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Claire.

Cultural Explanations for Sleep Paralysis

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Claire.

The Demon on Your Chest and Other Terrifying Tales of Sleep Paralysis

 An unusual condition called sleep paralysis has been frightening people for centuries, and now a new review sums up the many creepy stories from different cultures that try to explain the episodes of waking up and being unable to move.

Cultural explanations that try to account for the terrifying experience of waking up feeling paralyzed range from alien abductions to strange demons creeping into people's bedrooms and sitting on their chests, according to the review, published in September in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. Together, the stories show how a single biological phenomenon can be interpreted differently by societies, the researchers, led by José F. R. de Sá of the Jungian Institute of Bahia in Brazil, wrote in their review.

Read more: Live Science

The Frontiers in Psychology study is really quite interesting and provides both a historical and cultural look at sleep paralysis:

Sleep Paralysis in Brazilian Folklore and Other Cultures: A Brief Review

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quiXilver

I experienced sleep paralysis a couple of times, once with something sitting on my back, but there was no terror.

I had fallen asleep in the green room of our theater at University on a sofa.  I was sleeping on my stomach, arms were folded under me with my hands at my chest.  My face to the right.  When I woke, I was unable to move and could feel what seemed like a medium sized dog sitting on my back. 

I did not freak out, nor was there any fear... just a very intense sense of curiosity.  At first I thought "oh lucid dream, I'll just turn into liquid and pool away"... that didn't work and I realized that my eyes were open, I could hear the folks on stage and I could feel this something sitting on the center of my back just behind my shoulder blades rise and fall with my breathing.  I tried to push myself up with my arms... and I could not move a muscle for some twenty or thirty seconds...  no fear, just curiosity.

On one other occasion I experienced sleep paralysis that was very terrifying.  Dark presence, fully hypnagogic experience of being awake and seeing my dream play out in the room around me, complete with my own form standing in the doorway at the foot of my bed.  The terrifying aspect was the face, the lips of which I could feel were just a mere micro-inch from my left cheek.

That one shook me up.  The previous one, was entertaining.

 

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Chaldon

Such a big country as Russia is (almost politically ^_^) ignored in that funny explanation video but that's no matter, I'll add my sixpence about our country myself: in Russia that horrid paralysing daemon is called 'kikimora'. Or should I say 'was called' because during the Soviets' reign the kikimora, as well as all of its kind, was ridiculed down by the government machine pretty effectively and rare person nowadays seriously believes in its existence, at least until he/she wakes up in the aforementioned paralysis condition after watching some creepypasta on YouTube. ;)

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Chaldon

By the way, sometimes I do experience sleep paralysis on somewhat a regular basis, although there is very rarely the feeling of some heavy object on my chest. Usually I'm just walking up desperately gasping for air and have a feeling like I've been screaming just a second before waking up, but I'm sure I actually wasn't, as no one in the house ever been waken up by it. I link that condition to the moments of increased stress in my life as it has some hysterical feeling in it. Also, strangely enough, I've noticed that I experience that condition much more frequently when I put my pillow down to the shoulders instead of putting only my head onto it. Some time before I've been struggling with pains in my neck after sleep, which were gone when I've put the pillow lower by the shoulders, but instead I've got more frequent episodes of the sleep paralysis. Now I'm sleeping normally as I've got myself a narrow type of pillow, so I cannot 'crawl' up onto it in my sleep. And the pains in the neck are gone somehow. I don't know why. May be because now I live at the countryside and do not spend much time by the computer. ^_^

Edited by Chaldon
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Lucas Cooper Merrin

What i would give for a succubus experience.......

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Chaldon
52 minutes ago, Lucas Cooper Merrin said:

What i would give for a succubus experience.......

Strange you didn't had one.;) Succubus coition was the explanation for nocturnal emissions during the Middle Ages.

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Lucas Cooper Merrin
3 hours ago, Chaldon said:

Strange you didn't had one.;) Succubus coition was the explanation for nocturnal emissions during the Middle Ages.

*giggle*

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Merc14

The demons of yesterday were replaced with aliens in many societies and the alien abduction BS.

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coolguy

Old hag use to vist me

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Lucas Cooper Merrin
2 hours ago, coolguy said:

Old hag use to vist me

Tell us more cool guy......what happened? 

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Susanc241

I have only ever had the one experience of sleep paralysis and I hope never to have another. Pretty standard with waking and not being able to move my upper body and though I tried to scream I was aware of this moaning sound coming from me. Had a huge black presence on the bed beside me and another at the foot of the bed to one side. Also the huge weight on my chest. I fought to get up and thrashed my legs as hard as I could to no avail. In what I presume to be no more than a few seconds or perhaps half a minute in total, I 'woke up' properly. The black forms vanished and the scream I had been attempting to produce became reality and must have woken the neighbours! Needless to say the bed covers showed no signs whatsoever of thrashing legs. I am a front/side sleeper and this time I woke on my back. I have been told this phenomenon occurs more often if you sleep on your back. I did know about sleep paralysis before my own experience and was conscious of realising what was going on as it was happening, but somehow that didn't lessen the fear factor at the time. Interesting experience nonetheless.

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badtucker

i have had several in my lifetime... only one and possibly the 2nd most terrifying of them would i describe as a succubus.
i remember it vividly, was about 10 years ago.
started more or less as a sort of sex dream, then suddenly i was awake..there was a horrific creature on me, couldn't move... couldn't do anything... didn't want to look, just wanted to cry out but couldn't.
the creature was pretty horrible, hair like long black straw, wrinkled grey/green skin... no face, but a long tounge from a mouth i couldnt see. jeeze was terrifying.

but it all seemed over quicker than it felt, and i was free of it all. didnt really get much sleep that night. :/

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Chaldon

Wow! It's all so weird and vivid, all those creatures, or at least black entities. I've never seen anything like that in my life, even in half-sleep. I suspect my domovoi (house spirit) loves me and never takes visible form. ;) There never ever been anything visible, although in the childhood I've had a lot of horrible nervous experiences.

