The Elevator Game – Beyond the Doorway Effect - Troubled Minds Radio
Sat Feb 24, 2024

The Elevator Game – Beyond the Doorway Effect

Elevators, those vertical chariots of the modern age, often evoke a peculiar blend of fascination and unease. Consider the unnerving sensation of being confined within a small, metallic chamber. Such spaces can ignite a primal discomfort in us, a claustrophobic echo resonating with our deepest anxieties. The act of being suspended and transported vertically defies our everyday experiences, unsettling our primitive instincts. It’s as if our ancient, reptilian brain recoils at this defiance of natural laws, finding the entire concept of vertical travel disconcerting.

Add to this the mechanical caprices of elevators—their abrupt starts and stops, the unpredictable shuddering as they ascend or descend. These jarring movements remind us of our vulnerability, our lack of control within this confined space. It’s a stark reminder of the complex, often unseen forces that govern our modern existence.

The suspense intensifies with the unpredictability of what, or who, may greet us when those doors slide open. Our culture is rife with cinematic imagery of elevator doors parting to reveal horrors beyond, etching a lingering association of fear and uncertainty in our collective psyche.

Furthermore, the psychological enigma known as the “doorway effect” casts a shadow of spookiness over these mechanical lifts. This phenomenon, where passing through a doorway causes a momentary lapse in memory, adds an eerie dimension to the elevator experience. Imagine forgetting why you entered the elevator or who accompanied you—a disorienting, almost surreal moment that breeds a feeling of disquiet.

The fear of elevators, often rooted in deeper psychological phobias such as claustrophobia and agoraphobia, presents a complex interplay of the human psyche with confined and controlled environments. Claustrophobia, the fear of being in confined spaces, finds a potent trigger in the compact, enclosed nature of an elevator. Within these narrow confines, the walls seem to close in, creating an oppressive sensation for the claustrophobic individual. This fear is not just about the lack of physical space, but also about the perceived absence of escape routes, intensifying the feeling of entrapment.

Agoraphobia, typically characterized by a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult, also plays into elevator phobias. While an elevator is a confined space, it also represents a scenario where one is ‘trapped’ amidst other people, often strangers. The unpredictability of who one might have to share this space with adds an additional layer of anxiety. The elevator’s movement, an uncontrolled factor for the passenger, exacerbates this sense of helplessness.

Moreover, the psychological impact of elevators extends beyond these common phobias. The very act of relinquishing control, of entrusting one’s safety to a machine’s whims, can be deeply unsettling. In an elevator, we are at the mercy of its mechanical integrity and the decisions of its operator or automated system. This loss of control can stir latent anxieties, making the elevator ride a psychologically taxing experience.

The mind’s response to being in an elevator is a fascinating study in itself. For some, the sensory limitations of the space—uniform walls, the absence of windows, the monotony of the ascent or descent—can induce a form of sensory deprivation, leading to heightened internal awareness. Thoughts, fears, and memories may become more pronounced in this setting. For others, the elevator’s movement can cause disorientation, a disconnect between the body’s internal sense of motion and the visual feedback from the stationary walls, leading to discomfort or even mild panic.

Understanding these psychological reactions is crucial, not just for addressing individual phobias, but also for improving the design and experience of elevators. The challenge lies in balancing the efficient functionality of these machines with the need to create spaces that acknowledge and alleviate these deeply rooted human fears. This could involve aesthetic changes, like more spacious designs or transparent walls, or technological solutions, such as providing more control and information to the passengers. In delving into the psychology of elevator fears, we open the door to not only better comprehend our own minds but also to reimagine how we move through the vertical world.

All these elements combine to imbue elevators with a spectral quality. They are not just mere conveyances of flesh and steel but portals that toy with our perception of reality. In these tight, mechanical confines, the ordinary becomes extraordinary, the mundane becomes mystical. Elevators, in their everyday oddity, become a modern-day haunt, a stage for the uncanny and the inexplicable.

Elevators, often seen as mundane vessels transporting us between the floors of our daily lives, might hold a more mystifying role in the tapestry of the unknown. These seemingly innocuous boxes, gliding along their vertical paths, could well be acting as conduits for paranormal activity, bridging not just the physical tiers of our buildings but also the elusive layers of metaphysical realms.

Consider the peculiar isolation of an elevator: a small, enclosed space, momentarily cut off from the world, moving through the spine of a building. In these brief journeys, what if the elevator car becomes a vessel that traverses more than just concrete floors? What if, in these transient moments of ascent or descent, the elevator touches the fringes of other dimensions, unseen and unexplored?

The idea is not entirely without precedent in the annals of the supernatural. There are tales of ghostly apparitions appearing in hotel elevators, of voices heard in the mechanical hums and whirs, of reflections seen in mirrored walls that do not belong to any present being. These accounts often speak of a fleeting, ephemeral presence, like a whisper from another world briefly intersecting with our own.

