JOTTs: When Objects Disappear

I would bet that the JOTT phenomenon is one we have all experienced several times in our lives. Some may not even consider it to be a Fortean phenomenon at all, but some of the explanations for JOTTS definitely stray into the paranormal.

JOTT is an acronym for ‘Just one of those things.’ It is used to describe the phenomenon by which objects inexplicably disappear and reappear, also known as ‘Disappearing Object Phenomenon’.If you have ever lost, to misplaced an object, turned over your home to find it, without success, and then later found it in the first place you looked, you will know only too well what I’m talking about, and if some paranormal researchers are to be believed, it may not simply be the case that you are absentminded, or forgetful – you may actually have experienced the JOTT phenomenon.


Being jottled is the phenomenon by which a person may experience the loss of an object, despite the fact they knew exactly where it was. Frequently, the object will show up again, in its original place, but sometimes it will not. The phenomenon also refers to times which turn up somewhere for no reason. These are articles which were not at a location previously and have no reason to be there at all, yet they still inexplicably appear anyway.

The acronym ‘JOTT’ and the term ‘jottled’ were coined by the vice president of the Society for Psychical Research, Mary Rose Barrington, who has amassed a huge collection of JOTT experiences in her time. She also coined the word ‘oddjotts’ which relates to several strange, but usually minor, occurrences which cannot be easily explained away, although doing so would seem like the natural thing to do.

This story from sums up the phenomenon perfectly:

“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.”


Theories about the JOTT phenomenon range from the mundane to the seriously weird and we must choose which explanation best fits the facts according to our worldview. That being said, below are a few of my favourite explanations for the phenomenon:



One theory which is often bandied about is that JOTTs are caused by teleportation. The object is simply teleported from one destination to another and then, often, back again. However, if this was the case, the object which reappears would not strictly be the same as the object which went missing because when an object is teleported, it is actually replicated and so your returned hairbrush would not be the same one you were brushing your hair with before it disappeared.

It was once believed that teleportation was not actually possible in the real world, but in 2002, scientists were able to teleport a laser beam, which proves that the technology is possible. But, if common household objects are being teleported by someone with technology much greater than our own, it begs the question; what do they want with our hairbrushes, books, money, and half our socks?


Many people I know will ask the faeries to return an object when they cannot find it and a good deal of them swear that it works, saving them a lot of time when they can’t find their car keys, or the book they were reading. One of my friends will swear that, when she had lost her car keys, she simple said out loud: ‘Please can I have my car keys back? I’m late and I really need them. You’ve had your fun,” and minutes later, the keys materialised and dropped to the ground in front of her.

A lot of people believe that faeries, elves and other gnomes like to play tricks on us humans, taking everyday objects we need, while other imps take items they could use themselves. Asking them, politely, to return the items can, apparently, have great results. So next time you experience the JOTT phenomenon, give it a try, It can’t hurt, and if it works, so let me know.

Dimensional/time shifts

In a previous post, I talked about time shifts. These are events in which a person slips into a different timeline, or dimension which can be dramatically, or slightly different from their original dimension. Theoretically, this phenomenon could explain JOTTs.

If it is somehow possible to shift into another time or dimension, the person experiencing the JOTT could simply have slipped into a dimension where the object does not exist, only to slip back into the original dimension again, upon which she would find the lost object back in its proper place. Or, she could remain in the new dimension, which would mean the object would never be found. Or, she could slip into a dimension where she owns an object she did not in the last, which would explain how objects people have never owned show up in their homes.

Of course, there is yet to be any scientific evidence to suggest that this is actually possible, but with so many reports of this type of phenomena, it does make you think.


Again, the science doesn’t back this one up, but what if the objects we think have disappeared are still there – we just can’t see them? Maybe the objects somehow become invisible for a brief period of time, becoming visible again, upon which time we find them.

Human Error

To end this post, we must, of course, look at the most obvious explanation – absentmindedness. Human error is probably the most likely and logical of all explanations, but in many cases, I can’t help feeling that it doesn’t fit.

It is completely obvious that those people who experience the JOTT phenomenon simply misplaced the item, moved it and forgot about it, or lost the object, but then why does the lost item so often turn up again in its original place, the place we have looked countless times? Why does it feel like something more is going on? Maybe one day we’ll know more. In the meantime, if you have been jottled, let me know about your experience in the comments below, or you can get in touch via the contact page. Meanwhile, I’ll be keeping a closer eye on my possessions from now on.

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