight.
This simple explanation likely accounts for the majority of the DOP cases, but doesn’t completely account for some of the more inexplicable disappearances, such as when one finds an object is not where one put it, actively searches, and then finds it back in the original place they thoroughly looked through or in a room they hadn’t ever been in. Another mundane explanation is that someone has borrowed the item without telling the owner. When the owner questions other family members or friends about who took their item, they may feel like they are in trouble for taking it without asking, denying it and surreptitiously replacing the item where they had found it. Or, they may have forgotten themselves that they had borrowed it or even lost it and deny having taken it to avoid angering the owner. This theory also probably explains a lot of DOP phenomena, yet it would not be applicable to one who lives alone or situations when no one else was at home and no friends had come over to visit.
These are perfectly rational and likely explanations to be sure, and probably together account for the vast majority of DOP strangeness, but are there at times stranger forces at work? Here is where we take a detour off into the world of the bizarre. One far out idea is that the objects have somehow shifted to another dimension or plane of existence, either temporarily or permanently. In this scenario, the lost object has phased away into a parallel world that is somehow interacting with our own in ways and through means we do not currently understand. Conversely, this theory would also explain anomalous objects which have seemingly appeared from nowhere, as they could be items from another reality that have teleported in to our own. Equally as strange is the idea that the object has somehow become temporarily invisible, only to become visible once again through enigmatic means that may forever remain outside of our abilities to fathom them.
Another rather strange idea is that poltergeists could be behind the phenomenon of disappearing or teleporting objects. These mischievous spirits are known for all manner of weird happening such as levitating objects, unexplained noises, music, smells and movement of objects to other places, so it would fit in well with what some victims of DOP experience. This could especially be the case if the item in question has a strong attachment somehow to someone who has died, such as old family heirlooms, meaning that the spirit could still be anchored or attached to it somehow and able to exert a physical influence over it, or that the owner’s physical belief that the spirit is present is somehow so strong that it is manifesting a latent telekinetic ability.
An interesting feature of these odd cases is that they don’t tend to make a particularly big impact when they occur. In most cases, people tend to file away and forget the event, no matter how strange or inexplicable it may have been at the time, meaning that a great many cases that may have held some useful information are lost. It just seems that most people engaged in mundane daily activities don’t have time or energy to really ponder such mysteries when they occur and are are perfectly happy to chalk it up to an odd, yet ultimately unimportant little detour to their day. The general reaction to such strange occurrences seems to be to write it off and discard it as just a little “glitch.”
So what happens when you put something down and it just suddenly skips to another place? What is going on when you are missing something and it reappears later on after you have exhaustively searched for it? How about when you look and find something there that should not be? Are these instances of your brain playing tricks on you? Has your friend borrowed something without telling you? Are you slowly losing your mind? Whatever the case may be, the next time you reach out for your remote control and it’s not there, perhaps you should forgo the searching through the sofa cushions and try checking the next dimension over instead.