This intersection could be more than mere coincidence. Elevators, in their ceaseless movement, might be creating thin spots in the veil that separates our world from others. In the mechanics of their operation—the rhythmic rising and falling, the electrical currents powering their motion—there might lie a key that unlocks brief, unintentional passages to realms beyond our understanding.

What if these transient breaches allow spirits or energies, trapped between worlds, to seep through? An elevator could act as a moving nexus point, a roaming bridge between the known and the unknown. This would explain the strange sensations many report while riding alone in an elevator: the feeling of being watched, the inexplicable chills, or the sudden, unsettling shifts in the air.

The concept opens a myriad of possibilities for both thrilling encounters and profound revelations. It suggests that, in our everyday travels between the floors of our mundane existence, we might occasionally, unknowingly, journey through the veils of reality into the realms of the extraordinary. These brief, uncharted trips on elevators could be unsuspecting expeditions into the heart of the paranormal, offering glimpses into mysteries that lie just beyond the reach of our current understanding.

Elevators, in their everyday functionality, hide a peculiar allure when entwined with the threads of urban legends and mythical rituals. These stories transform them from mere mechanical constructs into gateways of mystery and intrigue. Take, for instance, the “Elevator to Another World” game, an eerie ritual believed by some to transport participants to another dimension. Such rituals, born from the depths of our collective imagination, speak volumes about our fascination with elevators as portals to the unknown.

These urban legends often feature elevators as central elements in navigating the supernatural. They become more than steel boxes; they are chariots to shadowy realms, with each button press potentially unlocking a journey into the uncanny. The very rules of these games and legends – specific floors to visit in a certain order, times to ride alone, or actions to perform – imbue elevators with an arcane significance. This transforms an everyday experience into a rite, shrouded in suspense and uncertainty.

The power of these stories lies in their ability to tap into our primal fears and curiosities. Elevators, by their nature, are transitional spaces, moving us not just physically but symbolically between realms – the known and the unknown, the mundane and the extraordinary. In the folklore that surrounds them, elevators become a metaphor for crossing thresholds beyond our understanding. They play on our inherent fear of the unseen and the otherworldly, turning a routine trip into a potential brush with the paranormal.

Moreover, these legends often mirror our psychological landscapes. They play out scenarios of isolation, entrapment, and the unknown – themes that resonate deeply with our subconscious. By participating in these rituals, even if only as a listener or a reader, we engage in a form of communal storytelling that helps us confront and explore these deep-seated anxieties.

This intersection of elevators, urban legends, and psychological fears highlights our enduring quest to make sense of the world around us. It reflects our need to explore and explain the unexplainable. In the heart of these tales, elevators rise as modern totems, encapsulating our eternal dance with the mysteries of existence. Through these stories, we continue the age-old tradition of myth-making, finding magic and meaning in the most unexpected of places.

Elevators in dreams can be potent symbols, reflecting a wide array of subconscious thoughts and feelings. Often, they represent the dreamer’s journey through different stages of life, mirroring their aspirations, anxieties, and transitions. An elevator moving upwards might symbolize ascent in life – a rise in social status, career advancement, or personal growth. It embodies the dreamer’s ambitions and their drive to achieve higher goals. The upward motion can be exhilarating, filled with anticipation of reaching new heights, but it can also bring a sense of vertigo, mirroring fears of the unknown or the responsibilities that come with success.

Conversely, an elevator descending in a dream could indicate a downward trajectory or regression in the dreamer’s life. It might reflect feelings of insecurity, loss, or failure. The descent could symbolize a return to deeper, more introspective states of mind, delving into the subconscious. It might also represent a need to revisit past issues or unresolved conflicts, suggesting a journey into the deeper, often darker, recesses of the psyche.

Elevators stuck between floors in dreams could symbolize a state of limbo or indecision in the dreamer’s life. It might represent a transition phase, where the dreamer is caught between two different paths or life choices, unsure of which direction to take. This could evoke feelings of frustration, confusion, or anxiety about being trapped in a situation or a state of mind.

Moreover, the condition and context of the elevator in the dream add layers of meaning. A luxurious, well-functioning elevator might suggest confidence and optimism about the path one is taking. In contrast, a dilapidated or malfunctioning elevator could reflect fears of instability or lack of control in one’s life journey. Dreams of being in an overcrowded elevator might indicate the dreamer’s feelings about their social environment – perhaps feeling pressured, overwhelmed, or losing individuality amidst the crowd.

In some cases, elevators in dreams might also symbolize transitions between different states of consciousness. Moving up could represent a quest for enlightenment or higher understanding, while moving down might suggest delving into the subconscious or exploring hidden aspects of oneself.