The worst were the episodes of violent agitation and screaming at night in half-awake condition - don't know how this condition is called in English, in Russian for ages it was known as 'kriksy' (криксы), but that's not an official medical term. To get rid of those 'kriksy' my granny's been taking me to some sort of a witch. ^_^ The folk-witches of that kind are usually called 'babka' (old crone) by the folks. She was a usually-looking old woman living in a typical flat. Completely nothing special. That 'babka' took me trough the following ritual: she stretched a jute rope between two chairs then said some kind of a prayer. As far as I remember the prayer was a typical 'zagovor' (заговор) - a mix of ancient pagan traditions with frequent appeals to the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Then she ordered me to step over the rope, gave me a jar with the holy water to take a sip and a piece of handmade bread, the taste of which somehow I found disgusting. Then she lighted a match and burned the rope. Interestingly enough, I've never ever had those 'kriksy' since then. Still, I don't think it really was some kind of a demon living in me... Or may be it really was, yet it's completely ridiculous.

Another experience similar to the sleep paralysis (or may be it was exactly the sleep paralysis) was again in the childhood: it was just a horrid feeling like if the blanket upon me has become unbearably heavy and my hands are quickly getting larger and heavy as cast iron. It was a completely disgusting feeling. Once I managed to get out of it by concentrating my will, another time it required my mother to rouse me, and even then it was leaving me gradually for a couple of minutes. But there never ever was any hallucination accompanying those feelings, yet those were astoundingly strong.

Edited by Chaldon
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Chaldon

I remember very well that when I had those 'kriksy' screams I was completely aware of everything around me and even was pretty cool-minded at the time but was completely unable to control my body which, like all by itself, wanted to run somewhere and screamed like in terror. It was really weird. I was 7-8 years old, I think.

Edited by Chaldon
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XenoFish
On 10/11/2016 at 1:58 PM, Lucas Cooper Merrin said:

What i would give for a succubus experience.......

Your luck would attract an incubus.

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LightBright51

Recently i had my first experience of sleep paralysis that i know of. Im 22 years old, & in the USMC. There was old women trying to get into my room, then my door opened, this whole time i was tying to wake up my pregnant wife, who was sleeping next to me, but I couldn�t my body was locked, & i could see the old women geeting closer, along with flashes of people in big boiling pots. & she was saying something to me which i cant remember right now, but her voice was very creepy and raspy. The moment was so real, And im trying to yell to my wife to wake up and run, but like i said i was stuck, then finally my arm shot over and I accidentally hit her in her stomach, and i took a deep breath, & was sweating, & she asked what the hell was wrong with me and to be careful, & i told her what happened and shes had them too but with shadow people. But at the time of me telling her the story, im still seeing things but my eyes are closed and awake. It was like i was looking through another pers
ons eyes, and there was a man and women dressed in old style clothing, maybe elizabethan era? Im not sure, i dont the styles of history. But they draped a clothe or towlet over whomever or what ever i was looking through. The women was a blonde, she was pretty with jewelry and her clothes were black. The male was a brunette, with a black suit on i think it was? But whatever it was it was creepy. I knew i was awake during this point. Bc after i asked my wife if were just talking and she said �yes, you just hut my damn stomach�. Idk it was all really weird.

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Chaldon
Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, LightBright51 said:

Recently i had my first experience of sleep paralysis that i know of. Im 22 years old, & in the USMC. There was old women trying to get into my room, then my door opened, this whole time i was tying to wake up my pregnant wife, who was sleeping next to me, but I couldn�t my body was locked, & i could see the old women geeting closer, along with flashes of people in big boiling pots. & she was saying something to me which i cant remember right now, but her voice was very creepy and raspy. The moment was so real, And im trying to yell to my wife to wake up and run, but like i said i was stuck, then finally my arm shot over and I accidentally hit her in her stomach, and i took a deep breath, & was sweating, & she asked what the hell was wrong with me and to be careful, & i told her what happened and shes had them too but with shadow people. But at the time of me telling her the story, im still seeing things but my eyes are closed and awake. It was like i was looking through another pers
ons eyes, and there was a man and women dressed in old style clothing, maybe elizabethan era? Im not sure, i dont the styles of history. But they draped a clothe or towlet over whomever or what ever i was looking through. The women was a blonde, she was pretty with jewelry and her clothes were black. The male was a brunette, with a black suit on i think it was? But whatever it was it was creepy. I knew i was awake during this point. Bc after i asked my wife if were just talking and she said �yes, you just hut my damn stomach�. Idk it was all really weird.

Sounds more like a case of false awakening. Your description is completely implausible for a real event, even supernatural, and full of stereotypical ghost-story stuff. I think false awakening and sleep paralysis has something in common and often accompany each other, that explains why some people have hallucinations and others (like me), who's sleep is mostly superficial, never have those, as when the sleep paralysis begins it easily causes a full-scaled wake up, while for the others the brain begins to struggle between the sleep and the awakening. Another interesting aspect is that sleep paralysis often starts with or even started by apnea; that feeling of shortage of breath penetrates into the dream producing images of some entity causing it and other frightening images from the most easily accessible memories relative to the loss of self-control.

Edited by Chaldon

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