Gregory Stores (2001, P. 21) argues that “the episode of paralysis may be accompanied by hallucinatory experiences or dreamlike experiences which can be very dramatic and alarming, sometimes including the appearance of people or creatures taking on a threatening aspect.”
It was often believed until modern rationality took over the realm of thought in people that occurrences of such disorders were due to the influence of demonic and spiritual effect in vulnerable humans. David J. Hufford (1982), in his book2 exhaustively discusses this belief referring it to the “old hag” tradition that he learnt particularly form Newfoundland. Scientific theories, and approaches, on the other hand, have been devised with not one with solid hold on its understanding.
In this paper, we shall make an attempt in understanding the phenomenon of sleep paralysis with various angles, particularly scientific and dogmatic. We shall try and find out its symptoms or the experience while it occurs and subsequently try to unveil its causes, scientific or otherwise. We shall then study its effects in human psychology or thought. A few direct experiences of people shall be quoted and a possibility of its cure or precaution shall also be analyzed before concluding.
The occurrence of sleep paralysis is indeed intimidating and troublesome. It seems, to many, a trance-like situation where our body with its inability to perform movement or even to cry out for help remains still, as though spell-bound by some strange demonic or spiritual cause until we are relieved suddenly from a grip what was rigid and ominous indeed. It occurs just before we fall asleep or as we are awakening. Dr. Rose Windale (2008) in her website of health and wellness tips describes the experience as thus: “A person may struggle to breathe while experiencing sleep paralysis.