Interpreting elevators in dreams, therefore, requires a nuanced understanding of the dreamer’s current life circumstances, emotions, and aspirations. These dream symbols serve as mirrors, reflecting the complex interplay of our inner and outer worlds, encapsulating our deepest fears, desires, and transitions in the symbolic language of the subconscious.

Here are some examples of fiction that represent elevators in mysterious or unusual ways, written in paragraph form:

The TV show Lost made prominent use of mysterious elevators. The Dharma Initiative had underground hatches on the island that contained strange undisclosed locations. These hatches could only be accessed through elevators that always evoked a sense of suspense and mystery whenever characters needed to use them. The elevators would lead to places like The Swan station, The Pearl station, and other enigmatic Dharma facilities, making the elevators a crucial gateway to the show’s mysteries.

In Stephen King’s short horror story “The Lift”, an elevator in a building seems to take on a life of its own and begins attacking and killing people who try to use it. The elevator behaves in bizarre ways, opening and closing its doors at unexpected times and moving up and down the floors erratically. The mysterious behavior builds suspense and a sense of unease around the elevator, playing on fears of strange technology and machinery gone haywire. King uses the elevator as a central plot device for bringing his horror story to life.

Several other examples appear in various books, shows and films. Being John Malkovich has a mysterious 7th 1/2 floor elevator that functions as a portal into Malkovich’s mind. The Departed uses an elevator deceptively to build suspense and reveal character identities. Futurama’s transport tubes are like a mysterious elevator system. The Wonkavator in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory can go in any direction. The elevators in works like these take on an air of mystery and intrigue beyond their mundane real-world functions.

In a future where technology intertwines ever more intimately with our daily lives, AI-controlled elevators could represent a significant leap. These elevators, equipped with advanced artificial intelligence, might possess the capability to sense and react to the emotions and fears of their passengers. Envision an elevator that doesn’t just move between floors but also navigates the complex terrain of human psychology.

These AI systems could be designed to read subtle cues: a quickened heartbeat, a change in body temperature, the slightest tremor in a voice. From these indicators, the AI could infer a passenger’s emotional state – be it anxiety, claustrophobia, or a simple desire for a peaceful ride. In response, the elevator could adjust its behavior in real-time. For a nervous rider, it might slow its ascent or descent, providing a gentler, more reassuring journey. The lighting could soften, and soothing music or nature sounds could be played to create a calming atmosphere.

On the other hand, this technology might be programmed for more than just comfort. In certain contexts, like immersive entertainment experiences or specialized training simulations, these elevators could deliberately heighten a sense of fear or suspense. Imagine an amusement park where the elevator ride is part of the attraction, with AI intensifying the thrill by creating unpredictable movements or eerie soundscapes, based on how much fear the passengers can handle.

However, this innovation comes with its ethical considerations. The idea of AI reading and responding to our emotions raises questions about privacy and consent. How much should these systems be allowed to perceive and interpret? What safeguards would be needed to ensure that this technology respects the boundaries of its passengers?

Moreover, the reliability of such systems in accurately interpreting human emotions would be crucial. Misinterpretations could lead to unintended consequences, potentially worsening a passenger’s discomfort rather than alleviating it.

In such a future, elevators would cease to be mere transportation devices; they would become dynamic environments, responsive to the psychological states of their occupants. This would mark a significant shift in our interaction with machines, from passive use to a more active, responsive engagement. AI-controlled elevators could thus open new frontiers in understanding and catering to the complex spectrum of human emotions, all within the transient space of an elevator ride.

The idea of elevators in a Department of Energy building as conduits to other dimensions, as sensationalized in popular media like “Stranger Things,” intertwines reality with fiction in intriguing ways. In “Stranger Things,” the Department of Energy is portrayed as delving into the exploration of parallel universes and encountering otherworldly entities. However, in reality, while the Department of Energy (DOE) does engage in advanced scientific research, it does not explore parallel universes or confront monsters from other dimensions, as depicted in the show.

The DOE’s actual research ventures into realms that, while not as fantastical as those in “Stranger Things,” are nonetheless profoundly significant. For instance, their involvement in the Large Hadron Collider project at CERN is focused on exploring extra dimensions in a theoretical context. This research aims to understand phenomena like gravity and its potential interactions with other dimensions. Such scientific endeavors delve into questions about the fundamental forces of the universe and concepts like dark matter and dark energy, which, although not as dramatic as the fictional scenarios in “Stranger Things,” are crucial to our understanding of the cosmos.

Interestingly, the popularity of “Stranger Things” has sparked curiosity and discussions about the real work done at the Department of Energy. While the show takes creative liberties in portraying the DOE and its facilities, it inadvertently sheds light on the real, albeit less sensational, scientific investigations conducted by the department. This includes research into theoretical physics, energy efficiency, and national security, rather than the exploration of eerie alternate dimensions and encounters with monstrous entities.