Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sleep Paralysis

In one of the early posts on this blog, I related my experience of a frightening hypnopompic hallucination. So I was very interested to see The Psychologist had published an excellent article on sleep paralysis and how it accounts for reports of various paranormal phenomena. A titbit:
The experiential elements of sleep paralysis have been reported from many countries and cultures around the world but it is known by many different names and interpreted in many different ways. For example, in Newfoundland sleep paralysis is called the ‘Old Hag’. This is described as suddenly being awake but paralysed, usually just after having fallen asleep, and often feeling a weight on the chest and sometimes seeing a grotesque human or animal astride the chest (Ness, 1978). Newfoundlanders think it might be caused by either working too hard, the blood stagnating when they lie on their back, or hostile feelings from another person.

In Hong Kong a condition that seems identical to sleep paralysis is termed ‘ghost oppression’ (Wing et al., 1994). Chinese people have often thought that ‘the soul of a person is vulnerable to the influence of spirits during sleep’ (Wing et al., 1994, p.609) and, in a dream classification book written around 403–221bc, there are six types of dreams described. Wing and colleagues suggest that e-meng, dreams of surprise, are actually sleep paralysis and are distinct from ju-meng, fearful dreams.

(Via: Mind Hacks).

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